There is a spirit in this world that is in stark opposition to the Spirit of God. Also known as the spirit of the times, this is a spirit that all Christians need to take a very decided stand against.
1. What is the “spirit of the times?”
A spirit that leads the masses; the majority. At any given time, there are always certain sins, and manifestations of these sins, that characterize popular thought, that define current society. This is the spirit of the times. A spirit that Satan uses to get people under his sway. Ungodly people are slaves to this spirit. Like a lifeless marionette, they jump in the direction it pulls. At the same time, they imagine they are free and independent to do as they like.
2. Why is it wrong to follow?
The spirit of the times is always in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, which leads to God’s will for the individual and for humanity. The spirit of the times has no regard for the laws of God. This spirit wants to make sin tolerable, or even acceptable, rather than “exceedingly sinful.” (Romans 7:13)
3. What is an example?
God’s word exhorts women to modesty. “…in like manner also that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation…which is proper for women professing Godliness, with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10. This is far from the common mindset of society. The spirit of the times is active in fashion, pop culture, and celebrities which advocate the very opposite, and have great influence over the general public.
The same can be said about immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18-19), pride (Proverbs 16:5), and many other things that are in stark opposition to the word of God. Relaxed or non-existent standards, acceptance of outward sin, an “anything goes” attitude, selfish living; the spirit of the times is in all of these.
4. What is the result of following this spirit?
The result is sin, separation from God, and loss of salvation. If Christians allow themselves to be influenced by this spirit, they will certainly become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, and start to see that which the Word of God calls sin, as less sinful. An attitude is adopted like that with which the serpent tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. “Has God really said…?” (Genesis 3:1) Excuses will be made for sin, and soon the “Christian” is no different from the ungodly, except for the fact that they profess Christianity with their mouth. “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” Titus 1:16.
5. What is the opposite?
The opposite is to be led by the Spirit of truth and to let the Holy Spirit guide your life in paths of righteousness. Jesus says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32. Free from being a slave to the spirit that persuades most of the world, free from living before the face of man, free to serve God with no restrictions, no reservations. Free to live a life of vitality; one that satisfies and leads to salvation.
6. How can I resist this spirit?
This is a particularly difficult spirit to resist. To do so can lead to reproach. It will cost something – honor, reputation, acceptance, maybe even relationships. It means resisting your own sinful lusts and desires, found in your own nature. To take an unshakeable stand against the current that most of the world is caught in, seems like foolishness to those who don’t love God or want with all of their hearts to please Him before all else.
As a Christian, you have to have Christ as your sole Lord and ruler. Then you do not obey other powers; you do not follow the prevailing attitudes of the world or the spirit of the times, even if everyone else does.
It’s a matter of choosing not to compromise the Word of God in order to preserve honor, or to fit in, or to make peace. It’s choosing to be blameless before God’s face instead. It is a longing to follow Jesus which gives you the power to resist being caught in this current.
As Elias Aslaksen put it: “Being a Christian is something exceedingly exalted! A Christian is not moved by the spirit of the times, someone in high places, by the majority, or the masses! A Christian only permits themselves to be led by their Head, who is Christ.”