Christians, would you define a "worldly" person as a "non-believer"? And what do Jehovah's Witnesses mean by?

...saying that a "worldly" person is a "non-believer"? I ask because I've recently read a statement by a Jehovah's Witness to the effect that "worldly" persons are now perceived as "non-believers." Non-believers in what? God, Christ Jesus, the Bible, or what?

When I was a Jehovah's Witness, the term "worldly" was applied to people who were sinful - the sexually immoral, people interested only in carnal pleasures. Now it's supposed to mean they are non-believers? Non-believers in what? Non-believers in Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour? Or do they mean people of any religion who are not Jehovah's Witnesses?

I would appreciate some clarification from the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses as to their interpretation as to what constitutes a "worldly" person, or a "non-believer." Cut and paste jobs from Watchtower articles welcomed.


Romans 8:1-2 and Romans 8:9-10 show that the identifying mark of a "worldly" person is they are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Would Jehovah's Witnesses agree with that Bible definition?

If so, how do they respond to the fact that only some 10,000 of them can claim to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit? Is a "worldly" person a person who is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit?

14 Answers

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago
    Best Answer

    As all Watchtower literature speaks of JWs as Christians or "true Christians", and of everyone else as either not being a Christian or a "false Christian", it's obvious that everyone bar themselves is viewed as being 'worldly': "True Christians have every reason to be proud of being servants of Jehovah" = false Christians are not servants of Jehovah, i.e. they're not Jehovah's Witnesses. (The Watchtower 1 June 2005 p 14) "Jehovah's Witnesses are no part of the world" = if you're not a JW, you ARE part of the world! (The Watchtower 1 November 1995 p 26)

    Wt. of Babel gave abundant quotes to prove that anybody who does not subscribe to the Watchtower Society's interpretation of what Jehovah's truth is will be viewed as a worldly person by JWs. Their neighbours might be lovely people, enjoying a happy family life, being kind to others and even believe in God, but they must not be fraternised with, because they are still 'worldly'! The only contact permissible is that which enables the JWs to 'witness' to them, with a view to getting a home study started.

    "We must also be on guard against extended association with worldly people. Perhaps it is a neighbor, a school friend, a workmate, or a business associate. We may reason, 'He respects the Witnesses, he leads a clean life, and we do talk about the truth occasionally.' Yet, the experience of others proves that in time we may even find ourselves preferring such worldly company to that of a spiritual brother or sister. What are some of the dangers of such a friendship?" (The Watchtower 15 February, 1994 p.24)

    However, there's an important point that JWs won't square up to because one of their doctrines shows that the biblical definition of who are spiritual and who are worldly exposes 99.9% of their members as still being worldy, or - to use a more old-fashioned word - carnal. It's in Romans chapters 7 & 8. Paul describes "this body of death" that wages war against God and his perfect law, which exposes sin as utterly condemned by God. Because "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (5:12) we all need to be rescued from this body of death (7:24) and that happens to those who put faith in what Jesus Christ did:

    "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (8:1-2) The following verses go on to show that those who now belong to Christ (by faith, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit) are no longer "worldly" (or, "carnal"). Everyone else IS worldly, carnal. They do not belong to Christ, they are hostile to God and they do not obey God's law. But unworldly people "are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you." (8:9-10)

    Thus the identifying mark of a "worldly" person is one who is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Verses 14-17 show how we can know we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, the JWs have correctly identified this sign as a person knowing they are now part of the spiritual family of God, anointed with the Holy Spirit, and going to be with Christ in glory. Surprisingly, they then go on to admit that 99.9% of all JWs today are NOT in that class! So, on the basis of their own doctrines and what Romans 8 says, 99.9% of all JWs today are still fleshly, sold under sin, unable to obey God's law and not yet belonging to Christ. "Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, IF the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."

    99.9% of all JWs today publicly show that they don't have the indwelling Holy Spirit by their refusal to partake of the bread and wine each year. Yet their Bible tells them that, "To all who received [Christ], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12) If they have received Christ and believed in his name, as they claim, they have the right to exercise their new birth into the family of God, by partaking of the emblems. Until they do that, the Bible shows they are still fleshly, carnal, sold under sin. That's what being 'worldly' means, in the Bible.

  • When Jehovah's Witnesses say "non-believer" they always always mean someone who is not a Jehovah's Witnesses, be it athiest, Catholic or Baptist etc.

    When I left the religion I still believed in God and the bible but my parents treated me as if I didn't. You will find similar statements by Jehovah's Witnesses that a person is under Satan's influence if they are not a Jehovah's Witness. This si because they regard everything they do and believe as 100% complete bible truth, handed down by God himself, so to reject them is to reject God.

    Its borderline, if not complete. blasphemy if you think about it.

    As much as they try and deny that being of any other religion does not make you worldly, they do believe, and say on numerous occassions that if one is not a JW then they are of the world, part of the world, under the influence of religion, so naturally this turns into "a person of any other religion but ours" This is a perfect example of the trademark double speak of Jehovah's Witnesses. Or plain old cognitive dissonance.

  • danman
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    Sunshine's response really identifies who is the worldly person on this thread. Disrespectful conduct which she would never play out in her 'door to door' ministry.

    A response seething with hatred and malice toward one of YA signature personalities, an individual whom I have never witnessed display an attitude even close to Sunshine's rant. A person whom I personally can say has shown much kindness and patience to me personally. Remarkable that jw say such things without ever realizing how desperate they sound.

    Green bibles, 'society says', what possible reason would she have to throw up such minutia of jw history? As if to say no jw today says 'the organization says'? Or the printing department changed the color of our bibles back in the 80s so your so out of touch? Childish to say the least.

  • marley
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Worldly in a modern text, means smart and up to date. In a biblical sense, your not Christian enough. Or you are pagan, not Christian. But that was a long time ago. Everyone is pretty much worldly with hi tech devices unless you live in a jungle.

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  • 8 years ago

    For non- Jehovah Witnesses worldly means someone who enjoys what the world has to offer, from a material stand point, rather than a spiritual one.

    For Jehovah Witnesses it means anyone or anything that is not part of the JW world or organization.

    As Galatians already said, this is just another label to further distance JWs from the world at large

  • Lowly
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    My take is that it should refer to someone who acts and says they are a believer, but continues to act indistinguishable from those who have no faith at all. There would not be enough evidence from their last month to convict them of being a believer. Sadly, this applies to many who profess faith, whether JW or Evangelicals...or others.

    We can not avoid all worldly people, unless we become astronauts and leave the planet. We do need to avoid pretenders, whether for their good or ours, it remains to be seen.

    I feel bad about sunshines attack on you here. I have not taken your questions as ever being demeaning of anothers faith, whether their faith is "right or wrong". It is sad that some take an honest question as an attack which they must defend against. It is also sad that 'ad hominem' attacks usually follow. Try not to be discouraged, but keep asking good questions !

  • 8 years ago

    Julius O tells us "No it is not "people of any religion who are not Jehovah's Witnesses" So it must mean that if we believe in Jesus Christ as it says in Eph. 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Of course we can not forget that ol' beloved verse in John 3: 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

    So if Julius O is correct then we do not need to be part of the Watchtower to be saved but by believing as the Bible tells us. By believing in Jesus Christ, he saves us from the world. So, I have to go along with what Julius O states that the Believer is a non-worldly person and the worldly person must be the non-believer.

    This is not a new concept, it's what we Christians have believed for a very long time, but is, or has been inconsistent with the teachings of the Watchtower Society.

    I can see by some of the antics of some of the JW's that they just find a need to attack the questioner instead of giving an answer, in so much as they are so insecure in their faith to give a proper answer. They are known by their fruits that they put forward.

  • 8 years ago

    No it is not "people of any religion who are not Jehovah's Witnesses"

    'worldly' as used in the bible:

    Titus 2:12= instructing us to repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things,

    Hebrews 9:1= For its part, then, the former [covenant] used to have ordinances of sacred service and its mundane* holy place.

    footnote for mundane= Or, “worldly,” that is, belonging to this world. Gr., ko‧smi‧kon′; Novum Testamentum, Theodore Bezae, 1642, reprinted in 1925, Lat., mun‧da′num; J17(Heb.), ʼar‧tsi′, “earthly.”

    Source(s): NWT, and me, one of Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    @ Sunshine-when you do not have a logical, clear response you shouldn't respond at all.

    @ Grey Tower- When the JWs are unable to answer, they attack us personally, do not take it to heart. That is their defense mechanism at play : ) Yes according to our friends the JWs we are considered non-believers even though their entire belief system is based on a potential candidate for being an apostate (Russel) who made false predictions.

    Worldly People

    Any person that is not a Jehovah's Witnesses is described by the Watchtower as a "worldly person" that is alienated from God and hence controlled by the devil. This is standard for high control groups, such as Exclusive Brethern, who discourage members from associating with "worldly" non-members.


    Watchtower 2010 Sep 15 p.14

    "The spirit of companionship that unites those who work together in God's service is far stronger than the spirit that unites others in the world who merely socialize together."

    Awake 1996 October 22 p.15

    Since worldly people are existing as slaves of corruption, their company cannot bring you true happiness.

    Watchtower 1994 Feb 15 p.24

    "We must also be on guard against extended association with worldly people. Perhaps it is a neighbor, a school friend, a workmate, or a business associate. We may reason, 'He respects the Witnesses, he leads a clean life, and we do talk about the truth occasionally.' Yet, the experience of others proves that in time we may even find ourselves preferring such worldly company to that of a spiritual brother or sister. What are some of the dangers of such a friendship?"

    Watchtower 1995 Mar 15 p.11

    "Learning to Find Enjoyment in the Fear of Jehovah *** The majority of people have no interest in God and his purposes."

    Watchtower 1986 7/1 p.26

    "True, the majority of people disdain pure worship."

    Watchtower 1987 September 15 p.12 Breathing This World's "Air" Is Death-Dealing!

    "While some contact with worldly people is unavoidable-at work, at school, and otherwise-we must be vigilant so as to keep from being sucked back into the death-dealing atmosphere of this world. ... Let the world go along in its way, reaping its bad fruitage in the form of broken homes, illegitimate births, sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, and countless other emotional and physical woes."

    Watchtower 1984 October 1 pp.15, 19 Remain "Without Spot From the World"

    "We must avoid the speech, conduct and attitudes that are so common among worldly individuals, but that are out of harmony with God's Word. For instance, hatred, greediness, shameful conduct and obscene jesting have no proper place in our life. We must 'put up with one another and be forgiving, even as Jehovah has freely forgiven us.' (Colossians 3:13) That is not the common worldly way of dealing with others, but it is the godly way."

    True Peace and Security - How Can You Find It? pp.122,126 Survivors Must Be "No Part of the World"

    "Only a minority has ever stayed free from the control of this invisible ruler and his forces. Thus the "world," that is, the mass of mankind alienated from God, "is lying in the power of the wicked one . This may sound hard to believe. Yet, do not most people of this world clearly manifest the attitude and works of God's Adversary? ... Worldly people, for example, heap honor and glory on those whose ambitious drive leads them to great wealth, power, or fame""

    Watchtower 1970 March 1 p.148

    "He will want to watch how he walks so he does not unintentionally begin acting like worldly youths."

    Watchtower 1966 June 1 p.341

    "If you are one of those rare persons that wants to serve the Creator today, that wants to give him exclusive devotion, that wants to do work that is pleasing in his eyes, that wants to receive his approval and his gift of life, then let Jehovah, by means of his spirit, cultivate in you the good condition of heart that is a mark of his people."

    Watchtower 1954 December 15 p.759

    "By giving the Kingdom message instead of giving mere money or material things they reach those who are really "poor in spirit," "conscious of their spiritual need," rather than just the self-seeking poor of this world who do not care to belong to Jehovah. Thus the unappreciative worldly poor who prefer to belong to Satan the "god of this system of things" are screened out."

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    A "worldly person" is one who live as a seeker of pleasures, without any consideration for "God".

    This term would eliminate ANY religious person, that makes an effort to follow Jesus Christ.

    Unless you prescribe to the teachings of Watchtower, and agree that there is no salvation in anything but their "organization", you are a "non-believer".

    This is another, in a list of labels, that the governing body of the WTBTS hopes to use, to further divide, and distance themselves from their "neighbors", all of (other) sinful mankind, who are considered to be, by them, under Satan's control.

    By creating this "label caste", they have tried to make a sales pitch that is similar to that of Joseph F. Rutherford, in raising themselves above all other persons on the face of the earth, they hope to "guilt" people into wanting to become a part of the Organization.

    But remember, their New World Translation was partially translated for them by "Johannes Greber", Spiritist.....his influence was "Other-Worldly", but that's O.K.! ...hmmm, the JW's seem to forget that little "mistake" don't they?.

    By this mistake, they have allowed themselves to be taught by Demons...that seems to fly in the face of their calling "worldly persons" as being under the influence of the devil, doesn't it?!

    This is an elitist stance, full of arrogance and self-directed glory.

    This posturing is indicative of another Bible personality mentioned at 2nd. Thessalonians, namely the "Man of Lawlessness".

    The WTBTS is actually, and in truth no part of the world, but yet, they DO constitute their own little world of cryptic and man-taught interpretations of God's word.

    They have drawn a very heavy line in the sand, and claim that unless you cross it, and become one of their "brothers", you will die at armageddon.

    This labeling is a form of a "veiled spiritual intimidation", and it is used much in the same way the word "apostate" is used to alienate and separate familial loved-ones, = "Spiritual Extortion".

    And Julius, there is a very large distinction between the expression "worldly desires", and "worldly people".

    ALL People HAVE worldly desires, but the WT wants everyone to "desire" to be a JW.

    And they have proven to be parts of their OWN little world, alienated from God, by it's doctrines.

    This is religious "sleight of hand".

    Source(s): 40 years learning why they are wrong.
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