ch18     Pilgrim's Progress Chapter 18               
Updated: March 4, 2015

The World

Vanity Fair

First Read p 233-234

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After Evangelist poured out his soul to the two pilgrims and faithfully prepared them for their upcoming showdown at Vanity Fair, he left them.
At this point in his story, Bunyan interrupts the narrative long enough to describe the city of Vanity and the fair that was there.

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From his description, Bunyan obviously was painting a word picture of the world as he knew it in his day. Yet, his picture is just as accurate for our world today as it was for his world then. Perhaps a few of the vices have changed over the years, but the personality of the world is still the same. The world today is just as he described the fair. The music, rides, styles, and amusements in the fair might change from year to year; the sideshows might be different; the fat lady might have gained a few more pounds; and some of the personnel might be new–hires. But the general flavor, spirit, and purpose remain the same, whether the year is 1678, 1927, or 2002.
And that’s why God’s Word is still relevant today. Fads come and go, issues change, people rise to and fall from fame and power, but the principles of God’s Word remain unchanged throughout the centuries. Sadly, not all Christian young people understand this fact. A survey showed that only 62% of all teens that describe themselves as Christians believe the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings. As the relativistic philosophy of humanism has gained widespread popularity even among so–called Christian circles, the percentage of young people holding this view has no doubt skyrocketed.
From the fall of Lucifer from heaven and the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, God has opposed the world and the world has opposed God. There has never be
Romans 14:1–6. (Read this passage aloud.)
Some Christians thought that worldliness was eating meat that had been offered to pagan idols. But other Christians thought that it was okay to buy that meat and eat it because they hadn’t sacrificed it to the idols and it was still edible. Some believers thought that one day of the week was more holy than other days, but other believers thought that all days were equally holy.  This has been the case throughout history. Only the issues have changed. If a person disagrees with God’s rules or principles for proper dating or other conduct, he might say, “God is irrelevant.” But the question isn’t relevancy but obedience. The person simply doesn’t want to obey God.
Neither God nor the world has really changed. For more than six thousand years (Bunyan’s story says five thousand years) the world has opposed God. They are opposed to each other, and individuals must decide which side they are on. Who are you going to obey? You can’t obey the world and please God.

The World Characterized (TCA 18)  1   2   3

Every Christian seems to have his or her own definition of worldliness. Whatever a person doesn’t believe in or approve of, he or she calls worldly. But God doesn’t have such a fluctuating, indecisive view of worldliness.
What, then, is worldliness?

What Worldliness Is Not

Worldliness is not just anything we happen to dislike or be against. Just because we don’t like something doesn’t make it worldly. Paul explains the point in Romans 14:1–6. (Read this passage aloud.)
Some Christians thought that worldliness was eating meat that had been offered to pagan idols. But other Christians thought that it was okay to buy that meat and eat it because they hadn’t sacrificed it to the idols and it was still edible. Some believers thought that one day of the week was more holy than other days, but other believers thought that all days were equally holy. In reality, as Paul notes, neither side was worldly if their motives in observing (or not observing) the rules were honoring to the Lord. Therefore, we must be careful of labeling someone’s practices as “worldly” simply because we don’t like it.
Neither is worldliness certain specific sins. Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink.” Worldliness is not tangible. Tangible items might be the tools of worldliness and might aid and abet the worldly system, but they aren’t worldliness in and of themselves.

What Worldliness Is

Worldliness Is an Attitude

II Timothy 4:10 describes Demas as “having loved this present world.” Demas’s sin was not based on what he did but in his attitude. In The Pilgrim’s Progress, Talkative is an example of such an attitude. His knowledge of the Word was admirable, but his attitude was worldly. Remember: God is interested in not only what we know and do but also in what we are. Worldliness, then, begins in the heart.
I John 2:16 further defines this attitude as being three–fold: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”
1. Lust of the Flesh
Worldliness is “the lust of the flesh.”
Q: What is the lust of the flesh? (Discuss before offering the following points.)
It is an attitude that seeks to please the senses of the body. It is living by one’s feelings rather than by what God says. It is coming to church only “when I feel like it.” It is enjoying habits and pleasures that might harm the body or keep you from church simply because you “like them.”
A person who operates according to the lust of the flesh might
• Be easily hindered from attending church faithfully on Sunday or Wednesday night because of a date, the Superbowl, or a test the following day.

• Listen to rock music, in spite of the fact that he knows and has been taught that it is wrong, because he “likes it”
• Smoke, drink, or seek cheap sexual thrills—in spite of the fact that he knows it is wrong and can have potentially fatal consequences—because it makes him “feel good”
• Fail to pray before making decisions and makes decisions according to how he feels or what he wants at that moment
2. Lust of the Eyes
Worldliness is “the lust of the eyes.”
Q: What is “the lust of the eyes”? (Discuss before offering the following points.)
It is covetousness, materialism, and living for things. Those who operate on this principle
• Have a hard time tithing
• Don’t go to camp because they want to work to make money to buy a car (as though a car was more important than what God could do in their life at camp)
• Sacrifice their quiet time of Bible study and prayer, Wednesday night prayer meeting, visitation, and other spiritual service opportunities because they are working to save money for a car, a gun, clothes, etc.
• Are often overly concerned about clothes, cars, styles and fashions, and possessions
Work is often necessary, is good training and discipline, and is even commanded by God in the Word, but work must never be allowed to get in the way of obeying God. If work comes between you and God, work has become your god!
3. Pride of Life
Q: What is the pride of life? (Discuss briefly before offering the following points.)
It is being more interested in your reputation than in serving God. People who have this problem
• Never give a public testimony because they are trying to hold on to the “cool crowd”
• Sacrifice Scripture memory, witnessing, and service opportunities to participate in the sports program
Think about it. During the season, an athlete might practice two hours a day at least three days a week and spend another six or more hours a week traveling to and from and playing a couple of games for a total of fourteen to sixteen hours a week. But he “doesn’t have time” to read his Bible, pray, witness, or serve the Lord.
Ego is one of mankind’s biggest problems. Sports, cheerleading, the finest fashions, or a new car can enhance one’s reputation, and doing whatever it takes to gain the pride that those things bring seems worth the sacrifice of spiritual things. But it’s the world’s lie.

Worldliness Is an Influence

Basically, worldliness is any influence that would limit, prohibit, or take prior claim over a person’s service for God. It might be a girlfriend, sports, a car, a job, an achievement, a habit, a hobby, television, any sin, the beach, hunting, fishing, good health, or innumerable other things.

The World’s Reward

Q: What does one gain by having a worldly attitude? (Discuss briefly the students’ ideas, which might include popularity, a college scholarship, cheap thrills, parties, reputation, recognition, dates, etc.)
I John 2:17 warns that all that is in the world passes away. The world—and all that is in it—is only temporary. Youth, health, vitality, and fitness deteriorates into the middle–age spread!  Middle age leads to old age and its accompanying declining health and increasing frailties—and eventually death! And just before death, all of the world’s “things” will seem empty and meaningless. What then? When all of these things have vanished away, what is left? What does the world really pay? Nothing! In the end, it leaves you empty and empty–handed.

How to Overcome the World

How does one overcome the influence and attraction of the world?
By Learning and Doing the Will of God
(1 John 2:17)
Pray and seek to know God’s will every day. Once the desire to do His will becomes your heart’s greatest desire, the lure of the things of the world will fade.

By Loving the Lord
(1 John 2:15-17)
Note that John contrasts the world with the Father’s love. No one who loves the Lord can truly love the world. Get into the Word and develop a meaningful prayer life, and you will soon increase in your love for the Lord. As your love for Him increases, your desire for the world will decrease in direct proportion.

By Living by Facts, Not Feelings

(James 4:17)
It is very easy to make decisions about right and wrong on the basis of feelings. In fact, that is very popular in our culture. “What you feel is right may not be what I feel is right, but hey, that’s okay.” We need to make decisions based on what we know to be right––and that is only found in God’s Word.

student work

• Leaving Evangelist, Christian and Faithful head for Vanity Fair with Evangelist’s words ringing in their ears: “One of you must seal with blood the testimony that you hold. But be faithful unto death, _and the King will give you a crown of life_.”

Vanity Fair is Bunyan’s amazingly accurate picture of the world and its character-istics. What is worldliness? What is the world? This lesson will answer these ques-tions by giving a seven–fold description of Vanity Fair. (Note: when we use the word world in this lesson, we are not referring to the planet earth or its geographic features. Rather, we are referring to the world system. The following description will make this point obvious.)

The World Is Vain


• How does the dictionary define vanity? _worthless pleasure of display; lack of real value_

• Why is Vanity Fair given such a name? _The town in which the fair is located is lighter than air, and all that’s sold there or comes from there is worthless._


• Read Ecclesiastes 1:2, 14Ecclesiastes 1:2, 14;
18–23; and


Isaiah 40:17. List all of the things that Solomon, the wisest man, called vain. _all works under the sun, pleasure, wine, wisdom, folly, great works, houses, vineyards, gardens, orchards, trees, pools, servants, maidens, herds and flocks, silver and gold, singers, music, all of his labors, sorrowful days, all nations_

Worldliness is anything that is empty or meaningless.

• On what empty, meaningless things do you expend a lot of your time and energy? What should you do about it? _Answers will vary._

The World Is Nonstop Temptation

• The world always tempts the Christian. It never lets up. How does Bunyan illustrate this fact?  He says that Vanity Fair was kept open and operating all year long _

•Think of it. Almost every minute of every day, the world’s philosophy, attitudes, fads, styles, and way of life are pressuring us, trying to get us to conform. What does
Romans 12:1–2 command us not to do?_not to be conformed to the world_

Someone has paraphrased that passage this way: Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold!

• According to these two verses, how can you keep the world from molding you to its shape? by being transformed by the renewing of our mind_

• According to
Romans 8:29, to what, instead of to the world, are we to be conformed (molded)? _Christ’s image_

Therefore, worldliness is anything that would keep you from being conformed to His image.

The World Is Ancient

• How does Bunyan express this point? _This fair is not new; it is actually quite old. Almost five thousand years ago, pilgrims were walking to the Celestial City._

Since the beginning of time, Satan has used the world to entice men and women from Christ. Teenagers, you are not the only ones who have had it rough. The world has been just as active from creation as it is today.

The World Is Sinful

Bunyan describes the merchandise to be sold at this fair. He lists thirty–four spe-cific products. Study these items, noting the seven types of sin.

Four Covetous Sins

1. _houses _

2. _lands _

3. _occupations _

4. _positions_

Four Sins of Ego, or Pride

1. _honors_

2. _titles_

3. _countries_

4. _kingdoms_

Three Sins of the Flesh

1. _lusts_

2. _pleasures__

3. _whores_

Three Sins of the Cares of Life

1. _children_

2. _masters_

3. _servants_

Eight Sins of Wrong Values

1. __lives_

2. _blood_

3. _bodies__

4. _souls__

5. _silver_

6. _gold_

7. _pearls_

8. _precious stones_

Satan traps Christians today by getting them tied down by daily cares and busy schedules. He tempts us with a wrong set of values. He devalues the life and the soul of a lost person and devalues Christ’s blood. Gradually, believers get so involved with their own problems that they lose both whatever burden they might have had for the lost and their “love and esteem for the blood of Christ.”

Eight Sins of Frivolity

1-8. _juggling, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, rogues__

Four “Blood–red” (Crimson) Sins

1-4. _thefts, murders, adulteries, perjury_

• In these seven categories of sins, we see seven ways in which the world tempts the Christian. Review these seven types of sins and note how Christians today are still tempted by the same things. To which of these types of sins are you most susceptible? _____________________________

• List the specific ways in which you are tempted by each of these seven types of sins:

1. Covetousness _________

2. Pride/ego ________________

3. Flesh ____________________________

4. Cares of life ____________________________________

5. Values ___________

6. Frivolities _________

7. Crimson sins ___________________

Worldliness is involvement in any of the seven types of sins.

The World Is Universal

• How does Bunyan show that worldliness is a problem wherever a person lives? _by telling of rows and streets where wares are sold and every country has its own specialty: British row, French row, Italian row, Spanish row, etc._

Lesson: you cannot hide from the world. You might go to a Bible–preaching church, attend a Christian school, and socialize with only Christian teens, but you will still be influenced by the world.

• Name various ways in which the world influences a Christian although he might be almost isolated from it by his home, school, and/or church environment. _Answers will vary._

The World Is Inescapable

• How does Bunyan illustrate this truth? _He says that the way to the Celestial City goes through the town that has Vanity Fair; there is no other way but to go right through it._


The World Is Controlled by Satan

• How does Bunyan illustrate this truth? _He says that Beelzebub is the chief lord of the air._

How to Escape the Effects of the World

Remember, we can’t escape the world; it’s all around us. What we are to avoid is surrendering to its influence. How can we do this? List in the following spaces the three major definitions of worldliness as given in this lesson.

1. _anything that is empty or meaningless_

2. _anything that would keep us from being conformed to Christ’s image_

3. _any of the seven types of sinsAnswers will vary._

Attack each of these three definitions as follows.

1. Fill your life and time with things that count for eternity. Bible reading, Scripture memorization, meditation on the Word, soul winning, and reading Christian books—these and other worthwhile projects should fill our time so that we have no free time to be tempted by empty, meaning-less activities.

2. Avoid anything that presses you out of God’s shape (and into the mold of the world).

• List TV programs that you must quit watching if you are to accom-plish this goal. ____________

• List books and magazines that you now read that you must stop read-ing. __________________________________________________

• List the worldly friends whom you must drop. ___________

• List any other things (movies, hangouts, music, etc.) with which you must deal. ____________

3. Confess any of the seven types of sin of which you are guilty, and avoid the thousands of ways by which they sneak up on you. Pray about the things you’ve listed. Ask God to fill your life with things that are good, wholesome, and worthwhile and that will count for eternity.

notes from the teacher’s lesson

What the World Isn’t

• Things We’re ____________________________________________

• Specific _________________________________________________

What It Is

Attitude (1 John 2:16)

• Lust of the ______________________________________________

• Lust of the ______________________________________________

• Pride of _________________________________________________


Any influence that limits, prohibits, or takes prior claim to godly service.

How to Overcome the World

• Do the ________________________________ of God
(1 John 2:17)

• Love the __________________________________
(1 John 2:15–17)

• Live by ____________________________, Not Feelings
(James 4:17)

application activities

1. Skim through Steve and Ruth Bennett’s little book 365 TV–Free Activities, and list at least ten interesting, enjoyable, and worthwhile activities with which you can replace TV viewing in your home.

2. What role do friends and companions play in a believer’s success or failure in avoiding worldliness and living a life based on eternal values? In prepar-ing your answer, refer to chapter three (“Friends That Sharpen”) of Donna Morley’s book Choices That Lead to Godliness.

3. Conduct a study of how Joseph successfully resisted temptation and thereby was able to achieve God’s purpose for his being in Egypt. (An especially good source of information on this topic is Robert E. Reccord’s book When Life Is the Pits: A Bible Study on the Life of Joseph. Pay particular attention to chapter three, “The Devil Made Me Do It.”)

4. Read chapter 23 (“The Sanctification of Our Minds”) of A Treasury of A. W. Tozer. Then explain the following statement: “Feats of thinking may create reputation, but habits of thinking create character.” Apply the information in this reading to your life in your efforts to oppose the influences of worldliness.

5. Read and summarize Love Not the World by Watchman Nee. In chapter one, who does Nee say is “The Mind Behind the System”?

6. Explain, illustrate, and apply the following statement from Hannah Whitall Smith’s classic The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life: “One of the most fatal things in the life of faith is discouragement; one of the most helpful is confi-dence.” (See specifically chapter ten, “Difficulties Concerning Temptation.”)

7. Read chapter thirteen (“Amusements”) of R. A. Torrey’s book How to Succeed in the Christian Life. List Torrey’s seven rules for determining activities in which you as a believer should not be engaged. Apply these seven guidelines to your own activities.

Quiz—Lesson 18
Vanity Fair
Name____________________________________________ Date ______________ Score_________
Multiple Choice
1. Worldliness is
A. An attitude
B. What we dislike
C. Specific sins
D. Breaking the Law
2. Worldliness begins in
A. One’s first sin
B. The eye
C. The heart
D. Satan
3. The world’s reward for those who pursue worldliness is
A. Happiness
B. Contentment
C. Fulfillment
D. Emptiness

Matching 2
Bunyan described many sins that were marketed in Vanity Fair. Your lesson categorized them according to their types. Match each of the following groupings of sins with its appropriate type on the right.
8. Juggling, games, plays, apes
A. Covetousness
B. Ego/pride
C. Flesh
D. Cares of life
E. Wrong values
F. Frivolity
G. Blood–red/crimson
9. Houses, lands, trades
10. Lusts, pleasures
11. Children, masters, servants
12. Thefts, murders, adulteries
13. Honors, titles
14. Silver, gold, pearls, precious stones
15. In what way does Bunyan, in his description of Vanity Fair, show that worldliness is a universal problem?


Lesson Objectives:
1. To explain what “the world” is not
2. To explain what “the world” is by defining “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”
3. To warn of the emptiness (vanity) of the world’s “reward” and to contrast that with the eternal benefits that God offers
4. To help students understand how they can overcome the world by knowing and doing the will of God, loving the Lord, and living by what they know to be true rather than by what they feel




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