Here's a quote from Watchman Nee's book, Love Not the World. Maybe it is germane to our discussion, maybe not.
While it is true that these definitions of "the world," as (1) the material earth or universe, (2) the people on the earth, and (3) the things of the earth, each contribute something to the whole picture, it will already be apparent that behind them all is something more. The classical idea of orderly arrangement or organization helps us to grasp what this is. Behind all that is tangible we meet something that is intangible, we meet a planned system; and in this system there is a harmonious functioning, a perfect order.
Concerning this system there are two things to be emphasized. First, since the day when Adam opened the door for evil to enter God's creation, the world order has shown itself to be hostile to God. The world "knew not God" (1 Cor. 1:21), "hated" Christ (John 15:18) and "cannot receive" the spirit of truth (14:17). "Its works are evil" (John 7:7) and "the friendship of the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4). Hence Jesus says, "My kingdom Is not of this world" (John 18:36). He has "overcome the world" (16:33) and "the victory that has overcome the world" is "our faith" in Him (1 John 5:4). . .[thus] the world is under judgment (John 12:31-32).
God's attitude to it is uncompromising. This is because, secondly, as the same verse make clear, there is a mind behind the system. John writes repeatedly of "the prince of this world" (12:31; 14:30; 16:11). In His epistle he describes him as "he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4) and matches against him the Spirit of Truth who indwells believers. "The whole world," says John, "lieth in the evil one" (5:19). He is the rebellious kosmokrator, world ruler--a word which, however, appears only once, used in the plural of his lieutenants, the "world rulers of this darkness" (Ephesians 6:12).
There is, then, an ordered system, "the world," which is governed from behind the scenes by a ruler, Satan. When in John 12:31 Jesus states that the sentence of judgment has been passed upon this world He does not mean that the material world or its inhabitance are judged. For them judgment is yet to come. What is there judged is that institution, that harmonious world order of which Satan himself is the originator and head. And ultimately, as Jesus' words make clear, it is he, "the prince of this world," who has been judged (16:11) and who is to be dethroned and "cast out" for ever.
Scripture thus gives depth to our understanding of the world around us. Indeed, unless we look at the unseen powers behind the material things we may readily be deceived.
This is copied and pasted from http://awildernessvoice.com/Merchandise.html (which is a great article on a fascinating website) with no alterations on my part, as best as I can get it.