Sunday, 08 March 2009 00:00

Love Not the World

I John 2:15-17 (ESV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

There's a command in the text: "Do not love the world or the things in the world" (v.15). Everything else flows as either reasons for the command or incentives for us to fulfill it.

  1. Recognizing your love for the world.
    Loving the world is living life by lusting for things that are not from the Father (v.16).
    1. The lust of the flesh... gratifying the body's desires without thought of God.
      Every appetite of the human body is designed by God to be filled in His way. No longer walk as the Gentiles do. They have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ (Ephesians 4:18).
    2. The lust of the eyes... coveting those things that God has given to someone else.
      This covetousness is like the wormwood and gut rot. It destroys from within. Your eyes see something; a boat, a house, gold, a job, etc. and you lust after it. Solomon declares that the eyes of the lost "are never satisfied" (Ecclesiastes 1:8)
    3. The pride of life... an ambition to hold places of worldly honor apart from God.
      The ESV translates this phrase "pride of possessions," but there's more to it. The Syriac and Arabic versions read "the pride of the age." It is this sense of being known, being revered, being the pop star—all of which is ultimate vanity. Jesus said of the Pharisees, "They loved the place of honor" (Matthew 23:6).
  2. Releasing your love for the world.
    Loving the world pushes out love for God, and love for God pushes out love for the world. This is why conversion to Christ is a radical transformation of the way you live life. There are some reasons that John gives for why you ought to "let go" of your lusts.
    1. Your love for the world is ultimately bankrupt (v.17a "passing away").
      "The world is passing away long with its desires" (v.17). Nobody wishes to buy stock in a company that will go bankrupt and nobody ought to live a bankrupt life.
    2. Your love for God brings a fruitful, abundant life (v.17b "abides").
      "Whoever abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit" (John 15:5). Paul calls life apart from God taking part in "unfruitful works of darkness," but "the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true" (Ephesians 5:9-11).
    3. Your lust for the world will lead to hell (v.17b "forever").
      Loving the world leads you to hell; but the love of God leads you to heaven. John declares you cannot savingly believe and not fall in love with Christ.
  3. Reexamining your love for the world.
    If your heart is captivated by the lusts of this world, then one of two things is true.
    1. You are not born again.
      It is possible that you are a cultural Christian or a hereditary Christian (Piper). Henry Martyn said of his conversion to Christ: "The whole current of my desires is altered, I am walking quite another way, though I am incessantly stumbling in that way."
    2. Your love for Christ has grown cool.
      The prescription for this problem is much the same. Confess, repent, and believe!

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