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 of life—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. (1 John 2:15-17)
For the last few weeks we have been learning how to walk in fellowship with God. No matter how old you are the remedial lessons that we have been learning since we started 1 John need to be repeated.
We started off the book of 1 John learning and remembering that the Word of God became flesh and walked among us. Because of this and only because of this work of Christ, we are able to now walk with Christ in our daily lives and enjoy sweet fellowship with him and with God the Father. Jesus walked with us and now we are called to walk with Him.
Walking with Christ sounds like an easy thing to do until you try it. Then we learn that we have to develop our spiritual leg muscles and it takes time, effort and perseverance. There are some people who make it look easy, but they have been walking with God for a long time and it does become second nature to them to walk spiritually every day. Things you had to once concentrate on and that took your full attention and all of your energy to accomplish are later done without thought, they become second nature to you when practiced repeatedly. Walking as Jesus walked is something we must first seek to intentionally practice if we would have it become second nature.
Just as a quick reminded, I would like to quickly review some of the things we learned so far about what we must practice if we would walk with God.
- Walk in the Light. (1 John 1:5-10)
First if we would walk with God then we must walk in the light. This means that we must walk according to God’s truth. We must walk in full view of others for transparency and accountability. The Christian life is not a hidden life, it is not a life of secrets or secret knowledge. It is to be lived openly, publically before all the world as lampstands lifted high up so that others might be drawn to Christ.
- Walk in Obedience (1 John 2:1-6)
Second, we must walk in obedience to Christ’s commands if we are to walk with God. “By this we know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.” There is no walking with God, no knowing God if we refuse to relate to God as God by obeying him as God. There is no escaping obedience. We must seek to do what God says to show that he is our God.
- Walk in Love (1 John 2:7-11)
Thirdly we must seek to walk in love at all times, walking in love towards others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ is walking in the love of God. We love God when we love others. We walk in obedience when we love others. We walk in the light when we love others. When we are unloving towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are walking in disobedience, we are walking in darkness and we are walking in hatefulness. There is no middle ground. You cannot love God and hate your brother in Christ. God’s spirit does not allow us to hate his body.
- Walk in Maturity (1 John 2:12-14)
Last week we learned that just as we must grow and mature physically we also grow and mature spiritually. We move from being children who need to be taken care of, tended to and fed by others, to feeding ourselves on the word of God, to contributing to the kingdom of God around us and working in it and undergoing spiritual warfare. This is the stage where we are called young men. John is writing to the men of the church but his word still applies to us as women for there comes a stage in our lives where we too teach spiritual; adolescence and young adulthood and are called to work in the kingdom of God, to tend to the children, to feed and protect them instead of always looking to be spiritually fed ourselves. We begin to look spiritually around us to see who needs tending to, nurturing, covering and cared for. We also do spiritual warfare, especially in prayer as women. Women are great prayer warriors in the bible and all throughout history. We are not on the front lines as men often are as they take the pulpit; however we support them behind the scenes with our gifts of administration and prayer and many others. We have much work about us to do as women and we too have overcome the evil one. We do not grow into fathers but we do grow into spiritual mothers because the more we nurture and take care of those around us the more we look at them from a growing paternal sense wanting to see their full maturity in Christ come about. As women we nurture, we care, we tend to others, that is how God designed us and we are called to grow spiritually in that and use our gifts for the kingdom of God.
- Walk in the World (1 John 2:12-14)
Tonight we are going to talk about how we are called to walk in the world. How we are to relate to the world and respond to it. This is the environment in which we are called to practice all of the above. We are called to practice walking in the light in this world, we are called to practice walking in obedience in this world, we are called to practice walking in love in this world, we are called to seek growing maturity as we walk in this world.
This world is the most difficult of environments to walk in. We often think that if only our circumstances had been easier than our walk would have been easier; we would not have sinned, we could have walked in God’s truth if the world had not been so strongly against it. We often see the world as preventing us from walking the way God called us to walk. Walking with God in the world is akin to learning to walk with God during a hurricane. We would often wait for better timing, for better circumstances before we take a stroll outdoors with him, but that perfect timing and perfect environment never comes. If we are to walk with God we are to walk with Him, in this time and in this place, in this world he has placed us in. This is the environment that God has called us to walk with him in. The bad culture. The bad politics. The bad marriage. The rough workplace. The poverty. The luxury. Your heart may be saying I can’t. You don’t understand what is against me how difficult and impossible it is for me to walk in the light of God’s word in my current circumstances, to love this sister who is so contrary, to be obedient and give this up. It’s too hard right now. The truth is, it’s never going to get easier. There is never going to be a better time than now to begin to do what you already know God is calling you to do. Now in this place God is calling you to walk with him. Will you take his hand tonight to walk in his light, to walk in obedience and to walk in maturity as you walk in this world?
So how are we to walk in this world? How can we walk as Jesus walked?
1 John 2:15 tells us: Do not love the world or the things in the world.
That is a fully loaded sentence and that is only half of the verse. The rest of the verse is: If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. So very few words so hard to take in. They are pointed and sharp and go directly to the heart, literally. Do not love the world. This goes straight to our heart problem.
We talked a few weeks ago about how sin is essentially a heart problem. A failure to love what we are called to love in the right measure, we either love too much or too little or not at all. We love what we are not supposed to love and we do not love that which we are called to love. We are called to love God and we are called to love others and we do not love God and we do not love others. We are called not to love the world or the things in the world and that is what we love. Our hearts are out of whack.
This might be a little bit confusing because doesn’t John 3:16 say, “For God so loved the world…”? If God loved the world shouldn’t we? The first thing to understand is context. The Greek language is like the English language in that one word can hold multiple meanings depending on how it is used. The word, “world” can mean the planet earth. It can also mean refer to people as in John 3:16. Christ does call us to love people, our neighbors, our brothers and sisters in Christ and our enemies so that pretty much includes everyone. The word “world” in the bible is also used to refer to organized evil system with all its principles and practices. That is the context here when John is saying, “Do not love the world.” It’s ok to love creation, it’s ok to love the mountains, the rivers, the trees and animals as long as you avoid extremes and don’t make idols of them, worshipping them more than the Creator. That’s when we run into problems. Especially when we love the world and do not think of God at all, who made this wonderful world for us to enjoy.
John is saying do not love the world system, do not love the ways of the world, the wisdom of the world, the attitudes of the world, the teachings of the world, the entertainment of the world, the ideas of the world, the culture of the world because all of these are under the authority of Satan who is the ruler of this world. (John 14:30) Because Satan is the ruler of this world, everything in this world is against God. The ideas, philosophies, practices, values, activities, conduct, ambitions, appetites of this world are dead set against God and God’s ways.
The world is lawless. The world lives in rebellion against God’s laws and would set up its own rules. Sin is lawlessness.
- The world loves wickedness and hatefulness towards others. The world finds perverse pleasure and entertainment in the harm of others.
- The world denies God. It denies his existence, his holiness, his goodness, his authority.
- The world loves darkness. It hates truth, it hates having its deeds exposed. It takes shelter in lies.
- The world loves sensuality and pleasure.
- The world loves self, the promotion of self.
Those who are unsaved and are of the world are called “sons of the world” and can be recognized by these worldly attributes.
For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. (Luke 16:8)
This is who we once were but not anymore since we are born again and are now sons of light.
- We walk in obedience to God.
- We love righteousness and love others.
- We acknowledge God in all our ways.
- We walk in the light.
- We deny the flesh.
- We walk in humility and deny self.
The kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world are opposed to one another. There is no peace between them and that is why there is so much war inside our hearts as these two worlds fight to gain control over us.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. – Galatians 5:17
You adulterous people. Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)
Worldliness is what our culture does to make sin seem either less sinful or not sinful at all. Worldliness is what our culture does to make righteousness look odd, strange, or quirky. (Preach the Word)
As Christians, a love for the world is absolutely forbidden. Do not love the world or the things in the world. This would refer to material possessions. Everything the world has to give, prestige, honor, position, power, rewards, materialism, money. Every-thing. As spiritual beings we are called to remember where are treasure is and that everything physical in this world is passing away. It’s only temporary. It’s a mirage.
Loving the world is dangerous because it takes away from our love for God. There is no love for God and the things of God, in our love for the world.
“The heart of man is narrow, and cannot contain both loves. The world draws down the heart from God; and so the more the love of the world prevails the more the love of God dwindles and decays.”
“What are the telltale signs of loving the world? First, when the world, or any object in it, so engrosses our thoughts to such a degree that it excludes serious reflection on the things of God, we are guilty of loving the world. When the world is our constant associate, the last companion of our thoughts at night and the first when we awaken in the morning, we are loving the world. Second, when the things of the world engross most or all of our conversation, we are loving the world. Third, if we are unwilling to part with it when need be, or to give it or anything in it up to God’s purposes, we are loving the world. Fourth, discontentment with our portion of the world’s goods proclaims a criminal love for it. If we secretly grieve because we are not blessed with every earthly convenience or delight that others possess, we are loving the world. If we are not entirely willing that God should govern his own world and distribute his own gifts as he pleases and to whom he pleases, it proves we pay homage to the world, which belongs only to God. Fifth, when we pursue it with greater zeal and enjoy it with higher relish than we do serving God and enjoying his favor, we are loving the world. Sixth, if we pride ourselves in earthly distinctions, if we expect great deference and resent the least contradiction or slight from others, we are loving the world. Seventh, when we seek to acquire or retain its objects in a wrong manner or by unwarrantable means, we are loving the world.”
Notice what the world wants from us: love. This love is expressed in time, attention, and expense. We are encouraged and persuaded to give our time, attention, and money to the things of this world instead of the things of God.
We were created to worship, we were created to love. It’s only a question of what we will worship and love, God or this word or the things in the world. We will worship something.
Heart Examination Questions:
- What do you do love? What would others say you love?
- Where does your love come from?
- Where is your love taking you?
- What rivals God in your affections?
- What orders your life?
- If you had to part with God or another pleasure, would you part with God before you parted with some pleasure?
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. – Matt. 10:37-1=38
Our greatest struggle as Christians is leaving behind our old lover, the world in order to follow Christ. It continually seeks to woo his back to its embrace and distract us with its charms and its pleasures. It knows the weaknesses of our flesh and our personal temptations and seeks to seduce us, just for a moment, just for a quick visit, old times. It calls us to come back if we have left it. It begs us to keep its picture, keep its number in our pockets for a rainy day when we haven’t entirely left it yet, when it still maintains a part of our hearts, just a small part, a small corner.
Our God is a jealous God and he will not share us with another. Our spouses would not share us with another and we would not share our spouses with another, how much more so will God not share us with the world? God knows of our old love. He knows of our old flame in our hearts. He knows and that should break our hearts considering how He has shown us nothing but love, nothing but goodness, nothing but sacrifice and the world has shown us nothing but betrayal and yet we choose to love it anyway. We choose. Love is a choice of the will. Love is an action of the will. Not just an emotion that comes and goes that we have no control over.
This world would have you believe as one of its ideas that you love who you love and that is it. You must follow your heart. You are a victim to love but that is not the truth. We do not follow sensuality and pleasure as a beast without a will, without a mind and without a conscience. God gave us a will to rule over our flesh. God gave us a mind to reason, to see and understand if something or someone is worthy of our love. God gave us a conscience to prick and direct our hearts to follow his ways. We are not sensual, mindless beasts nor do we desire to be such unless we seek to live according to the world.
Too many Christians today, carnal Christians, live lukewarm lives. They live with one foot in the church and one foot in the world. They are comfortable and have the best of both worlds an easy life but are in great danger as we remember from Revelation 3:15-16.
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”
Those who are lukewarm are spit out of God’s mouth. They are not taken to the side with those who are hot and passionate for Christ but instead are placed with those who are cold. There is no middle ground. We love God or we don’t. It’s God or the world, we cannot have both.
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deut. 6:5, Luke 10:27
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”(Matthew 6:24)
You cannot have two bosses, two rules over your life. There can be only one. One that you give your life to.
God is jealous and sovereign. 1st Commandment. “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:1-7
No other idols are allowed to be next to God. None were allowed in the holy of holies, how much more so our hearts? Our heart is a sacred temple.
This text connects love for the father with eternal life. What is saving faith? What is it? There is no saving faith that does not have love for God and there is no love for God that does not have saving faith. – John Piper.
Love for God is the power that overcomes obstacles to disobedience and transforms obedience from a burden into a joy.
- Jacobs love for Rachel. He worked 7 yrs for her and it flew by,
- If you love God , the things he asks you to do will not be insurmountable burdens.
- Love for God overcomes the worldly temptations for disobedience.
- And his commandments are not burdensome. – 1 John 5:3-4
Confirmed by Paul and James teaching.
- All things work together for good for those who love him,
- No eye has seen, no hear has hear what God has prepared for those who love him.
- I Cor 16:22 Let him who has no love for the Lord be accursed
- James 2:5 Has not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs to the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him.
You cannot separate them. Nobody loves God who doesn’t trust Christ.
St. Augustine’s prayer:
“He loves thee too little, who loves anything together with thee, which he loves not for thy sake.”
Verse 16 begins to show us more detail of what this world system consists of and how our flesh operates and responds to the world:
For all that is in the world: The desires of the flesh. the desires of the eyes and the pride of life, is not from God but is from the world.
- The desires of the flesh.
The world seduces us from within through the desires or lust of our flesh. These are inordinate desires within us. These would include our appetites, sexual desires, sensuality. These are sins that assault us from within.
- The desires of the eyes
The world seduces us from without through appealing to our eyes. Sin appeals to us through beauty, materialism, coveting, intellect, reason, greed, jealousy.
- The pride of life. – Empty Braggart Talk
The world seduces us by external circumstances of life and how we feel after we gain the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes. We become proud, boastful, vain and puffed up as we try to impress others with our gains of possessions, position, power, wealth, beauty, good fortune, influence, connections, knowledge, ability, etc…. It is an overconfidence that makes us lose any notion that we are dependent on God.
James 4:16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
“Pride of life, will be reflected in whatever status symbol is important to me or seems to define my identity. When I define myself to others in terms of my honorary [or earned [degrees, the reputation of the church I serve, my annual income, the size of my library, my expensive car or house, and if in doing this I misrepresent the truth and in my boasting show myself to be only a pompous fool who has deceived no one, then I have succumbed to what John calls the pride of life.” Idem, The Epistles….,p105
HOW SATAN TEMPTS
GENESIS 3:6 The Temptation of Eve
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
MATTHEW 4:1-10 The Temptation of Jesus
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
The whole world runs on these things. This is the world system. Covetousness, greed, lust, the desire to have and the pride that you do have. Anything in your life can take your heart away from God. If you don’t have it can fill your heart with lusts to get it and when you have it you are filled with pride.
What do you have that you didn’t receive and if you received it why do you boast as if you did not receive it? Boast only in God. 1 Cor. 4:7
Whom have in heaven but thee on earth there is nothing that I desire besides thee. Psalms 73:25
The world takes good things and making them ultimate things. The only thing that is not love for the world is love for the things that are of God.
Shouldn’t we desire a great book, an education, building a home, evening with friends, healthy body, good marriage, dinner. No, you shouldn’t unless it is for a desire for God. Do you want dinner for God’s sake? Do you want this child for God’s sake? Do you want your job because you might find more of God there to delight in and enjoy. Do you want a spouse because in that spouse you might see and know and delight in and fellowship with God? Do you want a healthy body and a good night’s rest, an evening with friends because you have an eye to God in it? If not, it is idolatry. God besotted the bible is. God oriented all of life is. We compartmentalize so much. John says if you love anything in the world you do not love God.
The world is passing away with its desires.
In v. 17 John is trying to show us that freeing ourselves from the love of the world is not optional. Nothing is more important than doing what you have to do to love God.
It is the first and great commandment. That you should love God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. All of the law and prophets hang on this commandment with the command to love your neighbor.
This world is temporary. Our life is temporary. We cannot set permanent importance on passing things. This world is much like the great Titanic that people are still decorating while the ship is sinking.
“Be very careful about decorating your cell. One day God will bring the curtain down, the play will be over, and everything will be taken away. Imagine how foolish it would look for one of the actors in a play to chase the prop people as they remove “his” car, “his” furniture, “his” wardrobe, “his” bank account.” “Wait, wait, that’s my car! Where are you going with my furniture? Hold it! That’s my money!” What a pitiful sight! The wise person is the one who does the will of God. He is the one who “abides forever.” His life is on eternal standard time. (Preach the Word. Don’t Decorate Your Cell)
We should not hold anything with tight clutched fists as an infant would but with open hands, as holding a butterfly that has graced our life. When you invest your life in the temporary, you lose your investment when it is taken away and you perish with it when it is lost.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.” – Matt. 6:19-21
18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Cor. 4:18
but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Notice the present tense – “the one who is doing the will of God.”
The opposite of loving the world is not only loving God but doing his will.
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you: depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.: Matt 7:21-23
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matt 7:24-27
The Expulsive Power of New Affection
There are only two ways to rid the human heart of its love for the world, and one of them won’t work! You can demonstrate the world’s utter and complete vanity, such that a person will have no logical choice but to give up love for the world. But the human nature being as depraved as it is, that simply won’t work. The other option is to set before the human heart God himself, who is so much more worthy of our love, so that our heart will resign, with the aid of regeneration and the daily help of the Holy Spirit, its old love affair with the world. …The human heart will never relinquish its love affair with the world unless it finds something greater to love than the world. The only way to dispossess the heart of an old love is by the expulsive power of a new one.” – The Expulsive Power of New Affection, Thomas Chalmers, Paraphrased.