Love Not the World (1 John 2:15-17)
I. Love not the World… Love the Father (verse 15)
When John says not to love the world, he doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy God’s Creation or that we should hate other human beings. By “world,” he means the world system and human culture with its ideas, philosophies, and goals that stand in opposition and rebellion to God. He means all that rejects Christ and denies God’s rule through His Word—all that is under the control of Satan. He isn’t teaching that we should isolate ourselves from the world—which would make it impossible for us to be salt and light—but rather that we should avoid worldliness, not attempting to find comfort or contentment from the world or to have fellowship with it. Instead, as a remedy for the tug toward worldliness, we should recognize the love of the Father for us, and respond with whole hearted love to Him.
II. From the World… From the Father (verse 16)
From the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. The lust of flesh is the evil cravings of our fallenness. It’s the desires that come from a sinful heart, according to which all of us once lived (Eph 2:3). The lust of the eyes refers to wanting and craving of those things we see, just as Achan was led to sin against the Lord when he “saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle” (Joshua 7) and David committed grievous sin when he “saw a woman bathing” (2 Sam 11). The boastful pride of life is the desire to be noticed and praised for possessions, achievements, gifts and abilities. It’s the desire to outdo others for the sake of gaining attention, feeding on compliments and living to upstage others.
The things that are in the world cannot save us or bless us; they cannot produce holiness or happiness; they cannot please God or bring Him glory. When we pursue these things, it causes God’s Name to be blasphemed and His cause to be tainted. A life lived in pursuit of these things will only end in condemnation and misery. In contrast with the things in the world, the things that come from God are good and perfect. His Spirit gives life, creates faith, and grants repentance. He is the source of wisdom and the giver of righteousness. He is the strength for sanctification and the fountain of redemption. Rather than boasting in the things in the world, “he who boasts is to boast in the Lord” (2 Cor 10:17).
III. Passing Away… Living Forever (verse 17)
When Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead, Satan’s control and rule in the world was fundamentally destroyed. He no longer has any basis to accuse those who trust in Christ, and the way he once had over people by fear of death has been rendered powerless. Now, the Spirit is giving life and holiness and the things of the world are losing their appeal. Soon, when christ returns, the kingdom of God will be consummated and righteousness and peace will rule completely in hearts and lives in the New Heavens and New Earth.
Lusts and pride are passing and short-lived. Like an adrenaline rush that gives intense pleasure for a moment, but soon passes away, so also the pursuits of the world give momentary pleasure, but never live up to our expectations of lasting satisfaction. With the poet, we should say:
“Ye fleeting charms of earth farewell,
Your springs of joy are dry.
My soul now seeks another home,
A brighter world on high.”
- In what ways are you tempted to go after the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life? Why is the love of the Father and all that is from Him so much better than worldly pursuits?
- Will you exchange short-lived worldly pleasures for eternal rewards? Will you set your hope on what is passing rather than on what is eternal?