LOVE NOT THE WORLD
1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.
This exhortation was directed to all Christians at the time of John's writing, and is as relevant today as it was then. The lesson found in this scripture is directed to all Christians; it is for the edification of people in all levels of spiritual understanding - from the very wise to the babes in Christ - to fathers, ...young men, ...(and) children (Vs. 13). Love of God and love of the world are not compatible - they cannot be reconciled one with the other. Things of the world are those things that relate to the human passions that can, and often do, entirely consume one's life on earth. They are those worldly pursuits that, when entered into, leave no time for God, and the spiritual pursuits He wills in our lives. The lesson text leaves little doubt of this meaning when, by inspiration, John wrote, If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. When one is consumed by the world there is no room for the (heavenly) Father. James also expressed this same truth when he wrote, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).
In this context, when John speaks of the world, he is not referring to the physical world that God created at the beginning of time. This is a beautiful world in which mankind is to reside. Certainly we are to love, protect, and conserve the splendid handiwork of our Creator. However, this is not the world that John is warning us against. John warns of the world created by Satan, and his followers, that resides within this majestic world created by God. The humanistic world, that exists within God's universal world, is filled with the sins of mankind that are driven by the covetous nature of erring human beings. We live in both worlds, and John's warning is that we refrain from indulging in the world of sin and degradation, that results from misguided human passions.
In Satan's world, that is, the world that Christians are warned against in the lesson text, sin is given three classifications by the apostle John. First let us consider sins resulting from the lust of the flesh. The sin of lust is seeking unrestrained gratification. As it relates to the flesh, this lust would pertain to satisfying bodily appetites. The apostle Paul refers to the lusts of our flesh (as) fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Eph. 2:3b). Unrestrained sexual appetites, as well as giving in to overindulgence in any other human appetite, are examples of the lust of the flesh. This text tells us that God requires the restraint of such desires, and it is this restraint that separates mankind from all other animals that inhabit the earth.
Secondly, worldliness is the sin that results from being driven by, and giving in to,the lust of the eyes. All men and women constantly see beauty, as well as ugliness, in the things that surround us in our daily life. We see beauty in other people, in elegant homes and splendid sites they are built upon, in expensive and magnificently crafted furniture, clothing, and jewelry. Beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder. The sin is not in beholding objects of beauty, but in uncontrollably giving in to their gratification. Consider, if it is possible, the lies that have been told, the stealing that has occurred, the numbers of lives that have been harmed, and the murders that have been committed, in order to fulfill the unrestrained, inordinate desires that have resulted from the lust of the eyes.
Finally, consider those sins that result from the pride of life. The negative, sinful meaning of pride is the conceited sense of one's superiority; an exaggerated, arrogant opinion of oneself; vanity or self-esteem; the opposite of humility. Pride of life is the excessive desire for power, honor, and the flattering attention, and applause, of others. Those given to the pride of life are filled with strife and contention (Prov. 13:10); they will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts (Psalm 10:4). Jesus tells us that sinful pride comes from the heart and mind of men or women, and that pride is equally compared to numerous other sins (See Mark 7:20-23).
Unrestrained desire and passion can, and often does, result in the seven sins that are an abomination unto the Lord (See Prov. 6:16-19). The sins mentioned here are lust and pride; filled with vanity. Uncontrolled they lead to eternal death. But here is the positive outcome of those that recognize, avoid, and overcome such sins. John tells us that he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.