Love Not The World

Which disturbs you more: A soul lost in Hell or a scratch on your new car? Missing the worship service or missing a day’s work? A sermon 10 minutes too long or lunch half hour late? Your Bible unopened or not knowing the latest news? The church work being neglected or housework neglected? Missing a good Bible study or your favorite TV program? The millions who do not know Christ or having the right clothes? The cry of the multitude for bread or your desire for another piece of German chocolate cake? Your tithes decreasing or your income decreasing? Your children late for Sunday school and Church or late for school or ball practice? Which really disturbs you most? If we were all honest with ourselves, we would have to confess that there is too much of the world in us. Consider the following statistics about church members: 5% of reported church members do not exist; 10% cannot be found ; 20% never pray; 25% never read the Bible; 30% never attend church; 40% never give to any cause; 50% never go to Sunday school; 60% never go to church Sunday nights; 70% never give to Missions; 75% never engaged in any church activity; 80% never go to prayer meeting; 90% never have family worship; 95% never win a soul to Christ.[1]

John writes to believers in Christ urging them to love not the world. “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 for ever.”[2]

3 Warnings Concerning the World. In verse 15 of 1 John 2, we see three specific warnings concerning the world. First, we are told to love not the world. To heed this warning, we must first understand what is meant by the world. When John talks about the world, he is not referring to God’s creation. He is referring to the world system. The world has been contaminated by sin. When the Bible speaks of the world or worldliness in this context it is referring to a system or culture that is anti-God. The world can be defined in this way: The people constituting the world whose values, beliefs, and morals, are in distinction and rebellion to God’s. This world system is in direct opposition to God. Therefore, we are not to love the world as it is, and we are not to allow ourselves to be conformed to the world; whose entire being is in rebellion against God. When we let our guard down, it is easy for us to get sucked into the world. It is easy for us to adopt the ways of the world that is in direct contradiction to the ways of God. Therefore, we are warned, to love not the world.

Secondly, love not the things in the world. This is a reference to the activity and material of the world. John is not saying that we cannot enjoy living here on earth. The whole purpose of John’s writing is that our joy would be full. However, John is saying that we should not be consumed by the materialistic things of the world and the activity of the world. There is certainly nothing wrong with having material things and wealth. However, when we are consumed by those things, and we are living in pursuit of those things instead of pursing God; that is the problem. Think about it. What are you pursuing? What do you live for? An easy way to test where your allegiance lies is by looking at your day planner and your checkbook. How you spend your time, and your money is a very good indication of what you truly love. What does your day planner and checkbook say about you? Are you pursuing the things of this world or are you pursuing God? God want us to pursue Him. Life is not about material gain, or fame, or success. Life is about knowing God and pleasing Him. What are some things in your life that you can’t live without? What are those things that consumes you? Love not the world and love not the things that are in the world.

Another warning that John gives is that if you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. It has been said that you cannot have one foot in the world and one foot in the church. Jesus said you cannot serve two masters. When you are consumed by the things of this world, then your fellowship with God is broken. You cannot be in right fellowship with God and be filled with the world at the same time. When it comes to our relationship with the Lord, it is either all or nothing. You cannot straddle the line. You have to be on one side or the other. You cannot love the world and the things of this world and at the same time be in right fellowship with God. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “The world competes for the love of Christians and one cannot both love it and the Father at the same time.”[3] James 4:4 says, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, 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.”[4]Those are some very strong words by James. If you love the world then you are at enmity with God. Your relationship with God will never be what it ought to be when you are holding on to the things of this world.

3 Categories of Sin. In verse 16 John goes on to explain the three categories of sin that competes for our affection and robs us of our joy in Christ. All sin and worldliness fall under one of these three categories. The first category of sin is the lust of the flesh. Matthew Henry says, “The lust of the flesh is, subjectively, the humour and appetite of indulging fleshly pleasures; and, objectively, all those things that excite and inflame the pleasures of the flesh.”[5] The lust of the flesh is anything we do to satisfy our worldly desires. It could be anything from sexual immorality to gluttony. When we indulge in flesh satisfying activity with no regard for others and for the Lord; our fellowship with God and with others is broken. I came across a young man recently that I have not seen in church in over a year. I told him we missed having him at church and he responded by saying that he would be there Sunday if he wasn’t out hunting. Of course, he never came to church on that Sunday. This is an example of the lust of the flesh. There is nothing sinful about going hunting. It can be a very joyful and God honoring activity. However, when that activity is put above your relationship with God, then it is sin. God wants us to have fun and to enjoy the blessings of life. However, when we indulge in those pleasures instead of going to the house of God, or reading our Bible, or praying, or witnessing, or helping someone in need; then that which is enjoyable to us becomes sin. When we live for our own enjoyment and pleasure rather than living to glorify God, then we are giving in to the lust of the flesh and our fellowship with God is broken.

The second category of sin is the lust of the eyes. This has to do with covetousness. It is wanting something that God has not blessed us with or desiring something that is forbidden. The lust of the eyes is looking upon something with the desire to have it. Our fleshy desires are aroused by what we see. This is why Satan is constantly placing things before our eyes to distract us from the Lord and to arouse our flesh to pursue that which is sinful.

The third category of sin is the pride of life. Most all sin can fall under this category. The pride of life is the desire to please self with no regard for others or for God. In a sense, it is idolatry. It is worshipping self. Instead of being concerned with the things of God, we are concerned only for ourselves and our own pleasure. Pride is the root cause of all sin. Every evil and wicked thing in the world arise from personal pride.

An Eternal Admonition. In verse 17, John mentions that the world will one day pass away. This evil world system that we see all around us will one day be destroyed. The things of this world will not last. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life; will all pass away. However, those who follow the Lord will live forever. John is encouraging believers with the fact that the one thing that will last is their relationship with the Lord. Therefore, they should not concern themselves with the things of this world. They should not invest in the things of this world. Instead, they should invest in the Kingdom of God because that is the one thing that will last. This world and its ways are temporary. There is no lasting benefit to indulging in the ways of the world. However, there is an eternal benefit for living for the Lord and remaining in right fellowship with God.

What are you living for? What are you pursuing? Where does your allegiance lie? Strengthen your fellowship with God today by loving Him rather than loving the world.

[1] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 1639). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

[2] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., 1 Jn 2:15–17). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[3] Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 891). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jas 4:4). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[5] Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2445). Peabody: Hendrickson.

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