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February 12, 2012
Love Not the World
Do not love the world nor 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 lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1John 2:15-17)
Even though some Christians were strong, had the word of God abiding in them, and had overcome the wicked one in some sense, John saw fit to admonish them about where they placed their affections. We need to understand that this warning is for all who belong to God—then and now. We also need to see how expansive the warning is.
It is obvious that the word “world” is used to mean different things in the Bible. For example, the word is used to describe the people who make it up (John 3:16). Clearly, God loves the people in the world. The Son was not sent for the world’s physical contents—Jesus didn’t die for a tree or a rock—He loves those who are made in His image. It is just as obvious that such love is not forbidden. We are reminded over and over again of the importance of caring about other people.
The word “world” is also used to refer to the physical universe (Acts 17:24). Loving the physical universe was not what the universe was made for. It is not an object of love. Viewing the things of the universe should make us to love and worship the Maker: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalms 8:3,4). To love the physical things of the universe is to have misplaced love.
Evidence that such misplaced love does exist is seen in undue attachment to houses and household duties: “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” (Luke 10:38-42). Evidence of such love exists and shows in the mad rush which people make to have temporal things even to the missing of the spiritual things, “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’” (Luke 12:15-21).
Why must Christians not love this present world in this sense? This old world will pass, “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1John 2:17). “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (2Peter 3:10). Another reason why we ought not to love this present world is that we can have a better world (Mark 10:28-30).
Without any doubt the main thrust of this warning of loving not the world has to do with the loving of the sinful things which are in the world. Carnal desires, other desires which are fired by the appeal of such objects, and vanity, pride, and worldly honor are what the world is made of (1John 2:16). Adam and Eve found this out, too, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6).
Christians are not to conform to it. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2).
Christians are not to seek friendship with it. “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4).
Christians are to strive to overcome it. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1John 5:4) There can be victory.
Christians are to keep unspotted from it. “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27).
Christians are to live godly while in the midst of it. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).
Christians have a positive duty toward it. They are to shine forth within it. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).
How may people escape this world and its terrible consequences? This can be done by coming to Jesus: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” (Galatians 1:3-5). This can be done by learning of Him and His word (2Peter 2:20). This can be done by continuing to believe in and follow Jesus. Remember 1John 5:4 and the victory we can have? How about you? Will you overcome the world?
—S. Scott Richardson Sr,