Thursday, November 20, 2014

WHAT NOT TO LOVE (1 John Chapter 2)

1 John 2:15-17, “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.”

The word “world” stands out in this passage, appearing six times in these three verses.  It translates the Greek kosmos which is used in the New Testament in reference to: the earth (Cf. John 21:25; Acts 17:24); the human race (Cf. John 3:16); or, “the present condition of human affairs in alienation from and opposition to God” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).  The later usage is the sense here.

The believer is exhorted to “not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15).  The term “love” translates the Greek agapao.  Kenneth Wuest has commented on its use here, "Agapao  speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it.  It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object. (Wuest, Kenneth; Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans).

Three reasons are given as to why we should not love the world: 1) what the world is; 2) what the world does; and 3) where the world is going.

The world stands in opposition to God, as James Montgomery Boice explains, "The idea here is of the world of men in rebellion against God and therefore characterized by all that is in opposition to God.  This is what we might call ‘the world system.’  It involves the world’s values, pleasures, pastimes, and aspirations.  John says of this world that the world lies in the grip of the evil one (1 John 5:19), that it rejected Jesus when He came (John 1:10), that it does not know Him (1 John 3:1), and consequently that it does not know and therefore also hates His followers (John 15:18, 19, 20, 21; 17:14).  It is in this sense that John speaks of the world in the passage before us. (Boice, James M.; The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary; Baker Books).

The world encourages us to misplace our love.  We should love God above all else and always endeavor to do His will, but that is contrary to the way of the world.  Indeed these last days are characterized by love for all the wrong things—self, money, pleasure (Cf. 2 Timothy 3:1-4).  The world system uses three primary devices to tempt and trap believers—“the desires of the flesh (pleasurable “doing” type sins; “fun”) and the desires of the eyes (profitable “having” type sins; “fortune”) and pride of life (positional “being” type sins; “fame”)” (1 John 2:16).  The devil used these three devices to deceive and tempt Eve.  She saw that the tree was “good for food (“the desires of the flesh”), and that it was a delight to the eyes (“the desires of the eyes”), and that tree was to be desired to make one wise (“pride of life”)” (Genesis 3:6).  Jesus was likewise tempted according to these three devices, but He did not sin (Cf. Matthew 4:1-10).  These devices appeal to sometimes appropriate desires, but tempt us to fulfill them in inappropriate ways--outside and contrary to the will of God.  For example, to satisfy one’s hunger is altogether appropriate, but gluttony is sin; sex within marriage is a gift from God, but is otherwise forbidden.  The believer is to preference the doing of the will of God to illegitimately attempting to fulfill his desires according to the world’s way of thinking.  Paul similarly exhorts the believer to “not be conformed to this world”, but instead to be transformed that he might know and do the will of God (Cf. Romans 12:2).

Though most suppose otherwise, the world and its desires is passing away (Cf. 1 John 2:17; 2 Peter 3:1-7).  One day the world system will come to an end.  All of the worldly pursuits of men will be exposed and expunged (Cf. 2 Peter 3:10).  John contrasts between two differing ways of life, living for the here and now vs. living for the then and there.  Living for the here and now (according to the way of the world) is a bad investment of one’s life because you can’t keep hold of the things that you are now living for.  But “whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).  Love for the world is a love that God hates (Cf. James 4:4).  It is far better to love God and endeavor to do His will. 

“O let me feel Thee near me, The world is ever near; I see the sights that dazzle, The tempting sounds I hear; My foes are ever near me, Around me and within; But, Jesus draw Thou nearer, And shield my soul from sin.” (O Jesus, I Have Promised; John E. Bode).

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