Today’s sermon was unable to be recorded. It should record again next Sunday as normal, so please check back. The sermon transcript below is provided since there is no recording from 2/17/19. We hope it is a blessing to you! – Pastor Tim
Three Reasons to Not Love the World — 1 John 2:15-17
Not long before I graduated from college I saw an old family friend who had recently begun working for a large company. He was very proud of the fact that it was not only a respected and successful company, but that it also had amazing benefits including an employee purchase plan for stock—and the stock was skyrocketing. We were all so happy for him, that he would have such a great job that he was so happy at right out of college.
It was no more than a year and a half later that he pulled up to the house that I was living in outside Albuquerque, NM with hardly anything more than his pickup and a few suitcases to live with his brother–who was my roommate–until he could get another job. Almost overnight it seemed, Enron had gone bankrupt and he not only lost his job due to the bankruptcy, but thousands in stock.
If the employees of Enron had known that the company was so quickly going bankrupt, they would have done whatever they could have to get their money out of the company. Instead, employees and shareholders lost over $11 billion dollars!
In 1 John 2:15-17, John explains clearly to us that the world is passing away so we need to put all of our trust and love in God rather than pouring our trust and love into the world which is what we’re tempted to do every day.
To keep with my metaphor, John says, “the world is going bankrupt!” It’s passing away. So don’t love the world or the things in the world—rather, love God!
There is a clear command at the beginning of this passage that we heard for our Scripture reading, “Do NOT love the world or the things in the world.” Then the Apostle John gives us 3 reasons to not love the world:
Do not love the world…
- Because of your salvation (v. 15)
- Because of the deceitfulness of sin (v. 16)
- Because of eternity (v. 17)
*v. 15—“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.”
1) Do not love the world because of your salvation (v. 15).
John says so clearly, if you love the world, you don’t have the love of the Father! You can’t serve two masters. Either Christ is our master, or the world is our master—and we will serve and live for what we love.
Have you ever been in a job where you had two bosses and they sometimes told you to do different things?! This is why there are clear chains of command in companies and why they go through it with you during your job orientation. You need to know who you answer to.
Every job I have ever had has a clear chain of command because you have to know who your boss is. But when I was a lifeguard at the local swimming pool in high school, the manager and the head lifeguard would often tell me to do different things. It made doing my job impossible!
The Apostle John is saying in verse 15, if you are a believer, Jesus is your master now. You can’t do what he says and what the world says at the same time.
And this is because of who you love. You can’t love the world and God your Father at the same time. So the illustration of what John is saying in verse 15 grows to include a young man who proposes to a young woman and tells her, I want you to marry me, and you will have all of my love—except for this one part of my heart that I am saving for my former girlfriend because I’m capable of loving two women at the same time. Ridiculous!
John is showing us, if we love the world, the love of the Father is not really in us.
This is another time that grammar is important—John says, “If anyone loves the world”—the grammar of “loves” here shows that it is a way of life.
When I say, “Do not love the world because of your salvation,” I don’t mean so you will earn your salvation, but so that you and others will know that you are saved. Not loving the world is a fruit of your salvation. Because you are saved, do not love the world.
There is interplay of faith and works all throughout Scripture that we cannot ignore. There are passages that just won’t make sense if we don’t understand that we are saved by grace not by works, and we show that we are truly saved by a changed life.
*Ephesians 2:8-10 show this interplay of faith and works and how salvation by grace, not works, comes into that when it says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
This is an important theme in 1 John. Salvation is by grace, which will show itself in fruit. Once again, John is saying, your belief and your behavior need to be linked. If you have saving faith, then it will show itself in saving fruit—like not loving the world.
John has just finished a section in vv. 12-14 that reassures his readers that their salvation is because of the truth of the gospel.
– Because of Christ, their sins are forgiven (v. 12).
– Because of Christ, they have overcome the evil one (v. 13).
– Because of Christ, they know the Father (v. 13).
Then, John goes right into showing his readers that because of this salvation they need to put it to work by not loving the world. Remember, one of the main purposes of 1 John is to give us assurance of our salvation.
So far we’ve seen these tests in 1 John:
- The test of belief in Christ. Do you have a correct understanding of who Christ is?
- The test of recognition of sin. Do you admit that you are a sinner?
- The test of obedience. Do you have a way of life that is habitually trying to keep Christ’s commandments?
- The test of love. Do you love the body of Christ?
This test, not loving the world, could fall under the test of obedience.
So, if not loving the world is a test to see if we have saving faith, if John is so bold as to say, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” we need to understand what the world is.
The world as used here is not:
- Necessarily the physical world that God created as good.
When God created the physical world, he declared it very good (Gen. 1:31). God gives us sunsets and mountains and lakes and–can I even say this time of year–snow for us to delight in, because they point to Him!
*1 Tim. 4:3 explains this. Paul is talking about false teachers and says it comes through demons and liars, “who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
All of God’s creation, whether it’s the natural world or marriage or food is good when we use it as God intended and give Him the thanks for it…so He’s not necessarily talking in 1 John 2:15 about not loving the world as not loving the physical world that God created as good.
-He’s also not
- Necessarily talking about the world of humanity.
We are told again and again to love our neighbor, to love our spouses, and even in 1 John we have seen that in love Christ offered himself as a propitiation for the world.
John 3:16, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
So the Apostle John is not talking about the world of humanity. We love the world of humanity as God did in sending Jesus.
What John is referring to when he says, “do not love the world or the things in the world” is:
- An evil organized earthly system controlled by the power of the evil one that has aligned itself against God and His Kingdom.
In other words, the “world” here means anything that is opposed to Christ and His Kingdom.
*Eph. 2:1-5 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved–…”
It took the death of the Son of God to remove us from the world and to transfer us to His kingdom! So how can we go back to it?! We’re now in the world but not of it.
- Do not love the world because of your salvation (v. 15)—it’s a test of your salvation. Do we have a habit, a pattern in our lives of obeying God, obeying His commands?
- Do not love the world because of the deceitfulness of sin (v. 16)
*v. 16—“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.”
Now John is going to give us more information on why I said “world” here is referring to an organized system that is against God.
“desires of the flesh”—first, “desires” could also be translated lusts here—a strong desire that has been allowed to go out of the proper limits.
“Flesh” is referring to our sinfulness.
*Gal. 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”—then it goes on to explain the fruit of the Spirit! Our flesh is our sinfulness, apart from the Spirit of God working in our lives.
“the desires of the eyes”—How do you often sin in your heart? It starts with something you see that you shouldn’t have or can’t have, and you’re willing to do almost anything to get it. For example, we take our eyes, a gift from God, and we use them to covet.
One commentator called the lusts of the eyes as “The love of beauty divorced from the love of goodness.”
“the pride of life”—arrogance and boasting in what we have or in who we think we are, either putting ourselves up as better than others or as knowing better than God.
Satan attacks through these 3 areas (desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes and the pride of life) so consistently that John can say that they are “ALL that is in the world”—somehow any sin can tie back to one of these areas. In fact, the 1st sin did!
*Gen. 3:6, “So when the woman 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 the tree was to be desired to make one wise [the pride of life], she took its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
I summarized verse 16, “Do not love the world because of the deceitfulness of sin,” because the world, our own flesh (fallen humanity/sinfulness) and the devil constantly use these 3 areas to deceive us that whatever sin we are tempted in is better than God’s way!
Think about how Satan tempted Eve—he put the fact that God’s way of life is best, that His Word is best, into question! He made her doubt God’s love and care for her, and tempted her that she could know a better way.
v. 16—John says all of this (the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life) is not from the Father but is from the world.
Do not love the world because of the deceitfulness of sin—God’s way of life, following Christ, really is what is best!
+Think about how easily we can be deceived. Frank Abagnale is one of the most famous con artists in the world. His story was chronicled in a movie called “Catch Me If You Can.” Abagnale wrote bad checks for five years in the 1960s, making over $2.5 million in 26 countries. He travelled around the world free for 2 years by masquerading as a Pan Am pilot since competing airlines would give free transportation to other airline pilots if they had to move to another city at short notice. He pretended to be a medical supervisor for 11 months without detection and also worked fraudulently as a lawyer and teacher. After serving several prison sentences around the world, he escaped from a prison in the U.S. by masquerading as an undercover officer of the Bureau of Prisons. The US Federal Government finally offered him his freedom after serving only five years, in exchange for helping the government to catch fraud and scam artists.
But here’s the thing: Frank Abagnale has nothing on sin. John warns us to watch out for sin by not loving the world, everything on earth that is opposed to God. Sin is so deceptive, more deceptive than Abagnale. So stay away from it by not loving the world.
Lastly, we’re going to see, 3) Do not love the world because of eternity (v. 17).
*v. 17, “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
“Passing away” here is present tense! The world is not going to be here forever! Each second that we live is a second closer to the return of Christ when He will make everything right. The world is passing away along with its desires—this is great news for us if we have believed in the gospel, but terrible news for those who haven’t!
If you don’t believe the gospel, the end of the world is the worst thing that could ever happen to you!
BUT…Think about it: If you believe the gospel and are eagerly awaiting the return of Christ, you can’t wait for the end of the world because you know that it means a new Heaven and a new earth. It means the final defeat of Satan, sin, and death! It means no more sorrow or pain, and regret from sin!
+Think about what it means to live in light of eternity and to know that this world has an expiration date on it!
- To live in light of eternity means that we believe there is an eternity, that we will either live or die forever as the Bible tells us. It means that I recognize that I will die someday and that Jesus provides a way for me to be ready at any moment.
- To live in light of eternity means that the gospel is the most important message that we can possibly communicate to those who don’t know Christ.
- To live in light of eternity means that we will love Jesus with all our hearts and want to live for Him and obey God’s Word because it puts things in focus on what really matters.
- To live in light of eternity means that our relatives and friends won’t have to guess where we are when we die. They will know we are with Jesus because we said we believed in Him and because our life backed it up; we passed the tests we see in 1 John that show our faith was genuine.
- To live in light of eternity means that I will be quick to work out problems with others within the family of God because I realize that life is too short to work against each other when we are on the same team.
- To live in light of eternity means that I won’t live for the speed bump of the here and now in comparison to forever for Jesus’ glory.
When my family and I drove across the United States to move to Vermont so that we could become your pastor and pastor’s family, we drove over 3,200 miles. We basically began on I-90 near Seattle and if we hadn’t turned off of I-90 to come to Vermont once we hit New York, we would have been on I-90 all the way to Boston, coast to coast, over 3,000 miles.
I can’t really explain to people who have never driven coast-to-coast how you drive what feels like all day, and then you get in the car and drive again for what feels like all day, and then you get in the car again and drive for what feels like all day, and you do it again and again.
Now just imagine if I-90 represented eternity. And imagine that right before you get on the interstate near Seattle, there was a speedbump that you have to go over. You drive over 3,000 miles after that across the U.S. and then you look at your wife and say, remember that speedbump right before we got on I-90? Wasn’t that cool? You see, eternity is actually longer than I-90, but that speedbump at the beginning of a 3,000 mile journey gives us a little picture of how long our life is in comparison to eternity. Life can seem so long but it’s just the speedbump, there’s unimaginable adventures ahead of us with Jesus and loved ones who’ve gone before us in Heaven!
We get so hung up here on earth with the world, used in this passage to represent what is opposed to God, and we have desires to sin that can seem so strong, but remember this is just the speedbump. Live for the highway, not the speedbump! Live in light of eternity, not for things that are passing away.
This last incentive given that we see in 1 John 2:17 to not love the world is that the world will not be around forever. But whoever does the will of God abides forever.
So, this is the hope in these verses. As I studied them this week, I was convicted as the Holy Spirit showed me areas that I have loved the world more than God. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” is not easy to read. But…the good news of the gospel brings great hope! “Whoever does the will of God abides forever” brings hope!!
“Does” the will of God again shows habit—is it your pattern of life to do the will of God?
So what does it mean to do the will of God if this is our hope??
Turn a page to *1 John 3:23, “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”
We see 2 parts of God’s will here–
It is the will of God that you believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. That you believe in the gospel, the good news that Jesus died on the cross for your sins when you were dead in your sins. Trusting only in Him to save you. *John 6:40, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life…”
It is the will of God that you obey Jesus’ commands. What is it that the Holy Spirit has put into your heart as you have thought about loving the world rather than loving God? What do you need to do this week to not love the world that is passing away? “Whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
When you run a blog, you can see what kind of search engine queries brought somebody to your blog. I don’t often remember what people were searching for, but one search still is lodged in my memory. Somebody found a post on my blog because they Googled the question, “Do I have to live in light of eternity to be saved?”
I hope that they found the answer. John would say yes! You must believe the Gospel for salvation and then although imperfectly, you must follow Jesus which means you will want to obey His commands. “For the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”