Message Title: What God wants us NOT to love Text: 1 John 2:15-17
Introduction: Does anyone still get the newspaper everyday delivered to your home? I stopped it years ago because I was tired of all the ‘inserts’ that came with it. You know what I’m talking about…
- Fliers from Shoprite, Sports Authority, Pep Boys, Home Depot, Foodtown, K-Mart, Sears, Boscovs, Walmart, Kohls, Aldi’s… I could go on and on and on.
- It seemed there were more circulars in the newspaper than actual news.
For a while, I was drawn to the circulars. In fact, I rarely read the news part…
- I wanted to know what was on sale even though I didn’t need it.
- I wanted to know what was new and updated even though what I already had worked well.
So… I stopped my subscription to the newspaper.
BUT, I found the same thing in my mailbox. Anyone get this Valpak? Then it started on the internet. Right?
- You search for something you need/want on Amazon and adds for similar and even different items start popping up on your home page, on Facebook, and Instagram.
- Then, Amazon starts ‘recommending’ things you don’t need on their website.
You just can’t get away from it… Which is what businesses want.
A survey in Discipleship Journal ranked the greatest spiritual challenges to Christians. Can you guess what #1 is?
- Materialism was #1.
That got me asking why materialism is the #1 challenge to Christians. And the answer I came up with is ‘worldliness.’
- As Christians, we’ve not just dipped our toes into the dark and treacherous waters of worldliness… like everyone around us, we’ve jumped in head first.
- And we say, perhaps not verbally, ‘Come on in, the waters fine’.
Once we’re swimming and playing in the waters of worldliness, we conveniently forget that we’re called by Jesus, to be IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF IT.
Then we stop asking the serious questions that help keep our focus on Jesus and His kingdom.
- How am I different than the unbelieving world around me?
- How am I different from its values, its priorities, its systems, its mindset and methods?
- AND, how does that difference express itself in the way I choose to live?
We don’t ask those questions because daily we’re blitzed in all media forms, by beautiful, powerful, successful people telling us that
- We can’t be happy unless we buy the product they’re selling,
- We can’t be successful unless we live the kind of life, share the kind of values they have.
AND… Christians… we believe them,
- We like them on Facebook,
- We follow them on Twitter,
- We buy their CDs, wear their clothes, watch their movies, go to their sporting events and buy their merchandise.
In effect, what we’re actually buying into… is their lifestyles and worldview.
- All of us do that… to some extent.
And at times, when we recognize we’re doing that and we want to change, we do what a Christian college did that I attended in the 70’s…
- we make up and follow a set of rules, do’s and mostly don’ts, to get our behavior godlier. Am I right?
Well, it didn’t stop much of the ungodly behavior at the college… and it more often than not, it doesn’t stop the worldly behavior in us either.
You see, ‘rules of conduct’ approach to overcoming worldliness … doesn’t work. And the Apostle Paul recognized that when he wrote this in Colossians 2:20ff
- If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”… according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Paul said that, because he understood that, worldliness, is NOT primarily a matter of the mind, but at the core, it’s a matter of the HEART!
- If your heart is captured by the world, you’ll crave the things of the world.
- If you heart is captured by God, you’ll crave the things of God.
And that’s what the Apostle John will tell us in our text this morning.
One last thing before we open our text.
- John, the Apostle of love, told us in 1 John 2:10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.
- BUT, in our text this morning, John, the Apostle of love, will tell us what NOT to love.
Transition: So, open your Bibles to 1 John 2:15 of use your WRI.
1. 1 John 2:15
A. vs 15a Do not love the world!
Do not love the world or the things in the world.
Ok, is this a contradiction of what John said in His Gospel? John 3:16, you all know it:
- For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
Now, in 1 John 2:15 he’s telling us, commanding us in fact, NOT to love the world. What’s up?
First, love here is in the perfect tense. That means it could be translated stop loving the world.
- It’s a pattern, it’s habitual, it’s ongoing, it’s representative of their lifestyle.
And it’s what John’s readers, Christians, were doing.
Second, we need to understand how John uses the word world here.
- It’s not the physical world God created in Genesis 1. God said that was good.
- It’s not the people of the world. When John said God loved the world in John 3:16. He was talking about its people… because it’s people who come to faith in Jesus and are saved from their sin.
So what world, what things in the world is John commanding us not to love? We’ll see it more clearly in verse 16 but let me be more general here.
- It’s the immoral structure of society.
- It’s all that’s opposed to Jesus.
- It’s Satan’s system of influence.
- It’s the wide road that leads to destruction.
- It refers to the fallen state of everything around us.
- It’s everything that takes our focus off God.
Sidebar: The command not to love the things of the world is not telling us to hate our cars, homes, clothes, jobs and such. Except to the extent that they take our focus off of Jesus.
If we do the things the world does, if we believe the things the world believes, then we’ve chosen to live, by the same principles as the unsaved around us.
- We choose to love the world…
- making us, not only, in the world, but, of the world.
And John tells us there are consequences.
B. vs 15b Result of loving the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
That’s a very strong statement! It’s true, but very strong. And perhaps you don’t like how that sounds, perhaps because it might be talking about you.
Theologians see this two ways:
- First, the love of the Father is not in you may refer to the love that God pours into your heart when you’re saved. (Romans 5:5)
- Second, it refers to our love for God.
In Matthew 6:24 we read:
- No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
I believe both this text and 1 John 2:15 speak of competing loves for the Christian… not the loss of salvation for the Christian.
So what does that mean then? It means the same thing it did in chapter 1 when John was talking about saying you walk in the light of God when you in fact are walking in the darkness of sin.
- You’re a hypocrite.
You see, to the extent we love the world, we push out the love of God in our lives. But this text also means that to the extent that we love God, we push out the love of the world in our lives.
- Remember worldliness is a matter of the heart.
- It’s a matter of what we love, what captivates our affections.
When it’s God, our love for the world and the things in it will fade.
When it’s the world, and the things in it, our love for God fades.
2. 1 John 2:16 Specifics of what not to love.
Let me begin by saying that when John uses the word all, he refers to everything in the world that’s opposed to God…we looked at that earlier.
- He now gives us three specifics of the immoral world system John refers to and we all struggle with from time to time.
A. vs. 16a
Perhaps your translation says Lusts of the flesh. Maybe a better way to describe it, since desires can good but lust is always bad. And what John describes here is bad, sinful.
The Apostle Paul in Galatians gives us a list, not a complete list, but a list of desires/lusts of the flesh:
- 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.
Lust of the flesh, desires of the flesh are related to the body and its sinful appetites, cravings, or pleasures.
- Now many of our natural urgings are given to us by God and are good. The problem comes when we try to satisfy those good urges with sinful actions, when we go beyond what God intended that urge to produce in us.
For example: We have a natural urge, desire, to eat. Eating is meant to sustain the body. And that’s good. BUT, how many of us, when we eat, go beyond what was intended (to sustain our body) to the place of overindulgence?
- My thinking is often: if one Philly Cheesesteak Sub is good, then 3 is even better.
- If 4 White Castel Cheeseburgers is good, then why not just get a sack of 10?
That’s the sin of gluttony, that’s an inordinate desire, an extreme concentration on, a sinful abuse of the urge God has given us to use food to sustain our body.
- The same can be said for sex, shelter, money, transportation, and possessions to name a few.
So listen, when our focus, our inordinate desire, is to please the flesh, to do what the body wants… that’s what the Apostle John is talking about that we’re never to love, because it’s in direct conflict with our love for God.
2. The desires of the eyes
This can be translated Lust of the eyes and refers to our aesthetic and intellectual pleasures, cravings. It is not a temptation from within us, but from outside us.
- We see something and we want it. If we can’t have it we get angry, we start to obsess over it.
God has given to us a healthy desire to possess things. But the lust of the eyes goes past that into sin.
He has given us the desire to appreciate and celebrate the beauty of things around us.
- But a love for the world, manifested in our lust of the eyes, takes the beauty of a woman and denigrates it into eroticism, pornography and sexual sin.
- But a love for the world, manifested in our lust of the eyes, takes the beauty a car, home, RV, motorcycle, or boat and makes it an obsession that robs us of our money, time and affection.
We’ve seen it, we’ve developed an inordinate desire to possess it and we seek it at all costs. The problem is… once we get it we’re never satisfied.. we want more, we want better, we want newer to the point where we’re controlled by it…
- Can any one says the word addiction?
Loving the world, my friends and the things in it, has an addictive quality.
Here’s the thing.
- The desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes
- are powered by the pride of life.
That’s why John leaves it for last.
3. The pride of life
Life here is not the state of living, but has the same meaning as world in the text… all that surrounds us that is not of God.
- The desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes revolve around the sinful passion for pleasure. Generally of what we don’t have.
- The pride of life revolves around the sinful conceit of possessions. Generally of what we do have.
Like our ‘things,’ our achievements, our successes, our prominence, and our power.
Yet, to the Christians in the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul writes: What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Corinthians 4:7b)
Even the Psalmist wrote about how to deal with the pride of life:
- Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.
- Does what you have achieved, does what you possess in life, dominate your thoughts and actions? Do they rule your life?
- Do you talk more about what you have, or have done, than what God has done or has given to you?
If so, perhaps your love for the world is great and your love for God is fading.
B. vs 16b
is not from the Father but is from the world.
Just so there’s no misunderstanding, John wants us to know that none of the sinful desires we find in the world around us are from God.
- God is not responsible when we take what He has given to us that’s good, and we take it to the dark side.
We’re not a victim of the bad in the world around us.
- We make the choice to satisfy our sinful desires of the flesh and eyes.
- We make the choice to sinfully boast in what we have or have achieved.
We do that… It’s not from God.
- It’s because we’ve chosen to nurture our love for the world, rather than our love for God.
And that’s sad because, John tells us that the world, and all that’s in it, is passing away.
3. 1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires,
That’s the bad news. If you choose to love the world, if you seek to satisfy the sinful desires of the flesh and eyes, if you sinfully boast in what you have or have achieved…
- You’ve bought stock in a bankrupt company.
- You did it all… for nothing.
ILL: I’ve read that People from Finland who can’t get enough of winter swarm to the northern town of Kemi for the opening of a sprawling ice castle that features a theatre, a playground, an art gallery, and a chapel.
Thirty workers took three months to build a castle with 13-foot walls stretching for 1650 feet. An Orthodox Church chapel, hewn from ice, has been booked for weddings and christenings. The theater has a capacity of 3000 and features rock and pop concerts, musicals, modern dance, opera recitals, and popular operas.
Here’s the kicker. Construction and upkeep costs are estimated to be $1.1 million, yet the castle always melts sometime in mid-April. “The melting ice serves as a reminder that all the material things in this world will one day pass away.
(1001 Quotes, Illustrations & Humorous Stories for Preachers, Teachers & Writers)
The world, and all of it sinful pleasures, are coming to an end. Jesus is returning to make all things right and good and pure.
The Apostle John is warning us to anchor ourselves to what’s lasting, to loving God, not to something that’s passing away, like the world.
but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
And if you’ve habitually lived a life of love for the world, you will lose it all.
But those who do God’s will.. who obey His command not to love the world, will live forever in heaven. And receive all the blessings and riches He has promised to them to who love God!
Conclusion: Steve Cole writes that In 1989, Tom Sine said
- Whatever commands our time, energy, and resources commands us.
- And if we are honest, we’ll admit that our lives really aren’t that different from those of our secular counterparts.
- We hang around church buildings a little more. We abstain from a few things. But we simply aren’t that different.
- As a result of this unfortunate accommodation, Christianity is reduced to little more than a spiritual crutch to help us through the minefields of the upwardly mobile life.
- God is there to help us get our promotions, our house in the suburbs, and our bills paid.
- Something is seriously amiss.
Christian… I’m asking you to honestly think this week about your heart is.
- Do you seek the approval of those around you more than God’s approval?
- Do you strive for what satisfies your sinful cravings of what satisfies God’s will?
- Do you boast about what you have and achieved, or about what God has done for you and given to you, for His glory?
- Do you love the world more than you love God?
Friends, are you influenced more by your love for the world than by your love for God?
- Check your calendar to see what you’re doing, where you’re going and who you’re going with.
- Review your check register, and your credit card statements to see how you’re spending your money.
- Take note of your words and actions to see if they are more about you or about God and His kingdom.
Then, remember Johns words:
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.