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Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

Love the World...? (1 John 2:15-17)

    Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.

    This echoes the words that Jesus prayed for His disciples, including John in John 17:14-16, when He told them that they were in the world, just as He was in the world, but not of the world. This command takes this idea that disciples of Jesus should be of world not in the world and reminds us then that since we are in the world but not of it, then we should not love the world nor the things in the world.
    How do we do this, then? And why is it so important for Christians to be in the world but not of it, to not love the things of the world or the world. What does John mean, when he says, “the world”, because we really need to know that if we’re going to stay away from loving this world and the things that are in it.
    I want to look first at John 3:16, a verse likely to be familiar to mostly everyone, but let’s look at it in a different way. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (NASB) God so loved the world…so much so that He gave Jesus to save it. How can loving the world be bad, if God did it, and loved the world so deeply that He gave His Son for that world?
    There’s a difference here we have to understand though, going into our discussion of the world and why Christians are not to love the world of the things in it. It’s the difference between God’s love for the world, and what our love for the world might be.
    The difference here is desire. See, God’s love for the world comes from a desire to save it from itself, to save it from evil so that it is free to live by His values and desires. He doesn’t accept it as it is, but has a desire to remake it to be as He created it to be.
    In looking at loving the world, we need to understand our desire. Does love for the world and the things of the world come from  1. A desire to conform to God’s will, values, and desires, or 2. A desire to conform to the world’s values and desires?
    Matthew 6:24 has Jesus reminding us of this important fact, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (NASB) The fact was applied specifically to the love of money, but easily applies to the love of anything in the world that competes with love for God and His ways. We have to understand that the world is in opposition to God’s will, values, and His desires. Jesus made it very clear that we cannot desire to conform to God’s will while also desiring to conform to the world and its ways because the two are opposite. We cannot serve both, we must choose one.
    When you approach the world, to you approach it from a desire to conform to God’s will, values, and desires, or a desire to conform to the world’s values and desires? With that question in mind, let’s look at our passage for today and talk about worldliness.
    “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. 16 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. 17 The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God continues to live forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 (NASB)
    John says if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. We clearly don’t want to be that person who doesn’t have the love of the Father in them, so we know we cannot love the world. What is the world, what is worldliness? It’s important because John talks about certain things that are in the world, the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, boastful pride of life; all of these things are part of the world that we need to stay away from specifically. What are these things?
    Let’s start here. The word for world, or worldliness is KOSMOS. That word might sound familiar to you. It’s the word we get “cosmos” from which we use to describe the universe. It’s the same word used in Genesis 1 to describe the physical state of the world before God gave it form and function. Genesis says that the earth was formless and full of nothing, but the word used there actually means that the world was formless and full of chaos. Nothing was organized or functioning or purposeful. God organizes it, and gives it a function and purpose. That word for “chaos” goes on to gather other meanings as the Old Testament continues, and chaos also becomes associated with destruction, and even evil. So this word, by the time it gets to the New Testament and the Greek kosmos, is associated with the opposite of God’s character, it’s associated with chaos, evil, and destruction. This is why we say that God is not a god of chaos, because He took what was in chaos and gave it order.
    When John applies this word kosmos to the world, what he is saying is that the world is all of these things that are opposite of God’s character, the world is chaos, the world is destruction, the world is evil. The world is in persistent rejection of the claims of God in favor of its own values and desires. The world doesn’t care that God claims to have created the world. The world doesn’t care that God claims Christ is the only way to the Father. The world doesn’t care about anything that God claims and it will reject His claims at every turn and instead create its own values and desires and hold tightly to those values and desires in bold opposition and defiance of God.
    The M.O. of the world, persistently rejecting God’s claims in favor of its own values and desires comes from the boastful pride of life that John talks about. Pride is self-reliance, self-sufficiency. In short, pride is self. When I only think about self and what is best for self and how to get what the self desires, then of course I’m going to be rejecting God’s claims. So then the question that we actually should be asking when it comes to our desire to love the world or the things of the world is this: do I want to conform to God’s will, values, and desires, or my own? You cannot do both.
    The world and its desires, self and its desires are ruled and made by another. Let me read John 12:31 and 1 John 5:19, “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (NASB), “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (NASB) Who has power over the whole world, who is its ruler right now? Who is it that makes the desires of the world and the values of the world, and the values and desires of those who only think about the self? The evil one! Right now, the world belongs to SATAN.
    Satan will work in any way he can, using any method he can to keep your desires on doing what seems good for you. He will do anything he can to keep you from having a desire to conform to God’s will, values, and desires. If he can get you thinking about you and your wants and needs, that’s all he has to do to defeat you. He doesn’t have to get you to do horrible things necessarily, he just needs you not wanting to conform to God’s ways and he wins.
    John doesn’t specifically name any of these worldly things, these lusts of the flesh or eyes, or things that are full of pride, but we can put together some ideas with the understanding that these things are going to be desires shaped by the world that are unaware of and untouched by God. We have obvious things like sexual laxity, being loose with your sexual life, seeking sexual relationships that are outside of God’s will. Other things like addictions to substances that ignore God’s design for our bodies. But cravings of the flesh also include things that are less obvious. Pervasive materialism would be one of those. Obviously we have to use material things in the world, but our approach to those things must be from a desire to use them for God’s will, values and desires, rather than our own. Or what about workaholic efforts, working constantly and filling up time with busyness which violates the rest God desires for us to find in Him.
    Or the pursuit of success in any area of life, success that fills up our self-reliance and self-sufficiency so that we know we truly have everything we think we need for life, but forgets to ask God for our daily bread. Or chasing after talents, trying to master skills to make ourselves look accomplished forgetting that glory is God’s alone. What about our culture’s obsession with chasing after beauty, and youth? If this weren’t an obsession, catfishing wouldn’t be a thing. But people are obsessed with chasing beauty and youth, forgetting that God is the one who fearfully and wonderfully made them!
    What about power or strength? Whether it’s physical strength and power, or strength and power over people because of a position you hold, some seek power or strength because they forget that God can give them the power of the Holy Spirit to be victorious over sin! What about fame or notoriety? Maybe you don’t want to be known all over the world, but you want to leave a legacy behind, make your mark on your small corner of the world so people remember your name? But whose name is it that will always stand the test of time? The Name of the Lord only. Closely linked to this is the pursuit of status, whether through your own efforts, or as I have seen in today’s competitive parenting world, seeking status through the achievements of your children! Enjoying privilege because of an elevated status, but God says that we are all equal.
    There are other pursuits as well that are contrary to God’s will, values, and desires: like the pursuit of knowledge simply to have knowledge and boast about that knowledge; the pursuit of luxury and comfort; the pursuit of prosperity. Some of these things aren’t bad in of themselves, but when we make these things of the world the goal of life rather than just using them to do God’s will, then we have a problem. We turn these things of the world that God created and make them what we chase after, rather than chasing after the God who created them.
    John says that it’s foolish to love the world and all of these things of the world, all the lusts of the world because they are all PASSING away. All these things you could chase after and want to seek for fulfillment, they are dying! They are passing away. They fade and will be no more. But God doesn’t die, He doesn’t pass away, and He doesn’t fade, and neither do the things of God!
    John says specifically in verse 17 that the one who does the will of God continues to live forever. If you chase after the things of the world and you love the world, all those things that fade away, you’ll fade away with them. Those things, will cause you nothing but chaos, destruction, and evil! But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.
    What is the Will of God? There’s two places that specifically say what the Will of God is for each of us. 2 Peter 3:9 says that He does not want any of us to perish but to have eternal life. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 that says that the Will of God is that we each be sanctified, that we learn how to conduct ourselves in sanctification and honor, not like those who do not know God. Quite simply, the Will of God is that each of us is saved and sanctified. That is His Will. Everything He plans concerning us is to accomplish this Will.
    So, James 4:15 says that God’s Will should be the rule of your life, that if He says you do something, you do it, if He says don’t do it, don’t do it. John 7:17 and Romans 12:2 says that if you are willing to do the Will of God, He will grow your knowledge of Him and transform you! If you live by His Will, to be saved and sanctified, then He will grow your knowledge of Him and transform you!
    Matthew 12:50 says that those who do God’s Will, who are saved and sanctified, are part of His family.
    And Matthew 6:10 gives us really incredible insight into the way the Kingdom of God will be. Remember the example of prayer that Jesus gave the disciples? This line: “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s Will being done is the goal of the Kingdom of God. God’s Will is what happens in the Kingdom of God. So doing His Will, being saved and sanctified, and helping others to do the same, is Kingdom work. That is the goal of the Kingdom.
    This is what we want to do, clearly. So then we cannot love the world, or the things of this world, and love the Father at the same time.

1. Growing Up with God: Do you struggle with the temptation to love the things of the world that are destructive? If so, give examples of what tempts you. Pray and turn those things over to God for His control.

2. Growing Deeper with the Body: Has a desire to conform to the world ever kept you from loving a brother or sister the way Jesus loves? How might you better love them through a desire to do God’s Will?

3. Go Out: Marianne Thompson said, “a ministry of exposing the unrighteousness of the world’s ways does not stand in contradiction to a ministry of love.” How can you expose the unrighteousness and destructive ways of a pre-Christian you know while still having a ministry of love?

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