Sunday, 29 March 2020
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 John 2:15
John now jumps directly from the poetic thoughts of the previous three verses which described overcoming through Christ and headlong into a fixed and firm statement about not loving the things of the world. It appears that it is a new thought which is disconnected from what he has just said, but this is not the case. In the previous verses, he spoke of overcoming the wicked one, meaning the devil.
Understanding this, the next verses will show quite clearly that the things of the world are a part of what the devil entices man with. Therefore, as believers have “overcome the wicked one,” it would be contrary to love the things which the wicked one tempts man with. Understanding this, John begins the verse with, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.”
This is not contradictory to John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world…” The word kosmos, or “world,” has various meanings which much be taken in context. The word speaks of an ordered system. This can be the physical world which involves everything concerning its operational order. It can extend to the entire creation which goes beyond the world itself. It can speak of the people of the world, as the ensemble of humanity. It can also speak of the sphere of life in which humans exist – people working for success, wealth, fulfilling lusts, and etc.
It is the last use, which is referred to here, as will be seen in the coming verses. We are not to love what fallen humanity loves. We are not to pursue the things which the normal order of human existence finds worthy of adoration or even worship. Jesus said, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).
Those to whom Jesus was speaking had put the system of the world before God. They pursued wealth, power, notoriety, or whatever other thing would satisfy their earthly desires instead of pursuing God. In this, they showed where their hearts were directed, and where their priorities really were. John says of this attitude, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
The meaning “the love of the Father,” is speaking of “love for the Father.” This goes back to what John said earlier about light and darkness. Though at that time he was speaking of loving or hating a brother, the idea is the same. Light and darkness cannot exist at the same time. Likewise, loving the world excludes love for the Father. Jesus succinctly stated the concept when He said, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13).
Our honoring of the Father comes through our honoring of the Son. But we cannot honor the Son while we are actively loving and pursuing the things of the world. John will continue to explain this in the coming verses.
Life application: John’s words may be a rebuke to some extent, because the command “do not love” is in the present tense and an active voice. This indicates that at least some of the addresses may have been following the way of the world. As it is likely that the “little children” addressed in the previous verses were immature believers, it could be that he is addressing them specifically.
This is more than probable when we see that it is they to whom he said, “you have known the Father.” This then may be a sudden and stern warning that they need to grow up and become more doctrinally sound. John’s words are certainly still pertinent to believers today. As this letter has become a part of Scripture, we know that it certainly applies to our lives as well.
The church is no less filled with immature believers now than then – and it is probably more so. Such people have one foot in the church, and the other is stuck in the mud of the world – meaning its systems and enticements. This world system that has been arranged by Satan is at enmity with God. There is no middle ground in the battle which is occurring in the spiritual conflict between the Light and the darkness that John previously mentioned.
God is due our highest devotion, our greatest adoration, our fixed attention, and our loudest praise. This should be such that there isn’t room for anything else in our lives but Him. Have you yet arrived at that place? If not, press on in His grace – using the world in which we live, but not loving it or clinging to it. Fix your eyes on Jesus and your heart on the Everlasting God.
Lord, it is a high and hard goal to completely let go of the world, but this is what we should desire. Keep us from loving it and all it contains. Despite the things which are ever-so tempting, we know that we need to put them behind us and focus solely on You and the glories which are ahead. Until then, remind us again and again that it is Jesus where our eyes should rest. Amen.