1 John 2:16

Monday, 30 March 2020

For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 John 2:16

As noted in the previous verse, there are several thoughts that can speak of “the world” when the Greek word kosmos is used. It speaks of an ordered system, but it can mean various things, including the physical world which involves everything in its operational order. That can even extend to the entire creation which goes beyond the world itself. Or, it can speak of the people of the world, as the ensemble of humanity. Further, it can also speak of the sphere of life in which humans exist – people working for success, wealth, fulfilling lusts, and etc.

It was stated in the previous commentary that the last of these three is what John is referring to here. That will be confirmed by his words now. He begins with, “For all that is in the world.” What he will next refer to is, therefore, an all-inclusive thing. The ordered system which impels the sphere of life, in which humanity operates, is at enmity with the Father.

It is obvious that this is not the case with the physical world. God created the heavens and the earth, and He called them good. This has not changed in the ultimate sense as is testified to by Scripture, and as is evidenced in the coming of Christ. For the Lord to unite with humanity demonstrates that the Father found it acceptable for Him to do so.

It is obviously not the people of the world, in and of themselves. This is testified to in John 3:16, where the word kosmos, or “world,” speaks of the people of the world. God was willing to send Christ to redeem fallen man. Thus, the love of the Father is for this part of His creation, even if there is a moral disconnect which currently separates the two.

That moral defect, however, is driven by the third meaning of kosmos – that which forms the sphere of life in which man exists. John next describes that thing which continuously impels man forward within this system, calling it “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”

What is seen here hearkens all the way back to Genesis chapter 3 –

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.  Genesis 3:2-6

As you can see, Eve was tempted with, and fell for…

1) the lust of the flesh – the “tree was good for food;”
2) the lust of the eyes – “it was pleasant to the eyes;” and
3) the pride of life – “in the day you eat of it…you will be like God.”

This then is the part of what God created which is now opposed to Him. The first two – desires of the flesh and of the eyes – may have defects because of this, but they can be and will be corrected as is promised elsewhere in Scripture. However, this part of the system – the pride of life – is opposed to God because it puts the things of creation, and the will of man, ahead of God and of His perfect will for man. It is contrary to what is morally right, and it must be eliminated for man to again have restored fellowship with God.

If you follow the account of Jesus’ three temptations by Satan, he offered Jesus the same three enticements –

1) the lust of the flesh – When Jesus was hungry, Satan said, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
2) the lust of the eyes – After showing him all the kingdoms of the world, Satan proclaimed “…if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
3) the pride of life – After asking, “If you are the Son of God,” Satan challenged “throw Yourself down from here.”

But where Adam failed, Jesus prevailed. He stood firm against the devil’s enticements, and He continued to love the Father more than the temptations of the world. But this is what the devil offers, something to replace God in our worldly ordered system. As John says of this, it “is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Jesus was directed to the things of the Father, and He prevailed. But when we pursue the things of the world, we pursue that which is not of the Father. This is the point John is making, and it is a point revealed throughout Scripture. An interesting parallel of this is even found in the Levitical system of cleanliness. In Leviticus 13:2, it says –

“When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests.”

What does that verse in Leviticus have to do with the subject John is speaking of? Watch the sermon and find out – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RHkoJfJcho

Life application: Today, Satan challenges us in exactly the same way he always has. To succumb to these temptations is to succumb to the love of the world – Satan’s domain. This is the proper interpretation of “the world” in these verses, and it is meant to remind us that we simply cannot live for God without relying completely on –

1) the indwelling of the Holy Spirit,
2) our knowledge of the Bible, and
3) complete faith in, and reliance on, the Person and promises of Jesus Christ.

If we don’t hold fast to these, we are opening ourselves up to complete disaster in every aspect of our lives. Let us hold fast to the truth God has given us in these three avenues of keeping ourselves from Satan’s enticements.

Heavenly Father, the devil is there tempting us every step of the way – luring us to fall back into the life of sin Jesus saved us from. Please, we ask of You, keep us from his temptations and give us the will and the power to hold fast to our commitment to You. We know we are powerless without You, so be with us every moment and in every step. Amen.





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