Tuesday, 31 March 2020
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17
John spoke of the things of the world in the previous verse, meaning the ordered system of the world. He now says, And the world is passing away. The Greek is a present verb, passive. This means that it is ongoing, and it is simply happening through the natural course of time.
There is nothing permanent in this passing system and, therefore, there is nothing that can be relied upon or trusted in. When one trusts in a government, the government is overthrown, goes bankrupt, or etc. When a person feels confident in his strength, he eventually ages and becomes weak, or he has an accident and is paralyzed, etc. The things we trust are temporary and will not last. This includes “the lust of it.”
Man lusts after money and it is lost, stolen, or eaten away in its storage vault. Man lusts after beauty, and the beauty ages and fades away. Man lusts after power, and the position is eliminated, the business goes bankrupt, or the election is lost and the power is gone. Because the world system is temporary, and because lust for the things of the world is directed to that which is temporary, there is nothing that has any true permanency. However, John then contrasts that with, “but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
The Greek reads, “abides to the age.” The person who does the will of God is doing that which is, by its very nature, eternal. As God is the Creator, what He does and who He is stands forever. Therefore, when one does the will of God, what he does is not a part of this age, but of the age to come. This isn’t speaking of the man not dying. Until the Lord comes, all will continue to die. But the things man does while here, and which are directed toward God’s will, are enduring. They belong to the age which is not passing away.
Life application: Because John’s words concerning the passing away of the world are in the present tense, it tells us that “it is already passing away.” The decay has begun, and the final end of what we now see and live in will continue to ebb until it is completely used up.
Think of what he is saying in comparison to a tank of gas. “The fuel is being used up.” Again, the present tense in our language tells us it is being used and it is diminishing. At some point, the tank will be empty. The verb “is passing away” is paragó, and suggests that this is occurring all by itself; it is like a canker on a tree which, in destroying the tree, destroys itself.
John says in the same context, “and the lust of it.” The same thing which is happening to the world system is occurring to the lust of the world. The eyes which lust the temporary are also temporary and will have an end – being used up in futility.
But in contrast to those, the one who does God’s will aligns himself with the eternal, not the temporary. The words “abide” and “forever” both speak of this, and provide the believer with the assurance that the will and promises of God go beyond the current age into the eternal sphere. The Greek word aiona, or “ages,” assures us of this. This all points back to the one who reflects on God’s word as is noted in the first Psalm –
“He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:3
Lord, when the trials and sadness of this life seem too much to bear, or when we look on the wickedness occurring around us, we can return to the beautiful words You have given us in Your word, and we can rejoice in the promises of the age to come, when all this trial and trouble will be no more. May You return soon and set up that eternal system! Amen.