Faithlife Sermons

Love God, not the World

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Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:15-17
Opening Prayer
Introduction
Today we will explore the first imperative command given by John to his readers. This is the first of 10 in the book.
Main Idea: Love God and not the world because God leads to life and the world leads to death
Exposition
Let’s ask some questions about that statement.
1. What is the world?
If we are going to “not love” the world, we need to know what exactly it is and what it is not.
John 3:16 - God “so loved the world”
Throughout scripture we are commanded to love people (neighbors, brothers, the oppressed/suffering) as well as to strive and pray for the salvation of all.
So how is this different?
Let’s define is...
First, it is not the planet but the world system of sin, opposed to God.
It is not the animals or mountains or even people but is all that is opposed to God.
Obviously, that is not what is being referred to.
One commentator says it is,
1, 2, & 3 John Explanation of the Text

the moral and spiritual impulses that determine how people live.

Second, it includes the “things in the world”
1 John 2:15 ESV
15 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.
What exactly are these “things”?
I’m glad you asked John, while not providing an exhaustive list (which would not be possible) gives three categories that give a good framework to identify them.
1 John 2:16 ESV
16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
The desires of the flesh
These are simple, they are physical appetites
Things that give physical gratification
Food, sexual relations, comfort, rest
Notice, these things, in and of themselves are not necessarily bad
Its the love of them in the contrast to the love towards God.
God created us with desires of the flesh, of the physical body and there is a way, while walking in the Spirit, to satisfy our needs.
But when our quest to satisfy these needs turns greedy and usurps God’s place, plan and purpose, we love our flesh more and not God and we sin.
Side note: “sin nature” vs “one nature”
“Old man vs. new”
elaborate...
Romans 6:6 ESV
6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
So if our “old man” is no longer, why do we sin?
because of our flesh (physical body, corrupted by sin)
we, in our inner being have been killed and born again yet we are still in these corrupted bodies for the time being
This is what I think Paul is referring to in Romans 7 when Paul exclaims, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
The desires of the eyes
A lot of times we think of this as visual things but that isn’t really what is being discussed here
shortsightedness...
The pride of life
We understands pride but what is “pride of life”?
Life is short for the means of providing for livelihood.
What is going on here is basically a confidence in one’s own wealth or income as a means of providing life and having no need of God.
In the context of shortsightedness, it is basically a failure to recognize eternity and the need to be reconciled to God.
A note about “these things”
the text says these are “not from the Father”
In one sense they are actually from the Father (at least the first), yet in another, as in this text, they are not
explain...
2. What is Love?
As we have discussed previously, love is a complex concepts. It is not simply an emotion or care but is a conscious choice to let someone else’s need and desires above one’s own.
In this instance, that definition doesn’t quite fit the situation. Clearly John is not talking about placing the world’s needs and desires above our own, but rather, in a dualistic, either/or way, refers to placing the cares and concerns of your self over the cars and concerns of God.
There is also implied in the way John uses the language, an attraction to the world that needs to be avoided. The “desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes and the pride of life” all point to something that can attract and draw you away.
So love here is really a choice to follow the flesh rather than God.
3. What does loving God rather than the world look like?
So what does it look like?
It looks like life that leads to life.
like faithfulness
It is a life when you don’t sin as much because your concerns are about God rather than yourself
Conclusion
John has previously confirmed his confidence in his reader’s position as believers
In this passage, clearly John is assuming that, though they are believers and love God, they are capable of being attracted to the things of the world.
1, 2, & 3 John Theology in Application

Preachers have the reputation of railing against society’s evils by identifying specific behaviors that are destructive and sinful—things such as drunkenness, addictions, or sexual immorality. While it is true those behaviors are not of God, John’s thinking in this passage strikes at a much deeper level. The three evils he lists are not to be narrowed to three specific vices—as if “the desire of the flesh” was all about illicit sex and pornography—but John insists instead that we question the reigning value system of all of contemporary life at its roots. It is not enough to say that sexual immorality is wrong, or that pride is wrong, or that we must not covet material possessions. While all that is true, they are only symptoms of the much deeper problem of “the world’s” alienation from God. All human values, ethics, and morality that are defined by fallen people are fatally flawed because they are built on false premises about reality.

People who reject the knowledge that “God is light” reject God’s sovereign prerogative to define the standard of human values and morality. Even if not an atheist at the philosophical level, anyone who rejects God’s rule of life in some aspect of their behavior is to that extent an atheist in practice. The underlying problem is a radical autonomy of the human spirit that insists on being its own god. And the result is each person “doing what is right in their own eyes” (cf. Judg 21:25) in a world that no longer has a uniform basis for law and morality. That is the way of “the world” as John uses the term.

In other word’s, Don’t let the world system draw you in, don’t give in to its false system of morality, don’t give in to its philosophies and ways of life. Rather, love and follow God!
This does not mean we come out of the world
Instead we need to be out in it but remain unstained
James puts it this way...
James 1:27 ESV
27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
We can’t live in a bubble because we are called to go out into the world.
Let’s look at Jesus’ prayer for His people
John 17:11 ESV
11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
John 17:15 ESV
15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
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