Dr. John Hartmann

Proclaiming the Whole Counsel of God

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Do Not Love the World

January 9th, 2011 · No Comments

In this study we look at 1 John 2:15-17, where the apostle John, writing at some point late in the 1st century, gives us this injunction: Do not love the world, nor the things in the world, adding this assertion that if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. The phrase “the love of the Father” is an example of what grammarians call the slippery genitive construction. It could be taken as a subjective/possessive genitive: the love which the Father has for us, which He revealed in sending Christ to die for sins, and which is experienced by all true believers through the Holy Spirit, Who pours the love of God into their hearts and bears witness to their adoption as God’s beloved children. The “love of the Father” could also be taken as an objective genitive, in which case it refers to our love for God. The two ideas are of course inter-related, in 1st John for sure, and throughout the NT. Either way, one thing is clear: if anyone loves the world, then the love of the Father is not in that person. Loving the world is antithetical to having a knowledge of God’s love in one’s heart and to a life characterized by love for God. One cannot have it both ways, for Scripture clearly states that one cannot serve two masters.

Our teacher defines “the world” as a system characterized by a set of values that are essentially idolatrous in their orientation and that are under girded by a thought structure (one might call it a certain kind of demonic wisdom) that is designed to control humans from cradle to grave. The “things in the world” are laid out in terms of three basic things that govern human existence in this fallen age: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful, arrogant pride of life. Each of these constitutes a way by which humans seek to bring meaning to fallen existence within a context of utter futility, in a world already under God’s judgment and destined to pass away (thank God!).

The lust of the flesh: seeking to bring meaning to existence through constant gratification of sensual appetites and desires in ways that trespass the boundaries revealed in God’s Law. This is first and foremost about sexual sin, but it includes indulging any appetite in a way that exceeds God’s wise boundaries, which includes gluttony (yes, over-eating, a favorite pastime of Americans, as it was of the people of Sodom; cf. Ezekiel 16:48-50), defined by the ancients as one of the seven deadly sins. The antidote here is discipline and self-control, the fruit of a life filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Scriptures to consider: 1 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Corinthians 9:23-27; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).

The lust of the eyes: the never ending pursuit and accumulation of possessions, which includes of course the love of money, defined in Scripture as the opposite of godliness with contentment (Hebrews 13:5-7; 1 Timothy 6:6-10). Jesus’ teaching concerning what one makes his or her treasure is extremely relevant here, for where one’s treasure lies is where one’s heart will be also. See Matthew 6:19-34. Also ponder the truth that covetousness is in reality idolatry (Ephesians 5:3-7; Colossians 3:5-7).

The boastful/arrogant pride of life: the whole world system is built on pride, the most basic and fundamental sin that led to the fall for both angels and men. The pride of life is boastful, self-centered, and idolatrous. It is the opposite of humble and responsible employment of the good gifts God gives to each person in order to serve Him and others. The pride of life has to do with selfish ambition, inordinate desire for achievement, a love of status, and ultimately the praise and accolades of men, which is really a form of self-worship. This often manifests itself in a self-centered pursuit of status and achievement in so-called Christian ministry, which is really just another form of idolatry. It also is manifested in a mind that will not submit to the Word of God and that exalts it’s own wisdom above what God has revealed in Scripture. The antidote to this boastful and arrogant pride of life is modeled in Jesus Himself, Who submitted to the Father’s will and to the wisdom of Scripture in all things. He came not to be served but to serve and to lay down His life for others. Consider here Matthew 20:20-28; Philippians 2:1-17; John 13:1-17. May God give the church such models in this day.

In the High Priestly prayer of John 17, Jesus describes believers as those whom the Father has given Him “out of this world”. He prays, not that they be taken out of the world, but that they be kept from it’s evil. They are not of the world, even as He is not of this world, which comes under judgment at the Cross as an anti-God system that is destined to pass away. Thankfully, the Cross is the believer’s exodus from the this world-system as the force (domination system) that governs one’s life (Galatians 1:4; 6:14-15).

Paul’s teaching in Romans 12:1-2 is particularly applicable here, laying out the essential aspects of the type of consecration that will result in fruit-bearing, a life devoted to service to God and the doing of His will. It thus is imperative that we as believers in and followers of Christ obey this important instruction: do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you might then test and approve what is truly the will of God and do it. Happy are those who do so, as Jesus taught in Luke 8:19-22.

This message gives the hearers much to think about. It is a “trumpet call” to live for things eternal. One must consciously and intentionally purpose to be one of those who hear the word of God and do it. We must avoid being among those who have heard the Word, but who allow it to be choked out by what Jesus called “thorns”. This happens when the cares of the world, and the desires for other things enter in and nullify the fruit the Word produces when heard, understood, and obeyed with perseverance (Luke 8:15).

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