Love of the World.
Isaiah 21-22, 1 John 2
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. – 1 John 2:15-16 NLT
Our love affair with the world comes in all kinds of shapes and forms. Sometimes we simply love what the world has to offer – its pleasures and attractions, promises and appeals to our pride. Other times we reveal our love of the world through our tendencies to turn to it for deliverance from difficulties and salvation from life’s sorrows. The people of Judah were guilty of forsaking God and replacing His role in their lives as their Savior, Lord and King. They had made a habit of turning to the world as the solution to their problems. Not only did they put their hope in foreign nations, they actually worshiped the false gods of those nations. The people of God in Isaiah’s day were addicted to and craved physical pleasure. They were driven by their senses. And they took tremendous pride in their own accomplishments and material attainments. But just as John warned his readers that “the world is passing away along with its desires,” so God warned the people of Judah that their world of false idols, replacements gods, and psuedo-saviors were going to be done away with. Babylon was going to fall. So would Edom and Arabia. Even the city of God, Jerusalem, would eventually fall at the hands of outside forces in 586 B.C.
What does this passage reveal about God?
God never intended for man to love this world. Even when the creation was free from the effects of sin, it was intended to remind mankind of the one who created it. In Romans, Paul makes it clear that man was never intended to worship the creation. “So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise!” (Romans 1:25 NLT). We are to love the Creator God, not the creation of God. But when John refers to our love affair with the world, he is not speaking of physical creation, but he uses the Greek word, kosmos. In this context, he seems to be referring to what Strong’s Concordance refers to as “the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ.” There is nothing inherently wrong with earthly goods, riches, or pleasures, but when we treat them as gods, we allow them to replace the one true God in our life. We expect from them what we should only expect from God Himself. The people of Judah had come to expect salvation from foreign nations. They had learned to seek pleasure from false gods and the immoral religions associated with them. They had made a habit out of seeking pleasure rather than holiness. They were driven more by their sensual desires than by spiritual appetites. And God was neither pleased nor tolerant. John so starkly reminds us, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him” (1 John 2:15 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about man?
When we love the world and the things it offers, it manifests itself in desires that come from our sin nature, rather than the Holy Spirit. It shows up as a insatiable lust for things we see and can’t seem to live without. It also reveals itself in an unhealthy pride in our possessions. We tend to become what we own. Our identity becomes wrapped up in the outward accouterments of life. In other words, the phrase, “the clothes make the man” becomes a form of truth for us. We believe we are what we own, what we have accomplished and how we are perceived by the outside world. But God would have us remember, “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT). God is not impressed with our exterior. He is not swayed by what we wear, drive, or live in. He looks at the condition of our hearts. Even so-called religious acts do nothing to impress God if our hearts are not in them. Later on, in chapter 29 of the book of Isaiah, God will declare of the people of Judah, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote” (Isaiah 29:13 NLT). Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that the outside is far more important than the inside. We have allowed ourselves to fall in love with the world’s version of the truth. We have listened to the lies of the enemy and bought in to his convincing offers of hope, healing, satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness. But God’s people are designed to turn to Him as their only source for all their needs. He alone can deliver what they are looking for.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
John goes on to remind us, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” (1 John 2:28 ESV). We are to abide in Christ. That word, abide, literally means “to remain in” or “to be held, kept.” It carries the idea that we are to stay focused on and at rest in the saving work of Jesus Christ. We are to seek our satisfaction in Him and no one or nothing else. It is He who keeps us and sustains us in this life. The world will constantly offer false hope and a form of pseudo-salvation, but it will always disappoint and fall short. John would encourage us to remember that not only can we abide in Him now, we will be able to abide in Him for all eternity. “So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.” (1 John 2:24-25 NLT). Our hope is in Christ, right now and for eternity. We can abide in Him. We can rest in Him. We can find all that we need in Him. There is no need to love the world or the things it offers. Those things will pass away, but our relationship with God the Father through Christ the Son is eternal and everlasting, and worthy of our total trust and commitment.
Father, the world can be a pretty enticing place. The things of this world can be a huge distraction and cause us to lose our focus on You and Your Son. Help us to remain in You. Help us to find all our help, hope, happiness and ultimate satisfaction in Your Son and His saving work on the cross. There is nothing this world can offer that Christ has not already provided through His sacrificial death on my behalf. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men