Who Do You Love?
Text: 1 John 2: 15 – 17
Proposition: The love of God moves against sin whereas the love of the world moves because of sin. The two are opposites and mutually exclusive.
Introduction: Years ago, in the 70’s at Stanford University, researchers were exploring the way we make choices. A child about 3 years old was brought into a room and a marshmallow was placed in front of them. The child was told the researcher was going to walk out of the room and would come back in 15 minutes. If the child did not eat the marshmallow, they would get a second marshmallow. If the child did eat the marshmallow, then that was it, no more marshmallows. It simply tested their ability to defer in order to gain. Ethics is defined as the moral correctness of a specified conduct. For Christians the morality that governs our ethical choices is based on God’s morality, on His moral view of what is right and what is wrong. Let’s push it a bit further and say that our love for God and His moral view moves us against sin whereas our love for the moral choices of the world draws us towards the sin inherent them. Have a look at 1 John 2: 15-17.
I. Do Not LOVE the World ….
For all Christians this can seem to be a hard saying but then again Jesus spoke many hard sayings to His disciples. Luke 14:26, ““If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” John 6:56, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” Jesus used difficult comparisons to emphasize two things: 1. That sin, our sin nature, will bend our ethical choices to serve ourselves. 2. That God will not share His glory with anything else. The essence of these two reasons is in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD! That is my name! I will not share my glory with anyone else, or the praise due me with idols.” So holding that thought let’s look again at what it means, ‘Do not love the world…’. Consider that word ‘Love’, ‘agapao’. That’s really the beginning point, for the love this refers to is equal to the love referred to in the greatest Commandment. ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matt 22:37). That’s the point, you should not love anything like you love the Lord. But there’s also the truth that you can’t love two opposite things like the world and the person of God the Father at the same time. Jesus stated it as a basic principle in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” So don’t love anything else with the love that is due God alone, to do so is idolatry, replacing God with something else as of supreme importance and value. That’s the degree of that word ‘love’ and so that you don’t miss it this word is spoken in the imperative, it’s a command, it’s the same imperative in ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.’ You see, the world wants your love. Your love is what is expressed in time, attention and expense. You invest those things with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. That’s what makes up love. So Who do you love? If there is even a close comparison in how you love the world with how you are to love the Lord, stop.
II. Do Not Love the WORLD….
So what does the term ‘world’ refer to? To be clear it’s not the natural creation of earth, land and sea. That doesn’t mean we are allowed to worship nature but rather are to see the Creator in His creation. The world doesn’t refer to the mass of humanity that populates the towns and cities around us. If God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son for it, then we too ought to love it as He does, as that which He made, which is in His image. We are to love the lost. The world is in and of itself basically neutral. There is nothing sinful in a piece of chocolate cake, there is nothing sinful in sex within a marriage relationship, there is nothing sinful in money or possessions or the beauty of nature. It’s what we do with these things because of our sin nature, because of Satan’s use of them to kill, steal and destroy our relationship with God that we are not to love the world with.
To see more clearly what exactly the world refers to John characterizes it in verse 16. “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.” The first two categories are sinful desires within a person that may or may not lead to an action. The last category, the pride of life, is a behavior and it requires and involves the people around them. So let’s look at these separately.
1.The lust of the flesh - these are what you might expect, things like hunger, thirst, shelter, belonging, significance, worth and love. The problem is that our sin nature as human beings distorts these things. They become obsessions, cravings, lusts. We want these things for more than what they were originally designed to supply, we want food to dull emotional pain, sex in distortions of personal image, shelter in opulence, belonging at any price, significance apart from God, worth in the estimation of other sinful people and love on certain conditions. The world is made up of these things that originate in our thoughts, some thoughts are ours and some thoughts are spiritually inspired deception by Satan. But it begins in our thought life and by sin becomes that which is against God. Do not love the world in this way.
2.The lust of the eyes – in Luke 11:34 Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.” The lust of the eyes is really the lust of your heart as it uses the eye to linger where it shouldn’t, to envy what is others. We are extremely prone to this by our sin nature, to see things we ought not. The world’s system knows that all too well and pitches things to us visually. The problem is that we don’t think this is a big deal, that we can see and lust and it’s of no consequence because we didn’t act on it or because it is common. Remember Jesus words about the lusting eye being equal to adultery. Make no mistake, when your eye is bad in that sense, your whole body is full of darkness. Do not love the world in this way.
3.The pride of life – this is a reference to self deception and to those who seek to gain life in ways separate from God. It is a vanity that seeks to achieve envy in the eyes of others and that envy for them becomes a synthetic version of life. It’s a transient version of life always fading, always just a taste. This kind of pride pushes others down so as to lift up self. It goes against all that God calls us to be in humility. In the NASB it is described as the boastful pride of life and the world thrives on this. It is comparison based, it is illusive and it is idolatrous. Do not love the world this way.
Remember what John’s main point is in writing these things, it’s so that you may not sin. The great short sightedness of loving the things of the world is this.
1.“If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” You can only love one thing, at a time, if the love of the world is in you then the love of God the Father isn’t. How important is that to you?
2.“And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Everything of the world that we have talked about is passing away, it’s dying, it’s soon to be no more. But the worlds desire, indeed sins desire and even Satan’s desire, is that it would take you with it. To do the will of the Father begins by loving Him with all your heart, soul and mind and then loving your neighbor as yourself. This is the only way to life, to abide forever with Christ. How important is that to you?
You will have ethical choices to make every day of your life, how to defer the world in order to gain Christ, how to move with the moral correctness that is godly in all you do and especially in what you love. The question will constantly be, Who do you love?