1 John 2:15-17 November 6, 2016
Sermon Series on I John Sermon # 7A “Love the Father, Not the World”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
15 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man (the lust of the flesh), the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does (the pride of life)—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
Many years ago Keith Green sang a song that probably challenges every one of us today:
I want you here with Me, but you’ve been keeping other company. You can’t sit still, it’s plain to see, You love the world and you’re avoiding Me. My Word sits there upon your desk, But you love your books and magazines the best; You prefer the light of your TV, You love the world and you’re avoiding Me…
That’s the challenge which the Lord puts before us through John His Apostle, in 1 John 2:15-17.
Do you love the world? If you love the world, then you don’t love God the Father.
But if you do love God the Father, if His love is in you, then you won’t be loving the world.
No middle ground. No shades of gray. No excuses. Either you love the world or you love the Father. How does that make you feel? Guilty? Upset at me? Rationalize your love for the world?
Well, I pray that it at least makes you honest enough to confess where your heart really is. Don’t pretend that you are saved by grace and going to heaven when you die, if you don’t love God. Don’t imagine that you can be lukewarm toward God, while feeding your lusts and your pride.
We need to acknowledge with a broken heart that God’s love is not in us as it should be, so that we will cry out to God for His mercy and renewal. Lord willing, next Sunday, I will speak to the problem of when our love for God grows cold because of our love for the world. The good news is that there is hope when we acknowledge and repent of our lack of love for God, because our God is a gracious and restoring God, and He would like nothing better than to renew you as a trophy of His grace, and to restore a deep love for Himself in your heart. So don’t be discouraged, if you are ready to be honest before God.
But first, in order to see how much we need His grace and help, we need to have our eyes opened to how much our love for the world and everything in it has likely captured our hearts… so we can grieve, and repent, and seek His face again.
The word “World” is used six times in these three verses, and it’s important to understand what John means by using the word in this context. In other places, the “world” is the object of God’s loving and saving activity, such as in John 3:16, “For God so love the world that he gave His only Son…” In other places in Scripture, the “world” refers to the earth or the universe which God created, such as in Acts 17:24, “The God who made the world and everything in it…”
But in 1 John 2:15-17 John uses the word “world” to means all human society is which under the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19). The Bible tells us that the world is under Satan’s dominion, and he is the god or prince of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). The world is therefore a term for all those who are in the kingdom of darkness (Gal. 4:3; Eph. 2:2)
This is the sense of the world which we must hate. For the world and the church are is sharp contrast to one another. And this world is doomed and is already passing away.
The text begins with a command — it’s the only command in the text and therefore probably the main point. “Do not love the world or anything in the world.” Everything else in the text is an incentive for why we should not love the world.
Notice that the command to not love the world is founded on three reasons.
The first reason is the intrinsic conflict between a love for the world and a love for the Father. (v. 15 “If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.”)
John Piper puts it this way: A love for the world pushes out a love for the Father. The reason you shouldn’t love the world is that you can’t love the world and God at the same time. Love for the world pushes out love for God, and love for God pushes out love for the world.
Illustration: Think of two nations that are at war with each other in a bitter ideological battle: Could you imagine someone who claims to love and pledge loyalty both to America and to ISIS? That’s impossible. It’s the same if you think you can say you are loyal to the Father but are carrying on an adulterous affair with the world. “I want you here with Me, but you’ve been keeping other company. You can’t sit still, it’s plain to see, You love the world and you’re avoiding Me”
As Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Loving the world means you belong with the God-haters! “If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.” James 4:4 “Friendship with the world is hatred towards God.” That’s the first reason John gives not to love the world: there is an intrinsic conflict between a love for the world and a love for the Father. If you are in love with this world, you cannot love your heavenly Father; in fact, you hate the Father. So… who or what do you love?
The second reason for the command not to love the world is the contrasting empowerment of your desire: either you are driven by worldly desires, or you are delighting in the Father. (v. 16 “For everything in the world…comes not from the Father but from the world.”)
John gives us three aspects of what it means to be driven by a lust for the world, instead of by a delight for the Father:
The NIV translates it as “the cravings of sinful man (the lust of the flesh), the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does (the pride of life).” The ESV translates it as “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life (or “pride in possessions.)”
The first two desires — lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes — refer to our desire for what we don’t already have. We lust after things and people that don’t belong to us; for example, sexual lust, adultery, envy and greed, etc. The third phrase – “boasting” – refers to the pride in what we do have. So we could say that this fallen world is driven by two things: a passion for pleasure and a pride in possessions.
And in that passion for pleasure there are two types — (1) physical pleasure and (2) aesthetic pleasure. There is the lust of the flesh — bodily pleasures; and the lust of the eyes — aesthetic and intellectual pleasures. Piper says that “there is the lust of the gutter and the lust of the gourmet. There is the lust for hard rock and the lust for high Rachmaninoff. There is the lust of Penthouse and the lust of Picasso.” And all of these can become idols, whether they are crude or whether they are cultured. So…what drives you? A love for the world, or a delight in the Father?
The third reason for the command not to love the world is the transience of the world as contrasted with the eternity of those who do God’s will (v. 17 “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”)
When Jesus Christ came to earth and conquered sin and death, He proclaimed that God’s new age had arrived, and that the present evil age was doomed and disintegrating, and those consumed with worldly lusts will pass away with it. (James 1:10-11; 1 Peter 1:24-25)
Only one kind of person will remain: the one who does the will of God; he lives forever.
Let me ask you: would you pay money for membership in a company that is sure to go bankrupt? Would you buy passage on the Titanic, if you knew it would sink? So why would you invest your treasure where moth and rust will destroy and thieves will break in and steal it? That makes no sense, does it? No! The world is passing away! To set your heart on it and to invest your life and your goods on it is only asking for heartache and misery in the end.
That’s not all: Not only is the world passing away, but also its desires. If you share the desires of the world, you will pass away. You will not only lose your treasure. You will lose your life. If you love the world, it will pass away and it will take you with it. It would be like staying on the Titanic and getting sucked down to the bottom of the sea, instead of using a lifeboat.
On the other hand, “The man who does the will of God lives forever.” Note that the opposite of loving the world is not only loving the Father (v. 15), but also doing the will of God the Father (v. 17). Jesus had told us that “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” John 14:15 The Apostle John writes later in 1 John 5:3: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” So loving the Father in verse 15 and doing the will of God in verse 17 are really the same thing.
I think many of us struggle with the idea of loving God. We can’t see Him, hold Him, or hear His audible voice. The world seems so much more reachable and desirable. And to tell us that to obey God is the way to love Him may strike us as being legalistic, mere duty, and even feel like works-righteousness. Let me share something with you that may help. If you read about Jesus relationship with His Father, especially in John chapters 13-17, you get this picture of a Son who loves His Father, who delights in His Father, who wants to honor and glorify His Father, and therefore has a heart that is willing to joyfully obey His Father, even enough to wash the feet of His sinful disciples, even enough to go to the cross and suffer the Father’s wrath for our sins. That’s the kind of love that we are called to.
And I am thankful that God allows us to get a faint glimpse of that kind of love in some human relationships. My earthly father died when I was 16, but there were times before that when I can say I delighted in him, and wanted to make him happy by following through on the responsibilities he had given me, and that my love for him would make me think twice about doing anything that would bring disappointment to him.
That’s a little bit of the kind of love that God the Father is inviting us to have with Him, through the redeeming work of His Son on our behalf. Is that the desire of your heart?
If you love God, you will love what He commands.
Brothers and sisters, with the Love of God the Father in our hearts, we ought to display 1 John 2:15-17 over every television and laptop we use; over the doors of our houses, bedrooms, and cars; over our refrigerators, radios, and stereos; over our bank accounts, our credit cards, and our retirement accounts. These verses should be memorized and read out loud every time we are about to look at the web, when we are tempted to look at pornography, or when we hear or see an advertisement.
Here’s our defense: let us make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom. 13:14)
And this should be our offense: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you” (Ps. 73:25) Let us desire nothing but God, possess nothing but God, and pursue nothing but God. Let us love the Father, and not the world.