Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Desires That Come From the World

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. 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. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (1 Jn 2:15–17).

The Apostle John often teaches about the importance of love and that God is love (1 John 4:7-8), but he also reveals that God hates a certain type of love: love of the world (John 15:18–20). 

In this text, John expresses a particular kind of test - let's call it the "test of love." Positively, the Christian loves God and fellow Christians. Negatively, an absence of love for the world must habitually characterize the love life of those to be considered genuinely born again. “Love” here signifies affection and devotion. God, not the world, must have the first place in the Christian’s life (Matt. 10:37–39; Phil. 3:20) 

When John speaks of the 'world,' this is not a reference to the physical, material world but the invisible spiritual system of evil dominated by Satan and all that it offers in opposition to God, His Word, and His people (1 John 5:19; John 12:31; 1 Cor. 1:21; 2 Cor. 4:4; James 4:4; 2 Pet. 1:4). 

John tells us that the person who loves this system (or world) cannot have the love of the Father in him. Either one is a genuine Christian marked by love and obedience to God, or one is a non-Christian in rebellion against God, i.e., in love with and enslaved by the satanically controlled world system (Eph. 2:1–3; Col. 1:13; James 4:4). No middle ground between these two alternatives exists for someone claiming to be born again. The false teachers that John was battling in the community to which he is writing had no such singular love, but were devoted to the world’s philosophy and wisdom, thereby revealing their love for the world and their unsaved state (cf. Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13; 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Pet. 2:12–22).

James said a similar thing in James 4:4 - "You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

While the world’s philosophies and ideologies and much that it offers may appear attractive and appealing, it is deception. Its true and pervasive nature is evil and harmful. Its deadly theories are raised up against the knowledge of God and hold the souls of men captive (2 Cor. 10:3–5). 

How is it that men's souls are held captive? Through lust and the desires of the flesh and eyes. John uses the term 'desire' (or lust) negatively here for a strong desire for evil things. The term 'flesh' refers to the sin nature of man; the rebellious self dominated by sin and in opposition to God (Rom. 7:15–25; 8:2–8; Gal. 5:19–21). 

Satan uses the evil world system to incite the flesh and the eyes. Satan uses the eyes as a strategic avenue to incite wrong desires (Josh. 7:20, 21; 2 Sam. 11:2; Matt. 5:27–29). Satan’s temptation of Eve involved being attracted to something beautiful in appearance, but the result was spiritual death (Gen. 3:6 “pleasant to the eyes”). 

John also uses the phrase 'the pride of life.' The phrase has the idea of arrogance over one’s circumstances, which produced haughtiness or exaggeration, parading what one possesses to impress other people (James 4:16). All these things are "not of the Father." The world is the enemy of the Christian because it is in rebellion and opposition against God and controlled by Satan (1 John 5:19; Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:4; 10:3–5). The 3 openings presented - the desires of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life - if we allow access to sin, result in tragedy. Not only must the Christian reject the world for what it is but also for what it does.

As John notes, the Christian must not love the satanic world system because of its temporary nature. It is in the continual process of disintegration, headed for destruction (Rom. 8:18–22). But he who does the will of God abides forever! In contrast to the temporary world, God’s will is permanent and unchangeable. Those who follow God’s will abide as His people forever. While God offers eternal life to His children, the present age is doomed (cf. 1 Cor. 7:3; 2 Cor. 4:18).