1 John 2.12-17:
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
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.
This passage is a warning from John. It is about a “wrong” kind of love that God hates. This love is a love for “the world.” There are four reasons why Christians should not love the world.
1. Because of what the world is.
2. Because of what the world does to us. (1 John 2:15-16)
3. Because of what a Christian is. (1 John 2:12-14)
4. Because of where the world is going. (1 John 2:17)
Let’s break these down one by one.
1. Because of What the WORLD Is
The New Testament word for world has three different meanings:
a. Physical world – (i.e. earth, Acts 17:24, “God made the world and all things therein.”)
b. Mankind – (John 3.16, “For God so loved the world”)
c. Both meanings together – (John 1:10, “He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world (mankind) knew Him not.”)
This warning, “love not the world” is about not loving the world of men. The world here is our enemy – and invisible, spiritual system opposed to God and Christ.
Six Ways This World is Our Enemy:
a. The world is Satan’s system of opposing the work of Christ on earth.
b. The world is opposite of what is godly and holy and spiritual.
Consider these four points about Satan and this world.
1) 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[c]—is not from the Father but is from the world.”
2) 1 John 5:19: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”
3) John 12.31: Jesus called Satan “The prince of this world”
4) Ephesians 6:11-12: The devil has an organization of evils spirits working with him and influencing the affairs of this world.
c. Two opposite approaches for people
1) The Holy Spirit uses people to accomplish God’s will on earth.
2) Satan uses people to fulfill his evil purposes.
Unsaved people, whether they realize it or not, are energized by “the prince of the power of the air, that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Ephesians 2:1-2
d. Unsaved people belong to this world. Jesus called them “the children of this world.”
“And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Luke 16:8
When Jesus was here on earth, the people of “this world” did not understand Him, not do they now understand those of us who trust Him.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3:1
“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15:19
e. A believer’s citizenship is in heaven. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ...” Philippians 3:20
f. If it were not for the Holy Spirit living in us and the spiritual resources we have – prayer, Christian fellowship and the Word – we could never “make it” here on earth.
2. Because of What the World Does to Us (1 John 2:15-16)
1 John 2:15: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Worldliness is not so much a matter of activity but of attitude. It is possible for a Christian to stay away from questionable amusements and doubtful places and still love the world, for worldliness is a matter of the heart. To the extent that a Christian loves the world system and the things in it, he does not love the Father.
1 John 2:17: “and the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
Worldliness not only affects your response to the love of God, it also affects your response to the will of God. Doing the will of God is a joy for those living in the love of God. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” But when a believer loses his enjoyment of the Father’s love, he finds it hard to obey the Father’s will.
The world uses three devices to trap Christians. 1 John 2:16: “for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the father, but is of the world.”
a. The Lust (Desires) of the Flesh
b. The Lust of the Eyes
c. The Pride of Life
These same three devices trapped Eve in the garden.
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), and that it was pleasant to the eyes (lusts of the eyes), and a tree to be desired to make one wise (pride of life), she took of the fruit thereof,” (Genesis 3:6)
The Lust of the Flesh
The lust of the flesh applies to anything that appeals to man’s fallen nature. The flesh does not mean “the body,” but the basic nature of man that makes him blind to spiritual truth. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “but the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
The flesh is the nature we receive in our physical birth. Spirit is the nature we receive in the second birth. Jesus words to in John 3:5-6 show this clearly. “Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Galatians 5:17-23 shows the battle between these to two natures:
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
God has given man certain desires, and these desires are good: hunger, thirst, weariness, and sex. Nothing is wrong with eating, drinking, sleeping, and having children. But when the flesh controls them, they become sinful lusts.
Hunger is not evil – gluttony is sinful
Thirst is not evil – drunkenness is a sin
Sleep is a gift of God – laziness is shameful
Sex is a precious gift from God used rightly – used wrongly it is immoral
The truth is that the world appeals to the normal appetites and tempts us to satisfy them in forbidden ways.
What does God say about the old nature, the flesh?
Romans 7:18: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
The Lust of the Eyes
The lust of the eyes are pleasures that gratify the sight and mind. The eyes are a gateway into the mind. Look at Joshua 7, especially verse 21.
Joshua 7:1 & 21
1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.
21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.
Boastful Pride of Life
God’s glory is rich and full; man’s glory is vain and empty. What is the American dream? Why do people try to outdo others in their spending and their getting? Why do we buy things that we can’t afford?
Once the world takes over in one of these areas, a Christian will soon realize it. They will lose the enjoyment of the Father’s love and the desire to do the Father’s will. The Bible will become boring and prayer will be a difficult chore. Even Christian fellowship may seem empty and disappointing.
Becoming worldly doesn’t happen all of a sudden. Worldliness creeps up on a believer. Three stages are involved.
a. Friendship of the World
James 4:4: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
Contrast 1 John 3:13: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”
b. The Christian becomes spotted by the world.
James 1:27: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Gradually a believer accepts and adopts the ways of the world. When this happens the world ceases to hate the Christian and starts to love him. Thus, the warning “love not the world.”
c. The believer becomes conformed to the world.
Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
This can lead into being “condemned with the world.”
1 Corinthians 11:32: “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”
3. Because of What a Christian Is
1 John 2:12-14:
12 “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.
13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.
14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”
What are the titles referring to?
“Little children” (1 John 2:12) refers to all believers. Literally, it means “born ones.” All Christians have been born into God family through faith in Jesus Christ and their sins have been forgiven. This fact of being in God’s family should discourage us from becoming friendly with the world. We begin as little children (born ones), but as we grow spiritually we overcome the world.
“Fathers” refers to mature believers who have an intimate relationship with God. Because they know God, they know the dangers of the world.
“Young men” are the conquerors. They have overcome the wicked one (Satan). They overcame through the Word of God. They are not fully mature, but maturing because they use the Word of God effectively. The Word is the only weapon that will defeat Satan (See Ephesians 6:17).
The “little children” in verse 13 are different from verse 12. Two different Greek words are used. Here it refers to “immature ones” or little children under the authority of teachers and tutors. These have not yet grown up in Christ.
Review to This Point: A Christian stays away from the world:
1. Because of what the world is – a satanic system that hates and opposes Christ.
2. Because of what the world does to us – attracts us to live in sin.
3. Because of what the Christian is a child of God.
4. Because of Where the World Is Going (1 John 2:17)
The only sure thing about this world system is that it is not going be here forever. All are passing away. What is going to be left? Only what is part of the will of God!!
a. Spiritual Christians are to keep themselves “loosely attached” to this world. Because they are living for something better. Hebrews 11:13 says, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
John is contrasting two ways of life.
1) A worldly person lives for the pleasures of the flesh.
2) A dedicated Christian lives for the joys of the spirit.
A worldly-person lives for what he can see (lust of the eyes).
A spiritual-believer lives for the unseen realities of God.
2 Corinthians 4:18: “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
A worldly-minded person lives for the pride of life – what appeals to men. A Christian who does the will of God lives for God’s approval.
b. 1 John 2.17 refers to Christians who dedicate themselves to doing God’s will. Those who obey will abide (remain) forever. After all of this earth and everything therein has been replaced by the new heaven and new earth, God’s faithful will remain, sharing the glory of god for eternity.
This present world system is not a lasting one. 1 Corinthians 7:31 says, “And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”
The New Testament says a benefit of salvation is to know the will of God.
1) The privilege of knowing God’s will (Acts 22:14). Colossians 1:9 says God wants us to be filled with the knowledge of his will.
2) Understand His will. (Ephesians 5:17) It is important that we understand God’s will for our lives and see purpose he is filling.
3) After we know the will of God, we should do it from the heart. (Ephesians 6:6) We are to walk the talk. (Matthew 7:21) The more we obey, the better we are able to discover and follow God’s will. (Romans 12:2)
4) Mature in God’s will. God’s goal for us is that we will “stand complete in all will of god.” By standing complete in God’s will, we know what the Lord wants us to do.
5) How does one discover the will of God?
a) Surrender – Romans 12:1-2; John 7:17
b) Revealed through God’s Word – Psalm 119:105. Read God’s Word daily. Meditate on it. Apply it.
c) Through circumstances, God may open and close doors. Test this leading by the Word.
d) Through prayer and the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. As we pray about a decision, the Spirit speaks to us. Test this by the Word, not by the flesh or circumstances or feelings, these could be led by Satan to lead us astray.
1. A Christian is in the world physically. (John 17:11)
2. A Christian is not of the world spiritually. John 17:14
3. We have been sent into the world to bear witness. John 17:18
4. The world gets into a Christian through the heart.
5. A Christian must decide – Will I live for the present only or will I live for the will of God and abide forever? (Consider Jesus’ words Matthew 7:24-27. Also see Paul’s words on two kinds of building – temporary or permanent in I Corinthians 3:11-15.)
1. Proper type of love: 2 Greatest Commandments
2. How can you show love toward others? This week?
3. What ways can you stay loosely attached to this world?
4. Tell others about Jesus.
Love for the world is the love God hates. It is the love a Christian must shun at all costs.