There are many passages in the Bible that emphasize the truth of the antithesis. Do not let that word scare you. Literally, it means to be against God. By its usage, however, it means to oppose that which is against God. The calling of covenant youth is to oppose evil and thereby be free to promote the good. This is living the antithesis. The Word of God emphasizes this repeatedly. “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them,” Eph. 5:11. “But be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,” II Cor. 6:14. “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,” James 1:27.
There is one passage, however, that speaks directly to young men, and so to all young people. We find this in I John 2:14-17, “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. 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. 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. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
THE WORLD The inspired John writes concerning the world. As you know, he uses the word world in three different ways throughout his writings. The root idea of world, kosmos, means orderly relationship of many parts. Bearing this in mind, the word world applies to creation. The world of nature is made up of many parts: animals, vegetables, minerals, all interdependent. John 1:10, “He was in the world, the worldwas made by Him.” The same is true of the world of the lost, the world of evil. Under the prince, Satan, the world of evil is organized in opposition against God. The ranks of devils, depraved men, all stand united in hatred of God and His people. Hence the Bible speaks of the world of the lost: “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine,” John 17:9. Finally, the same is true for the world of the saved. Christ, the last Adam, redeemed the world and presents this world unto the Father for His glory. Of this we read in John 3:16, 17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”
Looking at I John 2:15-17, we can immediately conclude that in this passage John refers to the world of evil. Love not the world! The devil is the defiant leader of this world. With him are all his fallen angels of different ranks. He influences the ungodly and uses them in the service of sin. All are organized together in the goal of defeating Christ and His church.
Besides the persons involved, John also speaks of “the things of this world.” These are further defined in verse 16: “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life.” This is a description of the spiritual make-up of this world. Lust refers to the influence of man’s depravity upon his will. From an evil heart, he wants the things of the flesh, or his evil nature. To be sure, these “wants” are always wrong. They are sinful. They turn away from God. The lust of the flesh may be described as the desire to believe the lie, the longing to fulfill the appetite for sin, and to do this in rebellion against God. The lust of the flesh is excited by the “lust of the eyes.” The eyes represent the windows of the soul by which the flesh is made aware of the appealing things which are round about. There are other “eyes” such as the hearing, the touching, the tasting, and smelling. All together the senses put us into direct contact with the world round about us. The flesh sees and hears things which it desires and therefore “lusts after.” With the eyes one beholds the sensuous woman. With the ears he hears sensuous music. With the taste, smell, and touch he gets heady with fleshly emotions. Surely, the world knows all about this; it capitalizes on this in order to make money. Records are pressed by the millions; cosmetics (which literally means worldly) is a booming business; the culinary skills are advertised everywhere. And to what end? For the pride of life. The great motivation of the world is to show off their best achievements. Life for them is riches, honor, fame, and fortune. Pride swells their breast when this goal is achieved. To that end they devote the lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes. Crass materialism ends in the pride of life.
Thus the Holy Spirit tells us, “Love not the world.”
LOVE NOT THE WORLD
He doesn’t say, have no dealings with this world. Nor does he say, flee out of the midst of this world. John says, “Love not this world.” The word love which he uses here is the word that emphasizes a spiritual dimension. In the deepest sense, it is the love that proceeds from God to us and through us returns to God. That love must not be directed toward the world! To express it differently, Jesus said, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is there will your heart be also,” Matt. 6:19-21. Love not the world means do not set your heart upon the world. The world is not our goal; neither is our mind and will directed toward it as our chief delight. That world is not of God, but its source is of the world itself. Rather, God is the object of our love and that in Christ Jesus our Savior and Lord.
Being part of the world of the saved, we can appreciate these words. We are included in the election of God. We know the repentance of sin and the joy of forgiveness for the sake of the cross. God has shed His love in our hearts. Being part of the world of the saved, we hear God say, “Love not the world!” Don’t let the lust of the flesh gain the upper hand in your life through the lust of the eyes and pride of life. Don’t let the world influence you with their tantalizing evil and sordid passions. Be spiritually separate from them. Think of this the next time you are tempted to go to the movies, to watch the wrong television program, to booze at the night club, or lose your head with the din of rock music. At such moments we can never stand up and say, “I love Jehovah,” No, at such times we are saying, “I love the world.” We allow that world with its lust of the eyes and pride of life to influence our lustful flesh. To join in such, is to love the world.
A FATAL MISTAKE
The inspired writer gives us two reasons why we ought not to love the world.
The first is, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” verse 15.
Sit up and pay attention to this.
If we love the world the love of the Father is not in us. In other words, we deceive ourselves to think that we can love both the Father and the world. The love bond with the Father is an exclusive relationship and anyone who truly loves the Father will not and cannot love the world.
Why is this true?
The answer is that it is contrary to the nature of love.
We see this reflected in the human relationship between husband and wife. If a husband is having an affair with another woman, he cannot say to his wife, I love you. The same is of course true for a wife. If he does, he is a hypocrite. The reason is the nature of love. To add a third party is to adulterate it, to corrupt it, to add a foreign element which destroys it! Adultery ends in broken marriages, broken homes, because it breaks the love bond. Only repentance and forgiveness can heal that terrible breach. Such repentance means forsaking the other woman.
Our love reflects the love Christ has for us and our love for Him. To love the world is to adulterate that love relationship. The true love of God in our hearts requires of us the love of our heart, our mind, our will, our emotions, our body, our possessions, our all! As Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there will yourheart be also.” Our heart cannot be in two places; it is either with God or with the world. Hence, if we love the world, John emphasizes correctly, “the love of the Father is not in you!”
The second reason is that the love of the world is so foolish. This is expressed in verse 17: “The world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will pf God abideth forever.” Why love something that is temporary? The world passeth away! How well we know. The individuals that seemed to mean so much, pine and die. Civilizations come and go. The beautiful body which is the proud possession of youth, soon gets wrinkled, and the need for cosmetics gets greater. Solomon tells us all about this in Ecclesiastes 11.
The final end will come when Jesus will return upon the clouds of heaven. I know the world refuses to admit this. They refused to believe the flood would come in. Noah’s day as well. Yet, at the very zenith of man’s power and glory, Christ will come and destroy it all. The pride of man will reach up to the kingdom of anti-Christ. Within that kingdom the lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes will be given its full expression. Lawlessness and evil will abound. When Christ will return, the sun will be darkened and the moon will be changed into blood. The earthquake and hailstones will ruin the great civilization. The inhabitants will cry, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen!” And fire will consume all the pride of life.
All who love that world will perish with that world. They will be swallowed up in the lake of fire forever.
Who would be so foolish as to love that world?
We cannot sit back as covenant youth and say, the love of the world is far removed from me! Is it? There is a strong point of contact between us and that world. It is our own flesh. We still have the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life. The love of God does not come naturally; it comes in the inner struggle of grace in our hearts and lives.
We need to be warned, do we not? Love not the world!
Identify that world. Also the things that are in the world.
Search your heart and life as to the love of God. Is your greatest joy covenant fellowship with God? Is that your inner peace?
Let’s give thanks to God that in His love He gives us this word whereby He works His love in our hearts.
He who loves God, doeth the will of God and abideth forever.
Love God by doing His will.
No wonder we reach heavenward. There love will be perfect. The world will be removed. Only the Father will abide with us forever.
Love not the world.
Love your Father in heaven.