Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Test of Fellowship (Part 10)

SERMON            GM14-019

SERIES:              Christian Living in a World of Chaos & Contradiction

SCRIPTURE:     1 John 1:8-2:28

SUBJ:                  Genuine Fellowship with God

SUBTITLE:        The Test of Fellowship (Part 10)

SUMMARY:       The Christian life is viewed as a life of fellowship

SCHEME:           To cause believers to test their claim of fellowship


          1B     Fellowship is tested on practical grounds (1:5-2:11)

                   1C     Practical grounds of moral like-ness (1:5-7)

                   2C     Practical grounds of confession of sin (1:8-2:2)

                   3C     Practical grounds of obedience (2:3-6)

                   4C     Practical grounds of love (2:7-11)

          2B     Fellowship is tested on relational grounds (2:12-17)

                   1C     The Positive Relationship (2:12-14)
                   2C     The Negative Relationship (2:15-17)

          3B     Fellowship is tested on Christological grounds (2:18-28)

                   1C     The Contrast (2:18-21)
                   2C     The Christological (2:22-23)
                   3C     The Centrality (2:24-28)

The Test of Fellowship:  Do Not Love the World
1 John 2: 15-17
(Part 10)


A.   "John Wesley’s mother once wrote to him when he was in college, “If you are tempted to be judge of the lawfulness or the unlawfulness of a pleasure, use this rule: Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the desire of spiritual things; whatever increases the authority of your body over your mind, that thing, to you, is wickedness.”

B.   Pleasure, whether as a temptation or lawful presents itself to each of us on a regular basis. As believers we must be constantly on guard so that what the world offers us does not overtake us in sin and wickedness.

Proposition:  The love of God compels us to refuse to love the systems of the world.

Interrogative SentenceWhy does John tell us that as genuine believers that we are not to love the world?

Transitional SentenceThis passage provides us with three reasons for not loving the world:

·         The Wastefulness of the World’s System   (v. 15)
·         The Wickedness of the World’s System     (v. 16)
·         The Worthlessness of the World’s System (v. 17)

THEME:  Genuine believers do not love the world

This is a good reminder for us all that we need to set our love and desires on things that are heavenly and not on things in this world.


Last week we began examining this passage. We likened this portion to the “flip side” of a coin, two weeks ago we looked at the positive side of the coin and now we are looking at the negative side of the coin. It is negative in the sense that it shows our relationship to God by what we do not do.

As genuine believers we do not love the world or the things in the world. So we began looking at this flip side by looking at…

2C     The Negative Relationship (VSS. 15-17) 

We said that John appeals to his readers, on the ground of their standing in Christ (12-14) to avoid loving the world.

 For John the world is the whole created system that is apart from God and opposed to God.

We said this was a serious thing for John. Love for this present world systems excludes the possibility of a love for God.

We noted that the sad and fatal irony is that this world and its systems are temporary and transitory. The world is in the process of passing away. The very things that lure us and entice us and cause us to sin will be destroyed.

So, last week we looked at the…

[The first reason genuine believers do not love the world and that was found in verse 15…]

1D     The Wastefulness of the World’s System (v. 15).

[First of all, John wrote…]

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.”

It is a command. It is not a suggestion or just something to think about or an option. John, based on his apostolic authority expects his readers to comply with this command.

[Secondly, John wrote…]
“If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him.”

John is not simply saying that this person simply doesn’t love God either at all or in some capacity. John is saying that love for God as a continuing principle does not exist.

IOW, this person, the person who continues to consistently love the world and the world systems is not a Christian.

Edmond Hiebert said it this way:  “Love for God and love for the world are by their nature antagonistic and cannot coexist in the same human heart…the conclusion negatively declares his inevitable spiritual condition.” [1]

[So, let’s move then, from the first reason genuine believers are commanded to not love the world to the second reason believers are commanded to not love world. That reason is because of…-

                             2D     The Wickedness of the World (Vs. 16)

                                      “For all that is in the world…”

The word “for” is a very important word. It substantiates John’s rather bold statement that if an individual loves the world and the things in the world then the love of the Father is not in him.

That is an extremely direct and bold statement. Can’t you hear voices in the background saying?

“Hey, what you mean we don’t know God?” “How do you get off saying that?” “ Who do you think you are?”

So, John is telling his readers, since some seem to be guilty of at least for the moment loving the world and the things that are in the world, that everything in the world does not come from God but it comes from the world.

Lest there be any confusion John interrupts that statement and details the things that are in and of the world and not of or from God.

John describes three elements that are not from God and are from the world that they are commanded not to love.

[Let’s look at the first element…]

                                      1E     The Desires of the Flesh (16b)

                                                “…the desires of the flesh…”

The Greek word for desire is the word epiqumia is a common NT word. It means desire, although most of the time in the NT it is associated with an evil connotation.

It is actually used of good or proper desires in Luke and 1 Thessalonians.

In the NT our word carries the sense of “urgency” it gives us the idea of anxious self-seeking. It is embodied in “the thought of satisfaction that gives pleasure.”

So, John is speaking of the passionate desire in our flesh for immediate self-satisfaction

This passionate desire is really a strong craving.

This unlawful or evil desire or lust springs out of our own flesh. John is referring to the corruption and sinful tendencies that remain and live in our body.

The Gnostics, these false teachers who were plaguing John and these Christians taught that the body was evil. Therefore, it couldn’t be redeemed and therefore it could be used anyway that one might want to use it.
So they taught that nothing the body did was “sinful.”

We know that the NT teaches that the body may be and often is used as an instrument for sin, but the human body is not sinful.

Paul made this clear when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:

“…the body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord.” (1 Cor 6:13, ESV)

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? (1 Cor 6:15, ESV)

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God.” (1 Cor 6:19, ESV)

So our body is created for holy things and use but it is also susceptible to sinful and wicked things.
The desires of the flesh then are the various cravings of our unredeemed flesh that is driven to seek satisfaction apart from and independent from God.

It isn’t that our desires or cravings are necessarily evil, they become evil and are thought of as evil when we attempt or actually satisfy these cravings independent of God and in violation of God’s standards.

[The wickedness of the world is seen in the desires of the flesh. The second element that John lists, is…]

                                      2E     The Desires of the eyes (Vs. 16c)

                                                “…and the desires of the eyes…”

The desires of the eyes refer to the craving of our corrupt human nature for things that our eyes see. It doesn’t matter if the object that is being viewed is good or bad.

These desires or cravings are evil and despicable. These desires include two evils.

The first evil – is that the eyes desire to take and to have what they see.

This happens to us all the time, or at least to me. I saw a used Corvette on a car lot on Sunday and my first thought when I “saw it” was, “Man I would love to own a Corvette.”

Or I recently saw an 18’ open bow Glasply boat and I thought, that is beautiful, I would love to have another boat.

Here is the difference. I saw those things with my eyes, thought I would enjoy having them but I did nothing to acquire them and the craving did not become unlawful or wicked. I didn’t drop everything I needed to do, or spend all that I had, or by “hook or crook” went after them.

This craving that John is writing about refers to the desire incited by seeing something that turns into an obsession that we depend on for satisfaction rather than God.

So, if you see a sweater on the rack or a pair of shoes that “speak to you” and as you are seeing them with your eyes and you like the sweater or shoes and you say, I would like that and you buy it, OK. But if seeing that sweater or shoes turns into an obsession that you are depending on giving your pleasure or satisfaction then you have crossed into sin.

The second evil involved with the desires of the eyes, this is similar to the first but it actually overlaps with the third element which we will look at momentarily, but it deals with the actual getting of something we strongly desired.

The first evil is looking at something for satisfaction and the second it obtaining it for satisfaction – all independently of God.

[The wickedness of the world is seen in the desires of the flesh and in the desires of the eyes. The third element that John lists, is…]

                                      3E     The Desire for bragging rights (vs. 16d)

                                                “…and pride in possessions.”

                                                The KJV says, “…and the pride of life.”

The word John uses translates as “proud pretension.” It is a term that is full of the idea of pride and pretension. It is very closely related to the word “braggart.”

A braggart is a person who boasts of his own virtues or accomplishments beyond the limits of truth and ethics.

This is not simply sharing or talking about accomplishments.

This is the proud and boastful pretension to be more than you really are.

There is also a flavor to this word brought out more clearly in James 4:16 that speaks of an arrogance of being independent of God.

This also contains the idea that our destiny or our fate is completely controlled by ourselves rather than by a sovereign God.

Ill. – there is a man who lives in the housing tract where Irene and I had bought a house. This was a hard guy to be around. First, he was always talking and rarely drew a breath. Second, he was always bragging about what he did, what he had, what he was doing, and what he had done. Third, if you “did it” he “did it” first and 100 times better than you ever did it.

                                                Have you ever come across a guy like this?

There is an element here that makes this bragging even worse than just bragging about what someone has.

It is one thing to listen to someone brag about his new house, or his new job, or his golf clubs or golf game or the size of his bank account.

What is worse is this bragging contains the idea that the individual got these things by himself and he places full confidence in them for satisfaction rather than God.

This individual thinks that life consists of his possessions, that all there is to life is possessions, and that God isn’t in the picture at all.

This is not necessarily an atheist or agnostic.
It is just an individual who thinks that life is completely contained in everything that he owns or has accumulated.

Look at the progression:

·        John condemns the desire or craving for immediate or instant satisfaction

“…the lust of the flesh…”

·        John condemns the next step which is looking at something for pleasure and satisfaction

“…the lust of the eyes…”

·        John condemns the boasting and confidence in the obtaining and hoarding of the object for confidence and satisfaction independent of God.

“…pride in possession…”

So, if you see a boat and you think, “Wow, I would love to have a boat on a hot summer day,” and you go on about your business, don’t worry about it.

But if you look at that boat for absolute satisfaction, and or you pursue that desire or the boat obsessively and if you actually acquire it and brag on it and find satisfaction in the boat then you have sinned.

John describes the nature or the character of the world or the world systems with what we call a double assertion:

“…is not from the father, but is from the world.”

This is a negative-positive statement and is common with John. Really it is a reminder that that light and darkness cannot coexist. These things, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of possessions are not from God.

The reason that he makes this strong statement is twofold:

          First – John remains convinced of his readers relationship to God

Second – his readers need to be warned of their origin and are contrary to God’s nature and purposes, he exhorts them to not allow such attitudes or actions to establish or maintain control over their lives.

OUR THEME:  Genuine believers do not love the world

This is a good reminder for us all that we need to set our love and desires on things that are heavenly and not on things in this world.

Because the wickedness of this world seen in the desires of the flesh and in the desires of the eyes and in the pride of possessions is not of God.

[We move from the Wickedness of the World to…]

                             3D     The Worthlessness of the World (vs. 17)

Now we come to the third reason for John’s strong and straight forward command to not love the world.

As we examine this verse we see the worthlessness of the world and its systems two different ways. We see its worthlessness negatively and we see its worthlessness from a positive aspect.

1E     First – the worthlessness from a negative statement

          “And the world is passing away along with its desires…”

          Every evil or wicked desire, which includes good desires that are desired for evil, wicked, and selfish purposes will be proven to bring no lasting satisfaction.

          There is no permanent value in what is offered by the world when it is offered in place of the satisfaction we are to find in God.

          You want to know how silly and actually how sinful it is to seek satisfaction from this world is actually seen in the word “passing away.”

          John uses the present tense and in doing so he is saying that this world and all that is in it is passing away at this very moment.

          He isn’t referring to the cataclysmic end of the world at the end of the kingdom age.
          Picture it this way:  it is like holding sand or water in your hand, it just slides out or spills out between your fingers and is gone from your hand.

          While some of John’s readers were seeking to find pleasure or inner satisfaction from the ideologies, philosophies, and possessions of this world, those very things were in the process of decay.

          John has already made this clear when he said the darkness is presently passing away because the light is already here.

So, the world and its systems along with all its “possessions” is worthless. It has no lasting, eternal value.

But there is a second way in which this world is seen as worthless. As I said this is given in a positive form.

2E     Second – the worthlessness from a positive statement

          “…but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

          Here John places before his readers God’s provision and internal satisfaction and content in contrast to the lust for the things of this world.

          John says that those have rejected the world and all that is in it for God will live forever.

          Obedience to God is the persistent characteristic of the person who truly knows God through Jesus Christ.

          “Abides” speaks permanent.
          So the world is worthless because it is not permanent but those who know God are.

          The world will pass away but the children of God will live forever.

          Anything that cannot last forever and have eternal benefits is actually worthless.

Right here in this last phrase of verse 17 is the true answer to the cravings of the human heart. Full contentment and satisfaction is found in doing the will of God – John has said that this is done by keeping the commandments of God.

John makes it clear that genuine faith, true fellowship rests on and is tested by a fully functional faith worked out in daily life.

Many people try and live for the minute. They conform themselves to the thoughts, ideas, and philosophies of this world. They go for the gusto and try to accumulate anything and everything that they think will make them happy.

Men try to make themselves comfortable in this life and to have a life of great ease. But when you do you show yourself not to be a genuine believer.

OUR THEME:  Genuine believers do not love the world

This is a good reminder for us all that we need to set our love and desires on things that are heavenly and not on things in this world.

We maintain that genuine believers are commanded to love not the world or the things in the world. John gave us three reasons that genuine believes do not love the world:  the wastefulness of the world, the wickedness of the world, and the worthlessness of the world.

[What do you say we wrap this up?]                                               


My goal or my aim this morning has been to share with you John’s Warning – actually his command that you as genuine believers guard your heart against the lure and enticement to love the systems of the world.

 This command was given on the basis of John’s confidence in his reader’s position of being genuine believers.

II Timothy 4:10 "Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica."

If Demas fell in love with his world then we can do it too. In fact, I think it’s a whole lot easier today to fall in love with the things of this world than it was for Demas. WE HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH!

Exhortation:  Examine your hearts and see if there exists any love and affection for this world. If so, confess it, repent of it, and ask God to rid this unholy love for the world.

Then lion like and with great ferociousness, guard you heart and keep it, because out of the heart come the issues of life.

[1] D. Edmond Hiebert, The Epistles of John, (Greenville:  Bob Jones University Press, 1991), p. 100

1 comment:

Chasing Rainbows said...

I am all for negative and positive attitudes, have read much about the subject, Another masterpiece of a post and again food for thought,