Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Test of Fellowship (Part 9)

The Test of Fellowship:  Do Not Love The World
1 John 2: 15-17
(Part 9)


A.   "Our interests are in ourselves. We are preoccupied with material things. Our supreme god is technology. Our goddess is sex. Most of us are more interested in getting to the moon than getting to heaven. We are more dedicated to material security than to inward purity. We give much more thought to what we wear, what we eat, what we drink, and what we can do than what we are...." (Billy Graham)

B.   Today’s passage is the quintessential command to stop and to not love this world. Here John gives a direct command to his readers that they are not to love the world.

Proposition:  The love of God compels us to end all idolizations of 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)

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

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.

This is a serious thing for John. Love for this present world systems excludes the possibility of a love for God.

Sin and evil desires that reside in our unredeemed flesh attack us and entice or lure us into sin is prompted and motivated by the systems of this world.

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 at the very least, or causes us to be separated from God for all of eternity

[The first reason genuine believers do not love the world is found in…]

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

[First of all, John describes…]

                                       1E     The Command

“Do not love the world or the things in the world…”
This is what we call an imperative. 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.

In our Greek text the command “to love” is actually preceded by an adverb.

This tells at least two things:

·        Some of these believers are already loving the world and the things in the world. So John actually is saying “Stop doing what you are already in the process of doing.” 

John does not give us any details about what his readers were doing. We don’t know how they were loving the world nor do we know to what extent they loved the world of the things in the world.

John exhorts his readers to stop the habit. Stop, quit what you have started to do.

They are in danger of being tempted and betrayed by their own appetites and senses love what the world offers more than they love God.

The problem is that this is so typical of our nature. It is natural that we would love this world and all that this world offers. We have a fallen, nature of sin that is housed in our flesh.

·        Second thing that this passage tells us is that we have a duty to separate ourselves from this world. IOW, it is not to be an object of our affections.

As matter of fact the Scriptures make it clear that this world is not to be an object of our affections or our love:

o   Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world… (Romans 12:2a, ESV)

We are not to shape ourselves into the nature or character of this world’s systems. By the way, the verb for conformed is a command and not an option. 

Second, it can be translated in either the middle or the passive voice. If it is used in the middle voice it means do not shape yourself like the world systems for your own benefit or profit.

IOW, don’t take on the character or the nature of the world’s systems in order to gain something for yourself.

If it is used in the passive voice it means don’t let the world’s systems shape you or conform you to their standards.

Either way, do not love this world. Do not allow yourself to take on the nature or character of this world’s systems.

o   James 4:4 – “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with world in enmity with God? Therefore whoever wished to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4, ESV)

The word for friendship comes from the root meaning “friend.” James is speaking of people who have chosen to imitate the world’s systems which results in them becoming enemies of God. James is saying it is impossible to satisfy the expectations of the heart with the things of this world and to please God at the same time.

It is an either or choice for the believer.
When you choose to become friends with or “to imitate” the character and nature of the world you are in affect “hating” God. The root implies the hatred of an enemy.

It is a very serious thing to choose to become “friends” with the systems of the world. When you do this you are placing yourselves in full opposition to God.

It is like Custer and the 7th Calvary against the Sioux Indians all over again. You are outnumbered, outgunned, and out-everything.

o   Colossians 4:1-2 – “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on the things of this earth. (Colossians 4:1-2, ESV)

There is a strong contrast here – place or direct your thoughts on heavenly things as opposed to any earthly things like the world’s systems.

I think we need to stop here for a minute and ask ourselves what John is talking about. What does he mean by world and what are “the things in the world.” 

[Let’s move from the command to…] 

                                      2E     The Concept

                                                “…the world or the things in the world.”

First of all, the word for world in our text is the Greek word kosmos. It is used at least 7 different ways in the New Testament.  

It is used in reference to or to denote:

·        The earth in its totality – we would say “universe”

·        The earth itself – in contrast to the heavens

·        The human race – all of mankind

·        Gentiles as distinguished from the Jews

·        The present system of human affairs

·        The sum of all temporal possessions

·        As an expression of magnitude & variety

kosmos was also used outside of the New Testament. Its non-biblical usage included:

·        The idea or concept of “that which is well ordered”

·        The order between men

·        Or just plain order in general

·        An “adornment” which by the way was used in the NT once

There is no word for universe in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew had a word that signified the host of heaven and was even used for adornment.

The Hebrews referenced heaven and earth as “the all.”

In the NT is never used in the “sense” of order or structure

It is used one time as we said as adornment in 1 Peter 3:3

All other times it is used in the NT is means “world” in some sense.

The NT uses it to reference the universe. It includes all created beings and is used synonymous with heaven and earth.

It is used as the living place of men – the inhabited world, we see this defined by terms like “kingdoms of the world” and “nations of the world.”

It is also used to refer to humanity. It kind of goes like this:

The universe becomes inhabited world by humanity which becomes the world of men which is opposed to God

kosmos is the sum of the divine creation which has been shattered by the fall, which stands under the judgment of God and in which Jesus Christ appeared as a redeemer redeeming his elect from the sum total of mankind.

World is the enemy of God and it is a great obstacle to the Christian life.

What is included in the world system?

·        The understanding of men
·        Vain imaginations of men
·        Evil thoughts of men
·        Inordinate longings or cravings of men
·        Unlawful inclinations of men
·        The perversities of men
·        And even the stubbornness or willfulness of men 

Also included in the system of the world are things:

·        That oppose God
·        Self-promotion
·        Self-preservation
·        Gratification of self  a love of self and pleasure or hedonism

The systems of the world show themselves in:

·        Gratification w/o guidelines
·        Control w/o consequences
·        Rights w/o responsibilities
·        Pleasure w/o penalties

So, are you getting the picture? Do you see what the world is and really what the systems of the world? Do you see why John commands them on the basis of their positive relationship with God as children, young men, and Fathers to not love the world and the things that are in the world?

God hates the systems of the worlds. God’s wrath is and will be visited upon the systems of the world. God will judge the systems of this world.

We have seen the John’s command and we have defined his concept of the world and we know what he means.

Therefore Christian, stop the present habit and do not love this world or the things in this world.

[If we don’t we will face…]

                                      3E     The Consequences

Look what John says in conjunction with this command:

“…If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him.”

What does John mean when he says if you do persist in loving this world and the world’s systems that the love of the Father is not in you?

First of all this is the only time this phrase is used in the NT.

Secondly, this is a serious statement. It cannot be taken lightly.

There are three possible meanings of this phrase and you will have to choose one:

·        It could refer to the love that comes from God to all those who are his children

·        It could refer specifically to the person who is currently and presently loving the world and its systems and doesn’t have an immediate reference to those who are not engaged in loving the world and its systems

·        It could refer to the believer’s love for God

After wrestling with it and praying over the text, I think the correct meaning and choice is the third option:  love for God is not in the one who loves the world.

Now be careful here, 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.

Love for God does not exist.

Philo said:  “It is impossible for a love to the world to coexist with love to God, as it is impossible for light and darkness to coexist.”

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]
I think we have to stop here for a minute and ask ourselves, if it is so serious as to not even be a Christian if I consistently and actively love the systems of this world, in what ways can we be tempted to love the world’s systems.

IOW, what do I do or what is the actions and attitudes that necessary to love this world.

The answer to this question is contained in the next two verses, vss. 16 & 17. Which we will, Lord willing look at next week.

 [Let’s 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.

We're not going where the system is going. The system is going into death and hell, and we're going into life, life eternal. So we can't love the world because of what it is, it is the system of Satan. Who are we? We are the children of God. Loving the world incites sin. And because of where the world and its systems are going, they are spiraling into death and we're headed for eternal life. 

How foolish then to flirt with it, huh? And how foolish not to be consumed with the things of the eternal Kingdom. So next week we will examine the three categories in which the world attempts to seduce people, including genuine believers.

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...

Loved this most interesting read Gregg. sorry I am late.