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Sunday, December 09, 2012

[Matt's Messages] "Do Not Love the World"


“Do Not Love the World”
Essential Christianity: 1 John
December 9, 2012
1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world.

That’s classic John, isn’t it?

John loves a simple but incredibly profound sentence.

This is the man, under the inspiration of the Spirit, who came up with “In the beginning was the Word.”

And the man who wrote, “God is light.”

John knows how to cut to the chase and give the bottom line, and say something incredibly simple and incredibly deep at the same time.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world.”  That’s the command. That’s the message for today.

And it came right on the heels of those encouraging almost poetic verses that assured us that our sins are forgiven, that we know God the Father, and that we have, through Christ, overcome the evil one.

Now, John says, “Do not love the world.”

And if we get that, we get everything for today.

Of course, John’s classic command raises a whole bunch of questions, doesn’t it?

What does he mean and what doesn’t he mean by this?

Because, I thought that we were supposed to love the world!

Aren’t we supposed to love the world?

Aren’t we supposed to be like God? And doesn’t He love the world?

Isn’t the most famous verse in the Bible “God so loved the world” ?

Who wrote that verse?  It was John the apostle. I believe the same writer that we are reading right now.

God so loved the world.
Do not love the world.

What does John mean?

Let’s start with what John does not mean because I think that will help us to understand what he does mean.

I’ve got two of these, I’m sure we could think of more.

First, John does not mean, DO NOT LOVE THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD.

I don’t think that John could mean that because that’s what God does and that’s what we’re supposed to do.

We are supposed to be loving people and do what is best for others.

Love the people of the world, at least the way that God does.

A love that is a 1 Corinthians 13 love is always appropriate for the people of the world.  No, be patient, be kind, don’t be rude.  Love people.

John has already told us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jesus told us to love our enemies.

So, I don’t think that this means that we should hate people or feel indifferent about them.

Jesus died for the people of the world, we need to love them.

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

“Do not love the world” does not mean do not love the people of the world.

Second, John does not mean DO NOT ENJOY THINGS IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD.

He’s not saying do not love pizza.
Do not love your dog.
Do not love hunting.
Do not love Christmas fudge.
Do not love Christmas trees.
Do not love your pillow.
Do not love a cool breeze.
Do not love the hum of an engine.
Do not love the sound of a piano.
Do not love curling up in a easy chair with a good book in front of a fire.
Do not love the sunrise.

That’s not what he’s saying.

You know why?

Because the Bible teaches that the Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and everything in it.

And the Bible says that “everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”  That’s 1 Timothy 4:4.

The Bible teaches that we are to enjoy the good things of this world.

This verse does not mean to stop taking pleasure in the good things that God has given us in this physical world.

It was the Gnostic heretics who taught that the physical world was bad and the spiritual world was all that was good.

God said that the world he created was very good. He takes pleasure in it, and invite us to do the same.  “This is my Father’s world.”

John doesn’t mean do not enjoy things in the physical world.

So, what does John mean?

Because he means something. He said it. He said, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.” And I do not doubt for one second that he means every word.

But what does every word mean?

I think that we need to understand what “world” John is talking about.

The Greek word for “world” is kosmos and it can mean different things in different contexts, just like our word “world.”

Here, what I think it means is what I’m going to call the “fallen world.”

The world-system in rebellion against God.

Not the individual people of the world, but the people of the world united in rebellion against God.

And not the physical things in the physical world themselves but the way that those physical things in the physical world have been turned against God by Satan.

So, I’m going to say it this way:

DO NOT FALL IN LOVE WITH THE FALLEN WORLD.

And notice that this is really a different meaning of the word “love” as well.

It doesn’t mean love in the 1 Corinthians sense of seeking the best for another person.

Or even an innocent enjoying of a physical pleasure.

This love is a twisted love that turns whatever it loves into a false god.

It’s a love not of affection but of lust.
It’s a love that doesn’t say, “What can I do for others?” but “What can this do for me?”

Do not fall in love with the fallen world.

Verse 16 spells it out for us. It describes this fallen kind of love. V.16

“For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.”

Look at those three.

#1. The Cravings of Sinful Man.

The old King James version translated that literally, “The lust of the flesh.”

The cravings of sinful man.

Loving the world means giving in to the unbridled desires that spring up from the worst part of me.

When we think of “lust of the flesh,” we immediately think of sexual lust and sensual immorality.

And this phrase “cravings of sinful man” certainly includes that.

“Do not love the world” rules out everything from internet pornography to sex outside of marriage.

But we have other cravings that aren’t sexual, don’t we?

The cravings of sinful man for stuff, stuff, and more stuff.

When I told Heather that I was going to preach on “do not love the world” this week, she said, “Well, that’s appropriate for Christmas season.”

The fallen world tells us that we need things. We desperately need things for us to be happy.

Cravings.

And here’s where a lot of them start.

#2. The Lust of His Eyes.

What we see and then want so desperately.

And, again, this covers our sexual appetite that comes in through our eyes.

Men, what are you looking at online?  Women, too, of course. But especially men.

If we were to put your internet viewing history for this week up on the screen, would you be ashamed?

What are you doing about it?

For the last half of a year, I have been using a internet accountability and filtering software called Covenant Eyes.  From Job 31:1, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.”

And every week, this software sends a list of all of the sites that I have visited online to my accountability partner, Pastor Dan Ledford.

And then, we can talk about them.

Because filthy things on the internet are pulling more guys down than we can imagine.

“The lust of the eyes.”

If you need help with conquering that, I am here to assist you.

We don’t talk about that much, but it’s a plague, and we need to fight it!

“The lust of the eyes.”

And of course, that’s not just sexual.  Our eyes can lead us astray into gluttony and drunknesses and greed.

#3. The Boasting of What He Has and Does.

Literally, “the arrogance of life” or the “arrogance of the things of life.”

Boasting about your life, boasting about what you have and what you do.

Your livelihood, your possession, your lifestyle.

Your bling!

That’s what it means to love the world.

Here’s where it gets tricky, huh?

John doesn’t mean that we should not enjoy the things of this physical world.

But we sure can enjoy them, too much, can’t we?
And we sure can enjoy them at other people’s expense, can’t we?

So, there is a sense in which we need to be careful HOW we enjoy things.

My friends never do it, but I understand that there is a lot of boasting that goes on on Facebook.

See my car?
See my computer?
See my dinner?
See my decorations?
See my high score?
See my well-behaved child?
See my book contract?

It can turn into Faceboast. 

And before you know it, you have fallen in love with the fallen world.

(And of course, Facebook just makes it stand out. We don’t need a website to fall into the boasting of what we have and do.)

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

It’s easy to point fingers.  I can think of how other people might fall into loving the world, but it’s easy to let myself off of the hook.

This is the first command in the book of 1 John.

How are you doing?

Are you loving the world?

Here’s why we can’t fall in love with the fallen world.

John gives three reasons.

#1. THE FALLEN WORLD DOESN’T FIT WITH THE LOVE OF THE FATHER.

Go back up to verse 15.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Now, that could mean either that God’s love has not penetrated the person who loves the world or that if you love the world, you clearly do not love God the Father.

Both of them are true.

If you fall head over heals in love with the world, I can give you no assurance that you have truly received the love of God.

Because that love will change you.

I fear for so many people that are trapped in worldliness.

They love the world. They don’t seem any different than the worldlians around them.

Yes, they may go to church, or have made some kind of decision for Christ in the past, but they worship the world (cravings, lust, boasting), and there is no sign of the love of the Father in them.

And there is no sign of love for the Father, either.

That’s scary!

The Fallen World Doesn’t Fit With the Love of the Father.

James said it this way, “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

I don’t want to become an enemy of God.

And I don’t want any of my loved ones to be enemies of God.

Do not love the world!

#2. THE FALLEN WORLD DOESN’T COME FROM THE FATHER.  V.16 again.

“For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.”

See the difference.

If it comes from God and is received with faith and thanksgiving from God, then you can enjoy it with no worries and incredible pleasure.

But if it is illicit...
If it is against God...
If it is something you need to hide...
If it is something you love more than the Father...

Then it doesn’t come from the Father, and it must be forsaken.

Because, it’s passing away.

#3. THE FALLEN WORLD IS NOT FOREVER. V.17

“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

There is no future in loving the world.

John said in verse 8 that “the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.”

The darkworld that vies for our attention is fleeting and temporary.

But the lightworld, God is light, is eternal.

“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

Why would we love something that is just dust in the wind?

Why wouldn’t we love that which never ends?

We are Christians.

Our sins are forgiven.
We know God.
We have overcome the evil one.

Because of Jesus, we are going to live forever!

So, we need to live for His will.

“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

The Fallen World Doesn’t Fit with the Love of the Father
The Fallen World Doesn’t Come from the Father
The Fallen World is Not Forever.

There is no future in it.

Do not love the world or anything in the world.

What does this mean for you today?

What does this mean for us this week?

What difference will this command make in how we live?

What changes do we have to make?

I’m sure for some of us, this will mean radical changes.

Changes to the way we shop, the way we surf the internet, the way we watch t.v., the way we eat, the way we relate to people of the opposite sex.

Some of our changes won’t be obvious, but they will be real.

What we cannot do is allow ourselves to fall in love with the fallen world.

Do not love the world.

***

Messages about Essential Christianity

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