Recognizing the World   2 comments

This is part of a series. Check it out.

Any discussion of worldliness and its affect on the Christian life has got to define some terms and that requires a look at Scripture. I can’t think of a better Biblical writer to turn to than Jesus’ best friend, John, to answer the question of what is “the world”, in the Biblical sense.

I am writing to you, little children, that your sins have been forgiven because of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, that you have conquered the evil oneI have written to you, children, that you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young people, that you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil one.

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, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever

Children, it is the last hour, and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. We know from this that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us, because if they had belonged to us,they would have remained with us. But they went out from us to demonstrate that all of them do not belong to us. 1 John 2:12:19

The Greek word for “world,” cosmos, occurs 185 times in the New Testament. John used it 105 of those times (78 in his Gospel, 24 in his epistles, and 3 in Revelation). It originally meant “order,” and it came to refer to the universe as the well-ordered creation of God. It may refer to the physical world (John 1:10) or to the people of the world collectively (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). In those senses, there is nothing wrong with loving the world. God created the earth for us and we should enjoy God’s creation. We should also love sinful people who need to know the Savior.

John also used the exact same word to refer to the evil, organized system under Satan, which operates through unbelieving people who are God’s enemies. He wrote (1 John 5:19):

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Jesus spoke of the world hating both Him and those who follow Him (John 15:18-19).

This world (or we might say “society”) operates on the basis of ungodly thoughts, attitudes, motives, values, and goals (Isaiah 55:8-9). It does not seek to promote God’s glory or to submit to His sovereign authority. It is in this sense that we must not love the world.

When John added that we are not to love “the things of the world,” he did not mean that you must hate your house and your car, although I am personally not speaking to my washing machine at the moment. This is why I advocate reading passages of the Bible instead of verses. John elaborated on those “things” in 2:16 as, “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.” In other words, worldliness is primarily an attitude that is motivated by wrong desires and the wrongful promotion of self. A poor man who does not have many possessions may be very worldly because he desires those things as the key to happiness. A wealthy man may not be worldly, using his possessions as a steward of God and as a means of promoting God’s purpose and glory. I offer RG LaTourneau as an example.

Worldly Christians operate on the same principles as unregenerate people — non-Christians. A worldly Christian thinks and acts out of selfishness, greed, pride, and personal ambition, motivated by a selfish desire for the things that you do not have and a sinful pride in the things that you possess. Rather than living to please God, Who examines the heart, the worldly person tries to impress people, who look on things outwardly.

An example? Drinking alcohol can have far ranging negative impacts on people, so many Christians choose not to drink. Many of us do it because we recognize that we cannot fully represent God in a positive light if we’re drinking. However, if you refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages because you want to impress others with how spiritual you are or you take pride in not drinking and look with contempt on those who do, you are actually being worldly by not drinking.

I’m not trying to encourage Christians to drink alcohol. I’m pointing out that worldliness is not a matter of keeping some list of dos and don’ts. It is a matter of your heart’s motives before God.

John made two main points:

You have to choose your love. Either the world or the Father. You have to pick on. You can’t choose both (1 John 2:15).

John stated the main command: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world.” Then, he gave the implication: “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” This is an either/or proposition. The person who loves the world does not love God. Of course, every sane human being loves something that is not God. I love my family, I love Alaska, and to a great extent, I love my home, but what John wrote calls me as a Christian to task if I put those people and things ahead of God. Our love for God should be the ruling principle of our lives. It should be the ruling guidance for everything we do in our lives. John understood, because he was human, that the only way that we can overcome the strong desires of the flesh and the world is to be consumed with loving God.

John used “Father” to describe God in 2:15 & 16, as he did in 2:13, where he said that the children had come to know the Father. It focuses us on God’s tender love for us as His children (3:1). It is the Father’s first love for us that motivates us to love Him in response (1 John 4:19). Let’s not get that mixed up. God loved us first and choose to come down into our existence to die on our behalf. We then respond by loving Him in return. In light of the Father’s great love in stepping down from heaven as the propitiation for our sins and adopting us as His children, loving Him should be our great delight.

The Bible directs its commandments to our hearts or affections. The greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Solomon wrote (Proverbs 4:23), “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” As Jonathan Edwards argued in his Treatise on Religious Affections: “True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections.” If your heart is cold toward the Father and captivated by the glitz of the world, you need to ask yourself:

“Do I belong to the Father or to the world?”

So John’s commandment (2:15) challenges us to choose our love. Either we love the world or we love the Father. We cannot straddle the line. Like a jealous lover, the Father demands total allegiance. He’s earned it. Loving the Father begins at the cross when you receive His supreme gift of love, Lord Jesus Christ, as the substitute for your sins.

You must maintain your love. Either the world or the Father, but not both (1 John 2:16-17).

Any love relationship must be maintained, including your relationship with God. The enemy is trying to lure you from God’s love with all of the temptations of the world, as John showed in 2:16. If you yield to them, you will maintain love for the world.

1 John 2:16-17

Verse 16 is explanatory of verse 15 (“For”), showing how love for the things in the world does not come from the Father. The three aspects of temptation listed here parallel the way that Satan tempted Eve. Recognizing that the forbidden fruit was good for food, she desired it (Genesis 3:6), which was an appeal to the lust of the flesh. She saw “that it was a delight to the eyes.” This appealed to the lust of the eyes. She also came to understand “that the tree was desirable to make one wise.” This appealed to the boastful pride of life.

The same pattern occurred in Satan’s temptation of Jesus (Luke 4:1-12). Satan urged Jesus to turn the stones into bread (the lust of the flesh). He showed Him all the kingdoms of the earth, offering to give them to Him (the lust of the eyes). He encouraged Him to jump off the pinnacle of the temple, which could have been a source of pride in this miraculous accomplishment.

Next we will examine John’s three aspects of “all that is in the world”.

Posted January 14, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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2 responses to “Recognizing the World

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  1. Pingback: Cultural Dance | aurorawatcherak

  2. Pingback: Preparing for the Kingdom | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

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