Motivations to Not Fall in Love with the World – July 29, 2022

Last week we looked at John’s challenge to believers not to fall in love with this world. 1 John 2:15-17 – 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. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. However, why would someone want to give up the things of this world and sacrifice them for the things of God? Why would I want to give sacrificially in the middle of inflation? Verses 15b-17 hold the key.

First, we observe that loving God is more important than loving the world. We see at the end of verse 15 that if someone loves the world, it stands as a sign that they do not love God. But love for God is the most critical thing in life. It is the chief command: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. In his commentary, John Stott states, “If we are engrossed in the outlook and pursuit of the world which reject Christ, it is evident that we have no love for the Father.”

Why is this true? Because the world is at odds with God. The world’s very nature is anti-God. John tells us that all that is in the world is not from the Father but is of the world. He classifies these things of the world into three categories: Desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, and the pride of life.

The desires of the flesh refer to the debased, sinful cravings of evil hearts. This would include anything in which humans improperly fulfill fleshly desires (overeating, drunkenness, etc.). We live in a culture that is all about fulfilling the desires of the flesh. This is the very premise behind the sexual revolution. If it feels good to you, you should have not only a right to do it but also an obligation to do it. Love is simply a feeling (not a commitment), so if you don’t feel in love any longer, you end the relationship (even if a marriage covenant binds it). If you don’t feel like you enjoy your job anymore, you find a new one. At all costs, fulfill the desires of your body.

The desires of the eyes refer to lust derived from what we see—those sinful cravings activated by what people see and lead to covetousness. The entire media industry is built on the desire of the eyes. Advertisers place before us everything that looks good. Through the eye gate, temptation enters our hearts and brings about discontentedness with what God grants us.

The pride of life refers to bragging and exaggerating what we have to impress people. If my reputation, my public image, matters more to me than the glory of God or the well-being of my fellows, the pretentiousness of life has become the object of my idol worship.

These temptations are not new. Satan presented sin to Adam and Eve in the garden using this playbook. The fruit was good for food (desire of the flesh), the fruit looked good (desire of the eyes), and the promise to be like God (pride of life). These seemingly ordinary desires are actually tools of Satan to draw us away from God. The motivation is not to love the world because these things move us away from God.

Finally, we must remember that that world is temporal. In his commentary, James Boice wisely notes, “All that is in the world is transitory and therefore headed for destruction. The world is passing away, John states. So are its values and those who were characterized by its values. How foolish, then, to pin one’s hopes on the world system, however attractive it may appear or however rewarding.” John Calvin comments, “As there is nothing in the world but what is fading, and as it were for a moment, he hence concludes that they received their happiness from it, make a wretched and miserable provision for themselves, especially when God calls us to the ineffable glory of eternal life.”

However, when we sacrifice this world’s stuff for the Kingdom of God, we learn that God will always provide for our needs. We need not worry about the provisions of life if we are serving God and sacrificing for him. For he has promised us, But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

Will you choose to live for this world or the next? Will you value personal time over God’s people? Will you value your toys over God’s church? Will you value your comfort over God’s work? Will you value that which lasts only a lifetime over that which lasts for eternity?