1 John 2:12-17
12I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
13I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
14I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
Have you ever been embarrassed over an email you sent out by mistake? Maybe you sent it to the wrong "Terry" or copied someone who should have never been copied? Maybe you responded in anger, Jerry McGuire style only to wish you had never sent it as soon as you hit the enter key?
John's doesn't write the letter as a list of suggestions for us to consider, he writes the letter in reaction to reports he has heard about the church, and what he has seen believers doing in their lives. The letter up to this point tells us that we are liars, that we have called God a liar, that we are not from God, that we are blind, deceived, that we couldn't find our way out of a paper bag, and that our mom dresses us funny. To say the least this letter has not been filled with pleasantries, niceties, and terms of endearment and encouragement.
And unlike our emails that went to a co-worker by mistake, a work group by mistake the damage for the most part was isolated at least within a certain group of people. John's letter is to "The Church", to billions and billions of men and women past, present, and future and once this letter was sent there was no retrieving it.
Now John realizes that there are indeed men and women who read their Bibles, who pray, who serve, who truly follow Jesus, who love Jesus, and who are great ambassadors for His kingdom and John is sensitive that there is the capacity for some of those who read this letter to be grieved by it, to question, to feel guilty even though they are at no fault. So beginning in chapter 2:12-14 John acknowledges those in the church who are faithful to Jesus, those who know the eternal God, those who are living for Jesus, and those young men whom the word of God lives in and who are strong in Jesus.
John covers the gambit of age groups, children, young men, and fathers and he lets them know that he knows that they are forgiven, their theology is correct, they are strong in Jesus, and they have overcome the evil one and he does this right before he hits the church square between the eyes with his sternest command yet.
2:15 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.
Every time the word is read silently, taught openly, preached and proclaimed loudly it is meant to reveal the glory of God to man, it is to take the glory of God as bright as the sun and shine it into our hearts, our dark hearts exposing the things deep deep inside. Hebrews 4:12 12 says "the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." And so the goal of scripture is to live within us, to be active within us, to cut away the dark parts of our hearts, to judge the dark parts of our hearts, to show us our sins, to show us where we have sinned in word, thought, deed, or inaction, to bring us the gift of repentance and to repentance so that we will be changed, going in a new direction, the right direction.
We are commanded to "not love the world" which means we should begin stockpiling canned goods, ramen noodles, powdered milk, and 55 gallon barrels of gasoline as we build our compounds upon 529 acres of fenced in farmland right? Doesn't this scripture reinforce the need to isolate ourselves from the world, to withdraw from the world to keep from being contaminated and our children from being contaminated by the world? How does this jive, "not to love the world" with John 3:16 that says that "God so loved the world"? Isn't this a contradiction? Does it mean that we are to hate the world and only God is to love the world?
1. Don't start on that compound just yet and please...step away from the ramen noodles.
The Greek used in John 3:16 is ton kosmon and refers to the whole cosmos of men, including Gentiles, the whole human race while the Greek used in 1 John 2:15 is Kosmos which refers to an ordered system. "Here it is the ordered system of which Satan is the head, his fallen angels and demons are his emissaries, and the unsaved of the human race are his subjects, together with those purposes, pursuits, pleasures, practices, and places where God is not wanted. Much in this world-system is religious, cultured, refined, and intellectual. But it is anti-God and anti-Christ". (Wuest, Kenneth S.: Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English Reader. Grand Rapids : Eerdmans, 1997, c1984, S. 1 Jn 2:15)
This verse could literally be translated as "stop loving the world" or "don't have the habit of loving the world" and "stop loving the things in the world" or "don't have the habit of loving stuff".
In the movie, The Bounty, staring Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins plays Lieutenant William Bligh a British Naval Captain commissioned by the King to pick up breadfruit plants in Tahiti in the hopes of growing them and taking them to the West Indies where they will be cheap food for slaves. All is well until the ship arrives in Tahiti, a paradise on earth for most of the ships crew. The king of Tahiti agrees to grow breadfruit for the crew and for months the men lounge around the island, swimming, sunbathing, mingling in with the women, learning the language, and eventually falling in love with the culture. The crew, whose home is England and whose loyalties should reside with the King have now come to dread the day they must leave Tahiti, must leave the very world they have fallen in love with. Eventually the men, lead by Fletcher Christian (Mel Gibson) rebel against Mr. Bligh, mutiny, and take command of the ship never to return to their home or to their King.
God's command isn't for us to stop loving people, (see 1 John 2:10) or for us to remove ourselves from the company of people.
Point #1 - God wants us to stop loving this world, it's system, and the things in this world.
You and I don't have the capacity to love two things that are so diametrically opposed such as God the ways of this world (Matthew 6:24). If we choose this world scripture makes it very clear that "the Father is no in" us. If we don't remove ourselves, isolate ourselves, how can we guard ourselves from such love? Isn't it easy for us to fall in love with our own paradise here on earth? Isn't it easy for us to be lulled into a false sense of home? And what does John mean by do not love the things of this world? Does he mean T.V.? Liberal news programming? Twinkies?
Point #2 - God gives us clear indicators of what things to avoid.
16For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.
1. desires of the flesh
2. desires of the eyes
3. pride in our possession
These are what we are to guard our hearts against while we are living here on earth as we are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. You and I have the capacity to forget our King and our kingdom. Our loyalties can change if we don't guard ourselves and we too can mutiny.
Point #3 - Everything and everyone apart from Jesus is temporary.
17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Materialism, money, food, desires of the flesh, of the eyes, the possessions that posses us give us only temporary joy and are void in and of themselves of life, do not have the ability to give life, sustain life and are temporal in that they quickly lose their luster as well as will one day be judged, condemned, and consumed by the presence of Jesus.
Jesus is returning. He is coming back and upon His return He will gather everyone who is in Him to Himself. Jesus will judge everyone who is not of Him, condemn those apart from Him to an eternity of separation from Him in Hell.
The good news is that none of us have to endure this. The good news is that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of everyone past, present, and future and that by believing in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and by calling on the name of Jesus you will be saved. Jesus will renounce your citizenship here on Earth and welcome you into His eternal kingdom. You will no longer be a subject of Satan but a subject of the King, Lord Jesus and upon His return you will be given your new glorious body, Philippians 3:20-22, to live in His new heaven and new Earth.
Stop loving the world system and the things in the world. Start loving people and loving God and using stuff to love people and to love God for everything apart from God is already passing away and in the end only that which is of God will remain.