Sermon #15 1 John Series
Title: “Love Not the World!”
Text: 1st John 2:15-17
Date: Tuesday Evening — July 31, 2012
Tape# 1st John 15
Readings: Bob Duff and Bobbie Estes
Nothing is more dangerous to the souls of men than the love of the world. Nothing more effectually chokes out the influence of the Gospel in a man’s heart than the cares of this world. Nothing is more difficult to avoid than an undue attachment to this world. Therefore John sets these four words up as a beacon. They stand written by the finger of God in blazing letters to warn us of great danger. — “Love not the world!” That is the title of my message. — “Love not the world!” Our text will be 1st John 2:15-17.
This world and all that it offers is no more than a bubble that soon must burst. Your money, your farms, your houses, your influence, your families, everything here is temporary. It will all vanish away. We laugh at the small child who cries when the bubbles he is playing with burst. But, for a rational man to be so attached to a bubble is a most irrational thing.
Are you God’s child? Are you risen with Christ? Do you live in the hope of eternal glory? Then count this world to be a dead thing. Live no longer for this world. Set your heart on things above. Live above this pile of rubbish that must soon burn. Live to do the will of God, seek the glory of Christ, further the Gospel of the grace of God, and serve the people of God. Quit seeking those things for which unbelieving men live; and seek those things which are above: life, immortality, and glory. — “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” May God the Holy Spirit graciously burn these words into your heart and mine, for Christ’s sake — “Love not the world!”
“15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
Proposition: In these verses the Apostle John warns us that it is impossible for a person to love the world and love God. Therefore, he warns us against fixing our hearts upon this decaying, corrupting, perishing world.
In every age of the Church the people of God have had to struggle with what we call worldliness. Worldliness was one of the greatest problems in the days of the Apostles; and it continues to be one of the greatest difficulties facing the Church today as well. Therefore, John gave this tender word of warning and exhortation to those who were under his pastoral care: — “Love not the world!” This has always been the standard of true believers. The child of God endeavors to keep his affections for Christ and heaven; whereas, the mere religious professor is attached to the world, living for its comforts and pleasure.
Perhaps this admonition was never needed so much as it is needed today. My friends, as you care for your souls and the honor of Christ, I bid you to hear my voice. — “Love not the world!” Today there is a widespread desire to make Christianity palatable with the world, to shave off the rough edges of the Gospel, to do away with the offense of the cross, and to avoid, as far as possible, anything like self-denial. In a day like this, I feel compelled to raise this clear warning: — “Love not the world!” I want you to be aware of the danger and folly of worldly affection. I hope that my warning will be clearly set forth, for if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to battle?
I realize that the subject of worldliness means many things to many people. But what is worldliness? Religionists say that it is worldly to dress according to the fashion of the times, to wear your hair in a given way, to wear a beard, or to drink a glass of wine.
The Pharisee’s rule is, “touch not, taste not, handle not.” These commandments and doctrines of men are satisfying to the flesh, and they make a show of humility; but Paul calls it “a show of humility in will worship” (Colossians 2:23) and “the doctrines of devils” (1st Timothy 4:1). And he warns us to shun these things.
The Lord Jesus dressed according to the fashion of the common man in His day. He wore a seamless robe and sandals, like all other men. Our Savior wore His hair much longer than modern styles, and He wore a beard, according to the custom of His day. Jesus of Nazareth drank wine with His disciples, and turned water into wine at the marriage feast of Cana of Galilee. Was the Son of God worldly? Perish the thought!
Men look upon the outward appearance. They place great stock in a man’s outward dress and conduct. By these things they determine who are and who are not worldly, who are and who are not the people of God. But God has no regard for such things. — “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). Our Lord made it plain that it is not what a man wears, or eats, or drinks that reflects his relationship with God. Rather, it is his heart attitude.
What is worldliness? It is the love of the world. Be sure that you do not love the world. — “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Do not allow your heart to become attached to this world, neither its people nor its pleasures, neither its fame nor its fortunes, neither its success nor its security. — “Love not the world!” It is perishing. Everything in it is marked for destruction. But — “Set your affection on things above,” even Jesus Christ and the riches of grace and glory in Him.
Worldliness is an undue attachment to this world. It is living for this world, its riches, its honor, its joys, and its cares. It is living by the principles of this world: greed, covetousness, deceit, and lasciviousness. Godliness is living for God. It is living as unto the Lord, for His honor and glory. It is living by love and faith toward God as He is revealed in Christ. Godliness is living in submission to the Lord our God, bowing to His will, seeking His glory, serving His people and the interest of His Kingdom.
Are you a worldly person, one who lives for this world? If so, you will surely perish with this world. Are you a godly person, one who lives by the grace of God and for the glory of God? If so, you will live for all eternity in the bliss of Christ’s heavenly kingdom. That is the message of our text. Let’s look at it line by line.
“Love not the world!”
This is such an important matter that it is addressed in every book of the New Testament, and it is a prominent theme in many.
Hear the words of the Apostle Paul: — “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God…Christ gave himself for us, that he might deliver us from this present evil world…In time past ye walked according to the course of this world…Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 2:12; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:2; 2 Timothy 4:10).
Listen to what James says: — “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world…Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 1:27; 4:4).
The Apostle John speaks plainly about this subject of worldliness. — “The world knoweth us not, because it knew him not…They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them…Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world…We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1st John 3:1; 4:5; 5:4, 19).
And, during the days of His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ plainly warned us against the love of the world. — “The cares of this world choke the Word, and it becometh unfruitful…If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you…If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you…In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world…They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Matthew 13:22; John 8:23; 14:17; 15:18, 19; 16:33; 17:16).
These verses of inspiration speak for themselves. They need no comment from me. If anyone can read or hear such words as these and fail to see that the world is the great enemy of our souls, and that the friendship of the world is the exact opposite of the friendship of Christ, he is willfully ignorant and beyond the reach of reason. In them all we hear the voice of God, — “Come out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2nd Corinthians 6:17). Throughout the pages of inspiration, this word of warning is sounded time and again: — “Love not the world!”
I repeat myself deliberately. — This is one of the greatest dangers, if not the greatest danger, we face. More people are taken in this snare than any other. It is not open sin or open unbelief that causes men and women to forsake their profession. It is the love of the world. In verse 19 John speaks of those apostates who have forsaken Christ. The greatest cause of that apostasy is the love of the world, the fear of the world, the cares of the world, the pleasures of the world, and the desire to be accepted by the world. How many there are who have made shipwreck of their souls upon this rock! They began well and, for a season, ran well. They made good in the beginning. They made a fair start toward heaven. But the last day will prove how many souls the world has slain. There are many who begin with Abraham and Moses who end with Demas and Lot’s wife!
“Love not the world!” — There is in every one of us an evil tendency of becoming too fond of this world. Therefore, John sets up this warning sign: — “Love not the world!” Old men are apt to become covetous, and love the world and worldly things, just when they are going out of it. Young men are apt to be carried away with lusts, vanity, and pride. Therefore, John says, — “Love not the world!”
When John says, “Love not the world,” he is not telling us that the creation of God is evil. There are many who foolishly contend that the physical world is evil and harmful to a man’s soul. The idea that matter is evil is foolish, absurd, and contrary to Scripture. All of God’s creation is good and useful. Everything ought to be received with thanksgiving and used with moderation. It is not the use of the world, but the abuse of the world that is evil.
When John says, “Love not the world,” he is not telling us that Christians should have nothing to do with the world. Papists teach that it is most ideal for believers to become totally separate from the world. Many different groups have taught this through the centuries. But this, too, is contrary to divine revelation.
Worldliness or godliness are not things defined and identified by what we wear, what we eat, or what we drink. It is not the length of your hair, or the color of your suit that makes you worldly or godly. These are Pharisaic, self-righteous principles. The things which determine whether or not you are worldly is the attitude of your heart and the principles of your life.
· Some of the most worldly people I have ever met were very strict in their outward conduct.
· By modern religious standards, our Lord and His disciples would be thought most worldly. Our Savior and His disciples ate and drank with publicans and sinners.
John’s admonition has to do with the heart attitude of the believer. — Without question, when the heart is right, it will affect the conduct of life. But when John says, “Love not the world,” he is telling us to guard against an undue attachment to the world.
The meaning of our text is simply this: — We are not to fix our affections on those things which the world supplies. We are not to make this world the object of our love. We are not to live by the principles of this world.
Our Lord plainly states that we who are His (God’s Elect, His Redeemed, Blood Bought, Regenerate People), the people of God, justified and sanctified by His grace, are not of the world, even as He is not of the world (John 17:14-16).
“14 I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14-16)
God’s saints are not of the world. The Savior says, “They are not of the world!” Those who are one with Christ are not of the world, even as Christ was not and is not of the world.
· Christ was not of the world in attitude, and neither are His people. — He delighted in God’s sovereignty. — He submitted to God’s providence. — He worshipped God at all times. — He trusted God’s care.
· Christ was not of the world’s religion, and neither are His people (2nd Corinthians 6:14-7:1). — He despised ritualism. — He denounced legalism. — He rejected ceremonialism. — He sought and ministered to sinners.
When John says, “Love not the world,” he is not talking about abstaining from the use of this world, or from any worldly association. He is saying, — “Children of God, do not let your hearts become attached to this world.”
Let us live like our Redeemer, as strangers and pilgrims in this world. We have no continuing city here. Do not look upon this world as though it were your home.
In this opening line of our text John is telling us that we are not to love the people of the world. — “Love not the world.” — That is obvious when you read it with the next line. — “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” — But is it not both lawful and proper for us to love our fellowman? Of course it is. But we must not allow anything on the earth to hold our hearts; no, not the dearest earthly relations, in rivalry to our Redeemer. — “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes and his own life also, he cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:26).
In short, John tells us that since we are the children of God, we ought to relentlessly fix our hearts upon Christ, upon heaven, and upon eternity. — “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3). The Lord our God says, “My son, give me thine heart.” Can we refuse?
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18) “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.”
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” — We must not allow the people of this world to come between us and our Savior; and we must not allow the things of this world to come between us and Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.
· Neither Pleasure,
· Nor a Career,
· Nor Riches,
· Nor Relationships!
If a man is to forsake the principles, customs, and systems of the world, he must be given some good reasons for doing so. If I am going to cut myself off from the companionship of this world, I must have a good reason for it. There are many reasons given in the Scriptures. But here John gives us three very powerful arguments, compelling us to “love not the world.”
First, we cannot love this world and love God. — “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (v. 15). — “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
If I understand this Book correctly and understand John’s doctrine in our text correctly, this is what God the Holy Spirit teaches us in our text — If a man loves the world, the love of God is not shed abroad in his heart. If love for this world governs my heart and life, I do not know God. If my love for myself or my family keeps me from following Christ, I do not know Christ (Luke 14:25-33).
“25 ¶ And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have [sufficient] to finish [it]? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish [it], all that behold [it] begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33)
Spurgeon said, “No man has truly given himself to Christ unless he has said, ‘My Lord, I give thee this day my body, my soul, my powers, my talents, my goods, my house, my children, and all that I have. Henceforth, I hold them at Thy will, as a steward under Thee. Thine they are. As for me, I have nothing. I have surrendered all to Thee!’”
Here’s the second reason John gives for his admonition. — We must not love the world, because this world is evil. — “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (v. 16). Here John describes the substance of the world. The aims and purposes of those who live for this world are evil. These things are opposed to God, the Father of lights. Every evil thing in the world is set forth as lust.
1. “The lust of the flesh” or the body — Here the Apostle is talking about the inordinate desires of the flesh, all carnal and sensual desires, unchaste thoughts. Unchaste, sensual desires are the lusts of the flesh. Intemperance in anything is the lust of the flesh.
2. “The lust of the eyes” — Here the Apostle speaks of lusting after those things that gratify the sight of the eyes. This is the sin of covetousness. Men in this world, wicked men, are like the horseleech, saying “give, give, give.” Covetousness is one of the greatest weaknesses of our nature. May God graciously deliver us from this snare. — “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way” (Psalm 119:37). — “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this also is vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11)
Illustration: Achan said, “I saw it, I coveted it and I took it.” — (“The Accursed Thing” – A Wedge of Gold Dedicated to God – Joshua 7)
3. “The pride of life” — This refers to whatever there is that promotes pride and arrogance (Matthew 23:6-7; John 5:44; Ecclesiastes 2:1-8, 11). It is the ambition for honor, seeking prominent positions and high titles, like the Scribes and Pharisees. — They “love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” (Matthew 23:6-7). — “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that [cometh] from God only?” (John 5:44) The pride of life is the inordinate ambition to seek a life of ease, enrichment, and luxury. All of this, too, is but vanity and vexation of spirit (Ecclesiastes 2:1-8, 11).
(Ecclesiastes 2:1-8) “I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also [is] vanity. 2 I said of laughter, [It is] mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? 3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what [was] that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. 4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: 5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all [kind of] fruits: 6 I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees: 7 I got [me] servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: 8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, [as] musical instruments, and that of all sorts.”
(Ecclesiastes 2:11) “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all [was] vanity and vexation of spirit, and [there was] no profit under the sun.”
Through these things came the fall of our race. Eve saw, she took, and she ate; and Adam did the same. Thus our race was plunged into death and condemnation (Genesis 3:6). And, blessed be His name, in these very areas our Savior was both tempted and triumphant for us. And He is able to help those who are tempted.
These things are not of the Father, but of the world. Believers are not governed by these things. We have nobler ends, higher desires, and purer goals.
Here is the third reason John gives, by which he inspires utter devotion to Christ. It is foolish to love the world, because this world is passing away. — “And the world passeth away, and the lusts thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (17).
How foolish are those men who become attached to this world, because the world and everything in it is perishing. It is a child’s bubble, ready to burst.
· Every object of man’s lust is perishing.
· Every man and woman of this world is perishing.
· The fashion of this world is passing away.
· The world itself is perishing. Beloved, look around you. Everything you see is marked for destruction. Do not hold anything with a firm hand. It is perishing.
The only thing in this world that will endure the judgment of God is the person who does the will of God, the person who trusts Christ, surrendering all to Him.
· The person who does the will of God is the one who trusts Christ alone as his Propitiation, Advocate, and Pattern of Life.
· The person who does the will of God is that one who walks in the world according to Christ’s new commandment. Everything about him is governed by his love for God and his fellowman.
· The person who does the will of God lives by faith.
· Those who are truly born again do the will of God.
Those who do the will of God abide forever.
· In the Love of God.
· In the Arms of Christ.
· In the Family of God.
· In the Grace of God.
· In Union with Christ.
· In Heaven with Christ.
How can we be sure that we will not perish with the world?
· We stand before God, not on the grounds of our own works, but of His election, which is sure.
· We stand in the Covenant of Grace, immovable and sure.
· We stand before God on the foundation which He has laid, the righteousness and shed blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. I offer this sure remedy to the danger of loving the world: — Fall in love with Christ! You have every reason to love him with all your heart.
2. “This is say, brethren, the time is short.” While we are in this world, let us serve Christ. (1st Corinthians 7:29-31)
3. May God the Holy Spirit apply His Word to each of our hearts. Learn to judge everything in the light of eternity. — “The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Jesus Christ alone can prepare us for eternity. See to it that you have built your house upon the Solid Rock of Christ’s finished work (Matthew 7:24-27).
(1st John 2:15-17) “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (17) And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.
Commenting on these three verses Robert Hawker wrote…
“Very sweet as these verses are, yet, so very plain are they as to need no comment. The Apostle contrasts the world, with all its pursuits and pleasures, to Christ; and, within the compass of a few lines, shows how little to be considered, by souls regenerated, and made new creatures in Christ, are all that the world hath to propose, in comparison of the durable riches and righteousness which is in Jesus; yea, which is Jesus himself. One view of Him fades the whole (Proverbs 8:18-21).
It is our Savior Himself who declares…
(Proverbs 8:18-21) “Riches and honour [are] with me; [yea], durable riches and righteousness. 19 My fruit [is] better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. 20 I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: 21 That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.”
Oh, my soul, live only for Christ! Son of God, arrest my heart and keep forever! Cause us to want nothing but Thee!
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