Do not love
the world nor the things in the world: Me agapate (2PPAM) ton
kosmon mede ta en to kosmo:
(1Jn 4:5; 5:4,5,10; John 15:19; Romans 12:2; Galatians 1:10; Ephesians
2:2; Colossians 3:1,2; 1Timothy 6:10)
Related Resource: Take this
What You Really Love
1John 2:15-17 is a
familiar passage to most Christians and is clearly a very important
passage regarding John's instructions on how one can walk worthy of
the Lord who called him (Eph 4:1-note)
with a holy calling (2Ti 1:9-note).
First, notice that John gives only one command (Do
not love...) in this
section, which serves to indicate that this is his main emphasis. The
subsequent passages provide "incentives" to encourage us to obey this
(1) First "incentive" (1Jn
2:15b) = The first "incentive" is the truth of the
spiritual dynamic that love of the world will displace love of God.
Conversely, love of God, will displace love of the world. In 1Jn 2:16
explains why this "incentive" is valid -- because everything in the
world is not of God. If you love God you cannot set your heart on what
is not of God! Jesus taught the same principle in Mt 6:24 (note)
explaining that one cannot love God and money.
(2) Second "incentive" (1Jn
2:17a) = The world is passing away and also it's lust -- This truth
explains the second incentive for not loving the world. If you
love what is passing away, you will pass away. In other words if your
life is composed of loving the desires of the world which are passing
away, so too will you!
(3) Third "incentive" (1Jn
2:17b) = If you do His will you have eternal life. Doing good as the
general direction of your life does not save you, but it does prove
that you are saved. The opposite of loving the world is not only
loving God but doing the will of the Father (1Jn 2:17b, cp 1Jn 5:3,
Jesus' words in Jn 14:15). The point is that if you love God, you love
His will. Don't say you love God and don't love what He tells me to
do. (Adapted from John Piper's sermon
Do Not Love the World - delivered in 1985)
LOVE FOR GOD
Dr. Piper goes on to
explain the vital relationship between genuine or saving faith
and love for God...
We have been well taught that we
are saved by FAITH! “BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved!”
(Acts 16:31). But we have not been as well taught what saving faith
is. For example, how often do we discuss the relationship between
trusting Christ and loving Christ. Can you trust Him savingly and not
love Him? Evidently John doesn’t think so, because the issue in this
text is whether you love God or love the world, and the result is
whether you die with the world or have eternal life with God. But John
knows that eternal life comes through faith.
John says in 1Jn 5:13,
“I write this to you who BELIEVE in
the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal
So eternal life does depend on
believing in the Christ. But what is this “believing”? If
we are courteous, and let John speak for himself, his letter fills out
what he means. When he says that not loving the world but loving God
so much that we do His will is what leads to eternal life, we learn
that saving faith and love for God are inseparable. Both
are the path to eternal life because they are the same path.
In John 5:42, 43, 44 Jesus
confronts the Jewish leaders who do not believe on Him with these
“I know that you have not the
love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name and you
do not receive Me … How can you believe, who receive glory
from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only
In other words the reason they do
not receive or believe on Jesus is that they do not love God.
They love the world—the glory of men—not the glory of God.
So Jesus taught His apostles that where there is no love for God,
there can be no saving faith. (See John 3:18, 19.) (Ed note: Dr
Piper goes on to explain how an understanding of love for God and
saving faith will unpack the meaning of other NT texts such as Ro
8:28, 1Co 2:9, 16:22, Jas 1:12, 2:5, 2Ti 4:8. A clear understanding of
this relationship refutes much of the tepid teaching in the modern
church which says "Just believe in Jesus" [which is true!] but the
question is "What does that belief 'look like' when one examines other
NT passages?" The interested reader is strongly encouraged to see Dr
Piper's entire message on this important topic -
Do Not Love the World - I strongly
encourage you to listen to the audio, for the transcript does not pick
up the passion of Dr Piper regarding this crucially important message
for the Church of Jesus Christ in these last days!)
As Billy Graham has said,
No man can be said to be truly
converted to Christ who has not bent his will to Christ. He may give
intellectual assent to the claims of Christ and may have had emotional
religious experiences; however, he is not truly converted until he has
surrendered his will to Christ as Lord, Savior, and Master.
He loves Thee too little
who loves anything together with Thee
which he loves not for Thy sake.
(cp Ps 73:25, 26)
Hiebert sets this passage in context noting that...
In 1Jn 2:9, 10, 11 John insists that the
Christian life must be characterized by love of the brethren; he now
insists upon the complementary duty of separation from the world as
the object of their love. As an appeal to the will, his negative
command implies that love can be misdirected. His appeal again
underlines that Christian faith and behavior are inextricably linked.
His expressed assurances concerning their spiritual condition provide
the basis for his appeal to maintain a proper attitude toward the
world. It offers a danger no matter how far they have advanced in
their spiritual maturity. (The
Epistles of John An Expositional Commentary D. Edmond Hiebert)
The respected pastor Ray Stedman
wisely remarks that in 1John 2:15-17 John deals with...
the supreme peril to fellowship and
therefore the greatest peril to Christian maturity. Here is a great
enemy of the Christian, the siren voice that seeks to lure us aside,
trap us, delude us and ultimately to defeat us, in our Christian
William MacDonald notes
We are plainly warned not to love
the world or the things that are in the world, for the simple reason
that love for the world is not compatible with love for the Father.
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
(1621-1686) rightly observes...
That which we most love—we
worship as our God. For love is an act of soul-worship. To love
and to adore are sometimes both one. That which one loves—he worships.
This is undoubtedly true, if we intend hereby that love which is
superlative and transcendent—for to be loved above all things is an
act of honor and worship, which the Lord demands as His due in
peculiar (Deut. 6:5). In this the Lord Christ summed up all that
worship which is required of man (Mt. 22:37). Other things may be
loved—but He will be loved above all other things. He is to be loved
transcendently, absolutely, and for Himself. All other things are to
be loved in Him and for Him.
He looks upon us as not
worshiping Him at all, not taking Him for a God, when we love other
things more or as much as Himself
(1 John 2:15). Love to the creature, whenever it is inordinate, it is
an idolatrous affection. (From his paper entitled
Soul Idolatry Excludes Men out of
LOVE THE FATHER
LOVE THE WORLD
As discussed, love for the world
precludes and even "pushes out" love for God -- the best "antidote" in
our fight against this pervasive powerful pull to love the world is to
be zealous to love the Father (cp Mk 12:30, Mt 6:24-note),
and by fighting this good fight of faith (only possible by His Spirit
and His grace - not by a legalistic lists of do's and don'ts!) we avoid
the shipwreck of our souls on
the "deadly reefs" of the world (cp 1Ti 1:5, 18, 19). The choice is
between the world's lie and the Word's truth. The battle ground is our
mind. And the battle will be life long. The battle will continually
rage between being "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God."
And while it is important in our Christian journey to "pursue
righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord
from a pure heart" (2Ti 2:22-note),
not even godly companions can guarantee we will not fall prey to the
subtle lies of the world, for as Paul wrote with much grief even
"Demas having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to
Thessalonica" (2Ti 4:10-note).
The world's philosophy continually
shouts that "The only important thing that is important is this life".
"Just do it". "You only go around once so grab for all the gusto you
can get!". "It doesn't get much better than this!" (Wrong! It will get
a whole lot worse! see Isa 66:24)
Ray Stedman offers the
following secular quote of how the world describes the love of the
There is nothing better, there is
nothing higher, there is nothing more precious than what this earth
can give you: its money, its pleasures, its fame. You had best eat,
drink, and be merry, for there is no nobler life than that. (The
- see related study of noun
agape) means to love and
in its highest, most pure form speaks of the unconditional, sacrificial
love which God Himself expresses toward undeserving, sinful men (John 3:16),
its the love with which He loves His Son (Jn 3:35, 15:9, 17:23, 24)
its the love which He is by nature
(1Jn 4:8), and it is the love which is produced in the heart of the
yielded saint by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-note).
Agapao speaks of a love which is based on evaluation and choice and
reflects exertion of one's will and action. This quality of love is
awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize
it, in this case the fallen, evil world system! This love springs from
an apprehension of the preciousness of the object (again the evil
O Lord, help us
When we begin to compromise;
And give us strength to follow through
With what we know is right and true.
Do not love
coupled with a negative particle (me agapate) which can have
one of two meanings. In one use this combination signifies an action
which is in progress must be stopped. In this use, the implication is
that the readers were loving the world to some degree. John is saying
stop having a warm regard for and interest in the world! Don't cherish
the world! Stop exhibiting affection for the world!
Stop showing special devotion to
the world. Stop loving the world with a love called out of your hearts
because of its preciousness. Don't strive after the world (cp Lk
The second sense
of the present imperative with a negative is as a prohibition
of a practice which could be paraphrased like this --"Don't be loving
the world". This sense does not necessarily assert that the readers
were actually loving the world. Loving the world was a danger which
the readers must be continually on guard against.
Don't we know that, beloved!
important that we not read into John's command something he did
not say. John does not say: "Don't love the world too much" but
"not at all" (cp Ro 12:2; Gal 1:4; Ja 4:4, Jn 3:19; Jas 1:27).
that in Scripture Jesus uses the verb ''love'' (agapao) at times to
imply obedience (Jn 14:15). It follows that if we love the world
we are obeying the dictates of the world system and going along with
the crowd, walking on the broad way (Mt 7:13) of destruction, walking
in darkness (Ep 4:17,18,5:8,15, Col 1:13). John is saying that if we
really love the Lord, we will obey the Lord and avoid listening to the
"commands" of the world ("buy this", "you've got to have this to keep
up with neighbors", etc).
John has told us that if we walk in
sin’s darkness and claim to be in fellowship with God, we are lying
(1John 1:6). Now John points out a specific area of sin that
especially threatens our fellowship with God: worldliness....Do not
love the world (means)... we are not to love either the world’s system
or its way of doing things. There is a secular, anti-God or
ignoring-God way of doing things that characterizes human society, and
it is easy to love the world in this sense. Notice what the world
wants from us: love. This love is expressed in time, attention, and
expense. We are encouraged and persuaded to give our time, attention,
and money to the things of this world instead of the things of God.
The world -
is used 6 times in these 3 verses (1Jn 2:15-17) and is a favorite
term of the Apostle John (see discussion
A Look at Kosmos in the Johannine
related to the verb kosmeo = to order or adorn, to put in order
[Mt 25:7 = "trimmed"], to adorn literally [1Ti 2:9], to adorn
figuratively [Titus 2:9-note])
means essentially something that is well-arranged, that which has
order or something arranged harmoniously. Kosmos refers
to an ordered system or a system where order prevails. As explained
below however, kosmos as used here in 1John 2:15-17 with its
moral/ethical sense to describe all that is opposed to God. In other
words, the "world" here in 1John does not refer to the earth or
even to its people (God Himself so loved the world that He gave His
Son to save its people, Jn 3:16), but rather the world as a "system,"
with its possessions, positions and pleasures, all radically,
irrevocably alienated against the Almighty.
Vincent defines kosmos (in its ethical sense) as...
The sum-total of human life in the
ordered world, considered apart from, alienated from, and hostile to
God, and of the earthly things which seduce from God (Jn 7:7; 15:18;
17:9, 14; 1Co 1:20, 21; 2Co 7:10; Jas 4:4).
James Montgomery Boice
writes that John's use of kosmos in this section is in its
The idea here is of the world
of men in rebellion against God and therefore characterized by all
that is in opposition to God. This is what we might call “the world
system.” It involves the world’s values, pleasures, pastimes, and
aspirations. John says of this world that the world lies in the
grip of the evil one (1Jn 5:19), that it rejected Jesus when He came
(Jn 1:10), that it does not know Him (1Jn 3:1), and consequently that
it does not know and therefore also hates His followers (John 15:18,
19, 20, 21; 17:14). It is in this sense that John speaks of the world
in the passage before us. (Boice, J. M. The Epistles of John: An
Expositional Commentary. Baker Books)
H A Ironside
explains that the "world" is that
system that man has built up in
this scene, in which he is trying to make himself happy without God.
You get it away back in Genesis, where Cain went out from the presence
of the Lord and built a city, and there what we call the world really
began (Ge 4:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24). It was a wonderful
world; they were exercised in all kinds of arts, sciences, business,
and pleasure, anything and everything to make them happy without God;
but it ended in corruption and violence, and God had to sweep the
whole thing away with a flood. (cp Ge 6:5) The principles of the world
that caused the corruption and violence before the flood were carried
into the ark in the hearts of some of Noah's children. They brought
the world into the ark, and when the new world was started after the
judgment of the flood, they brought the world out of the ark with
them, and again set it up. (Addresses
on the Epistles of John & an Exposition of the Epistle of Jude H. A.
wisely observes that we need to understand what world or worldly does
It is not ‘worldly’
to follow a career in politics, to get married, to have children, to
be involved in earning a living. None of these are what John has in
mind by ‘the world’. Nor is John concerned about a list of
‘taboos’. Every group of Christians has a list of activities or
practices that are frowned upon. Christians tended to think, in days
gone by, that ‘worldliness’ was a matter of whether one went to
dances or to the cinema (Ed: Although I would add today one has
to be very discerning in what movie or television show one chooses to
watch, for there is a strong anti-god bias in the media. (cp 1Th 5:21,
Such ‘taboos’ vary from age to age. What was forbidden ten years ago
is allowed today. Such banned activities also vary from culture to
culture. In one part of the world Christians might frown upon bearing
arms, or wearing upon earrings, or upon allowing the soles of the feet
to become visible … or whatever! But none of this is what John has in
(On the other hand world or
worldly) ...is the anti–God mentality of the human race, the worldwide
fondness for sin and self which causes men and women to stumble into
wickedness. ‘Woe to the world because of occasions of stumbling,’
said Jesus (Mt 18:7). It is rebelliousness, spiritual ignorance
Jn 1:10), combined with hostility towards God (see Jas 4:4-note).
Behind it is the grip of Satan (1Jn 5:19, Jn 12:31, Lk 4:6).
‘Worldliness’ is the inclination to be drawn into the ways of the
people around us who do not know God. (Eaton, M. Focus on the Bible:
1, 2, 3 John)
"world" is whatever
cools our affection for Christ!
Thomas Watson's words on the world (click)
and Pastor Steven Cole's definition of the world or worldliness
kosmos primarily with the moral/ethical sense (although there
are some exceptions as noted) in this same epistle...
and He Himself is the
propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for
those of the whole world (kosmos here means the the inhabitants
of the earth). (1 Jn 2:2)
See how great a love the Father has
bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such
we are. For this reason the world (the evil world system) does
not know us, because it did not know Him. (1Jn 3:1)
Do not be surprised, brethren, if
the world (the evil world system) hates you. (1 Jn
But whoever has the
world's (kosmos here is not the evil world system per se but is
used in a more neutral sense) goods, and beholds his brother in need
and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in
him? (1Jn 3:17)
Beloved, do not believe every
spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because
many false prophets have gone out into the world (Here the
meaning of the word kosmos is somewhat unclear - it could mean the
world filled with people but could also refer to the evil world
system). (1Jn 4:1)
and every spirit that does not
confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the
antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is
already in the world (evil world system). (1Jn 4:3)
You are from God, little children,
and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he
who is in the world (evil world system). They are from the
world (evil world system); therefore they speak as from the world,
and the world listens to them. (1 Jn 4:4, 5)
By this, love is perfected with
us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because
as He is, so also are we in this world. (1 Jn 4:17).
They are from the world (the
evil world system); therefore they speak as from the world, and
the world (which is opposed to God) listens to them. (1Jn 4:5)
For whatever is born of God
overcomes the world (the evil world system and its influence
even on believers); and this is the victory that has overcome the
world-- our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world
(the evil world system and its influence even on believers), but he
who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1John 5:4, 5)
In John 15
Jesus warned His disciples...
If the world (kosmos
world system opposed to God and composed of God's enemies) hates you,
you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the
world, the world would love its own; but because you are
not of the world, but I chose you out of the world,
therefore the world (continually) hates you. (John 15:18,
In His prayer to
His Father Jesus prayed...
I have given them (His disciples)
Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of
the world (cp similar sentiment expressed in 1Jn 3:1-note), even as
I am not of the world. (John 17:14)
meaning of kosmos is order which leads to the two main uses...
(1) Adornment, decoration, eternal adorning (used this way in
NT only in 1Pe 3:3-note,
where kosmos speaks of the woman wearing that which is fitting
with her character as a believer and not incongruous or "out of
order". In the context of Jas 4:4-note she should not be a believer who
seeks external adornment that mimics that of the world [cp "friendship
with the world"]! Beloved, a believing woman's attire should always be
so "ordered" as to draw attention to her face, not her form! Compare
God's desired "adornment" in 1Pe 3:4-note)
(2) The world, which as alluded to above has a variety of nuances which
must be determined by examining the
For example John used kosmos to refer to the people of the world in
general in 1Jn 2:2 (much like Jn 3:16)
give us our English words cosmos (the ordered universe),
cosmopolitan (literally a citizen of the world!) and cosmetics
(those things we put on in order to bring order out of "chaos"!)
English terms. A matter of "cosmic" significance, is something which
is important for the whole world. When one speaks of a "cosmopolitan"
city, it means a city which has citizens from many parts of the world.
the absolute antithesis of chaos (a Greek word meaning a
rude, unformed mass), chaos being the fantasized condition with
which the theory of evolution begins! The Bible on the other hand uses
kosmos to describe the original condition of the universe (cp
kosmos in 2Pe 3:6-note)
as one of perfection ("it was very good" Ge 1:31, not very chaotic!
Kosmos is used the first time in
of Ge 2:1 all their hosts =
"and the whole world". The sons of God (the angels) did not shout for
joy over chaos, but kosmos when they saw this universe come
into existence by the creative fiat of God (Job 38:4, 5, 6, 7)!
comments on the meaning of John's use of kosmos in 1Jn 2:15
One of the first examples of this
idea of the world in the Bible helps us to understand this point.
Genesis 11:1-9 speaks of human society’s united rebellion against God
at the tower of Babel. At the tower of Babel, there was an anti-God
leader of humanity (whose name was Nimrod - Ge 10:8, 9 where v9
"before the LORD" could be "in the face of Jehovah" or "against
Jehovah"). There was organized rebellion against God (in disobeying
the command to disperse over the whole earth). There was direct
distrust of God’s word and promise (in building what was probably a
water-safe tower to protect against a future flood from heaven). The
whole story of the tower of Babel also shows us another fundamental
fact about the world system. The world’s progress, technology,
government, and organization can make man better off, but not better.
Because we like being better off, it is easy to fall in love with the
world. Finally, the story of the tower of Babel shows us that the
world system - as impressive and winning as it appears to be -
will never win out over God. The Lord defeated the rebellion at the
tower of Babel easily. The world system will never win out over God.
adds that kosmos...
basically denotes order,
arrangement (the opposite of chaos; cf. our English word "cosmetics"),
hence an ordered system. The term is used to denote the earth (John
21:25) because of the order and system observed in our material world.
It is also used to denote the human race, mankind in its various
organizations and systems (John 3:16). But because of the fallen
nature of the human race, the term predominantly has an ethical
import, the human race in its alienation from and opposition to God.
John here has in view the world of humanity steeped in sin and
dominated by the evil one (1Jn 5:19). As such, it is quite synonymous
with "the darkness" in John 1.
John is not calling for a
monastic separation from the world but for an inner attitude of
separation from the sinful world and its practices. As those loyal to
God, John's readers are to be on guard against a permissive or kindly
feeling towards the world's evil and are not to establish intimate
relations of loyalty with it. (The
Epistles of John An Expositional Commentary D. Edmond Hiebert)
things of the world - In other words, John is prohibiting his
readers from a "love relationship" with any and all specific aspects
of the fallen, evil world system and he will amplify this in the next
verse 1Jn 2:16 as under the "umbrella" of those things that incite "the
lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of
no room for double occupancy
in the Christian's heart!
Things can include material objects which are
otherwise "ethically neutral" and which one can "innocently" desire to
possess (e.g., fine clothes, expensive homes, sports cars, pleasure
boats, etc). Those things are not wrong or evil in themselves, unless
they disclose a heart attitude that loves and desires
them more than it loves and desires the ineffably desirable God. Hear
David's solution for this ever present danger...
Delight yourself in the LORD
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Spurgeon comments on Ps
37:4: There is an ascent in this third precept. He who was first
bidden not to fret, was then commanded actively to trust, and now is
told with holy desire to delight in God. Delight thyself also in the
Lord. Make Jehovah the joy and rejoicing of thy spirit. Bad men
delight in carnal objects; do not envy them if they are allowed to
take their fill in such vain idols; look thou to thy better delight,
and fill thyself to the full with thy more sublime portion. In a
certain sense imitate the wicked; they delight in their portion --
take care to delight in yours, and so far from envying you will pity
them. There is no room for fretting if we remember that God is ours,
but there is every incentive to sacred enjoyment of the most elevated
and ecstatic kind. Every name, attribute, word, or deed of Jehovah,
should be delightful to us, and in meditating thereon our soul should
be as glad as is the epicure who feeds delicately with a profound
relish for his dainties. And he shall give thee the desires of thine
heart. A pleasant duty is here rewarded with another pleasure. Men who
delight in God desire or ask for nothing but what will please God;
hence it is safe to give them carte blanche. Their will is subdued to
God's will, and now they may have what they will. Our innermost
desires are here meant, not our casual wishes; there are many things
which nature might desire which grace would never permit us to ask
for; these deep, prayerful, asking desires are those to which the
promise is made.
You can be poor in things but still love them while one
who is rich in things can use them as a good steward of God. So things
are not the problem. John does not say possessing these things is in
itself wrong. The problem as someone has well said is when the
possessions begin to "possess" us, and specifically begin to "possess"
our affections in such a way that it results in an attitude
of alienation from God. Any affection of a thing
which leads to love of the thing rather than the love of God is
what John is prohibiting.
Note that John
is not saying we are not to love the natural beauty of this world,
God's creation, nor are we not to love the world's people with the
love God loved them with on Calvary. He is speaking more of material
things and/or ideas, etc that are at their core anti-God and
anti-Christ. It is not true like the bumper sticker says that "He who
dies with the most toys (things) wins!" In fact it is exactly the
reverse, for as John says in 1Jn 2:17 this world is passing away (and
that would include its "things"). Do not be lured, snared, trapped or
deceived by the subtle seductions of the "serpentine" world system.
The things of the world are
the ways in which the world’s magnetism operates. To refuse to love
the world means a decisive rejection of the ‘world’s’ aspirations
and outlooks. It is not going out of earthly society altogether, but
it is a refusal to be dragged into its grumbling, its bitterness, its
covetousness, its obsession with ‘cares and riches and pleasures’
(Lk 8:14, 16:13, Lk 17:26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 18:24, 25), its
preoccupation with receiving praise from fellow human beings. (Ibid)
warned His disciples to...
Be on guard
= Jesus commands us to continually be on "high [spiritual] alert",
lest we fall prey to the lures of this evil world -- Disciples are to
continually keep a guard posted at the door of their heart [Pr 4:23-note]!
No downtime in wartime! If you become too absorbed with everyday
worldly life [cp 2Ti 2:3,4-note],
you will stop guarding your heart and will be at grave risk for
committing spiritual adultery against your Bridegroom Christ Jesus
that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation (carousing
and the [spiritual] dizziness and staggering that results from such
empty behavior) and drunkenness and the worries of life (worries =
merimna [word study]
= from merizo = to divide or draw in different directions and here
referring to one's heart and mind! See the deadening effect of the worries of the world on the Word of God [Mk 4:19]), and that
day come on you suddenly ( =
Coming of Christ
- It will come unexpectedly. How?) like a trap (a vivid
pagis [word study]
= a trick or stratagem
[temptation] picturing that which springs suddenly even
as a snare entices the bird who is suddenly trapped.
further describes that which
fastens and holds one fast! Look out!) for it will come upon all those
who dwell on the face of all the earth (and who live a lifestyle of
loving the world rather than loving God!) (Lk 21:34, 35)
James also warned his readers of the danger of loving the world,
which for a believer amounts to unfaithfulness and spiritual harlotry
You adulteresses, do you not know
that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?
Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes
himself an enemy of God. (Jas 4:4-note)
reading John's words and these notes, your spirit is convicted of that
tendency of your heart (like mine) to wander from the God you love.
Let me encourage you to take a moment and sing the following stanza
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (click for
melody and all stanzas) as a prayer to your Father in
O to grace how
great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when
freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of
- When the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez landed at Vera Cruz,
Mexico in 1519 he was intent on conquest. To assure the devotion of
his men, Cortez set fire to his fleet of eleven ships! With no means
of retreat Cortez’s army had only one direction to move, into the
Mexican interior. Cortez understood the price of commitment—and he
paid it. He did not want his soldiers to possess a divided loyalty (cp
a double minded ["two souled"] man!,
cp Lk 16:13, Mt 6:24-note).
John is not quite as radical as Cortez! In fact John records that believers are to be
in the world
but not of the world (see Jesus' prayer in Jn
17:11, 16). Unlike Cortez's ships the world cannot be
destroyed (at least not yet - cp 2Pe 3:7-note,
2Pe 3:11-note) and so believers are to be like a ship in
water. A ship in the water (think "saints
in the world") is by design (e.g., Mt 5:16-note)
but a ship full of water is disaster!
LOT, AN OT
ILLUSTRATION OF LOVING THE WORLD -
If we had only the OT account of Lot, we might not think Lot was a
true believer. In Genesis he almost appears as a status-seeking
opportunist, willing to put up with sin and corruption in order to
make a place and name for himself in the world (cp "the world"
of that day = Ge 18:20, 31, 32, 19:24, 25, 29). But Peter under the
inspiration of the Spirit declares three times that Lot was a
(cp 2Pe 2:6, 7, 8-notes).
Yes, Lot was a righteous man but he had a spiritual heart problem, for
he loved the world (And what world did he love? Sodom
[hold mouse over link] and
Tragically, there is
a lot of Lot in a lot of believers today, yours truly included!
has an interesting analysis of this "righteous
When Lot had to choose a new area
for his home, he measured it by what he had seen in Egypt (Ge 13:10,
11 Ed: Contrast how Moses saw the world [He 11:25, 26-note,
and how we too should "see", 2Co 4:18!). Abraham took Lot out of Egypt, but he could not take Egypt out of
Lot (Ed: Egypt = a picture of the "evil world system"). Lot
“pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Ge 13:12), and then finally moved
(Ge 14:12). God even used a local war to try to get Lot out
(Ge 14:14, 15, 16), but he went
right back. (Ed: "Why?") That is where his heart was
(cp Mt 6:21-note).
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor
looked, chose, and settled ("became comfortable"
rather than living as an alien and stranger - see
and missed the good hand of the LORD. In Genesis 19:16 we see that
Lot was so settled in
that the hand of God's
angels had to yank he and his whole family out of that moral cesspool!
Let us remember Lot's example, lest our looking and choosing in this
fleeting life cause us to miss the good hand of the Lord on our life,
our family, our ministry! Or as Jesus commanded his listeners in (Lk
= keep on remembering. Why? Because our tendency is to drift, to
forget!) Lot's wife" because she lingered and looked back (Ge 19:26)
and paid for her disobedience with her life.
must be separated
from the world (cp Ps 1:1-note);
1Cor 6:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 2Co 7:1-note).
The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to
disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without
contamination. One's seduction by the world is usually a gradual
process. Notice the gradual decline in Psalm 1:1 (note). First, we are
walking (Mark 14:54), then we are standing (John 18:18) and finally we
end up sitting (Lk 22:55) with the world! Becoming worldly is
progressive and happens by degrees. We make friends with the
world (Jas 4:4-note).
We become spotted by the world (Jas 1:27-note)
We love the world (1Jn 2:15-note).
We become conformed to the world (Ro 12:2-note).
And if we are not careful we end up condemned with it.
example of someone who became worldly. He looked toward Sodom, pitched
his tent toward Sodom, lived in Sodom and lost everything he had
acquired in Sodom when God destroyed Sodom!
May God grant each of us grace and
mercy so that we as godly men and women will not forget the tragic OT
example of Lot who loved this present world and missed the blessing of the good hand of the LORD
(cp Ezra 7:10-note,
Only possible in Christ. Amen
If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him: ean tis agapa (3SPAI) ton
kosmon, ouk estin (3SPAI) e agape tou patros en auto:
(Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; James 4:4) (1Jn 3:17)
- This introduces a hypothetical case and as noted below the verb
is in the
which pictures this "anyone" as continually loving God's enemy, the
world. And for "anyone" who meets this "qualification", John gives
the inevitable, fateful diagnosis of his spiritual condition - the
love of the Father is not in him.
world...love of the Father - John is setting these two loves
in direct opposition. They are like oil and water - they do not mix.
Never. Ever! These two affections are by their very nature
antagonistic and cannot coexist "amicably" in our heart (the "control
center" of our being). This oppositional relationship is similar to
the one John described in chapter 1, where he explained that spiritual light cannot coexist
with spiritual darkness and vice versa (pun intended). The NLT paraphrases
it this way...
The light shines through the
darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (Jn 1:5NLT)
- see related study of noun
agape) can mean to to love
unconditionally and sacrificially as God Himself loves sinful men
(John 3:16), the way He loves the Son (John 3:35, 15:9, 17:23, 24). In
the present context the sense of agapao is
that of showing a
warm regard for the world, of cherishing the world, of showing
affection for the world or of showing special devotion to
Note that the
speaks of continuous action. In other words, this "anyone" is any person who
habitually loves God's mortal enemy, the ungodly, profane, fallen
world. Such an ungodly lifestyle hardly becomes a believer and in fact
if one continually manifests such a "lifestyle", they would do well be examine themselves
(2Co 13:5) and confirm that their salvation is genuine (cp 2Pe 1:10,
agapao in its highest form emphasizes that this love reflects a
decision of one's will writing that it...
expresses the purest, noblest form
of love, which is volitionally driven. (MacArthur,
John: 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Moody Press
Wuest adds that
Agapao speaks of a love which is
awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize
it (Ed: Think of prizing the profane world more than the Holy
God!). It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object
(Ed: either the World or God!).
It is a love of esteem and approbation (a commendation or an act of
formally approving). (Wuest,
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Vine writes that...
Love can be known only from the
actions it prompts. God’s love is seen in the gift of His Son, 1John
4:9, 10. But obviously this is not the love of complacency, or
affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its
objects, Ro 5:8 (note).
It was an exercise of the divine will in deliberate choice, made
without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God
Himself, cp. Deuteronomy 7:7, 8. Love had its perfect expression among
men in the Lord Jesus Christ, 2Co 5:14; Ep 2:4 (note);
Ep 3:19 (note);
Ep 5:2 (note);
Christian love is the fruit of His Spirit in the Christian, Galatians
Christian love has God for its primary object, and expresses itself
first of all in implicit obedience to His commandments, John 14:15,
21, 23; 15:10; 1Jn 2:5; 5:3; 2Jn 6. Self-will, that is, self-pleasing,
is the negation of love to God. (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
The love of the
Father - This is the only NT use of this particular phrase.
points out that...
It may refer to love that comes from
the Father (ablative of source), it may refer to the
Father's love for the person involved (subjective genitive), or it
may speak of the person's love for the Father (objective
Considering the context
in which John is commanding individuals not to love the world, the
most natural intent would be that if they are loving the world they
cannot harbor love for God the Father. This statement has a parallel
in Matthew where Jesus declared that....
No one (Greek word = absolute negation, no
exceptions here) can serve (bow to and submit their will to) two
masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he
will hold to one and despise the other. (Jesus repeats this clear
teaching now beginning to "meddle" as they say - honing down on
"mammon" or wealth, something of value) You cannot serve God and
mammon. (Mt 6:24-note)
Henry illustrates how these two masters are in diametric
opposition to one another...
"My son, give me thy heart.’’
"No, give it me.’’
"Be content with such things
as ye have."
"Grasp at all that ever thou
Rem, rem, quocunque modo rem
Money, money; by fair means or by foul, money.’’
"Defraud not, never lie, be
and just in all thy dealings.’’
"Cheat thine own Father,
if thou canst gain by it.’’
"Hold thy own: this giving
undoes us all.’’
"Be careful (anxious) for
"Be careful (anxious) for
"Keep holy thy sabbath-day.’’
"Make use of that day as well
as any other for the world.’’
Thus inconsistent are the
commands of God and Mammon, so that we cannot serve both. Let us
not then halt between God and Baal, but choose ye this day whom
ye will serve, and abide by our choice. (Matthew
The tragic truth concerning such an
individual is that love for God "is not in him," is not a motivating
reality in his heart and life. He does not have that love for "the
Father" which is the mark of those born into the family of God. But
since our love for the Father is the result of His love for us (1Jn
4:19), the subjective meaning, God's love for this individual, cannot
be rigidly excluded. Smalley notes that "both ideas are probably
present (cf. 1Jn 2:5): love for the world inhibits a love for God
which both answers his and derives from it.' (The
Epistles of John An Expositional Commentary D. Edmond Hiebert)
Wuest adds that...
The expression if any man love the world
is a hypothetical condition in the subjunctive mode. The verb is in
the present tense. John could have used the aorist tense, expressing
merely the fact of loving the world. But he goes out of his way to use
the present tense, which tense in the subjunctive mode always stresses
continuous, habitual action. This marks this hypothetical person as
one who loves the world as a habit of life to the exclusion of any
love for God. This is an unsaved person. In this
person, the love of the Father does not exist. This is
love for the Father as generated in the heart of the yielded believer
by the Holy Spirit.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
love for the world is incompatible with love
for the Father. Therefore if one claims to love God and yet loves the
world, there is something wrong with his claim to love God. Through
the centuries, Christians have dealt with the magnetic pull of the
world in different ways. At one time it was thought that if you were a
really committed Christian and really wanted to love God instead of
the world, you would leave human society and live as a monk or a nun
out in a desolate monastery.. This approach, and other approaches that
seek to take us out of the world, have two problems. The first problem
is that we bring the world with us into our monastery. The other
problem is that Jesus intended us to be in the world but not of the
world. We see this in His prayer for us in John 17:14, 15, 16, 17, 18.
(1John 2 Commentary
Vincent commenting on the phrase is not
in him says...
This means more than that he does not love
God: rather, that the love of God does not dwell in him as the
ruling principle of his life. Westcott cites a parallel from
Philo: ‘It is impossible for love to the world to coexist with love to
God, as it is impossible for light and darkness to coexist.’
describes an unconditional,
sacrificial love and Biblically refers to a love that God is (1Jn
4:8,16), that God shows (Jn 3:16, 1Jn 4:9) and that God enables in His
children (see note on fruit of the Spirit - Gal 5:22-note).
Agape love does not depend on the world’s criteria for love,
such as attractiveness, emotions, or sentimentality.
Agape in the Greek classics
spoke of a love called out of one’s heart by the preciousness of the
object loved. This is the idea inherent in the Father's proclamation
"This is My beloved Son..." Agape is the love that was
shown at Calvary. Thus agape is God’s love, and is the love
that God is. It is not human affection but is a divine love, commanded
by God, produced as fruit in the heart of a surrendered saint by the
Holy Spirit (God Who is at work in us to will and to work to His good
pleasure) (Ro 5:5-note
self-sacrificial in nature seeking the benefit of the one who is
loved, a love which means death to self and defeat for sin since the
essence of sin is self-will and self-gratification, a love activated
by personal choice of our will (working out our salvation in fear and
trembling) not based on our feelings toward the object of our love and
manifested by specific actions (1Co 13:4, 5, 6, 7, 8-note
is an excellent source definition of "love in action") not just to
fellow believers but to all men everywhere.
F B Meyer has the following
description of agape love...
Wherever there is true love, there must be giving, and giving to the
point of sacrifice. Love is not satisfied with giving trinkets; it
must give at the cost of sacrifice: it must give blood, life, all. And
it was so with the love of God. "He so loved the world, that He gave
his only-begotten Son." "Christ also loved and gave Himself up, an
offering and a sacrifice to God." (Ep 5:2-note)
to imitate God's love in Christ. The love that gives, that counts no
cost too great, and, in sacrificing itself for others, offers all to
God, and does all for His sake. Such was the love of Jesus--sweet to
God, as the scent of fields of new-mown grass in June; and this must
be our model.
Not to those who love us, but who hate; not to those who are pleasant
and agreeable, but who repel; not because our natural feelings are
excited, but because we will to minister, even to the point of the
cross, must our love go out. And every time we thus sacrifice
ourselves to another for the sake of the love of God, we enter into
some of the meaning of the sacrifice of Calvary, and there is wafted
up to God the odor of a sweet smell. (Devotional
Commentary on Ephesians)
Kenneth Wuest describes
(Agape love) speaks of a
love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes
one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness
of an object. It is a love of esteem and approbation. The quality of
this love is determined by the character of the one who loves, and
that of the object loved. (In Jn 3:16) God’s love for a sinful and
lost race springs from His heart in response to the high value He
places upon each human soul. Every sinner is exceedingly precious in
(Agape is) a love that
denies self for the benefit of the object loved.
(Agape describes the) love
of the Spirit-filled husband, purified and made heavenly in character.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
Donald W. Burdick notes that
spontaneous. There was nothing of value in the persons loved that
called forth such sacrificial love. God of His own free will set His
love on us in spite of our enmity and sin. [Agape] is love
that is initiated by the lover because he wills to love, not
because of the value or lovableness of the person loved. [Agape] is
self-giving. and is not interested in what it can gain, but in
what it can give. It is not bent on satisfying the lover, but on
helping the one loved whatever the cost. [Agape] is active and
is not mere sentiment cherished in the heart. Nor is it mere words
however eloquent. It does involve feeling and may express itself in
words, but it is primarily an attitude toward another that moves the
will to act in helping to meet the need of the one loved." (Burdick, D
W: The Letters of John the Apostle. Chicago: Moody, 1985, page 351)
William Barclay writes that
agape indicates an...
...unconquerable benevolence, invincible goodwill...If we regard a
person with agape, it means that no matter what that person
does to us, no matter how he treats us, no matter if he insults us or
injures us or grieves us, we will never allow any bitterness against
him to invade our hearts, but will regard him with that unconquerable
benevolence and goodwill which will seek nothing but his highest
the case of our nearest and our dearest we cannot help loving them; we
speak of falling in love; it is something which comes to us quite
unsought; it is something which is born of the emotions of the heart.
But in the case of our enemies, (agape) love is not only
something of the heart; it is also something of the will.
It is not something which we cannot help; it is something which we
have to will ourselves into doing (Ed note: enabled by the
Spirit Whose "fruit" in yielded believers is "agape love"). It is in
fact a victory over that which comes instinctively to the natural man.
Agape does not mean a feeling of the heart, which we cannot
help, and which comes unbidden and unsought; it means a determination
of the mind, whereby we achieve this unconquerable goodwill even to
those who hurt and injure us. Agape, someone has said, is the
power to love those whom we do not like and who may not like us. In
point of fact we can only have agape when Jesus Christ enables us to
conquer our natural tendency to anger and to bitterness, and to
achieve this invincible goodwill to all men.
Agape, is that unconquerable benevolence, that undefeatable
good-will, which will never seek anything but the highest good of
others, no matter what they do to us, and no matter how they treat us.
That love can come to us only when Christ, Who is that love, comes to
dwell within our hearts...
never dream of revenge, but will meet all injuries and rebuffs with
undefeatable good will. Agape is that quality of mind and heart
which compels a Christian never to feel any bitterness, never to feel
any desire for revenge, but always to seek the highest good of every
man no matter what he may be. If a man has agape, no matter
what other people do to him or say of him, he will seek nothing but
their good. He will never be bitter, never resentful, never vengeful;
he will never allow himself to hate; he will never refuse to forgive.
Love, agape, is the virtue of the man who, even if he tried,
could not forget what God has done for him nor the love of God to men.
Agape is the word for Christian love. Agape is not
passion with its ebb and flow, its flicker and its flame; nor is it an
easy-going and indulgent sentimentalism. And it is not an easy thing
to acquire or a light thing to exercise. Agape is undefeatable
goodwill; it is the attitude towards others which, no matter what they
do, will never feel bitterness and will always seek their highest
good. There is a love which seeks to possess; there is a love which
softens and enervates; there is a love which withdraws a man from the
battle; there is a love which shuts its eyes to faults and to ways
which end in ruin. But Christian love will always seek the highest
good of others and will accept all the difficulties, all the problems
and all the toil which search involves. (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The
Thomas Watson (ca 1620-1686) warns us about the deadening effect
of the love of the world on our spiritual health by asking a
How may we keep up the briskness
and fervor of grace, in times of apostasy?
Answer: Let us beware of having our hearts (cp Pr 4:23-note)
too much linked to the world. The world damps zeal—as
earth chokes the fire. We are bid to love our enemies (Mt 5:44-note);
but the world is such an enemy as we must not love, "Do
not love the world or
anything in the world."
(1John 2:15). The world bewitches with her blandishments (allurements,
enticements, charms), and kills with her silver darts! He who is a
Demas—will be a Judas (cp 2Ti 4:10-note,
Jn 6:71, 12:4, 13:2, 18:2, 5, Lk 22:48, Mt 27:3)! A lover of the
world will, for a piece of money, betray a holy cause, and make
shipwreck of a good conscience (1Ti 1:19). (The
Great Gain of Godliness)
Thomas Watson in his
exhortation regarding our heavenly race (cp He 12:1-note;
observes that the world is...
a golden weight which has hindered
many and made them lose their race (cp 1Co 9:24, 25, 26, 27, 2Ti 2:5-note).
"Demas has deserted me, because he loved this present world!" 2Ti
So far as the world is a weight,
throw it off. I do not
say lay aside the use of the world—but the love
of the world, 1Jn 2:15. When the golden dust of the world is blown in
men's eyes, it blinds them so that they cannot see their race. (The
preacher John Angell James (1785-1859) writes that for
believers the antidote for the love of the world is our love
for Christ (cp 2Co 5:14)...
Christ is...the supreme object of a
true Christian's love, the chief source of his felicity, the highest
end of his life. The first object of a Christian's desire, pursuit and
expectation—is the salvation of his soul. Our great business on
earth—is to fit (ourselves) for heaven (cp 1Ti 4:7, 8-note).
Our main concern in time—is to prepare for eternity (cp Ep 5:16KJV-note)...The
world is, indeed, a very dangerous foe to the believer. To very, very
many, it is the most destructive one. They are not so likely to be
subdued by 'open vice' as by worldly-mindedness.... Worldliness is the
sin of the age, and has deeply infected the church of Christ....
"If any man loves the world,"
says the apostle, in a passage which ought to ring through all
Christendom, and make the ears of millions tingle, and their hearts to
palpitate with fear and alarm—"If any man loves the world, the love
of the Father is not in him."
What is the world?
Not merely open sin and vice, profligacy, idolatry, infidelity,
heresy! Oh no, the world contains many things besides the lust of
the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life—things more
decent, more innocent, more rational, more commendable than these vile
objects. Everything on earth, however fair, laudable and excellent in
itself, everything besides God, is the world. Your business is the
world, your family is the world; your house and comfortable home are
the world, the wife of your bosom, the children whom God has given
you, are the world. "What! then," you exclaim, "are we not to love
these?" Yes, in proper degrees—but not more than God. You are not to
seek from them your highest happiness. You are not to be more
solicitous to secure them than heaven. It is of a 'supreme love' the
How plain is this from our Lord's
exposition and summary of the law, "You shall love the Lord your
God with all your mind, and soul, and strength." (Mk 12:30)
How still more explicit from the
other words of Christ, "Anyone who loves his father or mother more
than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more
than me is not worthy of me." Mt 10:37.
Christian professors, there is need
to have these solemn, yet righteous, demands sent with a voice of
thunder into your places of business and scenes of domestic comfort.
You have need to be told that all this engrossing solicitude about
business; all this eager haste to be rich; all this ambition to add
house to house, and field to field; all this taste for elegance, show
and fashion; all this competition for name and fame, which leads to a
neglect of salvation, to departure from God, to indifference to
heaven, is the love of the world, which is incompatible with the love
of the Father; and not less so that supreme and exclusive concern
about domestic enjoyment, that taste for fashionable amusements, or
even that more refined and simple love of home-bred delights, which
still leaves out God, salvation, heaven and eternity. Here, here, I
repeat, is your peril.
Here the enemy with which you have
to do battle. It is not vice, I say, it is not profligacy, it is
Do we not see mere professors throwing themselves wholly—body, soul,
and spirit . . .into their trade, into the cherished objects of their
ambition, into their entire devotedness to a worldly life. In these
things, and for them, they live! These things . . .bind round and
overgrow their heart, stifle all serious thoughts, smother
all heavenly desires... The road that leads to destruction is broad
enough to comprise many parallel paths. And there is one path crowded
with professors of religion, walking in company, with cheerful
appearance, and elegant attire, and elastic step—but still walking to
perdition! Oh, yes, there is a way 'through the church'—a decent,
flowery, down-hill way to eternal destruction, and there are many who
take that road! (CHRISTIAN
theologian Richard Baxter (1615-1691) in his chapter
Hindrances to a Heavenly Life on
LIVING IN ANY KNOWN SIN is a great
impediment to a heavenly life. If this be your situation, I dare say
that heaven and your soul are strangers. These beams in your eye (Mt
will not let you look to heaven. They will be a cloud between you and
God. When you attempt to study eternity and gather refreshment from
the life to come, your sin will look you in the face and say, "These
things do not belong to you." How can you take comfort from heaven
when you take so much pleasure in the lusts of the flesh?
Every intentional sin
will be to your happiness as water to the fire. It will quench your
It will disable you, so that you
can no more ascend in divine meditation than a bird can fly with
clipped wings. We surely
need to pray daily, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us
from evil" (Mt. 6:13-note).
AN EARTHLY MIND is another hindrance to be avoided. When the
heavenly believer is rejoicing in hope of the glory to come, perhaps
you are blessing yourself with thoughts of worldly prosperity. You are
rejoicing in hopes of earthly success. When he is comforting his soul
with the views of Christ, of angels and saints, with whom he shall
live forever; you are comforting yourself with your money, and in
thinking of the advancement of your family. Your earthly mind may
coexist with church membership and formal religious activities, but it
cannot coexist with heavenly contemplation.
Keep worldly matters as loose as
a light jacket, that you may take it off whenever you can; but let God
and heaven be next to your heart.
Ever remember, that "the friendship of the world is enmity with God.
Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God"
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any
man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1John
2:15). This is plain
speaking, and happy is he who faithfully receives it.
(From his book
THE SAINTS EVERLASTING REST)
writer Thomas Watson
(1669) has these words regarding the world...
It is a part of our Christian
under Christ's banner—against
The world is a flattering enemy. It shows its golden apple. It
is given to some—as a snare. Take heed of being drowned in the world's
It must be a strong brain that can bear heady wine. He had need have a
great deal of wisdom and grace, who knows how to maintain a great
estate. Riches often send up intoxicating fumes, which make men's
heads giddy with pride. It is hard to climb up the hill of God—with
too many golden weights!
The world shows its two breasts of pleasure and profit —and many fall
asleep with the breast in their mouth!
The world never kisses us—except with an intention to betray us.
The world is a silken halter.
The world is no friend to grace; it chokes our love for heavenly
things—the earth puts out the fire.
Naturally we love the world. Too many are wedded to their money—they
live together as man and wife.
O let us take heed of being entangled in this pleasing snare! Many who
have escaped the rock of scandalous sins—yet have sunk in the world's
The sin is not in using the world—but in loving it. "Do not love
world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of
the Father is not in him." (1John 2:15)
Believers are called out of the world. "They are not of the
even as I am not of it." (John 17:16). They are in the world—but not of
it. A true saint is crucified in his affections, to the world,
6:14). He is dead to the honors and pleasures of it. What delight does
a dead man take in pictures or music?
Jesus Christ gave Himself "to redeem us from this present evil world."
Living fish swim against the stream. We must swim against the world,
else we shall be carried down the stream, and fall into the dead sea
The world is DECEITFUL. Our Savior calls it, "The deceitfulness of
riches." (Mt 13:22, cp Lk 8:14, Mk 4:18,19). The world promises happiness—but gives
weariness. It promises us
gives us bleary-eyed
(Ed: Her name means "weary")! The world promises to satisfy our desires—but only increases them. The
world gives poisoned pills—but wraps them in sugar!
The world is POLLUTING. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure
and faultless is this: ...to keep oneself from being polluted by
the world." It is called filthy lucre—because it makes men so filthy!
Men will damn themselves to get the world. Ahab would have Naboth's
vineyard, though he swam to it in blood.
The world is PERISHING. "The world and its desires pass away."
The world is like a flower—which withers while we are smelling it!
(Excerpt from Watson's book
The Christian Soldier)
warns believers that...
We may hold the world as a
posy in our hand—but it must not lie too near our heart (cp Pr 4:23-note)! We may use it
as an inn where we take a meal—but it must not be our home. Perhaps
these secular things steal away the heart too much. Godly men are
sometimes weighed down with an overabundance of temporal things, and
drunk with the luscious delights of prosperity.
And having spotted
their silver wings of grace, and much defaced God's image by rubbing
it against the earth—the Lord, to recover them from this, hides His
face in a cloud. This eclipse has good effects—it darkens all the
glory of the world, and causes it to disappear. (The
spares on words warning that...
If the world is our portion here,
hell will be our portion hereafter.
Be not proud of riches but afraid of them, lest they be as silver bars
to barricade the way to heaven!
As you love your souls, beware of the world! It has slain its
thousands and tens of thousands!
What ruined Lot's wife? The world! (Lk 17:32, 33, Ge
19:17, 26, Lk 17:32)
What ruined Judas? The world! (Jn 12:4, 5, 6, Mt 26:14, 15, 16,
27:5, Ac 1:16, 17, 18, 19, 20)
Simon Magus? The world!
(Ac 8:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24)
What ruined Demas? The world! (2Ti 4:10-note)
Mason's Spiritual Sayings)
Thomas Watson asks us...
Consider how UNWORTHY it is for a
Christian to have his heart set upon the world.
It is unworthy of his soul. The soul is dignified with honor,
it is a noble coin that has a divine impress stamped upon it; it is
capable of communion with God and angels; now it is too far below a
man to spend the affections and energies of this heaven-born soul,
upon drossy things. It is as if one should embroider sackcloth with
gold, or set a diamond in clay.
It is unworthy of his profession. 'Are you seeking great things
for yourself?" Jer 45:5. What! you Baruk? you who are a godly man? a
Levite? Oh, how sordid is it for him that has his hope in heaven—to
have his heart upon the earth! It is just as if a king should leave
his throne—and follow the plough; or as if a man should leave a golden
mine—to dig in a gravel pit. The lapwing has a crown on her head—and
yet feeds on dung. A fit emblem of those who have a crown of
profession on their head—yet feed with eagerness on these things
below. Christians should deny themselves—but not undervalue
themselves; they should be humble—but not base. If Alexander would not
exercise at the Olympics, it being too far below him; shall they then
who are the holy seed, the heirs of glory—disparage themselves by too
eager pursuit after these contemptible things? "Since, then, you have
been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ
is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above,
not on earthly things." Col 3:1-note,
Col 3:2-note. (A
Christian on Earth, Still in Heaven)
THE SECRET SIN OF
LOVING THE WORLD
Joseph Alleine (1671) in his
Alarm to the Unconverted classified a
predominant love of the world with his list of 12 "secret sins"
(secret sins on earth are open scandal in heaven). Let us all read
Alleine's words with open hearts and minds, and ask God to search us and
know our hearts, trying us and knowing our anxious thoughts, that His
Spirit might point out anything in us that is offensive to God and
then lead us in the path of everlasting life, now and unto the day of
eternity in Christ Jesus, Amen. (cp Ps 139:23, 24-notes)
SECRET sinners. And now I
imagine many will begin to bless themselves, and think all is well,
because they cannot be reproached with these grosser evils. But I must
tell you that there is another sort of unsanctified people, who carry
their mark not in their foreheads—but more secretly and covertly.
These frequently deceive themselves and others, and pass for good
Christians, when they are all the while unsound at heart. Many pass
undiscovered until death and judgment bring all to light. These
self-deceivers seem to come even to heaven's gate with confidence of
their admission, and yet are turned away at last (Mt 7:22-note).
I beseech you deeply to lay to heart and firmly retain this awakening
consideration—that multitudes perish by the hand of some secret sin,
that is not only hidden from others—but from lack of observing their
own hearts—is hidden even from themselves. A man may be free from open
pollutions, and yet die at last by the hand of some unobserved
iniquity; and there are these twelve hidden sins, through which souls
go down by numbers into the chambers of eternal death.
These you must search carefully for, and take them as black marks
wherever they are found, revealing a graceless and unconverted state;
and as you love your lives, read carefully with a holy jealousy of
yourselves, lest you should be the people concerned....
(Secret Sin #8) The predominant love
of the world. This is
the sure evidence of an unsanctified heart. 'If any man loves the
world, the love of the Father is not in him' (1John 2:15). But
how often does this sin lurk under the fair cover of profession. Yes,
such a power of deceit is there in this sin that many times, when
everybody else can see the man's worldliness and covetousness, he
cannot see it himself—but has so many excuses and pretenses for his
eagerness after the world, that he blinds his own eyes and perishes in
his self-deceit! How many professing Christians are there, with whom
the world has more of their hearts and affections than Christ, 'who
mind earthly things', and thereby are evidently after the flesh, and
likely to end in destruction (Ro 8:5-note;
Yet ask these men, and they will tell you confidently they prize
Christ above all; for they do not see their own earthly-mindedness for
lack of a strict observance of the workings of their own hearts. Did
they but carefully search, they would quickly see that their greatest
satisfaction is in the world, and that their greatest care and main
endeavor are to get and secure the world—which are the certain signs
of an unconverted sinner. May the professing part of the world take
earnest heed lest they perish by the hand of this sin unobserved. Men
may be, and often are, kept off from Christ as effectually by the
inordinate love of lawful comforts, as by the most wicked lives. (Take
a moment to read all 12 of the secret sins -
Alarm to the Unconverted)
J. C. Philpot in his
devotional Daily Portions has the following entry on 1Jn
"Do not love
the world or anything in the world."
This is a very wide sentence. It
stretches forth a hand of vast grasp. It places us, as it were, upon a
high mountain, such as the Lord stood upon when tempted of Satan, and
it says to us, "Look around you--now there is not one of these things
which you must love." It takes us, again, to the streets of a crowded
city; it shows us shop windows filled with objects of beauty and
ornament; it points us to all the wealth and grandeur of the rich and
noble, and everything that the human heart admires and loves. And
having thus set before us, as Satan did before our Lord upon the high
mountain, the kingdoms of the world, it says, not as he did, "All this
will I give you," but, "All this I take from you. None of these things
are for you. You must not love one of these glittering baubles; you
must not touch one of them, or scarcely look at them, lest, as with
Achan (Josh 7:20, 21, 25), the golden wedge and the Babylonish garment
should tempt you to take them and hide them in your tent."
The precept takes us through the
world as a mother takes a child through a bazaar, with playthings and
ornaments on every side, and says, "You must not touch one of these
things." In some such similar way the precept would, as it were, take
us through the world, and when we had looked at all its playthings and
its ornaments, it would sound in our ears, "Don't touch any one of
them; they are not yours; not for you to enjoy, not for you even to
covet." Can anything less than this be intended by those words which
should be ever sounding in the ears of the children of God, "Love not
the world, neither the things that are in the world?" J. C. Philpot.
Illustration of 1Jn 2:15-17
- Today in the Word - When rescuers were finally able to pull a
middle-aged man from the wreckage of a horrible car accident, he was
taken to a nearby hospital. But it soon became apparent that he would
die. As the chaplain comforted him, the man, who was a Christian,
exclaimed, “As I look squarely at eternity, I realize now just how
much I wasted my life on things that don’t matter.”
What a sad revelation! Today’s
passage offers a strong challenge to those who “waste their lives on
things that don’t matter.” John opens this passage with uncompromising
words: “Do not love the world or anything in the world.” At first
glance, verse 15 may seem at odds with John 3:16: “For God so loved
the world that he gave his one and only Son.” Most likely, John is
using the word world differently in these two texts. In John 3:16,
world refers to the lost people of the world, whereas in 1 John 2:15,
world refers to an entire system of beliefs and values–what we might
call a “worldview.” This worldview is completely opposed to God and
To clarify what he means, John lists three elements of this worldview
in verse 16. First, he warns against “cravings.” These are misplaced
appetites for some of our most powerful drives such as for food, for
intimacy, and for recognition.
Next, John talks about the “lust of the eyes.” This includes both what
we can see and what we can imagine. This can best be summarized as our
tendency to look at the external qualities without really inquiring
about what’s inside. For example, many people are tempted by the
pursuit of wealth because of all they imagine it will enable them to
Finally, John addresses pride, or that self-sufficiency that attempts
to manufacture what God has promised–or what He has forbidden–rather
than humbly allowing Him to give what we need.
TODAY ALONG THE WAY- Today’s passage doesn’t condemn everything
material as evil. Instead, it focuses on the affection that we have
for the “stuff” around us. In others words, it’s not so much about
what kind of car we drive, but rather the reasons we might have for
wanting it or the intensity of our desire for it. What John is saying,
however, is that we can’t ever let these things distract us from the
eternal: God Himself. All these things will eventually be gone, but
God is everlasting. That’s a reminder we all need to hear again. (MBI
- Today in the Word)
Cole has an excellent message on 1John 2:15-17 entitled
Choose Your Love: the World or the Father?...
Few problems have been more
troublesome for believers down through the centuries than worldliness.
In an effort to be “relevant” and reach our culture, there is the very
real danger that we will become just like the culture and lose our
distinctiveness. The apostle Paul warned of the danger in Romans 12:2,
when he wrote, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind….” J. B. Phillips (The New
Testament in Modern English [Geoffrey Bles], p. 332) paraphrases it,
“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let
God remold your lives from within.”
Toward the end of his life, Paul
sadly wrote to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:10), “For Demas, having loved this
present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” Even though
he had once been a fellow-worker with the great apostle Paul (Philemon
24), Demas succumbed to the lure of the world.
I would argue that with the
pervasive influence of modern media, the tug of the world is greater
now than it ever has been. Daily we are bombarded with attractive
people telling us that we can’t be happy unless we own the product
that they are selling or adopt the lifestyle that they are pursuing.
We thumb through magazines that lure us with beautiful homes, new
cars, luxury items, or expensive vacations that all can be ours, if we
just get enough money or go into enough debt. There are plenty of
credit card offers that will help us get hopelessly in debt, if we’re
not careful. It is lust for the things of the world that prompts
Americans to spend billions on casino gambling and lottery tickets.
Just one lucky hit and you will have it all!
Christian attempts to counter
worldliness often have swung to the opposite direction: withdrawal
from the world, along with extra rules to reign in the flesh. This is
the method of the monastic movement and of isolationist groups, such
as the Amish. An extreme example of the ascetic approach was Simon the
Stylite (c. 390-459), who lived in extreme austerity for 36 years on
top of a platform on a 60-foot pillar. Thousands of people flocked to
see this “unworldly” man and listen to his preaching. I doubt that
Simon is a model of what John had in mind when he warned us not to
love the world!
I grew up in Fundamentalist circles
that had lists of what constituted “worldly” behavior. It usually
included the “filthy five”: drinking, smoking, attending movies,
playing cards, and dancing. Many Christian colleges required their
students to sign pledges not to participate in these “worldly”
activities. But they often went farther than that. When my dad was a
student at one such Bible institute, he could not hold hands with my
mother on campus, even though they were married! A student who was
near graduation was publicly dismissed from the school because he put
his arm around his fiancée in the back of the Institute bus, and a
supporter of the school saw this “worldly” behavior and reported him!
Concerning such manmade rules, Paul
wrote (Col 2:23-note),
“These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom
in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the
body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” The rules
approach to the problem of worldliness doesn’t work!
Worldliness is, at its core, a
matter of the heart. If your heart is captured by the world, you will
love the things of the world. If your heart is captured by the love of
God, you will be drawn to Him and to the things of God. The only way
that our hearts can be transformed so that we love God is by the
supernatural new birth.
John wrote this letter to churches
that were being infected and confused by certain heretics. They
claimed to have enlightenment, but John says that they were still in
the darkness. They tried to draw people into their inner circle of
knowledge, but their doctrine and their practice revealed that they
did not truly know God.
John gives three tests by which his
readers could evaluate these teachers and by which they could tell
whether their own faith was sound: the moral test (obedience);
the relational test (love for others); and, the doctrinal
test (believing the truth about Jesus Christ).
In 1John 2:3, 4, 5, 6, John applies
the first test:
authentic faith obeys God’s
In 1Jn 2:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, he
applies the second test:
authentic faith loves God’s people.
Then he pauses (1Jn 2:12, 13, 14)
to give an assuring clarification, showing his confidence that his
readers do have authentic faith.
Now, he resumes his application of
the tests by showing that authentic faith is not of the world (1Jn
2:15-17), but rather it knows and believes the truth about Jesus
Christ (1Jn 2:18-27).
John characteristically draws a
sharp line, with no middle ground: If you love the world, you do not
love the Father. He shows that…You must choose your love and then
maintain your choice: you love either the world or the Father, but not
He’s saying the same thing that
Jesus said (Luke 16:13), “You cannot serve God and
Mammon.” He did not say, “You should not serve God and
Mammon,” but, “you cannot” serve them both. You must
make a basic decision in life: Will you live to know God and His
eternal love, or will you live for this world and its fleeting
pleasures? You can’t take a little of both.
Once you’ve made that decision, you
must fight to maintain your choice against the strong current of the
world. “Do not love” is a present imperative, indicating that it is an
ongoing battle. “Love” is the Greek agape, indicating that it is a
commitment, not a feeling, that John is commanding. The only way that
you can fight the love of the world is to maintain and grow in your
love for the Father. The old Scottish preacher, Thomas Chalmers, has a
sermon, “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection,” where he argues
that the only thing powerful enough to drive out our love for the
world is our new love for the Father. We need to define the key term:
WHAT IS “THE
WORLD” OR “WORLDLINESS”?
The Greek word for “world,” kosmos,
occurs 185 times in the New Testament. John uses 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 ornament of God. (Our word “cosmetics” comes from the
word. Applying cosmetics is an attempt to bring order!” It may refer
to the physical world (Jn 1:10) or to the people of the world
collectively (Jn 3:16; 1Jn 2:2). In those senses, there is nothing
wrong with loving the world. We should enjoy God’s creation and we
should love sinful people who need to know the Savior.
But John also uses the word to refer to the evil, organized system
under Satan, which operates through unbelieving people who are God’s
enemies. He writes (1Jn 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). It
operates on the basis of ungodly thoughts, attitudes, motives, values,
and goals (Isa. 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 adds that we are not to
love “the things of the world,” he does not mean that you must
hate your house and your car, although I sometimes do hate my car!
Rather, he elaborates on those “things” in 1Jn 2:16 as, “the
lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of
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. But, a wealthy man may not be worldly in that he
uses his possessions as a steward of God and as a means of promoting
God’s purpose and glory.
So, to be worldly is to
operate on the same principles as unregenerate people. It is to think
and act out of selfishness, greed, pride, and personal ambition. It is
to have a selfish desire for the things that you do not have and a
sinful pride in the things that you do have. Rather than living to
please God, who examines the heart, the worldly person tries to
impress people, who look on things outwardly.
For example, if you refrain from
drinking alcoholic beverages because you want to impress others with
how spiritual you are, and you take pride in your not drinking and
look with contempt on those who do, you are actually being worldly
by not drinking! I don’t say that to encourage anyone to drink! I’m
only pointing out that worldliness is not a matter of keeping
some list of dos and don’ts. It is a matter of your heart
motives before God.
John makes two main points:
1. Choose your love: either the
world or the Father, but not both (1Jn 2:15).
John states the main command: “Do not love the world nor the things in
the world.” Then, he gives the implication: “If anyone loves the
world, the love of the Father is not in him.” It is either/or, not
both/and. “The love of the Father,” could mean His love for us. But to
be parallel to the first half of the verse, it probably refers
primarily to our love for God. John means that the one who loves the
world does not love God. Or, conversely, our love for God should be
the ruling principle of our lives. The only way that we can overcome
the strong desires of the flesh and the world is to be consumed with
John uses “Father” to
describe God in 1Jn 2:15 and 1Jn 2:16, as he did in 1Jn 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 (1Jn 3:1). It is the Father’s
first love for us that motivates us to love Him in response (1Jn
4:19). In light of the Father’s great love in sending His own Son to
be the propitiation for our sins and adopting us as His children,
loving Him should be our great delight and joy.
It is significant that 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” (Mt 22:37). Solomon
wrote (Pr. 4:23-note),
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the
springs of life.”
As Jonathan Edwards argued
The Treatise on Religious Affections
(The Works of Jonathan Edwards [Banner of Truth], 1:236),
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 (1Jn 2:15)
Choose your love. Either you
love the world or you love the Father. You cannot straddle the line.
The Father is a jealous lover who deserves and demands total
allegiance. Loving the Father begins at the cross when you receive His
supreme gift of love, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the substitute for
your sins. (Read the full sermon
1 John 2:15-17 Choose Your Love: the World or