Warnings from the Apostle John
In my series of messages, on the first letter of John, we are at the point where it is clear that the apostle has upheld some fundamental truths about God in order for believers to have assurance that they genuinely know God in relationship. John writes that believers must: 1) walk without sin (walk in the Light as He is in the Light); 2) confess our sins; 3) live in “Real Faith” and focused obedience to His Word which is authenticated by our love for our brothers and sisters in the LORD.
After giving the recipients of this letter some sound theology and doctrine, John encourages them as a loving elder who is speaking to family. He addressed their three different levels of maturity in 1 John 2:12-17 READ.
As you may have noticed after this poetic encouragement, John pleadingly gives them a strict warning. Let’s take this warning seriously and apply it to our own lives so that nothing will hinder our relationship with God. This warning stresses the following…
1. Do not Love the World
In the final part of this passage, John stressed a very important warning in verse 15, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”
I remember teaching this passage at a camp many years ago and a young girl came to me looking devastated. She asked, “Is God saying that we can’t love the world?”
I said, “Yes, that’s what the Bible says.”
“So does that mean I’m not supposed to care for animals and trees?” she asked.
“No that’s not what it means. It means you can’t love the man-made things of the world.”
She looked confused. She walked away heartbroken.
The word that John uses in verse 15 for world is “kosmos” meaning “ornament (cosmetics) or order”, which is used to describe the universe, but more specifically the human world order. The human world order includes: social, political, economic, religious, scientific and environmental orders. Today these teachings and idealistic philosophies fall under the secular-worldview as opposed to the biblical (formerly Christian) worldview which was generally accepted until postmodern ideologies took root after the Second World War. Relativism a main foundation of postmodern thinking believes that there is no absolute truth rather truth is relative to a person’s point of view. In other words, “Your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth and don’t you dare impose your truths or morality on me.”
Today, as you may be aware the secular world-view, and its humanistic postmodernism, is widely taught and accepted in our public and post-secondary schools.
What I needed to tell this young girl (who was distraught) was that God created the physical world of which we must be stewards and more specifically God loves men and women and children who He placed in His created order (John 3:16), even though they may be ruled by a worldview unpleasing to Him. In the same way, this is how we should love the world. We should love the world with the view that God saves people. However, we should not love the world with all of its false teachings, trends and trappings. If we do then we do not love the Father in heaven. We place the human world order and its secular view above God. This is the way of the unbeliever or the weak, undisciplined carnal believer who tries to please both God and man making him or her double-minded, lukewarm or mediocre. Do one of these states describe you this morning? I hope not. If it does, please repent and give your life over to Jesus in full commitment. As I am learning in my men’s small group God does not want fans He wants followers who deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him (Luke 9:23).
2. Warning Against the Terrible Trio
In verse 16, John now warns his readers and us of a terrible trio of worldly desires. We read again, v. 16, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” Let’s first of all look at…
A) The lust of the flesh (cravings of sinful man)… The Greek word for lust is (epithumia) which is used in the negative sense here to mean desiring something that is forbidden. The word for flesh from the GREEK is sarx and the way it used here is to mean that the flesh or the body is a willing instrument used for sin. Therefore, John is warning not to love the secular world because it will lead to selfish, fleshly acts and desires of the will coming from the sinful nature which is in rebellion against God. The lust of the flesh is the root to self-sufficiency, materialism, racism, sexism, injustice, overlooking the poor and every other unrighteous practice. A person caught in this lust has put self-gratification in charge of his or her life.
Chuck Swindoll writes, “The world system is committed to at least four major objectives, which I can summarize in four words: fortune, fame, power, pleasure. First and foremost: Fortune, money. The world system is driven by money; it feeds on materialism. Second: Fame. That is another word for popularity. Fame is the longing to be known, to be somebody in someone else’s eyes. Third: Power. This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever. It is the desire to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit. Fourth: Pleasure. At its basic level, pleasure has to do with fulfilling one’s sensual desires. It’s the same mindset that’s behind the slogan: “If it feels good, do it.””
When was the last time you fell into the lust of the flesh? What were you lusting after? How did the Holy Spirit convict you? Have you ever had any of these regrets?… “I shouldn’t have had that extra piece of cake. I shouldn’t have held back in my giving? I shouldn’t have been so lazy and grumpy when I was asked to help around the house.” Confess these sins to God now and He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from this lust of the flesh.
B) The next forbidden worldly desire to avoid is – the lust of the eyes. This person is captivated by that which is appealing to the eyes. This person sees it and wants it so bad that he or she becomes mentally or emotionally enslaved to having it or possessing it. We have Eve’s example of her lustful look upon the forbidden fruit, and David’s lustful look upon Uriah’s wife Bathsheba.
Thomas Costain’s history, The Three Edwards, described the life of Raynald Ill, a fourteenth-century duke in what is now Belgium. Raynald was grossly overweight.
After a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room.
This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew bigger.
When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.” Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year . . . a prisoner of his own appetite.
Lust is an insatiable appetite that demands fulfillment. Have you been struggling with the lust of the eyes lately? Pornography? Food? Shopping? Sales? Stock Markets? Netflix Binging? Social Media addiction? Kijiji? Gaming (computer and/or gambling)? The only way to combat it is to talk about it with people you trust. You need someone to keep you accountable and help you say, “no to lust of the eyes.” The first person to talk to for help is Jesus and He will lead you to a friend or counselor who will help you to free from lust.
C) The final forbidden worldly desire to avoid is the pride of life. A person who lives by pride is the person who boasts about who they are, what they have accomplished and what they possess. Pride is the only disease that makes everyone sick but the one who has it.
The story is told of two ducks and a frog that lived happily together in a farm pond. The best of friends, the three would amuse themselves and play together in their waterhole. When the hot summer days came, however, the pond began to dry up, and soon it was evident they would have to move. This was no problem for the ducks, which could easily fly to another pond. But the frog was stuck. So it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck that the frog could hang onto with his mouth as they flew to another pond. The plan worked well–so well, in fact, that as they were flying along a farmer looked up in admiration and mused, “Well, isn’t that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it?” The frog said, “I did…”
Sometimes it’s better just to keep your mouth closed. Have you ever come across a person who wants to give advice to you without being asked? A humble person waits to be asked whereas a proud person, or a person caught in a proud moment, wants to solve your problems because they know better. People who are not approached for guidance and they believe they should be are dealing with pride. Often we get the biggest compliments from loved ones, but we dismiss those compliments because we want someone of great status or accomplishment to compliment us like a boss. This is pride. When we get angry that we were overlooked in an invitation – this is pride. Self-pity, a poor me syndrome and complaining are all tied into pride because the focus is on self.
Are you ready to empty your life of pride?
D. L. Moody said, “I believe that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride, selfishness and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts.” (Source Unknown).
Verse 17 is a fitting conclusion for this message today. It says, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” Do you understand this verse? Our focus should be on two things here on earth: 1) Desiring God and 2) Doing His Will. This leads to everlasting life beyond this fallen world.
Q: How well are you desiring to know God and enjoy Him while doing His will in your life?
Do you want true happiness in your life? Read these words from David inspire you from Psalm 63:1-5.