Do Not Love The World- 1John 2:15-17

John here strongly admonishes believers not to “love the world”. What exactly does John mean by this, what is it to love the world according to John? We begin by examining what John means here by the use of the word “love”, agape here in the Greek. John here uses agape in the same way which Jesus does in Matthew 6:24, in which He declares that we cannot serve two masters, we will love one and hate the other. The terms love and hate here do not refer to emotions but to choices, the one we choose is the one we love, and this chosen one becomes our master and will control us. The “world” here is contrasted with the Father as the two possible choices or masters, and the one we choose will control us. What then does John mean in the use of “world” here? He defines it for us in verse 16 as “the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life”. We will look at each of these three expressions to determine what John tells us not to choose and let become our master. First is “lusts of the flesh”. Flesh here is used in a way different from Paul’s use of flesh. In Paul, “flesh” is normally used metaphysically, but in John it is used physically to refer to the physical body, which has desires for things (food, sex, etc.). These desires are from God and there is nothing wrong with them, so what makes them “lusts”? The idea here is of control: when we control them they are desires, but when they control us they become lusts. John then is telling us not to let our bodily desires control us but to choose to control them, for their control of us is the first sign of “loving the world”. The second sign of loving the world is to be controlled by the “lusts of the eyes”. The use of eyes here refers to what is seen outwardly, to outward appearance. This refers to the tendency to judge everything by outward appearance and image, and lust of the eyes is characterized by being concerned primarily with the impression other people get of you, being worried about how you appear to others and what they think of you, and what others think will then control us, our “love” will be for them and not the Father. This is the second sign of “loving the world”. The third sign of loving the world is being controlled by the “pride of life”. Pride in the Bible can be either good or bad. It is commended to take pride in a job well done, in doing your best. It is condemned to take pride in comparison. It is fine to take pride in the fact that I did my very best, but wrong to take pride in the fact that I have done better than someone else. The “pride of life” then refers to pride in what I have or what I’ve done, more than others or better than others, to the building up of our own ego. This is the third sign of “loving the world”. As we have seen, when John tells us not to “love the world”, he means that we are not to be controlled by our bodily desires, the opinions of others or the gratification of our own egos, but by the love of our Father in heaven. To choose to “love the world” in this way is to choose not to love God, and to be controlled by the wrong “master”, by a master that will ultimately destroy us rather than one who loves us and desires the best for us.

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