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“Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

The “beloved” apostle John writes plainly.  He doesn’t mince words.  His first letter confronts us at every turn when it comes to authentic Christian faith and life.  Here, he forthrightly challenges our loves.

There are at least two things we may love: the world or the Father.  We can’t love them both.  They are oil and water, night and day, death and life.  Choose you today which one you will serve.

John tells us precisely what he means by “the world”.  He is concerned primarily with “the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does.”  What the sinful man craves or longs for belongs to the world.  The evidence of our depravity is that we desire the things of the world rather than the things of God.  If we would see what it looks like to love the world or whether a man loves God, we need only ask, “does he desire what the world desires?”  He is a man who lives by the “lust of his eyes.”  What appears most real to him is what he sees; and what he wants most is what he beholds with natural eyes.  He doesn’t see the Father, and so he doesn’t desire him either.  An invisible God is a real test for the worldly man, for he loves what his eyes see.  After his craving and his sight lead him to do and possess, he boasts.  He boasts of what he has and does.  His highest estimation of himself is limited to the few things he is able to do and the few trinkets he collects from the world.  He loves to be rich, and hates himself when he isn’t.  He wants the entire world in the palms of  his hands.

These desires “come not from the Father but from the world.”  Point: the world is a seductive animal.  It lures, teases, coddles, coaxes.  The world makes such sweet promises that stroke our egos and tantalize our passions.  And what comes from the world does not come from the Father.  Beware the offerings of the world!!

How devastating, then, is the next line from John’s quill: “The world and its desires pass away.”  See that man spending all his life acting upon his sinful desires, coveting what the world offers, amassing all he can… only to have it “pass away”–blown away really.  His philosophy has been: “Get all you can, can all you get, then sit on your can.”  Now along comes God and cans the man along with all his precious things, desires, and boasting.  The man who loves the world has all and has nothing.  It’s death.  “The love of the Father is not in him.”

But he who loves the Father has life.  “The man who does the will of God lives forever.” What is the Father’s will?  Let Jesus remind us:

“If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (John 7:17)

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:38-40)

Love the Father by loving the Son.  All who do have eternal life and the Father’s love.

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Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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