Reality Check: Who Do You Love?
By: The John Ankerberg Show
1 John 2:7–14 ESV
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
Everyone reading this loves one of two things: this world or God.
After you became a Christian, you realized that living the Christian life was impossible in your own strength. You are aware of the distractions from all angles vying for your attention and affection. This morning we will investigate a problem that plagues many believers: WORLDLINESS.
Some have used the phrase: “Worldly Christians” to describe people who profess to be believers but live like the world. This is actually a misnomer. Billy Sunday made fun of the term “Worldly Christian.” He would say:
To talk about a worldly Christian makes about as much sense as talking about a heavenly devil.
C.J. Mahaney correctly stated:
The greatest challenge facing American evangelicals is not persecution from the world, but seduction by the world.
Apparently this was happening in the first century. Throughout both the Gospel and his Epistles, The Apostle John offers rich contrasts to prove his point, placing two independent ideas side by side.
Light vs Darkness
Love vs Hate
Children of God vs Children of the Devil
Righteousness vs Unrighteousness
Obedience vs. Disobedience
Love for God vs. Love for the World
John begins his argument in verse 7 by stressing the fact that he is not giving them something they haven’t heard before. He is reiterating what Jesus said. Next, he reminds them of the benefits of being a believer:
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
1. The Benefits of being a Disciple
- Our Forgiven Sins
- Our Spiritual Understanding
- Our Victorious Life
- Our Inner Strength
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
2. A Warning Against Worldliness
Do not love the world or the things in the world.
These 11 Words are a STERN warning to believers.
It is a Decisive Command: DO NOT.
It is a Definitive Command: The World
It is a Comprehensive Command: Things in the World.
Can you feel the weight of the warning: DO NOT LOVE. The verb is an ongoing action. Don’t miss this: John is not placing an overburdened warning on believers to restrict their happiness. He outlining parameters as boundary markers out of his love and protection for them. God prohibits in order to protect.
3 Words for World: Planet, People (John 3:16), Pattern.
John closes pattern in this section: This is the system of this present world with values and attitudes that are in opposition to God. Since we are talking about the Pattern of the World, I have chosen to use the word worldliness for clarification.
What is Worldliness?
It is the pursuit of pleasing and exalting oneself at the expense of removing God. This man-centered way of thinking diverges from God.
Anything that keeps you from enjoying the fathers love or doing his will is worldliness.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Again, we have 3 options for understanding the phrase: “Love of the Father.”
- God’s love for believers
- The believers’ love for God
- The love which comes from God and is expressed through believers to others
In the passage we are studying, the second option is correct because it contrasts what John just said. Love for the world is in opposition to love for God.
Let me give you one other place in John where this phrase is used.
1 John 5:3:
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
If you love God, You will keep his commandments. This sounds like Jesus doesn’t it?
So John is saying, “If you love the world, love for God is not in you.” In essence he is saying, “You cannot serve 2 masters. You will
love one and hate the other. You cannot serve both God and the world.”
3. Wickedness of Worldliness
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”
Desire of the Flesh
The word desire is used 38 Times in the New Testament. Only 3 of those times are use in a positive manner. The desire of the flesh is the overarching category for the following two desires. This is the root cause of the desire of the eyes and the pride in possessions.
There are many different expressions of the flesh. Let’s take eating for example, Do you eat to live or live to eat. Do you eat for nutrition or indulgence? The problem is not that we crave things, It’s that we crave things too much. The flesh never has enough.
The craving for clothes never ends. It starts as an interest and ends as an obsession.
The craving for money starts as a desire and ends as a demand.
The desire for recognition begins as flattery and end as fascination, always desiring more and more.
Desire of the Eyes
The lust of the eyes is those things which our eyes crave, which ultimately leads to coveting. This is the indulgence of glitter, glare, and glamor. The eyes are the windows to the soul. They act as gatekeepers to the outside world. Once an Image is implanted in your mind, It is impossible to remove. Like a stain on a dress, the images are burned into our conscience.
Pride in Possessions
The word “Life” can be translated as livelihood, living, property, or possessions. The predominant use of the word, as in this context, is possessions. This is the Person who is puffed up with pride because of things they own.
These 3 elements of the world outline the temptation of Eve in the garden: the desire of the flesh to taste of the fruit, the desire of the eyes stimulating her to lust over what was forbidden, and the pride of life which would make her ‘like God’.
There is nothing wrong with having possessions or things. It’s when we find our Identity in the things we have or joy in the things we have acquired at the expense of God. Do you own your possessions or do your possessions own YOU?
4. Worthlessness of Worldliness
And the world is passing away along with its desires
The word passing is in the present tense, indicating that this is an ongoing process. Paul said the same thing in 1 Cor. 7:31:
For the present form of this world is passing away.
One of the most disheartening stories in the Bible is Demas. He was a close friend and traveling companion of Paul. Leaving the comforts of his home to travel wherever the Lord led, he accompanied Paul all over Asia Minor and the Balkan Region. Throughout his ministry, he demonstrated substantial commitment to the work of the Lord.
Paul speaks of him in Philemon 23:
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.
Think of the company of men he hung around with. Paul mentions him in Col. 4:14:
Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.
Where is Paul writing these letters? He is writing them from prison. Demas is by his side providing food, support, and encouragement. He sends greetings to those in Colossae and to Philemon’s community, showing that he knew these brothers well. He stayed in their homes, shared meals together, and heard testimonies of God’s grace. But something happened along the way.
Paul, writing from prison a short time before his beheading, pens his final letter to Timothy. In his closing remarks he writes these words, which are like a blow to his gut.
2 Tim. 4:10:
For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.
What amplifies this reality is that Paul just got finished saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Demas apparently didn’t.
Can you sense the heartbreak by Paul? What a wasted life. His testimony is ruined. The name of Christ is dragged through the mud.
Demas not only deserted Paul, but he deserted Jesus.
How did it happen? Was it immediate? Was it instantly? Probably not. Worldliness always creeps in subtly, with a compromise here and compromise there. The Difference between a Disciple and a Drifter is not much. Has a love for the world choked out your love for Christ?
Maybe it is:
Preoccupation with Temporal Things
If we are not careful, worldliness can infect us faster than a terminal illness. No one is outside the clutch of this sin. So what can we do?
5. Worth of an Eternal Investment
John begins with a warning and ends with a promise in Verse 17:
But whoever does the will of God abides forever.
The word ABIDE means REMAINS or LIVES forever. This is another way of saying, “YOU will never perish but will live forever.”
The pursuit of worldliness is always a bottomless pit. Fortune and fame in the world will always leave you wanting more. Those who find their satisfaction in God will remain forever. They will be satisfied with God for eternity. The one investment that no one can take from you is your investment in Heavenly things.
Let’s start the New Year by Examining Areas of your Walk with God.
- Where are you walking? What are you focusing on?
- Who is influencing you? Friends, Family, Co-workers
- What do you spend your time on?
- What distracts you or sidetracks you from wholeheartedly following Christ?