By Rev. S. V. Nathan
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
1 John 2:15-17
Love for the world or Worldliness is one of the greatest enemies of the church today. Horatius Bonar very aptly said: “I looked for the Church and I found it in the world, and I looked for the world and I found it in the Church.” Yes, we must realize that worldliness is creeping slowly and secretly into the church and we are drifting into the world. A lack of love for Christ reflects our love for the world among so-called Christians even in conservative churches like ours. A worldly church will never win the world. Keith Daniel said: “If we try to win the world by being like the world the world will win you!” Therefore, it is imperative that believers truly understand what worldliness is and is not. Apostle John compares love for the world versus the love for the Father God. As surely as we cannot serve both God and Mammon, we cannot love both God and the world. Thus, I call your attention to Apostle John’s caution in 1 John 2:15-17, to “Beware of Secret Love Affairs with the World”. There are three major areas in which we need to be cautious:
- PRIORITY (vs 15) “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him”.
Firstly, what is our chief priority? Is God first in our lives? Do you love God more than anything else? Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? (John 21:15b) and to the church of Ephesus: “thou hast left thy first love” (Rev 2:4). We need to reflect on these in the light of how we spend our time and energy, what we dream of, what we are devoted to. If our heart’s concerns pertain to that realm outside of God’s kingdom, we don’t love God as we should. When we are in the centre of Father’s love, our priority will reflect in our life and attitudes toward God and His people. Remember the Jesus’ parable of the banquet in Luke about a man who invites many to a banquet. When the time comes, the invited guests begin to make excuses about why they cannot attend after all. If God is not our first love, then we will have lots of excuses in our life. But when we’re talking about the banquet of eternal life, there is no acceptable excuse. The host is the One Who provides us with all things, and the alternative to coming to His banquet is eternal starvation. Take time to consider: am I really putting God and His glory first in my life in everything I do? If not, repent and return to your first love and make Him your chief Priority.
- PASSION (vs 16): “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,”
Secondly, what is your burning desire? According to this passage there are three things in particular that make up this worldly passion. They are firstly, chasing after “the lust of the flesh“, that is fornication, adultery, hatred, contentions, jealousies. In other words, you badly want to fulfil your desires of the flesh. Secondly, “the lust of the eyes“ refers to the unlawful longing for things which we can see; this sin can be summed up in one word: “covetousness”. Are you not satisfied with what you have and hanker after more? Thirdly, are you after “the pride of life” –this would include pride based upon such things as age, experience, ancestry, accomplishments, money, position, power. Are you feeding your pride? Desiring to be in control of others, or to be considered greater than others are forms of the boastful pride of life. St Paul says, “That no flesh should glory in his presence…He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord”. (1 Corinthians 1:29,31b). Yes, the lusts that are in the world tell us to seek fulfilment without reference to God, but God tells us that “in His presence is fulness of joy; at His right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11). Do you find joy and fulfilment in the person Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?
- PERSPECTIVE (vs17): “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”.
We are beginning a new year 2016. What is your perspective on it, and on the years ahead, be they few or many? Are you living in the light of eternity? This verse begins with a warning “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof:” and ends with a promise “but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”. Remember, we are living in a temporal world, and we are mortal being, all must one day leave these earthly pleasures. Having the proper perspective means we don’t look at our lives the way the world does but instead, we look at all things in the light of eternity. We are to live in this world, but we are not of this world. We don’t settle down here; we hold and possess things with a light touch. We must recognize that every human being will have one of two eternal conditions. According to God’s word, every human being will either be an heir of eternal life with God, or he will eternally bear the just wrath of God in the fires of hell.
Thus, in the one case, God’s people see His face, and dwell in utterly perfect righteousness of mind, body, and soul with Him. They participate in an unbreakeable peace with one another, and with Him Who wipes away every tear and sorrow. They enjoy unending bliss, joyfully worshipping and rendering meaningful service to the One Who is their heavenly Father and King, forever and ever. In the other case, those who loved the world more than God, who served the lusts of their flesh and of their eyes, who vaunted themselves in that boastful pride of life, undergo everlasting shame and contempt. They know only incalculable loss, and suffer unspeakable torments of mind, body, and soul in utter loneliness and darkness and it never ends.
Let us consider, where you want to spend your eternity? John writes one of the most powerful and assuring statements concerning the work of Jesus on the cross, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (vs.5:13). Apostle John wanted all believers to know 100%, that because of their faith and trust in Jesus Christ they would spend all of eternity with Him. Let us live on this earth by looking at our eternity with Christ in heaven.
Conclusion: Dearly beloved, I urge you to listen to Apostle John’s warning, repent and return to the Lord Jesus Christ and His love. Let us re -prioritise and love the Lord above everything. Our passion is to find joy in His presence to enjoy grace, mercy and fulfilment. We must live on this earth with the eternal perspective to be a heavenly citizen (Phil 3:20). Andrew Murray says, “A true revival means nothing less than a revolution, casting out the spirit of worldliness and selfishness, and making God and His love triumph in the heart and life.” May God bless you richly in 2016 with all His heavenly blessings.