Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 April 7, 2019
“Love Not the World”
1 John 2:15-17
We see today’s sermon title in our bulletin—and, at first glance, we may cry, “Why not love the world?” After all, this is spring in the mountains, and the incredible natural beauty of this place reveals itself once again in various blooms, blossoms, and greenery. We all look forward to that greenish hue spreading upslope as spring goes up the mountain. We each have many enjoyable things to do here—and, at one level, we love doing them. We also great friends to enjoy and great times to share together. What possibly can be wrong with these?
The cry rests on a faulty understanding of world, as used here in today’s Scripture text. Let’s turn our attention to that text—and, as we examine the text today, we shall understand the matter better. Here now the holy Word of God.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
We must come to a right understanding of the word world (Greek kosmos [kosmoV]) as used in today’s text. We may understand the world as that set of systems of practices and standards associated with secular society (that is, without reference to any demands or requirements of God). We may also understand the world as people associated with a world system and estranged from God. This much we get from the lexicographer. Now let’s see the Holy Spirit’s description of the world—and that via the pen of the Apostle John.
One malady of worldly ways and worldly people is lust. Again, Louw and Nida define to lust thus: “…to desire strongly to have what belongs to someone else and/or to engage in an activity which is morally wrong.” I have also heard lust described as an ever-increasing desire for an ever-decreasing satisfaction. The Apostle John, led of the Spirit, applies this lust to two parts of our nature. The world lusts of the flesh. Sexual lust certainly is in view here (perhaps, also, below), but the lust of the flesh can be extended to include any inordinate desire—either of impropriety or of excess—that our physical (or carnal nature) longs to fulfill (such as, for example, food and drink, harmful substances, and sensuality of various kinds). Similar to this is lust of the eyes. Again, sexual lust may well be in view, but this can be extended to include anything that the eye sees that simply must be watched or obtained—sometimes at any price. Hence, the lust (or desires) both of the flesh and of the eyes is a rapacious desire either for something forbidden or for something allowed in moderation, but forbidden to the excess that lust demands.
To these we now add another characteristic of worldly ways and worldly folks, namely, the pride of life (or of possessions, or boasting about what one has and does). Certainly our culture does this much. This behavior reveals an inordinate pleasure in what one does have, but it also may reveal inordinate longing for what one does not have. These things—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—are the Spirit’s descriptors of worldly ways and worldly people.
Now note from our text that the one loving the world has not the love of God, the Father, in him. Indeed, the one loving the world cannot love God, for there is not enough room in the heart and soul for both. Moreover, the one loving the world is passing away along with the world itself. This world is transient and temporary, and those who hitch their wagons to it will come to an unpleasant end—to say the least. On the contrary—and happily—the one doing the will of God abides forever. That is, continues to exist forever, or has eternal life. More than this, that eternal life is in the perfect presence of our perfect Lord—freed from all the ills associated with this age and its sin. It is not a continuation of life as we know it—but it is the life for which we were made. This is what it means to abide forever in Jesus—which is the Scripture promise to the one doing the will of God.
May God, by His amazing grace, grant that we forsake love of the world. Yet the question we posed at this sermon’s outset still stands. May we love those things we mentioned at the start of today’s sermon? Indeed we may, provided that we remember that those good things are good gifts from God’s good hand. We also may enjoy these good gifts from God provided that we, in our enjoyment of these pleasures in this world, remember to praise and to thank Him as the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Hence, let us love not the world. Rather, let us love Him Who has overcome the world (John 16:33)—even our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is to be praised forever and ever.
 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York, United Bible Societies, 1989).
 This was the favored description of Dr. Tim Hudson, campus minister of Christian Campus Fellowship, The University of Georgia, during my undergraduate years.