1 John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world nor 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 lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” NASB
I have heard more explanations of this than I care to remember and virtually all of them fell short of bringing me peace and confidence that I had discovered the depth of the truth in this passage. It is obvious, to me, that Jesus, through John, would not have issued this prohibition without reason. Here we find the command not to love something, but what? We are told to not love the World or the things of the world but what is it that we are not to love?
In my study I have found that the word world is used in the Bible in three different ways and speaks to three different things:
- World as in the ‘physical universe’ or God’s material creation.
- World as it refers to and identifies PEOPLE or the ‘world of mankind.’
- World as it refers to the dwellers on the earth who, are ‘by nature without God, acting and living in a way that only has reference to ‘this life.’
If we interpret this passage using the physical universe as the meaning, then we would have to ask does not God love His own creation. Therefore, would it be wrong for us to love, respect, and appreciate what He has made? In the second using people as the meaning, we know that GOD loves all mankind so how could we be prohibited from loving them too? That only leaves us one possibility and that is the world of man outside of God and apart from God. Clearly, he is telling us not to love the Life of Sin. The pleasures of sin are of short duration. We are to guard our hearts and seek Him with our entire being.
Then we notice that he said we are not to love the things of the world and if you pursue the reading, you will see that he beings to talk about the sins of mankind here listing some as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
In each case, it is, to me, clear that the prohibition is not referring to people, the planet, or things that we might possess and/or use of this world’s material creation but the Life Outside God! The World here is referencing a life, mentality, and condition that clearly is a description of a life that ignores God, His Word, and His love. It focuses on self and is in rebellion against God, His Word, and His Love.
Therefore, we are not to Love the World meaning the World as represented by philosophy, nature, and character that is apart from and alienated from God. We are to not love the condition that affords licentiousness, lasciviousness, and lawlessness. We are to Love GOD first and foremost. We are to reject the pull of the pleasures of sin and the tug of the devil to be a god unto ourselves.
So, as you go through this day go IN GOD’S LOVE and share that love with everyone you meet! Blessings abundantly!