Sunday Devotional: 1 John 2:15-17
15 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 everything that [is] in the world, the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance of life, is not from the Father but it is from the world; 17 and the world is passing away and its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains for ever.
This passage from John’s first letter is, I hope a good reminder to us all of how we should relate to the “world”–that is, the non-Christian environment in which we live. While we live and breathe, we have no choice but to live in the world. In a broad sense, the world, that is the created order, is good–or at least that’s how God designed it. However, sin has marred this world. While there is still beauty in the world, and there is much that is good, by the grace of God, we need to remember that the goals of the world, and the values of the world are not those of Christ, and should not be those of his followers.
Verse 15 is a stark statement: don’t love the world or anything in it, or you don’t have the love of the Father. In other words, as Jesus said, you can’t serve two masters. You cannot give your affections to God, and also give your affections to the world. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the good things of the world. But God should always be our first love. All other loves should pale. And only those things that please God should have any place in our affections.
I think verse 16 helps us understand what John has in mind when he speaks of “the things of the world”: the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the arrogance of life (or “boasting of possessions”–the Greek is hê alazoneia tou biou). It sounds to me as if John is encapsulating here the things that the world places importance on: carnal satisfaction, sensory stimulation, and material comfort. By “carnal” I mean to encompass all kinds of bodily cravings that sin would have us indulge to excess (sex, food, drink, etc.). I don’t think I need to convince anyone of how important these things are to “the world.” We see evidence of it everyday on television, in movies, on the internet. The Christian’s desire should be for God, and pleasing Him. So the Christian should never be consumed with such things.
As John reminds us in verse 17, these desires are fleeting. But our souls are eternal. We should be focusing our lives on things that matter, things that will last, and not things that are not only sinful, but only for the moment. All those desires may give us temporary gratification, but they don’t last. Only in Christ can we find eternal satisfaction for our souls.
May we all be encouraged this week to put worldly pleasures firmly in their place! Have a great week!