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 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. 1 John 2:15-17
I would think it’s much easier to succumb to the charms of the world in this day and age compared to John’s era. The allurements are myriad and many times over. In those days, opulence at its grandest still equated to what we’d consider at best “third world.” Perhaps one had dozens of slaves to meet every need, but there were no big screen billboards to cause us to swerve to our nearest Mercedes dealership.
Even so, if we take John’s word for it, the world has always held a cajoling seductiveness sufficient to cause a person to be blinded by its charms. Certainly what was in the beginning, a gorgeous woman, shall forever be a potential object of lust! And the wish to have power and influence came falling to earth to await mankind in the form of Lucifer. Knowing all this, John felt compelled by the Spirit to pen these words of warning and instruction.
The world has always been capable of filling the God-shaped void in our hearts. Pursue the world and you aren’t pursuing God. So, we precariously walk a fine line. Which will be the object of our affections?
I’d like some self-help tips, but John pretty much puts the ball in our court; “Do not love the world or the things of the world.” But how? Well, John says young men need to overcome the evil one in 1 John 2:13-14, and with the Word and the Spirit “we shall overcome.” It’s a minute-by-minute choice requiring sufficient power to turn lust on its heels.
We will be constantly beset with the lusts of the flesh ( pleasure ), the lusts of the eyes (possessions) and the boastful pride of life (power). As Jesus in the wilderness, turn the tide with the Word of God and the Spirit’s power. The battle may rage for a lifetime, but it will become easier and easier to gain the upper hand with practice.
While practically we wage war with rote scripture memory and disciplined application, philosophically, with passing years and practice, we truly understand that “the world is passing away, and also its lusts” (v. 17), and that our life does not consist of our possessions (Luke 12:14). What becomes preeminent to a “father” is doing the Father’s will. We must walk before we can run, but the victories come easily and early with simple obedience.
Afterall, our choice is always “either or.” Choose God and overcome!
The world has always held a cajoling seductiveness sufficient to cause a person to be blinded by its charms.