Thursday, January 29, 2015

Loving the world - 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. 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. 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)
There are several words in the Greek language that are translated into English as "Love." Chief among them is the word agape and its verb form agapao. This word is used almost exclusively in the New Testament writings of God's love for us and our love for one another. So it is interesting that John would use the same word here when he speaks of those who agapao the world. While in the scriptures, this word is used for divine love, in other ancient Greek texts this word also speaks of devoted love between a husband and a wife, for general affection, and for a disposition of good will towards some by way of preference.

John is warning us against an unnatural attachment to the world. These qualities of agape (devotion, affection, and preference) belong solely to God. We are to "love [agapao] the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all thy mind." (Matthew 22:37) rather than the world. When we agapao the world rather than God, we steal the affections due to Him and give them to another who is unworthy of them and unable to reward them with eternal felicity and life. Our devotion, affections, and preference belong first to God, not to the world.

John speaks of three ways temptation enters our soul: the lust of the flesh, the list of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. It is interesting to note that all three of these were present in the garden when Adam and Eve sinned. "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." (Genesis 3:6) She saw that it was good for food (the lust of the flesh), it was appealing to the behold (the lust of the eye), and it could make here wise (the pride of life). These three things combined to produce agape in her heart for the fruit and she reached out and took it to her shame and condemnation. As believers we must discipline our flesh, attractions, and pride so that we might withstand the allurements of this world and that our agape may remain intact and secure in God.

This world is not eternal. It is growing old and passing away. Each day the world, and its present system, decays a bit more. The work of sin is in full force in this life, working its death and destruction, not only in the lives of people, but in the very creation around us. Speaking of this creation, Paul writes, "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now." (Romans 8:20-22

One day, all we see will be done away with; the end will come to all. This world and all that we lust for in it will one day be destroyed and replaced with a new heaven and a new earth. Why should we give our agape to that which is already passing away? Why should we give our love to that which is temporary? Why should we pursue what we cannot posses for eternity? Why live life for that which, in the end, does not really matter? It's time to turn our devotion and affections elsewhere. It's time to "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:2) It's time to love that which is truly worthy of being loved.

David Robison

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