1Jn 2:15-17 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love 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 pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
The injunction in this portion of John’s writing is simple; do not love the world or the things in the world (from the Greek word kosmos; “orderly arrangement, that is, decoration; by implication the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally]”). It is interesting to note that the word translated as not when John says “Love not the world…” is said to be of qualified (or limited) negation while the word translated at not when he says “the love of the Father is not in him” denotes an absolute negative. I believe the first not is limited because of the definition of the word “world.”
We are not to love (agapaho; to love (in a social or moral sense) the order of things in the world. We should love God because of the manner in which He has ordered the world. To love the natural order of the world is to love things rather than the Creator of these things. We should not love the decorations of the world. I am not speaking necessarily of the way we dress our homes for the various seasons (although we should not love these things). We should not love anything that detracts from our relationship with God. We should not love a political movement; we should not love a sports team; we should not love the goals that men set to measure success by. We need to set our affection on things above (Col 3:2) and not on the things of this world.
I believe that not loving the world is a qualified negation because we certainly should love the literal inhabitants of the world. However, we should not love that which man deems to be morally correct. What is morally acceptable to man has changed over the years and differs from society to society. A godly conscience is required in order for us to have true moral direction. We should never confuse what is legal with what is moral. It was legal for Saul to give consent to the stoning of Stephen, but I doubt he would have told you it was the moral thing to do once his godly conscience was awakened.
As long as we love (agapaho) the things of the world, we do not love (agape; love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically [plural] a love feast) the Father. According to the language used, this is an absolute: we cannot possibly do both. Please note that John does not say the Father does not have love for us when we love the world; we do not have the love of the Father in us. The reason, again, is simple.
The things that are in the world are the desires of human nature (lust of the flesh), the envy of others (lust of the eyes), and self confidence in our existence (pride of life). These things are not of God; they are all products of our carnal nature. Everything in this world that we set our affections on passes away. There is nothing of this world that is exempt from passing. When considering this statement, it is important to keep in mind that our life is not of this world. The body that we now have will return to the earth because it came from the earth, but our life will go back to God where it came from (Ecc 12:7).
We will all come to the place where everything of this world passes away, including our desire for it. This place can be the grave when we have finished our course on this earth. However, through the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, I believe there may be a more lively meaning to those that are called to walk in God’s kingdom here. I am not about to tell you that I am completely above sin and the allurement of the things of this world. What I will tell you is these things do not hold the attraction for me that they once did.
I am thankful for a roof over my head. I am thankful for a reliable means of transportation. I am thankful for decent clothing and shoes. I am thankful for the food on my table. I am more than thankful for the fact that I have learned to trust God to provide all these things instead of being confident in my own abilities. My life becomes less and less about what I have done or will do and more and more about all that He has, is, and will continue to do. My desire is less for the things of human nature and more that I might know and do the will of God, my Father.
Remember in the outset that we discussed the not in “Love not the world” as being a limited negation. Part of that might have to do with the fact that we will never fully be rid of our Adam nature as long as we live in this world. However, as we come to rely more and more on Him we learn to trust less and less in our desires. The world of human desire passes away as we seek God’s will in our lives. In doing God’s will, we are blessed to realize that the passing of the world is not a frightening thing. Instead, it is a testimony to His faithfulness and love.
May it please our Father to replace the love we have of the world with a true and unabated love for Him where we may abide forever!