Do Not Love The World - 1 John 2:15-17

The status of believers was on John’s mind as he wrote his first epistle. His little children have been forgiven, they have overcome the evil one, the word of God abides in them, and they know the Father. Their status, however, was not his only concern. John warned believers about something that would obstruct their growth as followers of Jesus and cause them to walk in darkness. John wrote, “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. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts, but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (1 Jn. 2:15-17).

The “world” is a system of beliefs, values, and actions that are hostile to God and stand in opposition to Him. John specifically identified the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life as the beliefs, values, and actions that stand in opposition to God. His instruction concerning these matters is clear—do not love them. One lexicon defines “love” as “to have high esteem for or satisfaction with something” and offers “take pleasure in” as a recommended translation.

John offered three reasons why believers must not “take pleasure in” or “love” the world. First, it is impossible to love the world and have the love of the Father abiding in us. This reminds us of the statement that Jesus made about serving two masters in Matthew 6:24—it is impossible. Colin G. Kruse comments, “What the whole conditional sentence conveys, then, is that if people love the ‘world’, they do not love the Father.” Second, the beliefs, attitudes, and values that John identified do not originate with the Father. They are not from God, therefore, they are not for the children of God. Third, the beliefs, values, and actions of the world are transitory. They are not from the Father (who is eternal), and they have no lasting value. In fact, the focus of “passing away” is on disappearance. The world’s system of beliefs, values, and actions may appear to offer pleasure and a foundation. They are hollow shells that are disappearing.

John’s final point is an implication. He wrote, “...but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (1 Jn. 2:17). The implication is that individuals who love the world are not doing the will of God. They are following their own will, and they have their warning. Those who love the world will become like the world.

John encouraged and instructed believers to choose the path that has lasting value. The world and its lusts will allure us, but that path leads us away from the Father. Let’s love the Father and do His will.