“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 forever.” (1 John 2:15-17).
Inspired by God the Holy Spirit the apostle John commands Christians to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” By these words’ believers are taught there is a world to love which is contrary to the Christian life. There are things in the world which will harm the believer’s fellowship with the Lord.
A partial list of those “things” which are in the world may be found in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 4:19-21).
The content of this verse can be restated in this way. “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, 20 idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21, NLT).
A question arises as to what type of professing Christian will learn to love the world and the things that are in the world. Let me state the answer in a negative way.
Those who are innocent of great sin will not love the world. The Bible commands Christians to be like children in regard to certain forms of evil. Speaking to the Church at Corinth Paul writes, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” (1 Cor. 14:20). As parents we spend a lot of time and effort to keep our children from inappropriate conversations, literature, movies, and individuals that are not wholesome.
Why do we do this? Is it not because we want children to remain innocent and ignorant of sin and perversion as much as possible? God the Father wants Christians to be like children in relation to knowledge and experience of evil because He knows the damage sin does to the soul.
Many years ago, a woman told me she was a senior in high school before she knew what a homosexual was. She was uninformed about that form of sexual perversion which is against nature. She was innocent in her understanding. No one is ever made better by knowledge of evil. To think otherwise is to believe a satanic lie first whispered to Eve in the Garden of Eden. “Eve, you can be like God knowing good and evil if you will just eat of the forbidden fruit” (Gen. 3:5). Eve ate and found she did know Good and Evil, but not like God, for God has never been touched by evil in an experiential way. There is a world of difference between knowing about garbage and eating it. There is a great chasm between God’s knowledge of evil and all that have participated in it. The point is established. Those who are innocent of great sin will not love the world or the things that are in the world.
I would also argue that some whose souls have been saturated by sin no longer love the world or the things that are in the world. The soul that is saturated by sin knows the heavy burden that evil brings to the heart. Generally speaking, people come to me for counseling only when their soul is saturated with the results of a life lived contrary to the will of God.
They are sad and miserable.
They are ashamed and afraid.
They are fearful of losing their mind and their soul.
Their hearts are heavy.
They do not know what to do or which way to turn.
They realize too late they have been deceived—just like Eve.
Such is the nature of sin that it always wears a mask at first. It was not long ago that I walked into a store in Natrona Heights. There was gambling paraphernalia right by the entrance. The proprietor stepped forward and immediately asked,
“Would you like to buy a lottery ticket?”
“Why would I want to do that,” I responded.
“It is a terrible waste of money.”
The man became defensive.
“Many older Pennsylvania citizens don’t think so,” he said.
“They benefit by the lottery.”
While I did not want that remark to go unchallenged, I thought to myself,
“It is the nature of greed to cover itself in goodness.”
Evil will always justify itself. But oh how much eternal good could be done in the work of the ministry with the wasted individual dollars freely squandered on lottery tickets?
The wisdom of the world says,
“You may win millions and it will cost you so little.”
The wisdom of God says, “Love not the world nor the things that are in the world for the love of money is the root of all forms of evil ‘which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness’” (1 Tim 6:10-11). While evil comes to the heart cloaked in goodness, sin will eventually saturate the soul and bring it down to damnation. Therefore, Christians must guard their hearts.
Now, what type of professing Christian learns to love the world and the things that are in the world? The answer in part is this: those who accept the philosophy that there is sophistication associated with sin will learn to love the world.The philosophy of the world is articulated in delightful words, but expressed in deviant behavior. Nevertheless, individuals who listen to the voice of the world will be tempted to follow its counsel. The world says,
“Love means never having to say you are sorry.”
“You only go around once in life so get all the gusto you can get.”
“It is my body; I shall do with what I want.”
“You are the master of your soul; you are the captain of your fate.”
“Greed is good.”
“If it feels good, do it.”
“Look out for number one.”
“You deserve it today.”
“You have come a long way babe.”
“What the mind of man can conceive the ability of man can achieve.”
“As long as no one gets hurt, it does not matter what you do.”
“Alternative lifestyles are a matter of choice and no one’s business.”
“It does not matter what you do in private as long as you do your job.”
“You can have it all!”
“Every day and in every way I am getting better and better.”
“I am god!”
“Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may die.”
Is it any wonder that so many young people in American society are rebellious, self-centered, and angry at anyone and everyone who stands in their way before their next immediate thought of self-gratification?
Why should the young people work when so much can just be handed to them?
Why should they wait for marital intimacy when they can have a self-centered, self-gratifying, devil may care, forget the consequences, exciting moment in the middle of the night?
Why should young people be careful who their friends are?
Their friends have parents who let them do what they want.
“Why can’t I have total freedom too?” is the childish cry.
Such are the words and ways of the world. By degrees professing Christians can listen to the voice of the world, and some can grow to love it until their soul is saturated by sin. Then, if God is gracious, they come for counseling—unless their hearts are totally hardened to all reason. Pride has kept many people from seeking pastoral counsel. When that is the case, individuals will go away to their own destruction. They depart with their unconquered lusts.
For those who would like to stop loving the world and the things that are in the world, for those who long for spiritual and psychological freedom, for those who would like to walk with God as Enoch and become the Friend of God like Abraham, move towards spiritual maturity.