The Power of Love
1 John 2:15-18
June 4, 2017
All right. This is written by none other than the great Apostle, John who was perhaps the closest disciple to Jesus. At this point, he's an elderly man. He has been exiled to the island the Patmos and he is really the only living apostle still yet alive and so he carries a tremendous amount of authority. You can just imagine, he was there when Jesus healed the blind. He was there when the lame walked and the demons were cast out. He was there when Jesus spoke to the winds and the waves and they obeyed his voice. He was there when Jesus was raised from the dead. He carries a lot of weight and authority and they should in our lives do.
He's writing here because the church is being disturbed, bothered by these false teachers that are coming in with these heresies and these heresies are very devastating to those who follow after them. John isn't there as he'd deal with it himself but he's writing these letters to really strengthen them in their faith because he knows they're strengthening their faith and establishing them solidly on the rock of Christ is the best answer to answer false teaching and that which is deceived.
He knows that the answer is to give them that solid foundation of the truth. Frankly, John minces no words in it when he does it. I mean the Son of Thunder is what his nickname is, you can see it here. He just lays it right out. He's not afraid to mince words or say it straight up.
There are several themes that he develops in the letter. One theme that comes to us over and over is, the importance of what you love. Love is a transforming power, and it is prophetic of your future and these false teachers that come in and they found a way to wrap religion around worldliness and, John is not impressed.
He knows that truth is not to be trifled with. Truth is not to be manipulate, truth is to be followed because it is that which transforms your life. See these false teachers then love the world more than they love God, and that was the problem because love is prophetic of your future.
Let's read it, 1st John Chapter 2 verse 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. For all that's in the world that is to say the loss of the flesh the loss of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. This is not from the father. This is from the world. The world is passing away and also his lusts. But, the one who does the will of God abides forever."
Children, it is the last hour, and just as you've heard that the anti-Christ is coming even now many anti-Christs those who say those who come in the spirit of anti-Christ which is that which is of deception. These have arisen and from this, we know that it is the last hour. These are the verses I want us to look at but particularly in verse 15 where he's telling us here love not the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Now, this is John. He's just straight out saying it boldly Son of Thunder is speaking right to us and we need to hear it, because we need to be stirred up because this is really relevant to our lives today.
I. Love Not the World
When he says do not love the world what does he mean by the word world. In the Greek, it's a common word we know it. It's the word cosmos and it can be used in many ways. Its foundational meaning is the order of or to put something in order. For example, you might find it interesting. Our modern word cosmetics actually comes from the same word cosmos and it means to put one's appearance in order which can be a good thing, right? I'm not saying that.
The word cosmos can mean the world, the physical world, the globe. It can mean the people, the world of people and that can also have a very negative connotation. In other words, he's using it here to mean the world's system by which Satan is the prince and the power of the heir or the God of this age and that's how he's referring it here. He's saying, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world," because this is the point that we really need to grasp. "We are becoming what we love. Love is a transforming power."
A. We are Becoming What We Love
Love is prophetic of your future. I'm quoting here from A.W. Tozer very famous writer if you ever get a chance to get any of his writings his books, do it. He is a well-respected author and I want to just give you the full quote. It goes this way, "We are all in the process of becoming. We've already moved from what we were to what we are and we are now moving toward what we will be. Not only are we in the process of becoming, but we are becoming what we love, we are to a large degree the sum of our lives. We will a moral necessity grow into the image of what we love most for love is among other things a creative affinity. It changes, it molds, it shapes, it transforms. What we love is, therefore, no small matter. It is of critical and everlasting importance. It is prophetic of our future. It tells us what we will be and thus predicts our eternal destiny. Loving wrong things is fatal to spiritual growth. It twists and deforms the life and makes impossible the appearing of Christ in the soul. Love is within our power of choosing therefore true spiritual love begins in the will. We should set our hearts to love God supremely and joy will surely follow."
Now, that is a powerful quote and it really calls us to decide where we are going to set our affections because we are people. The human condition is that we have the capacity to love. It is one of the essential tremendous aspects and elements of who we are. What do you love? See, you cannot love the world and God at the same time they,re mutually exclusive. He's calling us you choose to make a choice.
That reminds me of the Joshua when in Joshua 24 verse 15 he called the people of Israel together and he called them the Jews and this is famous. "Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the river or the gods of the people in his land you're not living." I love this last part of the challenge, "But, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
B. Love not the things in the world
There comes a time of choosing to come to a place when we have to decide. That's really what he's calling us to here. Calling us to understand that we are a people who love and therefore we must decide very carefully where we set our affections. There, he tells us love not the world. He says, "Love not the things in the world or the love of the Father is not in him." They're opposites, they're mutually exclusive. You can't love both. They exclude one from the other.
Jesus made a very similar statement. This is Luke 16 verses 13 and 15. He said, "No servant can serve two masters. Either you hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other."
You cannot serve God and Mammon. Then he said to the Pharisees who were there listening to this, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men but God knows your hearts" Listen to this, "For that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God" That last sentence right there is powerful.
What is he saying? He's saying the things that men think very highly of and desire greatly and highly esteemed are actually quite detestable in the sight of God. Decide where are you going to set your affections, because we are a people of love. Therefore, we must understand that where we set our affections is prophetic of our future. Jesus uses the idea of Mammon. You cannot serve God and Mammon.
Then in another place, He calls it unrighteous Mammon. Have you ever noticed though that unrighteous Mammon is how the world evaluates. It's how the world judges, it's how the world status is established. See, it's like how far have you climbed the ladder of success? How much of the world's stuff have you obtained? That comparison is of course how you have status in the eyes of the world. To state it differently, have you ever been to a high school reunion? Because that's really what that is about, isn't it? It's the comparing of the status of the worldly nature of things.
The problem with loving the world and the things in the world is that you can't love the world and love God your Father at the same time. They're mutually exclusive. If you love the world and the things of the world then the love of God in your heart is diminished. Alternatively, if you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, the things of the earth grow strangely dim to quote the famous hymn.
II. Choose the Soul Over the Flesh
If therefore we gain a tremendous insight, your one perspective. It was spiritual victory that comes from a right perspective. He's is telling us this, "Choose the soul over the flesh. Choose the soul over the flesh."
Now, we all have both. We all have the flesh and it's fleshly desires. All of us do, right? We are born with this. We all have flesh with its fleshly desires and we also have a soul. If you have Christ in your heart, if you have the spirit within you, then you have spiritual desires also, and we have both. In truth, they are in conflict with one another.
Anyone who is self aware at all in their spirit understands there is a conflict within. Paul just says it boldly and right straight out in Galatians Chapter 5 Verse 17, "The flesh sets its desire against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh."
These are in opposition to one another but listen to this phrase, "So that you may not do the things that you please." Now, they cannot both be in control. The flesh very much wants to be in control. It wants to be the boss. It wants to tell you what to do and it wants you to just go along with what it wants. What it wants, it wants and it wants it now. It has no thought about tomorrow. The flesh has not thought about consequences. That's not on its particular agenda. It just wants what it wants and it wants it now, and it wants to be the boss. That's the flesh, we all have it.
We also have then the awareness of the spirit that wants very different things. The spirit within us understands that if you deny worldly things, hey, you're going to reap a spiritual fruit. The spirit within us recognizes that there is a reaping that comes tomorrow. There's something in the heart that recognizes that we can reap if we deny now, if we can look forwardly, man we're going to reap and when we reap, it is going to be joyous. It is going to be wondrous.
The question therefore has to do with everything to do with your deepest desire. What is it you want? What is it you want out of your life? What is it you want to see in your life? Let me give you a great verse, Galatians Chapter 6 Verses 7-9. Memorize this, this is so good. It is the principle of the harvest. This is really, really key to spiritual victory to grasp this principle. Galatians 6, "Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." It says, "For the one who sows through his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption because it is corrupt.
A.What’s in the world is not from God
But, the one who sows through the Spirit will from the spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good for in due time we will reap if we don't grow weary."
What a great principle? This fear within us knows that there is a reaping that comes if we will just understand the sowing that we do today. That's why he's giving us in the next verses he's telling us the why. Why not? Why shouldn't we love the world or the things of the world? He tells us in verse 16 because what's in the world is not from God. The lust that was in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life. This is not from the Father. It's from the world and the world is passing away.
It comes down to this, it really comes down to where do you put your identity? To what do you identify yourself? In other words, are you from the world or are you from the Father? Are you from God The Father? If you're from God the Father, then set that as your priority.
Let me give you an application. This is what you might say how you know, okay? Imagine if you were-- Follow with me in this, imagine if you were that you're doing some sin. Now don't imagine too hard. Imagine you doing some sin and someone comes up to you at that very moment. Someone you trust, someone you love comes up to you at that very moment and challenges you and says, "Friend, this thing that you're doing right now, this thing that you're doing in your heart of hearts and when you boil it all down, when you strip it all away and get down to your heart of hearts, do you really want this?
You know what I think you would say? I think you would say if you were in the spirit at all or if you have any spiritual capacity at all I think what you would say is, "In my heart of hearts, I don't want this. In my heart of hearts I don't want this." Then it's important to recognize then that that which is of the soul is of greater consequence, greater significance.
He describes these things to us and he says, "Love not the world nor the things of the world." He describes them here in verse 16, "For the things that are in the world," and he describes them, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, boastful pride of life.
That pretty much summarizes the whole deal right there. What are these things? Where the lust of the flesh I think we pretty much understand, right? It's the cravings of the fleshly desires. It is those cravings that just want. We can summarize it as me want. Me wants to, me want--- let's be bold, right? Me want woman.
It's the me want. I just want, I just want without consequence, without thought to merit, me want. That's the flesh, that's the flesh, the desire is the lust of the flesh. Then he describes the lust of the eyes. The lust of the eyes is the desire to have those things which are visually appealing so you see and then you want. Seeing something you wanting even though it's not yours. Let me give you some verses that really just set the whole thing in right perspective. Solomon 1 Verse 3. Listen to this one, "I will set no worthless thing before my eyes."
Put that on a plaque and put it right next to your TV because there's a lot of things in this world-- hey, there are a lot of things in this world that will poison the soul and they come for the eyes. Isn't that true? He's giving us a really powerful word here. He's describing the love of the world through the lust of the eyes, very powerful. Here's another one, Job 31 Verse 1, I'll tell you what, this is a really really powerful verse, Job, right? Says, "I have made a covenant with my eyes." Now, that is a great verse just right there. "I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman."
I tell you what, a young man who grasps that is going to gain a great spiritual victory. In the Garden of Eden, Eve, she looked at the forbidden fruit and she saw that it was pleasing to the eye. She saw, she wanted. That's the nature of the human condition. Interestingly, it doesn't seem to be limited to humans. I've seen this in animals. For example, we have two dogs. We have two dogs, they are named Theo and Romeo. Ladies love the name Romeo. Whenever we set Romeo out and he doesn't come right back, we have to call out to him. "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore at thou?"
Anyway, no matter what bone you give Romeo, I don't care if you give Romeo the better bone, I don't care what bone you give him, he wants Theo's. That's just like people. They just want. They just see they want what isn't theirs. When Satan was tempting Jesus at the end of those 40 days of fasting, remember this, Satan showed him it says, "All of the kingdoms of the world and their splendor and offered to give them to Jesus if Jesus will just bow down and worship Him." That's an amazing event and also it helps us to see the state had it offer.
He is the Prince and The Power of the Heir, he is the power over the system of the world and He had the authority to offer it to Jesus, I find it fascinating. Would you also notice in Matthew 4 Verse 10 that Jesus said to him, "Be gone Satan for it is written you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only." What a great answer, by the way I love the fact that every time Jesus had Satan tempting him, He responded with the authority of God's word every time. What a powerful understanding.
I think about this and I think about our dear African friends. Our dear Africa pastors, much of what's tempting to us is truly foreign to their understanding. I've been to Africa many times, I've spoken at conferences. We have 30 churches just in the Congo that were raising up and training up and supporting. I think about these, they have no understanding of the things that tempt us.
Pastor Sepa has electricity maybe two days out of the week. Raphael has a church of 250 and rarely sees an income. George has 43 orphans and prays just for the provision to feed them. Much of what tempts us is completely foreign to their understanding. We live in a culture, we live in a time, in a place where this is very much relevant to us. If you want spiritual life He's giving us a tremendous insight because the world is full of what you can call eye candy, with its false promises of happiness and fulfillment, but none of those things will satisfy the soul.
Let me give you a principle that is so helpful, so insightful, and it has helped me much over the years. The principle is this, is God giving this to you? That's the principle, right there. Is God giving this to you? If God is giving this to you, then it's yours, enjoy it, be blessed. He's giving it to you, enjoy it to the full. If God is not giving it to you, it's not yours. Don't have it. That's a question, right there. Is God giving this to you? If God is giving it to you, hey, enjoy it to the full. If God isn't giving it to you, it's not yours.
Does God give you permission? See, He is our Father. He has authority in our life. He's our captain. He's the commander of our soul, right? He speaks with the word of authority. He is the one who says, "Yes, I give you permission. I give you permission, Josh. You can have that." That's a great test for us. If God isn't giving you permission, if He isn't giving it to you, it's not yours.
Now, the next thing He says is the boastful pride of life. What is that? Boastful pride of life is anything that leads to arrogance or pride of self and boasting. Pride is part of the human problem. Pride has been the problem from the very beginning. Can I just show you an example? This is some way, you can see it in living color. Have you ever noticed that when you tell a story about yourself?
We always tell stories about you were saying this, you were doing that, and this is what happen. Whenever we tell stories, notice how you always build up your part in the story. Ever notice this? It seems like you build up your part of the story so that you're just a little bit smarter, just a little bit braver, a little more heroic than you really are.
B. The world is passing away
We're going to do a show of hands. How many people would admit that you actually do that when you're telling a story? Let me be the first to raise my hand. It's the nature of the human condition because we want people to think more highly of us, we embellish the story, just a little bit. The pride, the boastful pride of life. He puts it all in perspective in Verse 17 where He says, "Listen, but the world is passing away." The world is passing away along with its lust, but the one who does the will of God abides forever.
Our flesh is only temporal. This world is passing away and our flesh is passing away. Passing away is a phrase means death, dying, right? Our flesh, we're not taking it with us to heaven. This is just a temporary tent to dwell in. We're not taking this mess with us. I don't know about you, but I'm encouraged by that. It's temporary.
C.Your soul abides forever
In contrast, the soul is eternal. The soul is eternal therefore of much greater significance.
When you want to talk about the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life-- I used to own this car 1971 AMC Javelin SST.
Now, that is actually not my car there because my car has passed away. I'll tell you what it was. It was a car. It was dark blue with a light blue Starsky and Hutch stripe. Does anybody remember Starsky and Hutch? Yes, you're old.
I know about these things as I read about them in history books. Starsky and Hutch stripe, it had wide tires on the back, air shocks so you can, "Vrr,"and lift up the back, it had 360 cubic engine in it, forebears carburetor glass packed muffler, it was headed for a 17,18-year-old, I'm telling you it was class. Then I crashed it.
I know. I crashed it. This world is passing away. My Javelin passed away. American Motors themselves has passed away.
Here's my point, in that same year, 1971, there was a cover story in Life magazine that talked about hippies coming to faith in Jesus Christ by the thousands. Now, a lot of things from 1971 have passed away. One thing remains, God is still saving souls and God is still changing lives and that will remain forever.
Amen? Martin Luther once wrote this, "I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all. But, the things I have placed in God's hands I still possess." Jim Elliot, famous missionary to the Quechua Indians. Movie made about him, documentaries, books written. His famous quote is probably his most famous quote of all, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose." That's a great quote.
Then he gives us in verse 18 the spiritual priority of the faith. Your soul abides forever. Notice what He says verse 17, "World is passing away and also it's lust. But, the one who does the will of God abides forever." Your soul abides forever, has everlasting consequences and significance.
What is the will of God by the way? The one who does the will of God. What is the will of God? Jesus said the will of God, the highest of all that God has said is to love for the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. This is the will of God.
Then in verse 18, He gives us the sense of urgency about it. By getting your soul right with God about not loving the world nor the things in the world, but loving God your Father as your highest first priority.
Verse 18 says, you heard anti-Christ is coming. Even now many anti-Christs coming in the spirit of deception have arisen. From this we know it is the last hour. You look what's happening in this world right now. You look what's happening in this world, it's changing before our eyes. It's getting more dangerous by the hour. We're seeing the signs of the times that indicate that the end is drawing near.
We need revival like now. There needs to be a sense of urgency. We need to return to our first love. Jesus said this in Revelation Chapter 2 Verse 4-7. He was speaking to the church, but He could well be speaking to us, "I have this against you, that you have left your first love. He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will grant to eat of the Tree of Life which is in the paradise of God."
We need a sense of urgency on us. We need a revival now. We need to go back. We need to be drawn back to our first love, now.