1 John 2:15-17.
1 John 2:15 says, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." What does that mean? It is important to ask the question "what does this type of love refer to?" because of the consequences stated in the verse. If the love of the father is not in anyone who loves the world we had better determine what it is that John means by love and the world. We know that John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." So we can't possibly broadly declare that nothing in the world is to be loved by followers of God in Christ. God loves the world, enough to sacrifice his son on behalf of those in the world, so we know John is not telling us to cease loving the people in the world. God wants us to have compassion for lost people and love them in that way, even sacrificially.
We know as well that God entrusted mankind with the care and stewardship of the physical planet we live on. He created this earth and pronounced it good. When he completed his creation, he pronounced it very good. So john cannot mean that we are to cease caring for the earth. He wants us to be good stewards of the earth and take care of it well. God wants us to enjoy the things he has created. So we ask the question again, "What does John mean by 'loving the world'?"
I believe we find the answer in Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds." God does not want us to conform to the system or patterns of the world. He does not want us to be more in love with the earth than his kingdom. He does not want us to be more concerned with accumulating wealth and position and power than worshiping him.
This is the theme of the following verse 1 John 2:16 "For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world." This is what we are to cease loving. The kind of love talked about in this verse is a kind of setting one's mind to love someone or something. It is a matter of will and can be a beautiful thing. This agape love is the way in which God loves us. It is sacrificial, and requires a determination to act on that love.
The patterns described in verse 16 are patterns of destruction. The lust of the flesh is what the King James version calls "the cravings of the sinful man." Setting your mind to follow after the lusts of the flesh--gluttony, sexual lust and the like, leads to being consumed by those lusts. These things come from the worldly patterns, God would never introduce us to destructive behavior and desires.
The pattern of this world cries out for us to envy and covet the things others have and tells us that we must have those things as well. We must have a new car, or a new house, or the best clothes, or must meet some standard of outward beauty in order to be whole. This is what Jesus talks about in Mark 4:19 in the Parable of the Sower—the young plants were choked by cares of this world, "but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful."
These are the patterns we are to avoid being shaped into. Everywhere we look people are chasing physical pleasure, or running from physical pain. People spend their whole lives accumulating wealth so that others will envy them and so that they can have all that anyone else has. The world system tells us to chase power and position, but God calls us to lay those things aside so that we can follow him.
Romans 8:5-7 says "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God."
Remember we talked about sin being death and destruction. When we chase after sinful desires, we invite destruction into our lives, and God is adamantly against us destroying our lives! This death and destruction did not come from him, and it is opposite of what he wants for each of our lives.
1 John 2:17 says "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." This is backed up by Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth. 1 Corinthians 15:50 "I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable."
We know that if we confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, we will have eternal life. God’s kingdom is forever, unlike the earth, which we are seeing more and more is finite. We are using up resources, we are finding out that regardless of what we do, there will be an end to the time that this planet can support life, and long before that time comes, our bodies will cease to support life.
We will all physically die, and as the saying goes, “He who dies with the most toys is still dead.” You can’t take what you own with you to the grave. Well, you can, but grave robbers will just dig it up again. It won’t pass with you from this life into eternity. We will come to a place in our lives where we won’t be able to enjoy the physical pleasures of life and won’t avoid its pain. We will find out before we die that no matter how much we have, someone else will have more—and they are just as miserable. All of it will fade.
Everything connected with this life on earth will pass away, but we have hope of eternity if we follow God. Jesus said you are my friends if you do what I command. If we follow God’s will we are showing ourselves to be his friends. We show our love for him. Why love the things of this world? They are not permanent. Why not love what lasts?
God is good—100% light. He never fails, and his kingdom is without end. Nothing on earth can compare. What would your life look like if you laid aside your love for worldly things and instead chose to love God with all that you are? I believe we would find that Romans 8:6 is true “the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Stop loving the world that is fading before your eyes, and start loving what lasts.