What Does it Mean to Love the World?

1 John 2:15-17 ESV

“Do not love the world or 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 desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

To love means to prefer. So to love the world is to prefer, to desire, to choose, to embrace, to select, to favor and/or to like better the world. And the world is usually symbolic of what is opposed to God, of what is of the flesh, of what has no eternal value, but of what is passing away and is temporary. And the world’s desires are not for God but for pleasing the flesh, and for feeding the pride of humans, and for the lusts of the eyes.

But we are not to prefer and embrace and desire the world and the things in the world. Instead, we are to be preferring what God prefers and choosing and embracing his choices (his will for our lives), and obeying them in his power, wisdom, and strength. And we are to be preferring what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, godly, morally pure, upright, honest, faithful, submissive to God, obedient to his commands, and repentant.

But many professing Christians today have this backwards. Since many of them are being taught that God does everything for them and that they do nothing, they are not being taught to love God and his righteousness and holiness. They are not being strongly encouraged to walk in holiness and godliness and in moral purity. And they are not being taught to repent of their sins and to walk in obedience to and to submit to Christ as Lord.

Now, this is no excuse, though, for God put within every one of us the knowledge of him and who he is, from his created works. So if we deny him and we choose to go our own way, instead, and to not submit to him, and to not obey him, and to not surrender to his will for our lives, we are without excuse. And the wrath of God will be poured out on us, even if we profess faith in Jesus Christ, for lip service is not enough to please God (Rom 1).

And much of what is being called “church” today is what is pushing this agenda of preferring the world to God. For, they are embracing the notion that in order to grow their “churches” that they have to do worldly things to attract the world to their gatherings. But they aren’t supposed to attract the world to their gatherings for then they cease to be the church, the body of God, with Christ as her only head, but now she is a worldly mixture.

And so they convince their congregants to make compromises with the world and to immerse themselves in their culture in order to win the approval of the world. And they change evangelism into not sharing the gospel verbally but to “being the gospel,” but not really, for it just means being “good deed doers” and being nice to their neighbors and hanging out with them and doing the kinds of things that the worldly do so they don’t think we’re weird.

So, instead of “the church” living to please the Lord, they are existing to please humans so that humans will want to come to their gatherings and so they can grow (in numbers) their churches, i.e. their man-made businesses called “church.” Thus, instead of loving God, which means to obey him, they are loving the world and they are embracing the desires of the flesh over living holy lives pleasing to God, and in order to not offend the world.

But this really isn’t just about pleasing the world, but it is about pleasing one’s own fleshly appetite. It is self-centered, with a “what’s in it for me” attitude, with no fear of the Lord, and no commitment to holy living. And it is about denying the Lordship of Christ, and going one’s own selfish way, continuing to live in deliberate and habitual sin, but while professing faith in Jesus Christ and claiming heaven as one’s own eternal destiny, which is a false hope.

1 John 3:1-3 ESV

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

We are not children of God on a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior of our lives. For we read all throughout the New Testament that we must repent of our sins (die daily with Christ to sin) and be obeying our Lord, as a matter of practice (lifestyle) or we don’t know God, we are not in relationship with Jesus Christ, and we don’t have eternal life with God when we die or when Jesus returns for his bride.

In 1 John 1 we read that if we claim to have fellowship with God but we walk (in conduct, in practice) in darkness (sin, wickedness) that we are liars who do not practice the truth. In 1 John 2 we read that whoever says he knows God but does not keep (obey) his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. And then we read in 1 John 3 that whoever practices (in conduct) righteousness (from God) is righteous, but whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, and whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, for if we abide in Christ, we do not make sin our practice.

The children of God, thus, are those who are walking in righteousness, in the Spirit, and who are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and who are walking in obedience to their Lord. We are those who are being led by the Holy Spirit, meaning that not only is the Spirit leading us in the way we should go but that we are following his lead, and we are doing what our Lord commands, and we are living our lives to please our Lord.

But none of this is generated in our own flesh. This is not talking about self-righteousness or our own fleshly good works. For our faith and our salvation are gifted to us by God, but to receive that gift of salvation is to apply it to our lives. And we are saved from our slavery (addiction) to sin so that we can now walk in obedience to our Lord in the power of God’s Spirit. So, this is about living out the salvation Jesus provided in his power and strength.

Now, if we are truly children of God, and so we are forsaking our lives of sin and we are walking in righteousness and holiness, and we are walking in obedience to our Lord and to his commands, then the world should not recognize us as its own. They shouldn’t embrace us. They should see that we are not like them, that we don’t talk like them, and that we don’t do all the same things they do or listen to all the same stuff they listen to.

So, from what I have heard about the halftime show of the Superbowl yesterday, and from other years, as well, these shows should not be something the godly should take pleasure in or should engage themselves in, but many do. For these shows are not only of the flesh, and of the lusts of the flesh, but they are of the devil, for they give glory to the devil and not to God. For, they are filled with vulgarities and sexual immorality and impurities of all sorts. Genuine Christians should have no part in this.

For, those who are truly God’s children, and whose hope is truly in the Lord, should be those who are purifying themselves as God is pure, but not in the flesh in some kind of ritualistic and outward show of false righteousness, but of the Spirit of God, empowered by God, and led by God’s Spirit to what is holy and righteous. For God’s grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]

Listen to Our Hearts

Songwriters: Geoff Moore / Steven Chapman

How do you explain, how do you describe
A love that goes from east to west
And runs as deep as it is wide?
You know all our hopes,
Lord, you know all our fears.
And words cannot express the love we feel,
But we long for You to hear.

So listen to our hearts.
Hear our spirit sing
A song of praise that flows
From those you have redeemed.
We will use the words we know
To tell you what an awesome God You are.
But words are not enough
To tell you of our love,
So listen to our hearts.

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