“Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything that belongs to the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle — is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.” –John 2:15-17 (NIV)
Is God telling us not to love anything except Jesus and Himself? What about loving our family or our neighbor? Can we love our children? Is the love of country forbidden? Can you love your job? Are not all these things part of the world?
If we read 1 John 2:15 by itself without the intended context, then yes, we must not love anything but God. Therefore it is incumbent upon us to examine this passage in light of its full context and with other passages.
God’s word many times tells us, “love your neighbor as yourself and others will know you are believers by your love for one another.” The Word also tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church.
These few teachings enable us evaluate I John 2:15 with other scripture to help determine exactly what the command, do not love the world, means. We see that God commands us to love our neighbor, one another, our spouses and our children. Yet these people are, something, in the world.
Some may think there’s a contradiction, but by evaluating all of them we see that there is an exception to the rule. The next question is why? For that we’ll examine some of Jesus’ teaching.
Jesus said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” __Matt. 10:37
In the passage we learn that loving family and other people more than we love Jesus makes us unworthy of Him. So, we are to love other people, especially family, but we re never love them more Jesus. Therefore our love for God and Jesus must be first and foremost. This may seem harsh and unreasonable, but as you live it you’ll soon understand why?
The final filter is the proceeding text of 1 John 2:15, “For everything that belongs to the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle — is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.”
The Word breaks down ‘everything and anything in the world’ into three catagories. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
The lust of the flesh is an intense longing and desire for all that which is against God and our divine purpose. It’s rather obvious that this human trait cannot coexist with God. Therefore it has to be abstained.
The lust of the eyes. Again lust is an intense longing and desire. So the human eye has an ungodly aspect in which it looks at and longs for what it sees and does not have. Certainly this too is something to be abstained.
Finally the pride of life. This has to do with accomplishments, possessions and way of life. We, mankind, think we’re something something else. Aren’t we great? We’re awesome. Nothing is greater than us in the whole world. This pride comes from neglecting to honor God for His role in creating us. We didn’t just happen to evolve from some primordial ooze. We didn’t create ourselves. We are God’s greatest acheivement. Therefore taking credit for ourselves and everything about us is a huge form of idolatry. We’re elevating ourselves to be superior to God.
To sum up: If we love anything in the world more than we love God we have created an idol. We love and worship that idol when we should be loving and worshiping God instead. Our worst idol is ourself. We idolize men and women who have become wealthy celebrities due to good looks, talent, and or athleticism. This is the pride of life. It is as though we’ve done this great feat on our own. Yet those three character traits are gifts from God. We are born the way we are born. We have no input at all. We shower those we idolize with money. Then there are those who may not excel in one of those three areas, but they’re extremely blessed in in business matters. We idolize those people too. Take Warren Buffet for instance. He’s certainly a very wealthy man who built his on empire of riches. However, he’s also been quoted as saying that if he were born in an earlier era he wouldn’t have amounted to much of anything because he doesn’t have the special abilities needed for those past eras. He didn’t glorify God, but it is God who determined his time and place.Acts 17:26 So we take pride in our wealthy fellow countrymen.
In conclusion this command may seem harsh, difficult and unpleasant, but God created us and when we obey God’s Word our lives will be filled with an unbound joy that can be found nowhere else because we created to obey God. This is the exact opposite of what the world provides. Therefore, our love for God and Jesus Christ must trump any love that we have for anything else in the world and certain things as described above must not be loved at all.
God bless and know that God loves you and wants the best for you!