Love People Not the World
The apostle John had an amazing conception about the world and why we should not love it. He wrote in I John 2:15-16 and told us how he saw the world. First, we should understand that when John speaks of the world, he uses the Greek word kosmon. This has nothing to do with the people on the earth or the earth itself. The Greek word means the world’s system, its values, beliefs, and morals. John tells us to not love this system and all it stands for. The word love is the Greek word agape. We are familiar with that word. It means an unconditional love, a self-sacrificing love.
Then John adds to these words, “nor the things of the world.” What are the things that John is writing about? He lists them in the next verse. This is what verse 16 says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” Let’s take a short look at these three things. They were the same types of things that Jesus was tempted with after His baptism and before His ministry could start. The first is the lust of the flesh. What is lust? It is an out of control desire. The lust of the flesh is an out of control desire for things that the body desires. Our bodies desire many things. These desires are not bad. When these desires become out of control, they become sin and sin is deadly. Jesus was tempted to eat when the Holy Spirit had led Him to fast.
The second thing that is in the world is not always so obvious. It is the lust of the eyes. What does that mean? The lust of the eyes is for things that are not fleshly but things you can see. Hopefully, I have not confused you. What are things we see that are not flesh? These are things such as power, authority, recognition, and honor. When we see a police officer on the road, we give heed to his direction. Why do we do that? Because we see his authority. We do not feel his physical strength. Then, the lust of the eyes is an out of control desire for things like authority. There are people who are tempted with these lusts. Jesus was when the devil took Him to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem. If Jesus had succumbed to the temptation, it would have been the greatest public relation stunt of all times. I believe that in Jesus’ eye He saw thousands of people that would have seen Him fall and just before He hit the ground an angel come and sweep Him up. He would have been become the most popular person in all of Jerusalem. He did not let that desire to become out of control and three years later was despised by these people.
The third thing that John tells us is the boastful pride of life. Of the three, I believe this is the deadliest. What is the boastful pride of life? It is described as a false pride which is self-exalting, or self-conceited. This is a type of pride that caused Satan to fall. It basically says, “I am god; I am superior to anyone else.” We see so much of this in the society we live in. People who mock God are saying they are superior. Those who refuse His lordship over their lives are operating in the boastful pride of life. Jesus was tempted by the devil when He was taken to a high mountain and saw the kingdoms of the world and the devil said to him that he could have them all if He would bow to him. Jesus was tempted with being superior to all except the devil. Is that the same lie that so many believe and stay in bondage? They think they are superior but, they are slaves to the devil. There are three Greek words that are translated into English as life. They are bois, zoe and psuche. The Greek word for life that is used in I John 2:16 is bios. It is far different from the Greek word zoe. Bois refers to the life of the physical body and is where we get the word biology. The Greek word zoe refers to the uncreated, eternal life of God, the divine life uniquely possessed by God. John is talking about a person who is arrogant in his natural life. This arrogance or pride has taken control and all he is concerned with is his natural body. What Jesus saw happened supernaturally, but he saw the physical kingdoms or countries of the world.
What did John say about the results of those who have these three things in their lives? John writes at the end of verse 15, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” I have heard preachers say God does not love these people. That is simply not true. God always loves everyone. What John is saying is that the love of our Father is not inside these people. What that means is they cannot love with the love of God. In other words, you cannot love the world and love people at the same time. When a person loves the world and things in the world, they cannot love people with the love of God. The world holds so many people in bondage. They cannot love like they want. They cannot love like they should. They cannot love the world unconditionally and love people unconditionally. It is like mixing oil and water. It is impossible. In our years of doing youth ministry, we have been asked many times, why can’t I marry an unbeliever? This is the answer we gave them; they do not have the ability to love you unconditionally.
In verse 17, John tells us, “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” The world as we know it is passing away. It will not last forever. But when we do God’s will, which comes from an unconditional love, it abides forever. The NASB does not translated the word lives right. It is the Greek word meno which means to abide. When we love people, that love goes on and on. It never comes to an end.