In youth group, we’ve recently started teaching through the Epistles of John. I know we’re teaching the kids, but sometimes I could swear that God put this study on Josiah’s heart so that God could teach me in the process. Recently we covered chapter 2, verses 15-29, and here’s what God gave me…
In these verses, specifically considering the verses they follow, John shows us – in a black and white fashion – the contrast between the lies of the world and the love of the Lord. And even beyond that, why the love of the Lord is so much better.
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. – 1 John 2:15
When John writes, “Do not love the world or the things of the world…” he’s saying don’t choose the world over what God gives. Don’t give yourself to it; don’t sacrifice yourself on the altar of what the world has to offer. If you do, it can only be because you’ve made it a habit to walk outside of God’s love.
And then verse 16 starts telling us why…
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.
Literally, ALL that the world has to offer us is listed in that verse – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. That’s it. It offers us the momentary fulfillment of physical desires, gratification and ego-boosters. And this is nothing new; it’s been this way since the very moment sin entered the world in Genesis 3. Look:
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], and that it was a delight to the eyes [lust of the eyes], and that the tree was desirable to make one wise [boastful pride of life], she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”
Why would the enemy try new tactics if these three things have worked since the beginning of time? It’s no different today. We struggle against these same things, and often fall. But John takes this point even further as he begins to show the hope of Christ again…
The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. – 1 John 2:17
It’s fading. Coming closer and closer to its end. It’s temporary. It’s not eternal. So of course it can’t offer us anything eternal. Of course everything that the world has to offer is temporary to its core. How could something that is not eternal offer us something that is? Better question… why do we get caught up expecting it to?
What happens when we get caught up loving the things of the world is we get stuck chasing endless momentary fulfillments until we meet the grave. Lies got us into this mess in Genesis, and we end up believing that those lies will somehow piece the broken parts of us back together.
The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life. There is nothing eternal about the way they fulfill us. We end up on an endless chase after things…
Things that God already is, eternally, for us.
“…but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
The perfect will of God is that we would all come into relationship with Jesus Christ. When we do that, when we give our lives to Christ, we experience something eternal. We begin to know the only One who is eternal. We are loved by the source of our eternal validation.
It’s interesting, really, that the last six messages taught in youth group seem to come down to this bottom line:
We don’t have to live like this when Jesus offers us a better way to live.
As John puts it, we don’t have to spend our days chasing momentary things when we have a loving Father who offers us something eternal; something simply so much better.
So let’s choose better.