Updated: Oct 10, 2019
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 on heart so that He could teach me in the process. Most recently we covered chapter 2, verses 15-29. And here’s what God gave me…
Just a heads up, the only way to break this all down is to write it more like I taught it than like a blog. Also, this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write in a while (blog to come on why soon) so might be a little longer than usual, but if God speaks to you like He spoke to me… it was worth the time on both ends.
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. Let’s dive in.
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
Let’s unpack a few of those words/phrases…
Love. John doesn’t write about just any love; he writes about real love. Agape love. Unconditional love. Sacrificial love. The kind of love we’re called to both embrace from the Lord and strive to show to others.
The world and the things of the world. As people, this is referring to those who have not accepted Christ, and walk in the ways of the world. Speaking of the ways of the world… “the things of the world” refers to the philosophies, principles, ways of life, even material things.
The Father. God. The Creator. The Father of Christ. The Father of His children.
him. The one who loves the world.
So in 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; momentary gratification and ego-boosters. How could something that is not eternal offer us something that is? Better question… why do we get caught up expecting it to?
See, 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.
If we are the person that requires validation from other people to be “ok,” we will not rest until we have it from someone; probably someone in particular that we admire or respect. But once we have it, we’re enslaved to the lie that we need it. So we do whatever it takes to keep their validation, which sometimes leads us to compromise parts of ourselves, and if we lose it one way or another we then begin chasing that validation from someone else. The cycle continues.
If we are the girl that needs to feel wanted and accepted by a man, we will pursue that. More often than not, the quickest way to feel something close to those things from a guy is to be physical with him. So we are. We believe the lie that that’ll fill us. And we have to keep doing it to keep feeling that way. Then one day things end, and suddenly we have to go quickly chase that from someone else because we’re scared to feel the emptiness - not realizing that living this way was empty all along.
If we are the man that desperately wants to make his dad proud, we will pursue a life that fits the vision we think he has for us. We’ll get the right grades, get the right job, make the right money, marry the night woman, raise our kids the way he raised us. We’ll build a whole life around the desire to hear “I’m proud of you” from one man. We believe the lie that it proves we’re “something.”.And when he finally says it, the moment leaves you so filled. And then the moment ends. Now what? It’s a wonderful thing to know our parents are proud of us. I get that. But what do we do with a lifetime we built - possibly instead of what we felt called to do - to hear a moment’s worth of words?
Lies got us into this mess in Genesis, and we end up believing the lie 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.” 1 John 2:17
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 three messages I taught the youth group seem to have 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. Something that fills us in a way that the valuation of others, the acceptance of your high school boyfriend or hearing your dad say, “I’m proud of you” never could.
And it’s interesting to me for two reasons:
#1 - I believe the Lord is actively pursuing the hearts of the senior high through this study, and the messages of the study in a very specific way.
#2 - I believe the Lord is actively pulling me in closer to Him, and His truth, through the same messages while pulling me away from the lies of the world that so easily creep in.
Ok, so actually three reasons. I didn’t teach off of notes when I taught this, so I had none to refer back to when I wrote this. I say that to say:
#3 - I believe the reason God allowed this to stay so fresh in my mind is because someone else needs to read it.
And if you made it all the way to the end of this post, I’m wondering if maybe it was you ;)