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"Do Not Love the World"
1 John 2:12-17
Wednesday AM Bible Study
September 28, 2005
The command of this section of 1 John is that we not love the world. At
first, this seems like a contradiction of John 3:16; where we're told that
God so loved the world that He gave His Son. But it's important to rightly
understand what John here means by "world".
There are four ways that John speaks of "world" in this letter:
1. As a reference to the place of material things we need for life (3:17).
2. As the sphere of human activity - both for the godly and the ungodly
(4:1-4, 9, 17).
3. As humanity in general (2:2; 4:14).
4. As a system of beliefs and values that are hostile to God (3:1, 13;
4:5) - the driving force of which is the devil (5:19; see also John 16:11;
Rev. 12:9); and the power over which is found only through Christ (5:4-5).
The "world" that John speaks of not loving is the world in that fourth
sense. And to "love" it would mean to seek happiness from it, or to conform
to its values and priorities, and to give ourselves over to serving its
ends. Jesus prayed for us that we would be in the world but not of it (John
17:14-16). John's words echo Jesus' prayer.
I. THE RECIPIENTS OF THIS COMMAND (vv. 12-14).
A. Three categories of people in different stages of spiritual maturity are
1. Children (two words being used: teknion (v. 12), which means children
born into the family; and paidion (v. 14), which means babies or infants).
This speaks of those who know only the basics - that their sins are forgiven.
They are still tender and need care.
2. Young men (neaniskoi) which means "a youth in the prime of life". This
speaks of those who are established in the fundamentals of the faith, and
are well-rooted in Scripture. They are strong, and are biblically
conformed; and they have gained victory over the devil.
3. Fathers (patăr) which speaks of those mature either in age or in
spiritual development. They are seasoned saints who have a settled and
abidingly experiential knowledge of Him who is from the beginning.
B. John mentions these because it doesn't matter where we are in
spiritual maturity; we all need this warning not to love the world (Rom.
II. THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE COMMAND (vv. 15-17).
A. The influences of the world operate on three fronts: the lust of the
flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. These three
are characterized by the world's favorite slogans: "If it feels good, do
it"; "Whoever dies with the most toys wins"; and "I did it my way".
1. Eve experienced these three temptations in the Garden (Gen. 3:1-6).
2. Jesus also experienced them, but was victorious (Matthew 4:1-11).
B. Happiness cannot be found in the things of the world, because:
1. A love for these things displaces a love for God (v. 15; see also Matt.
6:24; James 4:1-5).
2. These things do not come from the Father but from a sinister source (v.
16; see also James 1:17; John 10:10; Psalm 1:1-3).
3. This world and its things is passing away (v. 17; see also 1 Cor. 7:31;
Matthew 16:24-27; Mark 10: 29-30).