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. 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. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
– 1 John 2:15-17
When the apostle John tells us not to love the world nor the things in the world, he is not, of course, discouraging us from appreciating a sunrise, a waterfall, or the Grand Canyon. Instead, he was warning us about worldly allures – such as fame, riches, power, promiscuity, and so on.
We can think of the world of which John is speaking as modern society, pop culture, public opinion, or any such related term. While such terms might mean something slightly different when compared to each other, all of them point in the direction of something distinct from the creation God has made. They speak to the human forces that run the physical creation but are themselves motivated by spiritual forces – whether for good or for bad.
John makes clear that a love for God is mutually exclusive with a love for this world. Those two loves can’t peacefully co-exist in your heart. One will prevail. For this reason, you will either be a spiritual person or a worldly person. A spiritual person is oriented toward the desires of God; a worldly person is oriented to his own fleshly desires. A spiritual person is living this life in the light of his life to come; a worldly person is living this life to the full. The worldly person may think that there will be an afterlife, but he doesn’t alter his earthly life in any significant way as a result of that thought.
When John says we can either be living for the lusts of this life or for the will of God, he’s reinforcing an exhortation we’ve read from Peter:
…live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
– 1 Peter 4:2
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, help us to see past the temptations of this world – to make our decisions in this life looking forward to the next…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)