As Christians, we are to love the created order as well as other human beings, but we are not to love the world system that sets itself in opposition to God.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
In many places, the New Testament regards the life of a Christian as a life lived in tension. On the one hand, all true believers have had their lives renewed by the Holy Spirit. This is made clear in a variety of ways by different authors. Yesterday, we saw how John speaks of this reality by reminding us that all Christians know God, have had their sins forgiven, and have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:12–14).
Though this new life gives us the ability to resist sin, the tension of the Christian life resides in the fact that the presence of sin has not yet been eliminated completely. We have the ability to resist temptation, but at the same time we will not do so perfectly. God has granted us a role to play in our perseverance and so we need to be warned against falling into sin.
Today’s passage speaks to this need for warning. Having given assurance to his audience, John warns his readers not to take their salvation for granted by loving the world. For if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us (v. 15).
It is important to note that when John speaks of the world here he is not referring to nature or to human beings. Rather, he is speaking of the world system that sets itself up in opposition to the things of God. John Calvin aptly notes that the “world” in today’s passage should be understood as “everything connected with the present life, apart from the kingdom of God and the hope of eternal life.”
As Christians we are to love the created order and other human beings, but we are not to love the world system that sets itself up in opposition to God. We do not withdraw ourselves from society, but we must not love those things the evil world system loves. These things include desires of the eyes and the flesh and taking pride in possessions (v. 16). We are to care for other human beings who are in bondage to lust, materialism, personal power, and the host of other things that oppose the will of God. However, we are to make sure our hearts are never set on what is loved by the world, lest we become opposed to God ourselves.
Evangelical Christians are often quick to protest rampant immorality, and rightly so. However, sometimes it is easy for us to become overly eager to possess certain things and make wealth an idol. While we must not consider buying and selling evil, we must be ever aware of the dangers of materialism. Ask the Lord to guard you against materialism and seek friends to help you be accountable for how you use your resources.
Passages for Further Study
- Judg. 2:11–23
- 2 Kings 17:6–23
- John 17:14–16
- James 4:4