by Ray Stedman
It is significant that the first subject John chooses to instruct upon is that which is supreme in Christian experience because it is the fountain from which both truth and love must flow -- fellowship with the Son of God, the shared life. This is also the way to maturity, as we have seen. We learned that we do not achieve maturity by some sudden certain experience. It does not come in one moment of time. We achieve it in fits and starts, as we do physical growth, in varying degrees and through varying experiences. These experiences and moments of growth can be divided, as the apostle divides them, into three general stages of Christian life, marked by these terms, "little children," "young men," and "fathers."
Now, in a final word on the subject of maintaining fellowship, the apostle deals with the supreme peril to fellowship, and, therefore, the greatest peril to Christian maturity. Here is a great enemy of the Christian, the siren voice that seeks to lure us aside, trap us, delude us and ultimately to defeat us, in our Christian experience.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for 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 pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 RSV)
Surely this is a much abused passage. Each of us has heard it used to denounce everything from buttons to beer, from opera to operations, from the waltz to the watusi. Anything that is currently the subject of Christian disfavor has been crammed into this passage, labeled "worldliness," and denounced. I am not interested in adding to that list. I am not interested in denouncing, but understanding. Surely there is something very clearly evident to us as we approach a passage like this and that is that the apostle desires to warn us that the world is dangerous. There is clearly something very dangerous about the world, otherwise he would not speak as strongly and as sharply as this: "Do not love the world or the things that are in the world."
Now what is it that is dangerous about the world? That is what we must discover. The first step in doing so will be to note that the apostle divides this enemy into two major divisions. "Love not the world," he says, "nor the things that are in the world." Now why does he make this distinction, and what difference does it make? Does it need to be said that the world which the apostle is talking about is not the physical world, the world of nature? There is nothing wrong with loving the physical world. God has given us the world of trees and mountains, of skies and seas. We sometimes sing,
This is my Father's world,
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas --
His hand the wonders wrought.
There is nothing wrong with that world. Nor is this dangerous world the world of humanity, of people with their many different practices, customs and interests. We know it is not wrong to love that world because God himself loves it. That most famous of all Scripture texts says so, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life," (John 3:16 KJV). That is the world of humanity, the world of people.
But nevertheless there is a world that we must not love and John evidently expects his readers to know what that world is. It is something he has evidently often talked over with them and described to them, and now he does not need to define it for he knows that they know what he means. This would suggest that the world which John has in view here is clearly defined for us in other parts of Scripture. We shall find it most clearly in John's previous writing, the Gospel of John. In the Upper Room Discourse John records our Lord's words, and he speaks in warning about the world:
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:18 RSV)
Here is a world that hated Jesus Christ. What world is that? Obviously, the representatives of that world were the enemies of Jesus. Who were they? It is most striking to recall that the enemies of Jesus were basically religious men. This world which the Christian is not to love is, therefore basically, primarily a religious world. It is not exclusively so for there was a secular world which hated Jesus as well. The representatives of the secular world hated the Lord Jesus, not with the hate of outright enmity, but, which is worse, with the hate of callous indifference. Our Lord said that the world would hate us because it hated him, and John says this is the world we must not love. We must not love that which hates Christ.
The world hated him because he constantly challenged its basic philosophy. He was in continual protest against that to which the world was irrevocably committed. Our Lord put the whole matter plainly one day when he said, "You are those who seek, not the honor which comes from God, but that which comes from man," John 5:44). There is the philosophy of the world, the world that John says we must not love. It does not look beyond this life, it is concerned only with the honor which comes from men and unconcerned about the honor which comes from God. It is a philosophy which is bounded at one end by a cradle and at the other end by a casket. It is centered only in this life and this world. Jesus challenged that concept wherever he went and whenever he spoke. Because he thrust so decisively against this, he was hated and men banded together to put him to death. It was this philosophy which was ultimately responsible for nailing the Son of God to a bloody cross.
Think about that for a moment -- this philosophy that says the only important thing is this life -- think how widespread that is today. Are we not constantly exposed to this idea? Does it not subtly penetrate everything we touch today? We see it underlying all of life. It makes its appeal in every magazine. It is blazoned on every billboard. It is shouted abroad by radio and television, every time we turn a dial. It can be summed up in this precise way. "There is nothing better, there is nothing higher, there is nothing more precious than what this earth can give you: its money, its pleasures, its fame. You had best eat, drink, and be merry, for there is no nobler life than that."
Now, John says do not love that idea, do not love that philosophy, do not think it important. Be careful that you do not give yourself to that way of thinking. If you do, you will lose out on the fullness of Christian experience. You will be eaten by the devil. You will be trapped, deluded. You will become the victim of the Big Lie, and your very humanity will be wizened and withered by that philosophy.
"Well," you say, "how do you battle this? What can you do about this? If it pervades everything around us, where does the battle begin?" The answer is: with "the things that are in the world." There is where we must fight this battle. It is not enough to say, love not the world. It must be brought down to specifics. It must be reduced to that with which we actually come in contact. So John adds, "the things that are in the world," and he defines these. He gives a list of them and says, "these are not of the Father but are of the world." That is what is wrong. To reject a philosophy we must do so in certain specific actions.
These constitute three things which the apostle now defines, three categories: There is first, he says, the lust of the flesh. And we have already seen many times, in the Scriptures this word, flesh, is usually something other than the body. It is more than that. It is the sinful nature, the sinful tendencies of humanity, the fallen condition of man, which is present in the body. It is in this sense that the apostle uses it here. What is this lust of the flesh? There are certain things which our body desires that are perfectly proper, God-given. God has made us, as men, to have certain urges and hungers, and to satisfy these is not wrong. But the flesh, that sinful propensity within us, that fallen part of our nature, always seeks to add something, to go beyond the satisfying of God-given desires.
For instance, God has so made our bodies that they hunger for food, in order to maintain life. This is as it should be. But the flesh goes beyond and craves special foods, delicacies. It urges to gluttony, more than we need. It demands the best, the softest, the most flavorsome. This is what John is speaking of. God has made us to have need of shelter, as human beings. But the flesh demands that it be luxurious shelter. There is a constant craving after ease and luxury. This is the lust of the flesh. God gives us the wonderful function of sex, which produces the most enjoyable sensation the body can experience. But the flesh wants to indulge this in any direction at any given time. It urges to license. This is the lust of the flesh.
There is a second division John sets before us, the lust of the eyes. What is this? The eye symbolizes that which pleases the mind or inner life. The lust of the eyes, like that of the flesh goes beyond simple needs. Our minds, for instance, were made by God to search and inquire, to take the great facts which revelation or nature set before us and to explore them, analyze them and systematize them. But there are certain limits to these. There are limits within nature, and there are limits within revelation. There are certain areas of knowledge of which God has said, we, as fallen men, are not to enter into because they are dangerous, exceedingly dangerous. But the flesh takes this basic permission of God and pushes it beyond God's will to extremes we are forbidden to follow. We demand to know everything. We will not accept facts unless we can understand everything about them. We seek to probe into the world of the occult, and the world of the future. We even give ourselves to superstition and the dark powers in order to explore these areas. This is the flesh, the lust of the eyes.
God has given us the gift of acquisitiveness, i.e., the desire to own things, to possess things as our own. But the lust of the eyes pushes that into greed that is never satisfied. We want more, more, more! This results in the common phenomenon of "keeping up with the Joneses," the desire to have things we do not need, bought with money we do not have, in order to impress people we do not like! God has given us a love of beauty, but the lust of the eyes perverts this into vulgarisms, the love of the erotic, pornography and idolatry, that covetousness of another's body which the Scripture labels outright idolatry.
There is still a third division which is the pride of life. What is this? Basically, this is the desire to awaken envy or adulation in other people. The first two divisions had to do with satisfying ourselves, not as God intended us to be satisfied, but beyond that. But they were directed toward us, and only incidentally involved others. The pride of life, however, cannot exist except as it relates to others. It seeks to create a sense of envy, rivalry, and burning jealousy in the hearts of others and gives us pleasure in doing this to them. It is the desire to outshine or to out rank someone else.
Perhaps the chief symbol of it today is the automobile, with its shiny exterior, its luxurious cushions, its beautifully designed interior, and its tremendously powerful engine, these instant horses that can be released with a touch of the toe to send us flying down a highway. What a thrill it gives us! You only have to study the habits of a human with an automobile to see how it is far more than simply a means of transportation. It is a symbol, a symbol of pride. Why do we trade our cars in every two years? Well, of course, we have very carefully designed rationalizations that can show, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that it is much cheaper to do it this way. But actually do we not do it because we want to be admired? We do not want to fall behind in the race. We want to have that which is new and excites admiration in others, even envy and jealousy. Now that is what John calls the pride of life. The automobile is not the only expression of this, but it is certainly one.
Now notice again the warning. What does John say about this? Notice he does not say, touch not, taste not, handle not. Writing to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul says, such an attitude is legalism, and it is this which has made this a verse so abused in the past. John does not say, "do not have anything to do with any of this." But what he does say, what he wants to bear home to our hearts in living, flaming language is this one phrase, do not love these things, do not set your hearts on them, do not think of them as important. Do not give yourselves to amassing things, do not love luxury and ease, and do not strive to outshine others. God help you, keep from that at all costs. Oh, the subtlety with which this whole philosophy makes its appeal to us! When the love of these things, the importance of them, occupies our major interest; when we find them using up most of our money; when we find them looming large in our thoughts so that we are constantly dreaming of that new "something" we hope to get, then we are in danger, terrible danger. This is what the apostle wants to make clear.
This condition is often revealed in the way we make our choices. I read recently of a pastor who said that a man from his congregation actually came to him and said, "Pastor, I know you've been wondering why I haven't been at the Sunday evening meeting lately. My favorite television program has been changed and it now appears at the same time as the Sunday evening meeting, and I had to choose between the two." He told this so openly, evidently feeling that the pastor would fully approve of it, that it was a tremendous revelation of how subtly the love of the world had taken over his life. You can see this in your emotional reaction when you have lost something, or been disappointed in a business venture. Are you depressed, discouraged, defeated? What a contrast with that word in Hebrews where the writer reminds those Christians, "You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property," (Hebrews 10:34b RSV). That does not sound like many Christians today, does it? Well, what is wrong with all this? Why must we not love the world and its things? John gives two very searching and important reasons:
First, because love for the world and love for God are mutually exclusive. You cannot do both, it is one or the other. Man is so made that he is designed to love, and therefore serve, but one master. Remember how Jesus put it? "No man can serve two masters," (Matthew 6:24 KJV). He is not stating a moral choice there. He is not saying, no man should serve two masters. It is an impossibility! It cannot be done. We only delude ourselves if we think we are doing it. No, we are made to be mastered by a greater power than ourselves. This is the underlying, elementary function of humanity. But that master is either the world, as the channel and activity of the evil one, or it is God. It is God or mammon. Therefore John says, "if any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him." You cannot do both.
If we give ourselves to loving the world, we are utilizing all the potential of our humanity to a false and grievous end. There are two powerful forces constantly making their appeal to us. Both of them offer to fulfill us, to satisfy us, to make life rich for us, but one is a lie and one is the truth. You must decide which is the lie and which is the truth for you cannot do both. This is where we fail so often. Many of us say, there must be a way of having the best of both worlds. But the entire testimony of Scripture and experience is, it is impossible. That is why the Apostle Paul writes that the mark of the last days is that men would be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. These are two absolutely antagonistic ideas.
This love of the world can get into the heart even of a dedicated Christian, and let us not forget it. Godly companionship is not enough to defend against it. Even the companionship of the Apostle Paul was not enough, for the Scriptures record that Paul himself had to write in sorrow these revealing words, "Demas has deserted me, having loved this present world," 2 Timothy 4:10). That is how subtle, how deceitful this thing can be.
Now there is another reason we must not love this world. Not only does it exclude the love of God completely, but it is an utterly foolish choice, because the world, John says, is passing away, it is only a temporary thing, but he who does the will of God abides forever. Martin Luther wrote, "I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all. But the things I have placed in God's hands I still possess." How true that is! We all know the glory of this world is rapidly turning to dust. The power of it soon passes from our nerveless fingers into the hands of another. Nothing lasts very long, everything is changing. "Change and decay, in all around I see." That is the characteristic of the world.
Shall we give ourselves to that temporary, fleeting, ephemeral thing? Must the best issues of our life be built on that kind of a shaky foundation? No, John says, it is he who does the will of God who abides forever. One of these days the world and all that we see in it and all that history records of it, will have been forgotten, will have passed into the silent dust of the centuries. But according to the Scripture, one day the Lord shall stand with his own and view a universe where all things have been brought together and reconciled in Christ, made one in Jesus Christ. What a thrilling thing it will be to stand there and see that come to pass and say, "Thank God, I had a part in that, in the reconciling of all things in Christ."
Our Lord divided the issues of life into two words. He says there are two things, and only two things, you can do with your life. "He that is with me gathers, but he that is against me scatters,"Matthew 12:30). Now which are you doing? Are you gathering, or scattering? Are you uniting and reconciling, or are you dividing and breaking up and severing?
All the issues of life funnel down into those two things. This is also where John puts it. If you are living for the world, loving its glory, seeking its fame, counting important the things it can give, clinging to these desperately, letting your emotions get wrapped up in them, you are scattering, you are breaking up, you are dividing. But if you are walking with Christ, if the things that he loves are most important to you, if a cup of cold water given in his name is of far more value than another dollar in the bank, if time spent in comforting or encouraging some lonely person is to you a far greater treasure than a killing in the stock market, then you are building, you are gathering, you are building that which will endure, which will last forever, you are laying up treasures in heaven.
Remember the word of that superior young missionary, Jim Elliot, who died at the hands of the Auca Indians? "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep (i.e., his life), to gain that which he cannot lose." That is where John rests his case.
Our Father, open our eyes to our own selves. Make us to hear the probing question from the Holy Spirit at this moment, "Which are you doing: gathering, or scattering? Building upon eternity, or living for time?" We ask in Jesus' name, Amen.
The Enemy Around: Novdmber 20, 1966. By Ray Stedman
The Greek negative prohibition me with the present active imperative verb means either stop doing something or do not have the habit of doing it. The "world" (kosmos) represents the system of values, priorities, and beliefs that unbelievers hold that excludes God.
"The world is that organized system which acts as a rival to God."
It is a moral and spiritual system designed to draw people away from God. It is a seductive system that appeals to all people, believers as well as unbelievers, and calls for our affection, participation, and loyalty (cf. John 3:16-19 (NAS) John 3:16 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. John 3:16-19; James 4.
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:1) 19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 31 Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. John 12:31; John 14:30 30 I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; John 14:30). Here kosmos does not refer primarily to the created order, though that order is also passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31 (NAS) 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away. 1 Corinthians 7:31; 2 Peter 3:7-13 (NAS)
7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 2 Peter 3:7-13; Revelation 21:1-4 (NAS)
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.' (Revelation 21:1-4).
"If" assumes that some Christians will love the world (third class condition in Greek), which is unfortunately often true to reality. One writer responded to the question of many, "What’s so bad about the world?" [Note: Yarbrough, pp. 128-37.] "The love of the Father" is probably the believers’ love for the Father (objective genitive), not His love for us (subjective genitive). "In him" again reflects a controlling influence (cf. 1 John 1:8 (NAS) 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8; 1 John 2:4 (NAS) 4 The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 1 John 2:4).
1. Resisting the World 2:15-17
John warned his readers of worldly dangers that face the Christian as he or she seeks to get to know God better. He did so to enable them to prepare for and overcome these obstacles with God’s help.
"As often in 1 John, a section of parenesis [reminders of what the readers already knew or were doing or of what they knew they should avoid] follows a series of dogmatic statements."
The New Testament uses the term "world" (Gr. kosmos) in at least three ways. Sometimes "the world" refers to planet earth, the physical world (e.g., Acts 17:24 (NAS) 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; (Acts 17:24). Sometimes it refers to humankind, the human world (e.g., John 3:16 (NAS) 16 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16), and sometimes it refers to human culture as influenced by Satan, the world system (here).
John again presented three pairs, as he did in 1 John 2:12-14 (NAS) 12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:12-14.1 John 2:15 (NAS) 15 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 The love of the world
B. Recognizing Spiritual Adversaries 2:15-27
Having encouraged the readers with affirmations that their spiritual condition was very good (1 John 2:12-14 (NAS) 12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:12-14), John turned next to the enemies they must face: the world (1 John 2:15-17 15 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. 16 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. 17 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) and the antichrists (1 John 2:18-27 (NAS)18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now man antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. …(1 John 2:18-27).
John summarized the appeal of the world system as three-fold. Here is a picture of the infernal trinity, the three faces of the world, three sources of worldly temptation (cf. Genesis 3; Matthew 4). Lusts are cravings or desires, and in the context they are evil because they are not in harmony with God’s will.
The lust of the flesh is the desire to do something apart from the will of God. It includes every sinful activity that appeals to the sinful hearts of people. The lust of the eyes is the desire to have something apart from the will of God. Whatever is appealing to our senses but is not properly ours to desire or obtain falls under this category. The pride of life is the desire to be something apart from the will of God. It refers to boastful pretension in earthly matters. The first desire appeals mainly to the body, the second appeals to the soul (or intellect), and the third to the spirit. Perhaps the most common manifestation of the lust of the flesh in modern western civilization is illicit sex (hedonism, idolizing pleasure). Perhaps the most common manifestation of the lust of the eyes is excessive buying (materialism, idolizing possessions). Perhaps the most common manifestation of the pride of life is trying to control (egoism, idolizing power).
"The ’wants’ which man feels can be divided into two great classes. Some things he desires to appropriate personally: some things he desires to enjoy without appropriation. The desire of the flesh embraces the one class (e.g. gratification of appetites); the desire of the eyes the other (e.g. pursuit of art as an end)."
"’Pride of life’ will be reflected in whatever status symbol is important to me or seems to define my identity. When I define myself to others in terms of my honorary [or earned] degrees, the reputation of the church I serve, my annual income, the size of my library, my expensive car or house, and if in doing this I misrepresent the truth and in my boasting show myself to be only a pompous fool who has deceived no one, then I have succumbed to what John calls the pride of life."
"Thus the ’pride of life’ is ostentatious pride in the possession of worldly goods."
These three basic desires come from the world system, not from the Father, and the believer should separate from them. The Father desires our welfare, but the world will destroy us (17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17).
"Morality is not the grounds for assurance, but the fruit of it."
1 John 2:15-17 (NAS) 15 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. 16 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. 17 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 \
Lust of the Flesh
Lust of the Eyes
Pride of Life
1 Timothy 6:11 (NAS) 11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11
2 Timothy 2:22 (NAS) 22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22
Romans 7:18-24 (NAS) 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. …Romans 7:18-24
Another reason we should not pursue the desires of the world is that this system, along with its desires, is in the process of passing out of existence. Really we are living in what John called the "last hour" of the world’s existence 1 John 2:18 (NAS)18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 1 John 2:18). The world is only temporary and ephemeral (cf. 1 Pet.).
Notwithstanding, those who do God’s will abide (remain, live) forever. Since all Christians will live forever John 10:28 (NAS) 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:28), John was not saying we attain eternal life by our obedience. However, we abide (i.e., enjoy intimate relationship with God, experience our eternal life abundantly) now as well as after death when we obey God.
"Just as Abraham through obedience to God obtained the title ’the friend of God’ (cf. James 2:21-23 (NAS) 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ' And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness ,' and he was called the friend of God. James 2:21-23), by which he is known today in three world religions and will be known forever, so too the obedient Christian can attain this same identity by obedience (14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:14-15). Likewise, it would be reasonable to conclude that the Christian’s identity in eternity will be determined by obedience to God in time. And since all lives of obedience are unique in their particulars, each eternal ’identity’ will be as unique as the snowflakes that fall from heaven."
Resisting the appeal of the world is difficult for every believer. John urged his readers in view of its attractiveness to understand the avenues of its temptation and to remember four things. Love for the world indicates lack of love for God (1 John 2:15 (NAS) 15 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). It results in consequences that are not what our loving heavenly Father desires for our welfare (17 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 lasts only a short time (17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17), and it precludes intimate fellowship with God (15 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).
John probably used a different Greek word translated "children" (paidia, also in 12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake. (1 John 2:12) because it implies a child who learns. His readers needed to learn what he now revealed.
In the drama of human history all of John’s readers, including ourselves, play our part in the last act. Throughout the New Testament the writers regarded the present inter-advent age, after the Incarnation and before the Lord’s return, as the last hour or the last days. This is the final period before the Lord Himself breaks into history again. Then the first stage of the new age will be judgment (the Tribulation) and the second stage blessing. In the second stage Jesus Christ will rule directly over human beings, first in the Millennium and then in the new heavens and the new earth.
The revelation concerning the appearance of the world ruler who will exalt himself against God was familiar to John’s audience (Daniel 11:36-45 (NAS) 36 'Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done. 37 He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all. 38 But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know; he will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones and treasures. 39 He will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god; he will give great honor to those who acknowledge him and will cause them to rule over the many, and will parcel out land for a price. 40 'At the end time the king of the South will collide with him, and the king of the North will storm against him with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships; and he will enter countries, overflow them and pass through. 41 He will also enter the Beautiful Land, and many countries will fall; but these will be rescued out of his hand: Edom, Moab and the foremost of the sons of Ammon. …Daniel 11:36-45; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5; et al.). However even as John wrote, many little antichrists, people who exalt themselves against God, had arisen. John saw this as evidence that the appearance of the Antichrist was not far away. Antichrists are those who oppose Jesus Christ and His teachings, not just people who profess to be the Messiah.
"Anti ["against"] can mean substitution or opposition, but both ideas are identical in the word antichristos (in N.T. only here, 1 John 2:22 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3 (NAS) 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 1 John 4:3; 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 1:7)."
The Flesh, the World, and the Devil
A Realistic Approach to Attractions
The Consequence Engine
Tom Constable's Notes on 1 John
Ray Stedman's Messages on 1 John
Lambert's Main Library
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September 26, 2022