Bad Love

Bible Book: 1 John  2 : 15-17
Subject: Worldliness
Series: God's Dear Children

The late news commentator Paul Harvey told about the time the Italian sailing team went to Australia to participate in the America's Cup race. Gucci, the famous Italian designer, had outfitted them with all the latest sportswear fashions before they left for Australia. After they arrived, the men had some time to kill, so they rented a car and drove out into the bush. They wanted to see some kangaroos.

They not only saw one, they ran into it. They jumped out of the rented Land Rover and ran over to the kangaroo. It was just lying there on the roadway without moving. They took some pictures. Then one guy had the idea that it would be funny if he put his expensive Gucci jacket on the animal and took its picture. So he did. Just after he got the coat on the limp kangaroo and stepped back to take a picture, the creature revived and hopped away so fast he couldn't catch it.

Somewhere in the Australia outback is a fashionably dressed kangaroo. He wears a Gucci jacket, and in the pocket are the keys to a Land Rover and the team's credit card.

In the same way that the Italian sailors made a false assumption about the kangaroo, Christians often wrongly assume that we have victory over sin and the world. The world may seem to be defeated to us, but when we least expect it, temptation can come to life. [Campus Journal, Jul 19, 1996.] Today we are going to look at worldliness and how we are to view the world.

The songwriter penned:

“Living for Jesus a life that is true

Trying to please Him in all that I do.”

To live for Jesus a life that is true requires that a believer understand the nature of the Christian experience in this world. To live for Christ in this world is not a play ground but a battle ground. There are many enemies that assail the soul of the believer. One such enemy is called the world. Jesus once said to His disciples, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” We know that Jesus overcame the world, but how can I do that and what exactly does it mean to overcome the world?

John tell us that we are not to love the world neither the things that are in the world. To love the world is to engage in Bad Love. Worldliness is a tremendous problem for the believer.

· It robs us of strength for service.
· It takes our eyes off Jesus.
· It leads us to display an unchristian attitude and witness before the world.
· It causes us to defeat the purposes of God.
· It hinders the work of other faithful believers.
· It puts us on the devil’s side.
· It grieves the Spirit of God in us.

Worldliness is a terrible problem and we must come to understand that we are not to love the world, neither are we to love the things that are in the world. The Scripture states, “Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life. (Proverb 4:23)

I. The Definition of the World

John begins by telling us not to love the world. This is a command. This is an imperative. It is written in the present tense, which could be interpreted, “Stop loving the world.” The Lord was using John to show believers that love of the world is a continuing problem and a dangerous one. Now you can’t do what you don’t understand to do; therefore, we must begin by defining the term “world.” What did John mean when he penned, “Love not the world.”

A. What The World Cannot Mean

The term “world” cannot mean the physical world of flowers, mountains, streams, oceans, etc. Why? Look at the Bible, Acts 17:24, “God made the world and all the things that are in it.” God created this world and He made all things beautiful in His sight. As God created, He surveyed His work and exclaimed, “It is good.”

Of course we need to be reminded that when Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden sin marred even the creation. Paul writes that all believers groan waiting for the Lord to come and take them home and he adds that even creation groans awaiting redemption. Yet, even in its fallen state, the beauty of the earth can point one to God. Look at Romans 1 and you see that human beings should have a awareness of God in viewing the very things which He has made. So, when John says that we are not to love the world, he is not talking about loving the beautiful, physical world which our Heavenly Father made. Certainly, we love this world that He has given to us.

The term “world” also cannot mean that we are not to love the people of the world. In John 3:16 we read that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. This is a reference to the people of world. Certainly, if God loved the world (people in the world), you and I would not be told not to love the world (people in the world). We are to love the world as far as it regards people - all people. We are to love fellow believers but we are also to love the teeming millions of lost people in the world. God loves them as He loves you and His Son died for them as He did for you. So, we know that the exhortation not to love the world is not speaking of people.

When we are told not to love the world, what exactly does John mean? This brings us to the definition of the world as it is presented in the passage before us. The Greek word for “world” used in this passage is “kosmos.” Now you are very familiar with this word in your daily life. For example, there is a magazine called, “Cosmopolitan.” The word cosmopolitan comes from the word “kosmos” and means “person of the world.” In other words, a cosmopolitan person might be said to understand the things of the world and be knowledgeable concerning many aspects of the activities and places in this world.

The word “kosmos” means to have things in order. It means an order, arrangement or design. You might be interested to know that the word “cosmetic” comes from the word “kosmos.” When a woman puts on her cosmetics she is putting things in order, she is arranging her face.

We use the term “world,” which comes directly from the word “kosmos” to speak of many activities or groups. For example, we speak of the world of sports. We speak of the world of politics. We speak of the world of fashion. Each of these has its own arrangement, people and order. So, we see that the kosmos or world is simply an arrangement, order or design made up of people, ideas, philosophies, and activities around a common theme. There is nothing wrong with a person being involved in activities which are part of this world, after all God saved us to make a difference in this world, not to remove us from it. John is not saying that we should not love hobbies or activities in and of themselves. However, we must be careful as we live in this world to be in the world but not of the world. What does he mean? To understand this, we must get a clear definition of what “world” means in the passage before us.

B. What The World Must Mean

When we are told not to love the world or the things in the world, we are being told not to love or embrace world’s systems which are contrary to the ways of God. There is a system of ideas, activities and people in this world whose ways or philosophies are against God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Now what exactly is this “world” like that we are not to love?

The world system that is against God has a god of its own. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:4 we read about the god of this world. Secondly, this world has its own children. Look at the words of Jesus, He spoke of the children of this world as being wiser at times than the children of light. Jesus once said to a group of people, “You are of your father, the devil.” The world has its own children. The world has its own wisdom, its own spirit, its own corruption, etc.

No one can describe every worldly activity led by the devil. In fact, if we did try to describe these things, we would be here forever and some of us would probably not agree on what constitutes worldly behavior. I read just the other day in a book that it is considered worldly in Finland to whistle. Not many of you would consider that to be worldly!

How then can I know what is worldly? Here is the answer. Anything that keeps you from loving God, serving Him fully, obeying His will, fulfilling His purposes according to His Word is worldliness! Anything that comes between you and God and between you and God’s will for you or another whom you may influence is worldliness. When you speak or do things that are worldly, you align yourself with the god of this world, the devil and you help to defeat the purposes of God in your life and in His world!

II. The Distractions of the World

In verse 16 John details what is in the world to distract us from our relationship with the Lord. This tells you how the world performs the work of derailing your love for Jesus and your service to Him. John lists three of these distractions.

A. The Lust of the Flesh

There is a pressure upon you to love the world more and the Father less. What does John mean when he uses the word “flesh.” It speaks of the fallen nature which you received at your first birth. When you got saved, you received a spiritual nature, the new man. The lust of the flesh is the corrupt system of the body which comes in the first birth. Paul wrote, “In my flesh there dwells no good thing.”

The lust of the flesh is a sinful passion or desire which makes its appeal to your fallen nature. Food and sex are perfect examples. God gave you these desires and there is nothing wrong with them as long as they are kept within God’s will. It is only a sin of worldliness when we try to fulfill one of these desires in forbidden ways. The Bible says, for example, that the marriage bed is undefiled but whore mongers and adulterers God will judge. God is saying that sex within marriage is perfectly legitimate and in fact a beautiful thing. But, when a person tries to fulfill these passions outside marriage, either before marriage or outside of marriage, it is a lust of flesh. The world uses the physical passion to establish a system that defies God’s ways and seeks to get you to fulfill your passions outside His way. That is worldliness. That is loving the world!

B. The Lust of the Eye

The eyes have passions and desires. Someone may say, “Feast your eyes on that.” We are a very visual generation. We can see more than any generation in history. Take television as an example. A poll sometime ago stated that Americans watch TV approximately 20 hours per week. I personally think that is a low figure. Think about the impact on your mind and ways through what you see on television alone. The television erodes the faith, standards and beliefs of millions of Christians. Soon we become addicted to things which are actually contrary to the ways of God. Movies, videos, television and any medium which uses the desires of the eye to pull you away from the Lord, His truth and His teaching, is worldliness.

C. The Pride of Life

The accumulation of things for self and boasting about them is worldliness. Buying things you don’t need, with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like.

John Suk writes, "Soldiers of the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst from her Berkeley, California, apartment on February 4, 1974. In return for her release, Patty's kidnappers demanded that her father, Randolph Hearst, give millions of dollars to the poor. On April 15, 1974, the FBI identified Patty in a videotape of a bank holdup in San Francisco. On September 18 of that year, Patty was captured. She served nearly three years in prison for her crime.

"Patty Hearst suffered from the Stockholm syndrome. This condition affects some hostages who are so traumatized by their captivity that they identify with and become sympathetic to their captors. The syndrome gets its name from a 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, in which one of the hostages fell in love with her captor. People who fall prey to the Stockholm syndrome in essence sleep with the enemy.

"Many Christians suffer from a spiritual kind of Stockholm syndrome. We sleep with our enemy-- the world. Worldliness is more than a fixation with card playing, dancing, or movie going. True worldliness is being caught in a sticky web of commitments to self." [The Banner, Apr 15, 1996. Page 2.]

III. The Destiny of the World

A. The Passing Nature of the World

Look at verse 17. This is written in the present tense. That means that this world is presently passing away. When you attach your life to this world, you have attached your life to a floating island. The world always offers more than it can deliver. Look at alcohol or drugs. A person starts to try these things and finds it fun. Then it becomes an addiction. Soon enough is not enough. You need more and more to satisfy you. Finally, you find yourself ruined by what started as such pleasure. That is the way the world works. It is said of Jesus that He saves the best for last. The world always offers the best in the beginning and then offers the worst!

B. The Permanent Nature of the Lord

When the stars have fallen, when the sun no longer shines, when the world is rolled up like a scroll, the children of God will still be rejoicing in Christ. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Everything around us is dying, but all we deposit in the Lord's care will remain!


The songwriter penned:

"I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back."

"The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back." (Sundar Singh)

We should be aware that Jesus saved us out of the world. Look at John 17:6.

He saved us to deliver us from this present evil world. Look at Galatians 1:4.

Yet, we are still in the world as long as we are in this body; Jesus spoke of this in John 17:11.

The Lord then said that He had sent us into this world, just as He had been sent into it. Look at John 17:18.

Why has he sent us into the world:

i. Not to Condemn it!
ii. Not to Conform to it!
iii. Not to Condone it!
iv. He sent us to Confront the world with the cross of Christ and His Lordship!

Those who depend upon the world will find they have trusted a false security. During the great famine of China, the people made "bread" from a kind of edible earth. But this ingredient was devoid of any nutrients, so those who ate the loaves starved. Those who feed on the things of this world are feeding on bread which contains nothing to sustain them in the day of death, the day of eternity, the day of judgment.

Come to Jesus. He is the Bread of Life that satisfies our innermost needs and our greatest need!