“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 –
Commentary by Enduring Word
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.
Do not love the world: John has told us that if we walk in sin’s darkness and claim to be in fellowship with God, we are lying (1 John 1:6). Now John points out a specific area of sin that especially threatens our fellowship with God: worldliness, to love the world.
Do not love the world or the things in the world: The world, in the sense John means it here, is not the global earth. Nor is it the mass of humanity, which God Himself loves (John 3:16). Instead it is the community of sinful humanity that is united in rebellion against God.
One of the first examples of this idea of the world in the Bible helps us to understand this point. Genesis 11 speaks of human society’s united rebellion against God at the tower of Babel. At the tower of Babel, there was an anti-Godleader of humanity (whose name was Nimrod). There was organized rebellion against God (in disobeying the command to disperse over the whole earth). There was direct distrust of God’s word and promise (in building what was probably a water-safe tower to protect against a future flood from heaven).
The whole story of the tower of Babel also shows us another fundamental fact about the world system. The world’s progress, technology, government, and organization can make man better off, but not better. Because we like being better off, it is easy to fall in love with the world.
Finally, the story of the tower of Babel shows us that the world system – as impressive and winning as it appears to be – will never win out over God. The Lord defeated the rebellion at the tower of Babel easily. The world system will never win out over God.
Do not love the world: That is, we are not to love either the world’s system or its way of doing things. There is a secular, anti-God or ignoring-God way of doing things that characterizes human society, and it is easy to love the world in this sense.
Notice what the world wants from us: love. This love is expressed in time, attention, and expense. We are encouraged and persuaded to give our time, attention, and money to the things of this world instead of the things of God.
If you love the world, there are rewards to be gained. You may find a place of prestige, of status, of honor, of comfort. The world system knows how to reward its lovers.
At the same time, even at their best the rewards that come from this world last only as long as we live. The problem is that though we gain prestige, status, honor, and comfort of this world, we lose the prestige, status, honor, and comfort of heaven.
Or the things in the world: This isn’t so much a warning against a love for the beauty of the world God created (though we must always love the Creator instead of the creation). Instead, it is more of a warning against loving the material things which characterize the world system.
The world buys our love with the great things it has to give us. Cars, homes, gadgets, and the status that goes with all of them, can really make our hearts at home in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him: Simply, love for the world is incompatible with love for the Father. Therefore if one claims to love God and yet loves the world, there is something wrong with his claim to love God.
Through the centuries, Christians have dealt with the magnetic pull of the world in different ways. At one time it was thought that if you were a really committed Christian and really wanted to love God instead of the world, you would leave human society and live as a monk or a nun out in a desolate monastery.
This approach, and other approaches that seek to take us out of the world, have two problems. The first problem is that we bring the world with us into our monastery. The other problem is that Jesus intended us to be in the world but not of the world. We see this in His prayer for us in John 17:14-18.