“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. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15–17)
God “so loved the world” that He sent Jesus to die for us, yet God tells us “love not the world” using the same Greek word (kosmos). What is going on here? This is a contradiction? Or not?
Context is important in comprehension. If I say “bark” no one knows what I mean without knowing if I am talking about a tree or talking to a dog. If I say I love pizza and I love my mother, the context reveals two different kinds of love. It is the same with the above concept. God loves the world meaning the people of this planet which I am also to love. However, I am not to love the world meaning the system of thinking that is common to those who live here because that kind of love is not from God.
The world’s system of thinking is described as two desires capped with pride. The first one is the desires of the flesh that easily rule those who disobey God . . . “among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:3)
These passions can be obvious like sexual lust and cravings for bodily comfort but also subtle, referring to anything that takes my heart and motivations away from Jesus. God says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:14)
The desires of the eyes are related to possessions and power. The Old Testament writer says, “When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes?” (Ecclesiastes 5:11)
I am at a stage of life where I want to eliminate all but what is necessary. Declutter. Purge. Simplify. What once gave me pleasure just to have and look at no longer matters in the same way. Part of that feeling might be my sense that time is short . . .
“This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:29–31)
Another reason for wanting to remove all clutter is that it makes it easier to focus on the will of God. He often uses this verse to tell me to watch my thoughts:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
The pride of life is almost self-explanatory. What fuels boasting in my heart and in my words? Whatever it is, that is worldly, a love of the world, my sinful effort to point to me instead of pointing to and glorifying God. To that, He warns me:
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. “(James 4:4)
Tozer says, “The spirit of the world is incompatible with the spirit of the gospel. It is the spirit of pride, and not humility—of self-indulgence rather than self-denial. Riches, honors and pleasure form the great object of pursuit.” I’m not to be like worldly people but instead put all these desires to death, keeping my mind and heart focused on the will of God.
Jesus, I’m fully aware that this world is passing away. Even the daily news describes its death throes. Thank You for salvation and for working on the way I think — I have no intention of going down with it.