The world is not our friend. As a Christian, there is a constant war raging within between the forces of the flesh and the soldier of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). It is a battle won (for Christ has overcome, John 16:33), but the ugliness of the fight is ongoing; and our winning depends upon attitude (Proverbs 23:7). What we love, we pursue, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34).
So, John’s warning is timeless. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of 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 passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17). The directive seems simple enough but judging from the downward spiral of our “Christian” nation, our “one nation under God,” the practical application is not so easily incorporated. However, John’s use of the common plight of humanity serves as an effective teaching tool. In a frighteningly temporary world, our firm foundation resides in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:11). For the Christian, there is a world of hope.
A wise, old Christian shared with me a conclusion he had drawn about our world, based largely upon the struggles, trials, and increasing corruption. He said, “I’m glad I’m on the way out, and not on the way in.” Within this statement was a sincere longing for Heaven. And, as admirable as this sentiment is, it also carries a sad commentary on our society. As the years fly by,
the Christian should come to realize more fully the folly of physical things. John exposes an attitude that kills eternally: a love of the world. As we advance in years, fewer pleasures afford us comfort or joy; and if our hope is in them, the results are bitterness and fear.
He classifies the sin that so easily besets us. In fact, I would challenge anyone to conceive a sin that does not fit into one of these three categories. The punch line of his warning, though, is the equation of the temporary nature of both sin and our physical life. One might “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25), and without denying both the enjoyment and the pleasure still realize with age the hollow, vain, and disappointing end of worldly pursuits.
The great prophet Isaiah, speaking to a carnal, worldly people, challenged would-be children of God to “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished” (Isaiah 51:6). A Christian will “Set (his/her) affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2), because the sure and secure foundation of our ability to cope with life as we know it resides in our hope of eternity in Heaven. Therefore, let us “lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Hebrews 6:18-19). This is our world of hope. JDS