1 John 2:15-17
If Anyone Loves the World
The word, “world,” is used by the Apostle John in different ways. For instance, in his Gospel, he tells us that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). In each of these cases, the “world” that is in view is people for whom the Father sent the Son to give himself in atonement for sin. God will even include the physical realm of the world in the ultimate redemption that awaits His Son’s return (Romans 8:18-25), but that is not the “world” in view here. John’s Gospel speaks of “world” in relation to people.
But here in his Letter, John tells us that “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” implying that if one loves the world, it is proof that he has never even experienced the saving grace and love of God. In this case, “world” is taking on an entirely different meaning: People are not the object but instead the world as it is under the dominion of sin. To love the world in this sense is to love the things of the world: “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions.” Such things are “not from the Father”—indeed are in direct opposition to Him—but are “from the world.” They have the world for their origin and their destination, for their meaning and their purpose, for their beginning and their end.
And so Christians, who are referred to as “exiles” by the Apostle Peter, are to keep a healthy distance from the world, even shun it as far as the things of it are concerned (1 Peter 2:11-12). We are citizens of another world and from there we await a Savior (Philippians 3:20). The love of this world gets in the way of our loving and longing for that world. We begin to make idols of its trinkets and baubles as if this world had something to offer better than the vision of God, the fellowship of angels, glorified bodies, and redeemed souls. Being people who still carry about our sinful natures, we are yet enticed by the vanities of this world. It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul implores us to “set [our] minds on things that are above” (Colossians 3:1-4).
There is hardly anything more pathetic than a Christian chasing after the world, especially since we of all people know that “the world is passing away along with its desires.” It is he who does the will of God that abides forever. Fix your mind above, dear Christian. Be passionate for holiness, pant for godliness, desire to be loving, kind, and gracious. The world is one great big “Vanity Fair.” Read Bunyan’s, The Pilgrim’s Progress; you’ll understand then.