Great night last night with you all. Good discussion in the beginning. Let’s keep stoking the fires of minds that are alive to God and His word. And let’s keep getting together to stir each other up in these areas. Here’s the notes from the study…
First: A look at “The World” in 1 John
1. Does 1 John 2:15 contradict John 3:16 – Does God “love” the world?
Yes. Jesus came for the world. See 2:2 and 4:14.
God loves the world in that He seeks to rejoin it to Himself. He shows His love in sending Jesus to die for the world, paying for its sin. He then rises to claim rulership of the whole world. Jesus loves the world by claiming it to be His kingdom, and them to be His people. But of course, people may reject Him and opt out…
2. But…The world is characterized by opposition to God.
- The world doesn’t know God, therefore it can’t understand Christians. (3:1)
- The world hates The Father, therefore it hates Christ, therefore it hates Christians. (3:13)
See John 15:18-25, John 7:7. In these passages Jesus draws some very stark contrasts. Specifically, He speaks about the world’s antagonism towards His disciples and where it comes from. Here we see that the world hates Jesus…
- Because He testifies that it’s works are evil (7:7) (John 3:3)
- Because it hates the father (15:23)
… and the World Hates believers because:
- It doesn’t know the Father (15:21)
- In fact it hates the Father (15:23)
- It hates Jesus (15:18)
- Jesus chose us out of the world, so we are not “of” the world (15:19)
Here I need to make an important note which I failed to make last night. In speaking about the “hatred” of the world for believers, we’re not saying (and John is not saying) that all individual unbelievers feel “hatred” for God or for believers all the time. Of course some do, some times. And many do all the time. But it would be very possible for someone to say “Well that’s ridiculous, I’m not standing here hating you or your God!” And that may be true. But John (and Jesus in John 15) is actually speaking about a larger thing. (See below…)
- Believers overcome the world. (4:4, 5:5)
- The World is under control of Satan. (5:19) See John 14:30, Eph 2:2
Now that we’ve seen what John writes about the world, maybe we’re ready to attempt a definition. A guy named R.C. Trent said it like this:
“The World” . . .is all that floating mass of thought, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims and aspirations at any time current in the world, which is impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitutes a most real and effective power, being our moral or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably exhale.
This is that “larger thing” that we’re starting to discover in John’s writings. It is what people are, individually yes, but especially as they work together to create all that “culture” or “society” that directly opposes God in His plan to redeem the world through Christ. Here’s the other key thing I inadvertently left out last night: Paul ties this all together for us in Ephesians 2:2-3 —
“you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
See what He’s saying? There is a “course” of this world, a way it goes, and it is made up of people simply living out the “desires” of the flesh and the mind. It is what happens when the mass of humanity simply goes about getting what it wants apart from (and even in opposition to) their Creator. Doesn’t this sound just like John’s description of the world in 2:16? Notice also that Paul acknowledges Satan’s role–He is the ruler, the leader in all of this. In other words, this “world” we’re talking about is not only a human construct. It’s spiritually energized by the being who has set himself in direct opposition to God. There’s a spiritual energy behind all of this.
So: What does 2:15-17 mean?
There are two opposite loves and they compete: one for the world, or for the Father…
They can’t coexist. Why?
Because the things in the world (the lusts and pride) aren’t from the Father, but originate from the world. As one translation renders this verse, these things are: “what the body hankers for, what the eyes itch to see, what people toil to acquire…” Lust is the godless nature of humanity seeking to indulge itself, and pride is the godless nature of humanity seeking to express itself. This “lust” is what people saying “this is what I want” and this “pride” is people saying “this is who I am.”
In fact, these lusts and this pride are from the world, as it is characterized by the culture people produce when they are opposed to God. They are by nature not from God, and they’re opposed to His work in the world (and His rule…).
Those who do God’s will live forever (so they won’t be loving temporary things) (v.17)
To Sum it up: you can’t love God and things that are directly opposing God.
Here were the ending challenges:
- Let’s examine our lives…Do we love things that are actively opposed to God? Things that: boldly break His laws, willfully ignore Him, present a view of life contrary to His, claim He doesn’t exist, oppose the Gospel…
- Let’s be people that learn to pass everything through the test of God’s revealed will in His Word.
- Let’s develop a Spiritual sense of what is “of God” and what is not “of God.”