I’ve been studying 1 John lately. It’s short but profound. Mining its depths is taking a while. Take 1 John 2:15-17, for example.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Breaking It Down
What’s the text mean by “world?” Is it culture, the planet, the “world system?”
The Amplified Bible says, “its the world of sin that opposes God and His precepts.” The NIV Biblical Theology Bible says “worldly attitudes” or “values opposed to God.”
What’s that mean for a follower of Jesus?
We can’t honor or value anything that opposes God and His commands in the world itself or the systems that perpetuate sin. It does not mean that we can’t love sinners, just not the sin.
If we love the world of sin, the love for God is not in us.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
No middle ground. The choice between light or darkness. God or sin, which do you love?
That’s from one verse alone. Verse 16 goes into the main types of sin in the world.
The Foundational Sins
- The preoccupation with gratifying sinful desires. Hedonism.
- Craving and getting more things. Materialism.
- Obsession with one’s status or importance. Pride.
Interestingly enough, Satan tempted Adam and Eve with pride. He also tempted Jesus with all three in Matthew 4:1-11.
Satan said, “If you’re the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.” That’s the cravings of the flesh during a fast while appealing to Jesus’ claim to be God’s son. Hedonism+Pride.
Jesus’ answer: the Father will meet my needs.
Satan said next, “Jump off the temple in front of everyone, God will save you.” Trying to manipulate God to get what you want.
Jesus’ answer: don’t try to manipulate or test the Father.
Satan’s last attempt: “I’ll give you everything if you worship me.” The craving of sinful desires and getting things. Hedonism+Materialism.
Jesus’ answer: worship and serve God only, not sinful desires that you put over God.
After the temptation, angels met all of Jesus’ needs.
These are the foundations for worldly sin. My next question was, what was the tipping point for these?
Sin is a cancer that turns a good thing bad and eats it up. You can remove cancer from a body and still have a body.
Are desires bad? Desires are okay as long as it’s inside God’s protective boundaries and doesn’t take the place of God in our lives. An example is liking good food versus gorging or chasing after good food. Then the love is disordered.
What about having things? Wanting and having nice things isn’t wrong, as long as that’s not our goal in life. We’re to be happy with little or a lot because either way, we have Jesus. The things or money we have are to be used to help others.
What about who I am and my accomplishments? Obsession with one’s status or importance, pride, can infect everything good and twist it into bad. Pride can, and does, affect us when we’re following God. The Pharisees are an example of this.
Is there a time when pride is okay?
When it’s reasonable self-respect with humility. Delight in accomplishment, however, know that my accomplishments don’t give me value. Being loved by God does.
Now’s the part that’s not fun at all, even for a theology nerd. We study the Bible so that we can apply it to our lives. That means I have to ask myself, and you have to ask yourself, which of these sins are my weakness(es)?
For me, it’s pride still. Boasting of what I have and do, right down to my health. Usually in the form of criticism because I’d never do (fill in the blank).
The difference is, I’m not vocal about it anymore. It’s in my inner monologue.
To combat it, I have to tell myself everything I have is due to God’s favor and not my behavior.
Look at these three and quietly and prayerfully ask God to reveal which of them are your weaknesses. Then ask for forgiveness and help in dealing with them.