Eternity Eclipses the World

by Spiros Zodhiates

"And the world passes away and its lust, but he who is doing the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:17 AT).

The world—as defined in verse 16 as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the proud enjoyment of possessions—passes away [pargetai, to pass away–the same verb in the same form as in 2:8 concerning the consequences or effects of sin. This evil world is not what God originally created. It lies in skota, the consequence of sin, darkness (sktos).

John, throughout his epistles, used the word ksmos to mean the fallen creation. It is the world of evil, which is constantly degenerating. It will one day be subjugated and retribution given (1 Cor. 15:24–28). Since this world is passing away, so also will the lustful desire for it and conformity to it. The day will come when it will be replaced by a qualitatively new heaven and earth (Rev. 21:1).

In contrast to this temporary existence of the world and its lovers is the person who knows and does the will of God. "He who practices" the will of God is expressed by the participial noun ho poion, the one doing. Poion is the present participle of poiéo\, to practice habitually, not randomly. It refers to one who practices God's will as a way of life. There is retribution promised for those who know God's will but do not do it (Luke 12:47). The Lord Jesus repeatedly stated that He did the will of His Father (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38–40). If a believer wishes to do Christ's will, he will be able to discern whether the teaching is of God (John 7:17). God hears the prayer of a person who practices His will (John 9:31). He does not hear the prayers of sinners, except their prayer of repentance for the salvation of their souls (John 6:37).

What is God's will (théle\ma)? His will is that which He wants accomplished. What God wants done in this world, He does through us who believe on Him. Théle\ma derives from thélo\, which means not only to will, but to delight in bringing that will to fruition, which is in contrast to bolomai, to purpose. We as believers are God's co-workers in doing what He wants accomplished.

What is the status of such a person? Christ explained it in His parable of the faithful servant (Luke 12:35–44). Here in 1 John 2:17, John states that such persons abide forever. Christ now indwells them and they shall forever be with Christ (John 17:24) in contrast to the unsaved of the world, who spend eternity in unending punishment.

There is no change in the obedient person's state. He remains in the world but is unaffected by it insofar as his position in Christ is concerned (see 1 Cor. 12:13). The verb "abides," méno\, to remain, continue, refers to the relationship of the believer with God and is reminiscent of Christ's words in John 10:28: "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."

Whatever Christ does for the believer, it is for time and eternity. God's will must prevail and there is eternal blessedness for His faithful servants (Luke 12:43).

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