Lust Still Ensnares

by Wayne Barber

Wayne BarberWhat the apostle says in 1st John 2:15-17 has the strong emphasis of a sign at the front of a parking space which reads "don't even think about it." John tells us in verses 15-17: "Don't love the world. Don't give your loyalty to it. Don't commit yourself to it. Don't even think about loving this world and the way it does things: "Do not love the world nor the things in the world." The term "things" sums up everything that depicts the godless way the world thinks and lives. John gives a possibility that all too often proves to be true of believers. He continues: "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." "If anyone" is a third-class condition "if," inferring that this may be a possibility. It certainly is possible, especially today in the 21st century church. In such a case, John says, "the love of the Father is not in him."

The phrase "of the Father" is an objective genitive, not a subjective genitive. Thus the better reading would be "the love for the Father is not in him." I believe John is showing the incompatibility of a believer trying to love the world and at the same time claiming to love the Father. A believer cannot say that he has love for the Father; and at the same time be loving the ways of the world.

It is totally incompatible for a believer to mature in Christ and at the same time live like the world lives. So John lays it straight out to believers: "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

You say how do I identify if I'm loving the world? John Wesley said it best: "Anything that cools my love for Christ is the world".

But, there is so much more that John helps each of us understand in these verses. John goes on to tell us that loving the world is as different as night and day from loving the Father. In fact, the one negates the other, as Jesus said: "you will hate the one and love the other" (Matt. 6:24).

The appeal of the world that John describes is the same appeal that Satan has used to snare humanity from the beginning. This appeal only has three faces to it-but they are terribly potent: "the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life"
(1 John 2:16). The word for "lust" is epithuma and expresses an intense desire. It's like an 800-pound parrot who says "Polly wants a cracker"! "NOW"! But, to sum up the "lusts of the flesh," they are the intense desires we all have to do something in our own strength that is foreign to the ways of God. You can fill in the blanks. The "lust of the eyes" refers to that part of us that wants to have something that is apart from the will of God. The "pride of life" is the desire of our flesh to be something apart from the will of God.

Again, these temptations are age-old. They go all the way back to the Garden when Satan deceived Eve with the same three appeals to her flesh. Watch in Genesis 3:1-5 how the serpent deceived Eve in the garden: first he got her to question God's word, then she was ready to swallow his lie about the consequences. Then we come to verse 6: "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food" (lust of the flesh) "and that it was a delight to the eyes" (lust of the eyes) "and that the tree was desirable to make one wise" (pride of life) "she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate."

We will continue to explore this passage next time but think on these things: Are you a believer but living like the world? Have you fallen into the trap that has been set for you when you choose not to walk in fellowship with Christ?

Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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