“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15-17).
Last week we began looking at this important and straightforward statement of John. We asked, “Why should Christians not love the world?” We should not love the world (1) because of what the world is and (2) because what loving the world does. (See last week’s bulletin for a discussion of these points). John gives a third reason we should not love the world.
We should not love the world because of where the world is passing away (v. 17). This is true as far as our individual lives are concerned. “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away” (I Pet. 1:24). James also reminds us of this fact, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:13-14).
This is also true of the things we leave behind us. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Pet. 3:10).
In contrast, “He that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (v. 17b). This is because he will be blessed by entering the heavenly kingdom. Jesus promises an entrance into Heaven to those who “do the will of My Father which is in Heaven” (Matt. 7:21); and John, near the end of his writing, states, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14). Even his works will follow him (Rev. 14:13). The late and beloved biblical scholar, Guy N. Woods, wrote on this statement of scripture: “The world will pass, and with it every lustful pleasure; but he who does the will of God abides through the ages. The transitoriness of the one—the world—is contrasted with the permanence of the other, the one doing the will of God” (Guy N. Woods, Commentary on I John, 1956).
Isn't this what we all want? To hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:21? “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Let's give serious consideration to John's admonition in these verses; and make sure that our affection is in the right place—loving the Father and keeping His word (Col. 3:1-3).
Paul M. Wilmoth