1 John 2:15-17
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.…
How many a hopeful beginning of Christian life is marred by worldly influences! How many a flower of Paradise seems to perish in the bud at the deadly touch of the world's cruel frost. We mean by the world not only the place but the people, or at least some of the people, who live in it. Of them St. Paul says they "mind earthly things"; that is, their affections and desires are centred in this world. Now in primitive times the distinction between the world and the Church was very marked. Those who belonged to the world did not even profess to accept the authority of Jesus Christ; on the contrary, they proclaimed outward war against Him and His, and carried it on with cruel persecutions. But soon Satan began to change his tactics. He disposed the world to respect the Church, for he began to see that her strength lay in opposition. He therefore set his wisdom to work to rob her of this power, and he has attempted to compass this end by seeking to obliterate as far as possible that clear, sharp, well-defined line of demarcation which separated the children of God from the children of this world. There is such a line, and we ought in the first place to recognise that fact, and in the second place look to God for wisdom to discern it as clearly as we can. In a large number of instances it is not difficult to discern, because there are a great number of persons whose lives speak for themselves; evidently their object in life is not to glorify God or yield to His claims. In another large number of instances, where the lines are not so hardly drawn, a tolerably good idea of the character can be obtained from indications proceeding from the lives of those by whom you are surrounded. When it is apparent that the regal claims of Christ upon the human heart are not recognised; when there is no confession of Christ in either words or actions; when lower objects obviously engross the attention, and nothing in their character or conduct indicates that the will has been surrendered to Christ, then the honesty of true love constrains us to regard such persons as belonging to the kingdom of this world, and as destitute of the new life and life instincts which belong to citizens of the New Jerusalem. Nor must we allow ourselves to be misled by the fact that most people are nominally Christians. What, then, is our relation to the world? Christ answers, "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." By constant contact with the world and by exposure to the temptations which arise in our daily life, we are to be driven more and more to realise the fact that we are citizens of a heavenly country. But there is more to be said about our relations with the world than that we are in it but not of it. We notice that our text says we are not to love the world, neither the things that are in the world; and it goes so far as to say, "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him," Now, side by side with this direction we must place another text, with which we are equally or more familiar: "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." What shall we say then? If God loved the world, are we precluded from doing that which we thank God for having done? Let us contemplate a man in whose heart the love of benevolence is strong towards the world. That benevolence will induce him to recognise the world's present position; to bear in mind the truth that the world has rebelled against God, and that God's edict of condemnation has already gone forth against it. Realising this — its terrible peril — he will shrink from adopting any attitude towards the world that would be likely to make the world feel as if its danger were a mere doctrinal or sentimental unreality, and this will keep him from associating with the world on terms of reciprocal amity. Christ might have wrought miracles of salvation from heaven, but He preferred to come into the world to save sinners; and so we may go into the world too, provided it is to save sinners. This should be the great work of our lives. But when instead of this we associate with the world as if it were congenial to us, it is far more likely to drag us down than our friendship is to lift it up. I am afraid it must be sorrowfully admitted that too many professing Christians are leading two distinct kinds of lives, worldly with the worldly and Christian with the Christian. You would hardly think them the same persons were you to meet them under different circumstances. They cannot be distinguished from the citizens of this world today, and they might pass for excellent saints tomorrow. But such people as these really exercise their influence for the world and not for God.
(W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.