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.…
The love of the world is here declared to be irreconcilable with the love of the Father. And the declaration applies to "the things that are in the world." These are represented under three categories or heads — "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life."
1. "The lust of the flesh." It is lust or desire of a carnal sort; such as the flesh prompts or occasions. It is the appetite of sense out of order, or in excess. The appetite for which food is God's appointed ordinance, and the appetite for which marriage is God's appointed ordinance — the general needs and cravings of the body which the laws of nature and the gifts of Providence so fully meet — the higher tastes which fair forms and sweet sounds delight — the eye for beauty and the ear or the soul for music — these are not, any of them, the lust of the flesh. But they all, everyone of them, may become the lust of the flesh. And in the world they do become the lust of the flesh. It is the world's aim to pervert them into the lust of the flesh and to pander to them in that character, either grossly or with refinement.
2. "The lust of the eyes." It is not merely that the flesh lusts through the eyes, or that the eyes minister to the lust of the flesh. The eyes themselves have their own lust. It is lust that can be satisfied with mere sight, which the lust of the flesh never is nor can be. I may be one in whom the world's sensual or sensuous delights no longer stimulate the lust of the flesh. But my eyes are pained when I see the giddy crowd so happy and secure. My bosom swells and my blood boils when I am forced to look on villany triumphant and vice caressed. It may be all righteous zeal and virtuous wrath — a pure desire to witness wrong redressed and justice done. But, alas! as I yield to it I find it fast assuming a worse character. I would not myself be partaker of the sinful happiness I see the world enjoying; but I grudge the world's enjoyment of it.
3. "The pride of life." What pains are taken in the world to save appearances and keep up a seemly and goodly state! It is a business all but reduced to system. Its means and appliances are ceremony and feigned civility. All is to be in good taste and in good style — correct, creditable, commendable. It is the world's pride to have it so. What is otherwise must be somehow toned down or shaded off, concealed or coloured. Falsehood may be necessary; a false code of honour; false notions of duty, as between man and man or between man and woman; false liberality and spurious delicacy. It debauches conscience and is fatal to high aims. It puts the men and women of the world on a poor struggle to out manoeuvre and outshine one another, to outdo one another, for the most part, in mere externals, while, with all manner of politeness, they affect to give one another credit for what they all know to be little better than shams. Nevertheless, the general effect is imposing. Need I suggest how many sad instances of religious inconsistency and worldly conformity spring from this source? Do you not sometimes find yourselves more ashamed of a breach of worldly etiquette — some apparent descent from the customary platform of worldly respectability — than of such a concession to the world's forms and fashions as may compromise your integrity in the sight of God and your right to acquit yourselves of guile?And now, for practical use, let three remarks be made.
1. Of "all that is in the world" it is said that "it is not of the Father, but of the world." The choicest blessings of home, the holiest ordinances of religion, the very gospel itself, may thus come, when once "in the world," to be "of the world." There is nothing in them that rises above the natural influences of self-love and social, as these are blended "in the world."
2. "All that is in the world is of the world," Wherever it may be found. Let us beware, then, of letting into the sanctuary and shrine of our soul, now become the dwelling place of God by His Spirit, anything that savours of the world's sloth and self-indulgence, or of the world's jealousy and envy, or of the world's vain pomp and pride.
3. Let us remember that the world which we are not to love, because "all that is in it is not of the Father but is of the world," is yet itself the object of a love on the part of the Father, with which, as His children, having in us His love, we are to sympathise. Let us look at it as the Father looks at it — as a deep, dark mass of guilt, ungodliness, and woe. Let us plunge in to the rescue.
(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)
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.