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.
There are things in the world which, although not actually sinful in themselves, do nevertheless so cheek the love of God in us as to stifle and destroy it. For instance, it is lawful for us to possess wealth and worldly substance; we may serve God with it, and consecrate it at His altar; but we cannot love wealth without growing ostentatious, or soft, or careful, or narrow hearted (1 Timothy 6:10). So, again, with friends and whist is called society.
I. LOVE OF THE WORLD BRINGS A DULNESS OVER THE WHOLE OF A MAN'S SOUL. Fasting, and prayer, and a spare life, and plainness, and freedom from the cumbering offices and possessions of the world, give to the eye and ear of the soul a keen and piercing sense. But this discipline is almost impossible to the man theft moves with the stream of the world; it carries him away against his will. The oppressive nearness of the things which throng upon him from without defrauds him of solitude with God. They come and thrust themselves between his soul and the realities unseen; they drop like a veil over the faint outlines of the invisible world, and hide it from his eyes. And the spiritual powers that are in him grow inert and lose their virtue by the dulness of inaction. The acts of religion, such as reading, thought, contemplation of the unseen, prayer, self-examination, first seem to lose their savour, and are less delighted in: then they grow irksome, and are consciously avoided.
II. As we grow to be attached to the things that are in the world, there comes over us what I may call a VULNERABLENESS OF MIND. We lay ourselves open on just so many sides as we have objects of desire. We give hostages to this changeful world, and we are ever either losing them, or trembling lest they be wrested from us. What a life of disappointment, and bitterness, and aching fear, and restless uncertainty, is the life of the ambitious, or covetous, or self-indulgent! But it is not only in this form that the mind is made vulnerable by a love of the world. It lays itself open not more to chastisements than to temptations; it gives so many inlets to the suggestions of evil. Every earthly fondness is an ambush for a thousand solicitations of the wicked one. It is a lure to the tempter — a signal which betrays our weaker side; and as the subtle infection of evil temper winds itself into the mind, the spirit of the Dove is grieved by an irritable and unloving spirit. The very affections of the heart recoil sullenly into themselves, and sometimes even turn against the objects of their immoderate fondness. In this way the love of the world becomes a cause of very serious deterioration of character. It soon stifles the love of God; and when that is gone, and the character has lost its unity, particular features unfold themselves into a fearful prominence. The chief among its earthly affections becomes thenceforth its ruling passion, and so predominates over all the rest, and draws the whole mind to itself, as to stamp the man with the character of a besetting sin. And this is what we mean when we call one man purse-proud, and another ostentatious, or selfish, and the like. The world has eaten its way into his soul, and "the love of the Father is not in him."
III. NOW, IF THIS BE SO, WHAT SHALL WE DO? We cannot withdraw ourselves. One has wealth, another a family, a third rank and influence, another a large business: and all these bring with them an endless variety of duties and offices, and usages of custom and courtesy. If a man is to break through all these, he must needs go out of this world. All this is very true; but, at the same time, it is certain that every one of us might reduce his life to a greater simplicity. In every position of life there is a great multitude of unnecessary things which we may readily abandon. And as for all the necessary cares of life, they need involve us in no dangers. In them, if we be true hearted, we are safe. When God leads men into positions of great trial, whether by wealth, or rank, or business, He compensates by larger gifts of grace.
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.