One passage that has caused confusion among believers is 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” The usual way people interpret this passage is: don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t dance, and don’t play cards. The list of don’ts could be anything the legalist sets his or her mind on.
Is this what John meant when he wrote the phrase… “Do not love the world?”
John describes the world view in three ways:
The desires of the flesh
The desires of the eyes
The pride in possessions
First, John is not necessarily addressing a list of do's and don'ts, but a system. A world system can be different for each generation and culture. The world is the culture or system that opposes God and the gospel.
So, what about our culture? For starters, we are a very self-centered, self-focused (hey, we invented the selfie), self- absorbed culture. Every one of us has to fight the mindset of being focused only on ourselves. Yet, the world mindset goes even deeper.
How does the world system oppose the gospel? What are world systems in our culture that tempt us with our flesh, our eyes, and our pride in possessions? The list in my culture could include but not limited to: money, the sexual revolution, and works based religion.
Take money or the American dream for example.
Simply, the flesh craves it. Then the eyes see the big house with the white picket fence, the nice car with leather seats, and the fat 401K. After the flesh wants it and the eyes see it; the work begins. The sacrifice. The lust for more; the greed for more. Then envy of others who have more creeps in. You push to gain it all at all costs. For some the cost is heavy: their marriage, their reputation, even not knowing their children. Once the material is obtained, then pride in possessions takes hold. In the Greek “pride of possessions” reads – parading our possessions. We drive our cars around as if we have arrived at that final culture club. “Look at my possessions.” Then you are hooked, and you need more and more stuff.
The world bombards us with messages that oppose the gospel anywhere and everywhere. The believer is to decipher then recognize the parts of culture that oppose the gospel and sound doctrine. Recognizing the world system helps you in your fight against it and sin. John says the believer cannot love the world and love Jesus. Our actions indicate what and who we love.
Take a moment to ask yourself these questions:
Can you list the areas in your culture that oppose the gospel or sound doctrine?
What word system entices you the most?
What desires of the eye do you struggle with?
What possessions do you parade around to show everyone?