Posts Tagged ‘the world’

We are looking at a familiar passage today – 1 John 2:15-17. And we’re looking at its clear word to us – Don’t love the world.

Now these verses can stand on their own; you don’t have to  go through the whole letter of 1 John to make sense of them. And so I want us just to take these verses today and work at understanding what the message is here for us.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

We begin by asking what “the world” means. It is used six times in our three verses.

Some background

In Greek the word is “Cosmos.” We use this transliteration in words like ‘cosmology’ or ‘cosmic’ or ‘the cosmos’ – as in the universe. It’s used 78 times in the Gospel of John and 23 times in 1 John, which is a lot.

It can mean several different things, but here are some that are more relevant to our passage, from the writings of John:

  • It can mean “the earth,” as in the natural world – John 11:9. Here Jesus talks about how the sun lights this world.
  • It can mean “the people” who live on the earth – John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son . . ..” Here it means all the people in the world.

But it can also have a very negative meaning, something like the world system that stands in opposition to God. This system is made up of people, spiritual powers, values, ideas, institutions and nations. And it promotes a way of life that is not submitted to God’s will or God’s values. And this is what we are dealing with in 1 John 2:15-17.

Here are some Scriptures that speak to this understanding of the world in John’s writings:

  • John tells us that, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” – 1 John 5:19.
  • It is a place of “darkness” and “evil” deeds – John 3:19.
  • Jesus said that, “the world does not know” God – John 17:25. It doesn’t understand God or have a relationship with God.
  • “The world . . . has hated” Jesus – John 15:18.
  • And as John says, “do not be surprised, sisters and brothers, that the world hates you” – 1 John 3:13.

As we see from these last verses, there is conflict between God and those who live by God’s values, and the world and those who live by its values. The world can take two different approaches. It can persecute Christians. Or more commonly in our context it seeks to lure us with what Scripture calls ‘the passing pleasures of sin’ (Hebrews 11:25). Either way it’s trying to get us to walk according to its values and not God’s.

Now let’s look at –

The world in 1 John 2:15-17

We get a bit more specificity here. That’s because, when John says in v. 15 – “Do not love the world . . .,” he also says “. . . or the things of the world.” And then in v. 16 he says more about what he means by the things of the world. “For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

So we have three things highlighted here. 1) the desires of the flesh. These are the desires that come from within us; our fallen humanity. Things like greed, wrongful sex, excessive food, excessive comfort, revenge, a desire to be popular, rebelliousness – whatever can come out of hearts that are not submitted to God.

Here are a couple of Scriptures that talk about the desires of the flesh with examples: 1 Peter 4:3 – “living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.” Galatians 5:19-21 – “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies . . ..”

When God is not giving us guidance, direction or a framework of values, we find it in these desires of our flesh.

2) the desires of the eyes. This refers to the same kinds of things. The difference is that these are the desires that come from what we see around us that tempts us. When God is not giving us guidance, direction or a framework of values, we find it in what we see in others in the world.

3) pride in possessions. This one is pretty specific. It has to do with our material possessions that we have accumulated. More broadly it has to do with our status in life. When God is not giving us guidance, direction or a framework of values, we find it in what wealth or social standing we have.

The world promotes all three of these. It tells us to follow these desires and goals. Because this is how you will find meaning; this is how you will be happy; this is how others will respect you.

What we’re talking about in all this is –


This isn’t a word you hear very much anymore. I was a part of what is called the ‘holiness movement’ for a while. The college I went to was a part of this tradition. And worldliness was a big topic. But frequently, as in other traditions (Mennonites), it meant doing things that stood outside of church culture. For instance going to a movie theater (even if it was a Billy Graham movie). Or a certain style of dress that was deemed unacceptable, even if it was modest. Or a certain kind of music that was different (usually louder).

But we trivialize the concept when we do this. Does not being worldly really mean just being a generation behind in styles, music and technology? Or stopping at a certain point in history and not moving forward anymore?

No. Worldliness has to do with values and attitudes and behaviors that go against God’s will. Things like we have seen already: sexual immorality, drunkenness, greed, and boasting in your possessions. You can listen to the right style of music, dress properly and still do these things!

Worldliness has to do with wrong values like craving power and control; always wanting to be better than others, or lording it over others (Mark 10:42-43). This is the goal of your life, instead of humbly serving others.

Also big in our society is seeking the praise of people. We are very concerned with what others think about us, but not too concerned with what God thinks of us, even though this is most important of all.

Another example from American culture is our worship of celebrity idols. We give them our offerings of money and time; we do what they say; we honor and worship them.

The world operates according to these values. And when we love these things; when we do them – we have been lured into worldliness.

Finally our verses speak to –

Why you shouldn’t love the world

There are two reasons. 1. Loving God and loving the world are mutually exclusive. John says this in v. 15 – “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” You’re not loving God if your loving the world. You can’t have both at the same time. That’s because the things of the world are a part of a system that opposes God. As John says in v. 16 – “For all that is in the world . . . (all that we have looked at) is not from the Father but is from the world.”

There is a conflict between God’s values and the values of the world. And let me say it again, when you choose to love the world, you show that you do not love God. You have forsaken God.

The great and fatal mistake of so many Christians is to not understand this. They think they can have both. And you cannot. You really do have to choose. One or the other. God or the world. If you try to have both, you have made your choice for the world, since God requires our complete commitment.

2. You will be doomed along with the world. John lays out a basic contrast in v. 17 – “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

The world’s time is just about up. It doesn’t have a future. So if you make yourself a part of the world system that opposes God; if you follow its desires, you will perish with it in God’s judgment.

But here is the contrast – if you do God’s will; that is you love God and not the world, you will abide forever. There’s a future in this, even if it is hard now.

And that future is being a part of an eternal kingdom that will not pass away. It will remain forever. You will remain forever.


So I encourage you to hear the message today – don’t love the world! Give yourself fully to God, to love God with all your heart. Don’t allow the world to lure you away and destroy your love of God and your hope for the future.

William Higgins


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How Satan and Testing Work


We are continuing on in our series – How to Overcome Sin in Our Lives, or how to get rid of sinful behaviors and habits that have taken root in our lives. We have heard the call to stop sinning – to put away those sins that we know about and yet choose to do anyway. And then, what we are doing, both last week and today, is laying some groundwork for understanding how to be free.

Last week the topic was, ‘How sin works.’ We talked about where sin comes from and why we sin. Today our focus is on, ‘How Satan and testing work.’ I want us to see, not just what goes on in our hearts with regard to sin, but what happens outside of us that can influence us to sin.

We have to recognize the reality and power of evil that is around us, that goes beyond just human evil; that is much deeper and darker. We can’t see it with our eyes directly, but it is real nonetheless.

There is a war going on in the spirit realm. And we are a part of it whether we know it or not; whether we act to defend ourselves or simply get swept away by it. Paul says in Ephesians 6:11-12, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” 

But first a brief word about –

God and testing

Even as Christians, who seek to do God’s will, we have to confess that without God’s help we are mere flesh – weak and given to self-centeredness and pride.

But God wants us to grow and to come to a place where we humbly rely on him in our weakness, and to be transformed so that we find our true fulfillment in doing his will. And this is why he allows us to be tested – that is, to go through hard times and difficult struggles. He does this for our own good. As Hebrews 12:10 says, he tests us “for our good, that we may share his holiness.” Even Jesus was tested as Hebrews 5:8 tells us.

Satan and testing

Satan, however, the one who actually tests us, has a different agenda. Being aware of our weakness and pride – he uses testing to lead us to sin, judgment and destruction.

In God’s order of thins, Satan is a prosecutor. His job is to find evil, bring it to God’s attention and then punish it. This is what we see him doing in Job 1-2, seeking to test Job.

Although Satan has a role to play in God’s scheme of things, Scripture is clear that he is evil.

  • Jesus calls him the “evil one” – John 17:15.
  • Jesus tells us that he was “a murderer from the beginning” – John 8:44.
  • And Scripture tells us that he has been “sinning from the beginning.” – 1 John 3:8.

God may use him, but he has his own agenda which is opposed to God – and us. This is how he works:

1. He asks God’ permission to test us. We see this happening with Job in Job 1:9-11. Job is a good man, but Satan thinks that if his life is made hard, that he will show himself to be bad. This is also the case with Peter and the other apostles when Jesus was arrested. Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat” – Luke 22:31. He sought permission to test them.

2. He tries to catch us unprepared for testing. Peter says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” – 1 Peter 5:8. Satan is like a lion, who picks off the weak and the unprepared. He tries to catch us unaware, off guard, complacent, ignorant, proud or weak, so that he can devour us.

This is why Peter says that we are to be sober-minded and watchful. If you knew a hungry lion was in the area looking for food, would you not be alert? Well, spiritually speaking, there is one.

3. He tests us. This is when we are put in a difficult situation that puts pressure on us to sin; where the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit come into clear conflict – and we have to choose. We will either look to God for help or give in to sin. We will either move forward with God or backward with Satan. And he banks on the latter being the more common response.

This might be persecution as in Revelation 2:10, which says, “Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested . . ..”  It might be difficult life circumstances as in Matthew 4:1-11, when Jesus was tested in the wilderness.

4. He distorts the truth. He lies, deceives and in general seeks to confuse us with regard to God’s truth and God’s will for our lives. He can even quote Scripture, but with the wrong sense, to lead us astray, as he tried when he encountered Jesus in the wilderness.

Jesus tells us that he “has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44. Paul tells us that he “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ”  – 2 Corinthians 4:4. We are also told that he is “the deceiver of the whole world” – Revelation 12:9.

He does all this to lead us to sin. He doesn’t want us to know God’s will, lest we choose to do God’s will; lest we come to understand the gospel and God’s plan for our lives. And if we know God’s will he wants to confuse and deceive us.

5. He entices us to sin. As we struggle during a test, he tells us, ‘It’s OK, it won’t hurt you,” or, “everyone else is doing it.’ He will tell us anything to get us to sin. For instance, he spoke through Peter to Jesus – ‘you don’t have to go to the cross’ – Mark 8:32-33. 

6. Satan uses “the world” as he tries to lull us into complacency, as he distorts the truth and as he tests us.

The world, in the New Testament, often refers to all the people, values and ideas in the world that are not submitted to God, indeed that oppose God and God’s will and walk in their own way.

Satan is closely connected to the world. He is called:

  • the “god of this world” – 2 Corinthians 4:4.
  • the “ruler of this world” – John 16:11.
  • we are told that he rules over the nations of the world  – Luke 4:5-6.
  • And we are told that “the whole world lies under the power of the evil one” – 1 John 5:19.

And the world is all about pressuring us to sin. As Jesus said in Matthew 18:7, “Woe to the world for temptations to sin!” That’s what the world does.

So as it ruler, Satan uses the world as his instrument, to put further pressure on us to sin. The world teaches us that sin is normal and OK. And if we try to live according to God’s will, the world pressures us to conform to it. This is peer pressure to fit in; to go along with the crowd; not to be made fun of, or ostracized.

If we do give in to the desires of our flesh and sin, under pressure from a test and the influence of the world –

7. Satan turns on us and accuses us before God

Zechariah 3:1 tells us about how Satan stood before God and accused Joshua the high priest of sin. Revelation 12:10 calls Satan the “accuser of the brothers” and tells us that he accuses us “day and night before our God.” Again, he is like a prosecutor seeking our condemnation for our sins.

And once this condemnation is secured –

8. Satan becomes an agent of God’s judgment

Paul says that when we sin, “we give opportunity to the devil” – Ephesians 4:27; we open the door to let the destroyer come into our lives. He, then, holds us under his power. Paul talks about those who are snared by the devil; “captured by him to do his will” – 2 Timothy 2:26. Finally, he has been given the power of death to punish us – Hebrew 2:14. In this verse he is described as “the one who has the power of death.” He works in our lives to bring us to the final destruction of eternal death; the final judgment.


In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul talks about not being “outwitted by Satan.” He goes on to say that he is not “ignorant of his designs.” I have shared this with you today because I don’t want you to be outwitted or overcome by his designs and schemes.

Yes, we have a powerful enemy; one who seeks our destruction. But the good news is that although Satan is powerful – Jesus overcame him by the authority he has and the truth of God so that he did God’s will. And Jesus shows us how to follow in his path to be overcomers as well. And this is what we will look at next time.

William Higgins

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Today we begin looking at the story of Jehoshaphat. We will see what we can learn from this. Lets begin by getting oriented. Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of the southern kingdom of Judah, the son of Asa, of the line of David. He ruled for 25 years. His story is told in 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 17-20. We will focus on 2 Chronicles 18.

The Story Begins

 . . . and it begins well in chapter 17. We will look at this briefly to set the stage. First we see a picture of . . .

1) Jehoshaphat the faithful. He walked in God’s ways – “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. . . . (He) sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments. . . His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord” – 2 Chronicles 17:3-6.

Not only was he faithful – he was a reformer. He led the people to be faithful as well (like his father Asa).

  • v. 6 – he took away the high places and Asherim
  • vs. 7-9 – he began a program that taught the people the Law of God

Next we see portrayed . . .

2) Jehoshaphat the blessed.

  • 17:5 – He had great wealth
  • 17:10-11 – The nations feared him – so there was no war, but rather they gave him tribute
  • 17:12-19 – He had a large army

These are all tokens of God’s blessing in this context. This brings us to our focus today:

Jehoshaphat’s Unrighteous Alliance

King Ahab, the king of the northern kingdom of Israel was a very wicked man, who opposed Yahweh. He certainly did not walk in God’s ways. You will remember him from the stories of Elijah. His wife was Jezebel, the infamous queen. There was nothing righteous about Ahab.

Yet in chapter 18, we find that Jehoshaphat enters into a partnership with him.

  1. “He made a marriage alliance with Ahab” – 18:1. That is, he gave his son in marriage to Ahab’s daughter.
  2. “After some years he went down to Ahab in Samaria” – 18:2. He left Jerusalem, his proper responsibilities as God’s regent and went to be with Ahab. They had a great party with lots of food.
  3. Ahab “induced” or enticed him to form a league with him to retake a disputed city in northern Israel – Ramoth-gilead. This is the same word that I Chronicles 21:1 says about Satan enticing David to sin by means of the census.

The result of all this is that Jehoshaphat proclaims – “I am as you are, my people as your people. We will be with you in the war” – 2 Chronicles 18:3.

But first, Jehoshaphat wanted to inquire of the Lord – 18:4. Perhaps some hesitation on his part? And then we have one of the most interesting stories in the Bible, which we can’t get into in detail, but with regard to our focus – 

  • 400 prophets predict that they should go out to war for they will be successful. But Jehoshaphat want to know if there is another prophet. So Ahab brings out . . .
  • Micaiah who always prophesies bad things about Ahab. And, sure enough, he predicts that Ahab will be killed and that this is God’s purpose.

Despite his misgivings(?) Jehoshaphat goes forward with the plan. After all it was 400 to 1!

Ahab proceeds to imprison Micaiah. But just in case, he disguises himself and also encourages Jehoshaphat to wear his royal attire, thus making him the target of the enemy.

And sure enough, the enemy all came after Jehoshaphat thinking he was Ahab and he barely escaped death. God intervened to help him. Though disguised, Ahab is killed and Israel is defeated. And finally, Jehoshaphat slinks back to Jerusalem, humiliated by his bad decision.

Jehu’s Rebuke

Once back, the Lord rebukes him through his prophet Jehu, whose father, by the way, had rebuked Jehoshaphat’s father – King Asa. Jehu says, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?” – 19:2. In other words, he should not have made a partnership with an evil king, who was God’s enemy. It forced him to comprise his faithfulness to God – being away from his job of leading Judah, helping the wicked; participating in the persecution of a true prophet – Micaiah.

He received mercy: Jehu says, “Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Asherahs out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God” – 19:3. He was rescued on the battlefield and was allowed to continue as king.

But he also received a word of judgment: Jehu says, “Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the Lord” – 19:2. Sin never pays! The woman he married his son to – King Ahab’s daughter – later, after Jehoshaphat died, killed off the line of David. Only by divine intervention was one saved – 2 Chronicles 22:10-12. All of Jehoshaphat’s male children and grandchildren were killed – save one.

This reminds us, sadly, that we reap what we sow. But, not only that, so many times our sin ends up wounding those we love more than us.

After Jehu’s rebuke, Jehoshaphat got back on track. The rest of chapter 19 he went back to reforming Judah. This is what he should have been doing all along, instead of going to be with Ahab.

Lessons For Us

Jehoshaphat was an ancient king, but he is not so different than us, for we do similar things in our lives. And so we can learn from him.

1. We should not love the world. Like Jehu told Jehoshaphat about his seeking an alliance with Ahab, he should not “love those who hate the Lord.” He was not satisfied with what God had given him, but was longing for something else among the nations around him.

Similarly, John tells us – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” – 1 John 2:15. We also should not go about longing for what the world has. We should stay true to God.

2. We should not make partnerships with the world. I mean here, serious, committed relationships with unbelievers – dating, marriage, business – whatever. Just as Jehoshaphat allied himself with a wicked king.

Paul says about this, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-16. Believers and unbelievers have different values and commitments. We have different frameworks and directions to our lives.

These partnerships pressure us to sacrifice our faithfulness to God. When choices come along, you may want to keep your commitment to God, but you have to act in a way that works for the unbeliever as well. 

As James says, “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” – James 4:4.

3. The world will not be a true partner to you. We need to learn this. The world will draw you in:

  • It will party with you (like Ahab with Jehoshaphat)
  • It will give you honor and acceptance (like Ahab gave to Jehoshaphat)
  • It will entice you to make compromises (like Ahab did with Jehoshaphat)

And, when you waver, it will pressure you to conform (like Ahab bringing out 400 prophets to 1). It will use peer pressure to make you stay in line.

But the world will betray you (just as Ahab set up Jehoshaphat by disguising himself and making Jehoshaphat the target of the enemy, not caring if he died).

You compromise your faithfulness to God, but you will get nothing from it.


 May we learn from Jehoshaphat, so that we will not make the same mistakes. William Higgins

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