Part 4 of Authentic, a series on 1 John
Text: 1 John 2:12-17
You can listen to this sermon here.
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 (v. 15).
Do Not Love "the World"
Everyone who claims to be a Christian would say they love God. But if we examined everything we did during the past week, how evident would it be that we love God? Authentic love is more than words or feelings. Love is demonstrated by our actions.
Am I really devoted to God?
John writes, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (v. 15). (In this context, “the world” does not mean people, as in John 3:16, or the earth.) In verse 16, John tells us what is “in the world”: (1) “the desires of the flesh,” (2) “the desires of the eyes,” and (3) “pride in possessions.” To “love the world” is to have the values of the world (i.e., to live for what the world is living for).
Loving “the world” is idolatry.
The first commandment says, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:3). John concludes 1 John with a warning against idolatry: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (5:21). We might not go to temples to worship idols of stone, wood, or metal, but every culture has its idols. John Calvin said, “The human heart is an idol factory.”
Tim Keller often says that idolatry is “turning a good thing into an ultimate thing.” An example of an idol is home improvement. Lowe’s slogan is “Never stop improving.” Home improvement is a good thing, but we shouldn’t turn it into an ultimate thing. To some a store like Lowe’s is a temple, and home improvement is their god.
Why We Shouldn't Worship Idols
John gives two reasons why we shouldn’t worship idols (i.e., love the world).
1. We can’t love God while loving an idol.
“We are not created to worship, but rather we are created worshiping” (Mark Driscoll, Gerry Breshears, Doctrine, 339). Everyone is a worshiper. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). Our heart is to be devoted to God, not idols. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).
If we are devoted to idols, we are not devoted to God. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (v. 15). A common idol is money, and Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24).
2. Idols always end up disappointing us.
All that this world offers is temporary (as the rich farmer in Jesus’ parable discovered, Luke 12:16-21). “The world is passing away along with its desires” (v. 17). Most people eventually discover that idols leave us frustrated and unsatisfied.
In 2005, novelist David Foster Wallace gave a speech to the graduating class at Kenyon College. Near the end of the speech he said the following. “In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship … is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.” Wallace hanged himself in 2008 at the age of 46.
“But whoever does the will of God abides forever” (v. 17; cf. 1 Cor. 7:31). Doing the will of God is the opposite of idolatry. The frustration and dissatisfaction of idolatry should drive us to God.