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. 16For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life-is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. –1 John 2:15-17
Excerpts from Stop Loving the World by William Greenhill (1598-1671), edited by Joel Beeke and Jay T. Collier; © 2011 Reformation Heritage Books
What “the world” means:
“World” refers to the visible heavens and earth, with all the creatures in them, as they came from the hand of God. Genesis 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” And after that, we are told of particular things that were created. In the New Testament, we are told that “all things were made by him,” and that “he was in the world, and the world was made by him.” The world, and all things in it were made by Christ” (pg 3).
“World” means customs, manners, worship, and fashions of the world. Romans 12:2 says: “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed.” The world here refers to the ways of men, the worship of men, and the ways of men in the worship of God, elsewhere called “the traditions of men” (Colossians 2:8) (pg 4).
“World” means the pomp and splendor of the world, which Satan makes use of to further his kingdom and interest as well as to hinder the kingdom and interest of Christ. It is the abuse of the glory and greatness of God’s creation, the excellencies and gifts of men, the profits and pleasures, and the honors, the comforts, and the contents of the world. Galatians 6:14 Paul says “But far be it from me that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world” (pg 5).
Christians are not of this world. We are chosen out of this world by Jesus.
Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-19
Christians will not love the world.
To love the world is to highly esteem it, holding it in a high account. In Luke 14, when men were invited to the great feast, held their farms, their oxen, their wives, and the things of the world in higher account than the things of Christ (pg 5).
We love the world when our thoughts are fixed on the world. What a person loves, their thoughts are much upon. We meditate most on the things we love (pg 6).
Men are said to love the world when they desire the world. What men and women love, they desire much. Love is a desire to be united with the thing loved (pg 7). This love encompasses the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life.
Love for the world is found in setting the heart on the things of the world. Psalm 62:10 warns us: “if riches increase, set not your heart upon them” (pg 7).
We are said to love the world when we employ most of our strength in, on, and about the things of the world (pg 8).
We are said to love the world when we watch all opportunities and occasions to get the things of the world: to buy cheap and sell high; to get great estates, houses, lands, and things of that nature (pg 9).
Men love the world when they favor the world the most. When they favor the things of the world in their discourses, they are in love with the world. Christ tells you, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). When the world is in the heart the heart loves it (pg 12).
A man loves the world when he mourns and laments for the things of the world that are taken from him. That which we love, we mourn over when we lose it. (pg 14)
The world, with all of its enticements to love it, is powerful. We cannot overcome this power in our own strength, but Jesus has overcome the world.
The will of the Father is that we believe in Him and Jesus Christ the great overcomer of the world who He has sent. The world is passing away, but those who do the will of God abide forever.
I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
- Examining your life, would you be recognized as one who is not of this world; as one who is utterly devoted to Christ?
- What do you think about most of the time? What occupies your mind most of the time?
- When you turn to Jesus, He will give you the strength to set your mind on things above and resist the temptations to love the world. Have you turned to Him today?
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