1 John 2:15-17 - Do Not Love This World

William Perkins, considered to be the first of the Puritans, has had his ministry described in this way, “Perkins took theology beyond knowing doctrines in the mind to experiencing Christ in the heart.

There was a story in a biography about Perkins that seemed to help illustrate what his ministry would have looked like as he helped people experience Christ in the heart.

One day as Perkins saw a large crowd gathering around the gallows where a prisoner was to be hanged. Perkins made his way through the crowd until he stood before the scaffold. A prisoner began to make his way us the scaffold and as the he turned towards the people Perkins was shocked at his countenance. He appeared to be a man who was already half dead.

Perkins called up to the man and tried to encourage the prisoner but his words had no effect. He cried out to the man saying, “What is the matter with you? Are you afraid of death?

The condemned man called back, “No. But of a far worse thing.

Perkins motioned for the man saying, “Come down again, man, and you shall see what God’s grace will do to strengthen you.

When the man came to Perkins he took him by the hand and they knelt there on the ground. They confessed sins and considered the bad choices that led to them. Perkins spoke of the eternal punishment in hell demanded by God’s justice. As he did the prisoner wept beside him.

Perkins then spoke to the man about the Lord Jesus, the Savior of all sinners who would repent and believe. He spoke about how Christ was stretching forth His blessed hand of mercy to him. He spoke of how Christ alone had power to save him and deliver him from all the powers of darkness.

The young man cried again, but this time it was with tears of joy. Lifting up his face, the prisoner looked out over people raising their hands and praising God for this amazing transformation. He then hurried back up the ladder, he accepted the noose gladly with a lifted head. It was as if he already saw heaven opening to receive his soul. (Puritan Hero’s; p.17)

As we come to 1 John 2:15-17 we see that the apostle John is also applying theology not only to the mind but he applies Christ to the heart and shows its impact upon the believer. A heart that has experienced the love of God will not love the world, it will love God, and obey God.

John says, 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 of life—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.

John writes to these believers and he gives them a very strong imperative command saying, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” (v. 15) This command may seem overwhelming to most of us because we have always loved the world. Our flesh craves the things of this world. But John will also give four powerful reasons for us to heed this command:

  • To love the world is to not have the love of the Father in our heart.

  • To love the world is to lust after and desire things that are not of the Father.

  • To love the world is to love something that is temporary.

  • But those who do the will of God will abide forever.

When John writes, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” we should acknowledge two things. First, he is writing to Christians. Secondly, he is giving them another test to determine who are true believers and who are not.

First, let us consider the Christians that John is writing too. There were some believers who needed to hear this command. The verb form, a present imperative active, suggests that John is telling these believers that they need to stop doing something right now. And then they are to continually and repeatedly obey this command from that point on.

Believers are continually being tempted to love the world in three ways: Satan, this sinful world, and by our sinful nature. Therefore we need to be watchful concerning these things. We are to look to the LORD and to be filled with the love of God which will leave no room for the things of this world. We can be assured of this, God will not give us the world to meet our needs. He gives us something far better and far more lasting. He gives us Himself to enjoy.