We have a choice in that we can believe in the world or believe in what God’s Word states. In the book of 1 John, the prevalent thoughts of the day were rooted in false teaching. John was clear in his communication that he wanted the followers of Jesus to stop loving the world. This love, that he is referring to, is not the type of love that Christ represents, but, instead, a self-centered type of love. To love the world is a love that centers on pleasing one self. Believers are to be the salt and the light of the earth, and anyone who loves the world cannot be salt and light. God had never intended for people to get caught up in the world’s affairs. He wants His people to focus on the things of God rather than the things of the world.
How much focus do we give on the things of God rather than the things of the world? We need to recognize that the world is quite visible to us, but the things of God are much less evident. “So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Even in what we do see, the things of the world are not eternal, yet God has an eternal reason and purpose for us. Satan will readily interrupt our ability to focus on the things of God and cause us difficulty and conflict. Each day, believers in Christ face an adversary that wants nothing more than to hurt you spiritually and keep you separated from God (Luke 22:31; Acts 5:3; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
John declares that it is the craving of sinful man, the fleshly desires, that facilitates Satan’s efforts to carry out making the world more attractive to believers.
“Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle–is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
- The lust of the flesh (all the sinful sensual pleasures)
- The lust of the eyes (what we see we want to have)
- Boasting and the pride of life (position, titles, wealth, and personal accomplishments)
The world attempts to lure believers away from Christ. It brings confusion and disarray in the life of a believer (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40; Isaiah 5:20; Romans 12:2). There are instances where some have brought the world’s ways into the church while not conforming to the ways of God. We are often being trained to the ways of the world, and often without even realizing it.
John Wanamaker, a famous merchant who opened the first department store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1875, is widely considered to be the father of modern advertising. He believed in advertising as an effective method of creating a way for people to purchase more items than what they needed more often than the items they wanted. in this concept, the goal was no longer to manufacture products but to manufacture “desire” for the products. Advertising, today, remains a big business. Advertising is never concerned with the ability to pay (you can buy many large ticket items with bad credit or hardly any credit) or the harm a product could do to you (cigarettes or the abuse of alcohol), but only the ability to want (lust after something). The New York Times reported that each person is exposed to 3,500 desire-induced advertisements each day, promising that even greater satisfaction is just one more purchase away. The marketing efforts of most companies do not appeal to rationality–their efforts are geared to promoting instant gratification. The intent is not for adults to think about their purchases, but spend their money to satisfy their immediate desires.
Knowing this, we must overcome the flesh and control its desires. It is the desires of the world that keep the focus away from service for the Lord. The flesh…the eyes…pride…your status–do they really satisfy your life? No! “Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy” (James 4:4).
Everything of the world will eventually pass away, yet the God we serve is eternal (1 John 2:17). As God’s children, it is our desire to do His will and serve Him accordingly.