Choose Whom You Love

Home Church Service 3/13/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

“Do not love the world nor 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 lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”    1 John 2:15-17 (NASB)

There are many, many things in our world today that fight for our attention and love. From smart phones that keep us connected to social media and others, not just in our neighborhoods but around the world, to devices for our televisions that allow us to stream any number of shows, movies, music or games 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With so many things available at the tip of our fingers it is beyond difficult to choose just one!

John the apostle, writing to the church in Ephesus offers them a warning. Choose Whom You Love for the choices we make matter. One choice will leave you empty and leads only to death, while the other choice leads to obedience and fulfillment!

If we love the world and the things of the world, the love of the Father is not in us. The world and its lusts is passing away, so Choose Whom You Love, for only those who do the will of God live forever.

We cannot love material goods and still have love for God. Material things and sinful cravings of the body pass away, Choose Whom You Love, for only those obedient to the Father have eternal life.

As we examine our passage this morning, let us keep this question in mind, “Why must you Choose Whom You Love?”

You must Choose Whom You Love because choices matter – one choice leads to death, while the other choice leads to obedience and eternal life.

1). When you Choose Whom You Love, you can certainly choose to love the world.

The cravings of the flesh and the eyes leave you empty and lead only to death.

There are two choices that stand before everyone – even in the church. We either love the world or we love God. The first choice is the world, and here in context, John is talking about the world of sin that stands in opposition to God – it is a world of darkness under Satan’s control and lives under God’s judgment. For John, the created material universe is good and will one day find renewal. John urges Christians to avoid the worldly godlessness associated with the darkness that brings base pleasures. This stand in conflict with a true love of the Father.

The world includes man-made government and societies. Obviously, some are good, and some are bad – but believers are to love none of these. The world is also a system of sin, lust, evil, pride and rebellion against God. The world is full of people who sin, lust, do evil, are full of pride and rebellion against God – but believers are not to love any of these things. As believers we are not to love the world, that is, the possessions and pleasures offered by the world. Instead, we are to offer a contrast to the status quo and love God.

Yes, of course we can and should enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the earth and the heavens, but we must be careful not to become more attached to the created than we are to the Creator – God the Father. As we learned last week, our eyes are to be fixed on God, Jesus, we are to be attached to God and we must love God before all things.

John outlines three characteristics of this worldly godlessness – lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. When John says lust of the flesh, he has in mind any desire, any sinful interest that draws us away from God, or at least makes fellowship with Him impossible. Lust of the eyes is often a symbol of sinful passion that corrupts, that is, looking lustfully upon another person or thing. Such as Eve looking upon the forbidden tree because it was pleasing to the eye or King David looking at Bathsheba as she bathed. Finally, the boastful pride of life is an unholy pride in what you have. This is an attitude of pretentious arrogance or a subtle elitism that comes from a view of wealth, rank or stature in society – an overconfidence that makes us lose sight of our dependence upon God.

These characteristics are seen in the contrast between two people, the first loves the world, while the second loves God. The first person offers a false profession, professing their love for the world. This person loves and has become more attached to the things of the world than they are to God. We must remember John is writing this letter to the church, most likely the church in Ephesus, so he is writing to Christians who have professed love for Christ and yet John finds he must warn them not to love the world. It appears that some are about to forsake their faith and return to the ways of the world.

How does this happen to professing Christians? Perhaps they have become caught up in the beauty of nature and the earth. They seek to be outdoors, being active in fishing, camping and hiking, saying they are worshiping God in His creation. Or perhaps they have become deeply involved in government or social groups and no longer attend worship on a regular basis feeling they are doing the work they have been called to. Or perhaps they have developed cravings that are too strong to ignore, and they have returned to the pleasures of the world. None of these things in and of themselves are wrong. It is only when we allow them to replace or place them above God that we run into issues and deeper troubles might be exposed.

You must Choose Whom You Love because choices matter – one choice leads to death, while the other choice leads to obedience and eternal life.

2). When you Choose Whom You Love, you can certainly choose to love God.

When you love God, your obedience leads to fulfillment and eternal life.

By contrast, John offers the person who is obedient to the will of God. The one who does the will of God, says John, will live forever. The world, with its lusts, is passing away. When a person dies, they leave behind the world they have created and the possessions they have gathered. Everything they have enjoyed and thought brought them fulfillment are now gone. There is not a single thing they have enjoyed or gathered that they can take with them.

The wise person turns away from the world and instead turns to God. They want God and the life God has to offer, the life that is both abundant and eternal. So, the wise person seeks after the will of God, to do what God commands so that they may live with God forever. Believers understand that the world is passing away and no one lives on this world forever. To turn away from this sinful world that is passing away and holding on to God, is to hold on to eternal life!

For those who are obedient to God it does not mean that they no longer have fun or do things that are fun. No, these people know that to be obedient simply means nothing is placed BEFORE or ABOVE God and their relationship with Him. Those who are obedient are able to balance having fun or a night out with fellowship with other Christians, Bible study and reading and maintaining their relationship with God including times of corporate worship!

Everything the believer who is obedient to God has and does, is done for and available to God. It is His and He has provided them for our use and to bless others. Nothing is held back because God will bless those who remain obedient beyond anything they can ever image. Possessions are nice but the blessings of God last forever!

At the end of human history, when Christ comes to establish His eternal kingdom, the earth will be destroyed by fire – a new heaven and new earth will be created. Here there will be no more need for the possessions you have gathered in your lifetime; here only the righteous will live; here God and Christ will provide all we need; here the lusts of the flesh, lust of the eye and the boastful pride of life will no longer be!

You must Choose Whom You Love because choices matter – one choice leads to death, while the other choice leads to obedience and eternal life.

They are any number of things in our world that vie for your attention throughout the day. And that includes people from your own neighborhood to others around the world. Our world as shrunk, and we are now all connected through the device many of us hold in our hands throughout the day – the smart phone! No one wants to choose just one, but our choices do matter!

John reminds the Christians at Ephesus, and us, his readers today, to Choose Whom You Love. If you choose to love the world it will leave you empty and lead to death, while loving God will lead to fulfillment, obedience and eternal life. Our choices do matter!!

Everything that God has created is good, including fun, pleasure and enjoyment. We only run into problems when we allow these things or anything, to replace God as our major source of enjoyment and pleasure. We simply need to strike a balance between our activities and our seeking after God. Far too many people believe the Christian life is a list of dos and don’ts and things you are NOT allowed to do. This is the fault of the Christian, not those who are watching us! The picture we paint for most people is the Christian existence is miserable!!

There are more Christian walking around with a sour puss face than have a smile on their face. Shouldn’t those who have received and accepted the best news ever have the biggest smiles and loudest laughs wherever they may go? Shouldn’t we be showing others that this world, no matter how crazy it may get, holds nothing on us or for us? Shouldn’t we be showing the lost that life in Christ is the best things since sliced bread?

What is your life saying? Does it say you are exhausted trying to chase after the empty promises of wealth, fame and power offered by the world? Does your life say you are stretched to the limit trying to maintain a lifestyle that says, “I have arrived!” Is your lifestyle one of running from one event to the next while never taking time for your own personal care?

Or does your lifestyle strike a balance of love for God and fun, excitement and pleasure? Are you able to balance the activities of the world with a deep walk with the One who is the Creator of all that is good? Are you taking time to read and study your Bible to find the strength and energy to meet the challenges of life head-on? The choices you make matter. They can wear you out and tear you down or they can build you up and strengthen you. Like always, the choice is yours, so choose wisely.

I challenge you, in the two weeks leading up to Passover, to find the balance that may be missing. Find time to read and study the Bible. Find time for prayer and personal worship. Find time to simply listen to God speak into your life and watch how God will fill you, first with His love, strength and endurance but also with a sense of balance that will keep you coming back to Him more and more, seeking even greater balance to face your world and those challenges you are facing.

May you choose to always love God first and seek His face for all you need to have balance throughout your days.

Amen and Amen.

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