The Perils of Worldly Love

The Perils of Worldly Love

Home Church Service 5/7/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

When our small group meets for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. These messages are designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points being discussed. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“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 (NASB95)

As I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, we didn’t have much, and we really didn’t need much. Cable television was just becoming popular, there was no internet or cell phone and the only type of pad we had was a pad of paper for writing or drawing. Life was fairly simple, and we lived a pretty simple life. As kids we had four acres of land to play on and explore, so we spent most of our time outside. Even when cable was finally available in our area and we could afford to have it installed, we still didn’t spend much time inside just watching television, there was too much to do outside. Heck, we didn’t even have air conditioning so being outside under the shade of our big pine trees was much more appealing! From playing ball or tag with our friends, to riding a bike or swimming in the creek, there was just too much to do outside for us to stay inside!  

Times have certainly changed, to say the least. Today it is nearly impossible to live without some sort of internet connection. Most of us have jobs that depend on an internet connection, so in one way or another, we need to be connected. Those who do not have cable have some sort of satellite service and those who have neither have an internet connection they use to “stream” television and movies. It is just about unheard of to be without air conditioning today, portable units have made it possible for everyone to have a/c now. We have cars, we have multiple televisions, we have cell phones, we seem to have everything we need! Our passage this morning is a warning about The Perils of Worldly Love, a timely message as we hurtle towards the return of Christ Jesus.

John warns those who follow Jesus not to love the world or the things of the world, for if they do, the love of the Father is not in them. The Perils of Worldly Love include the lust of the eyes and flesh and the boastful pride of life. These things are all passing away but those who do the will of God live forever.

The Perils of Worldly Love leads to the loss of the love of God – we do not have it in us, nor can we love as He does. We, like the sinful desires of the world, will pass away; however, we will find eternal life by doing the will of God.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What are the effects of The Perils of Worldly Love in the life of the Christ follower?”

The Perils of Worldly Love can only be overcome by doing the will of God.

1). When the Christ follower is ensnared in The Perils of Worldly Love, we lose our capacity for true unconditional love.

We have been called to love one another as Christ has loved us!

Two choices stand before everyone – even those in the church: either love God or love the world. Our affections are set either on God or on the world – it is impossible to love them both. The Christ follower is to avoid an infatuation with worldly godlessness and base pleasure, which is incompatible with the true love of the Father. When John warns us about the “things of the world,” he is not talking about money or possessions, but rather, he is talking about our personal attitude towards these things. The person controlled by the cravings for self-indulgence is not free – they are, in fact, a prisoner of the devil.

The Greek word for world is kosmos and it can mean the created material universe, which is good, or it can mean the world of sin that stands in opposition to God – this is the meaning at play in our passage this morning. Going forward, we will understand “world” as an organized system of human civilization and activity which is opposed to God and alienated from Him. The natural world, created and sustained by God, expresses His character in its beauty and splendor. The created order is good, and in and of themselves, the things of the world are not necessarily evil, it is the attitude we take towards them we must be aware of and guard against.

John presents us with a contrast between worldly love and the love of the Father. Love of the world comes from the world, does as the world does and is passing away. The love of the Father comes from the Father, does the Father’s will and finds eternal life. Worldly love is self-centered, selfish, neglects and uses others. Because worldly love is self-centered and selfish, it asks questions that are “Me” centered, such as “What’s in it for me?” Or “How do I gain from this?” It also proclaims, “Look what I did!” Worldly love neglects others around “Me.” The cares of others are secondary at best and are only given a second glance after “Me” has been satisfied.

At the same time, worldly love will use others to benefit “Me.” Most commonly this is seen in career advancement. Worldly love will use people to build a career by taking credit when credit is not deserved; “working” the angles of workplace politics to get a “leg up” on the competition; talking poorly about another employees work ethic or attitude; going behind another employees back to “steal” sales or commitments from customers and clients. Worldly love takes the most, keeps the most, uses the most and seeks only personal gain.

The true love of the Father is different – it is other centered, selfless, cares for and empowers others; The true love of the Father asks questions such as, “How can I help?” and “What can I give to make you successful?” The true love of the Father exclaims, “Look at what God is doing!” An attitude of service permeates the true love of the Father. We build our careers by serving others. We celebrate the wins and successes of those around us. We lift up, we build up and we stand up for others as Christ has done for us. Whether we get that promotion or not we know that God has our life and the plan for our life in His hands. Our rewards on earth are nothing when we consider our rewards in heaven.

The one new command that Jesus mentions is to love one another as He has loved us. He even left us several examples, but the most striking is found in John chapter 13 when Jesus stands up, girds Himself with a towel and washes the disciples’ feet. By stooping down to wash the feet of the disciples Jesus leaves an example of servant leadership. We can lift people up when we get down in the dirtiness of life with them and show them the unconditional love of God the Father. Peter wants no part of Jesus washing his feet. Jesus walks Peter through his “Me” centered faith and builds up a faith that will grow strong enough to become a pillar of the early church.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How have you fallen captive to the perils of worldly love?

How is your love “others” centered?

How are you “washing the feet” of those around you?

The Perils of Worldly Love can only be overcome by doing the will of God.

2). When the Christ follower is ensnared by The Perils of Worldly Love, we are overcome by sinful desires and selfish pride.

Every good gift comes down from the Father above!

Our God given appetites are not sinful, they are necessary for the continuation of life. They are not given to us to trap or taunt us – the problem is our fallen sinful nature. It often demands a level of satisfaction that involves breaking God’s laws or running to an uncontrolled excess. Love of the world does as the world does. It seeks after the lust of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. By contrast, the love of God does the will of God. It trains the flesh, prohibits the eyes and walks in humility. The eyes are the chief bridge between the flesh and the outside world.

Lust of the eyes can be a sinful interest that can be seen but the eye is also a metaphor for sinful passions that corrupt. Think of Eve looking at the forbidden fruit on the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Eve saw that the fruit was pleasing to the eye. Or King David as he looked upon Bathsheba as she bathed at home. Again, the sight was pleasing to the eye. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus mentions even looking at another person lustfully, which He equates with another sin, adultery. Today we would think of things like pornographic material, either movies and videos or reading material. Even some television shows, particularly on cable and streaming platforms, must be examined closely by Christ followers. Finally, there is the examination of people, what we would call “sizing them up,” to be used for personal gain.

In contrast, the love of God prohibits the eyes. We “censor” what we watch, read and listen to, carefully. The point here is NOT to “stick your head in the sand,” but rather to be conscious of those things that will cause a separation between you and God. We are not to be uninformed or naïve, but neither are we to be chasing the same sinful cravings of the world. In addition, we try to see people through the eyes of God and to see God in people. When we can see people as God does – lost, without a shepherd, hurting – then we can begin to see the image of God in them, for they too are the image bearing creation of God.

Lust of the flesh is any desire, any sinful interest, that draws us away from God, or at the very least, makes continuing fellowship with God impossible. We need to remember that there are no “grades” or “levels” with sin – sin is sin – and sin separates us from God. Lust of the flesh would include sexual sin because it is committed in the body. Food can be a sin as well. When we overindulge and use food as a replacement pleasure for the presence of God, it is not only unhealthy, but it also becomes a sin. Lust of the flesh can cause laziness when we think we have the full pleasures of the world available we tend to allow ourselves to hit “cruise control.” Finally, lusts of the flesh contaminate the body. They bring in impurities that cause the mind to be altered and open to further moral decay.

In contrast, the love of God trains the flesh. Paul talks of discipling his body in 1 Corinthians 9. In this passage, Paul is talking about doing whatever it takes to give him the opportunity to present the gospel message. To the weak, he became weak. To the Jew, he became as the Jew. To those without the law, as without the law himself. His final example is that of an athlete who competes in the games. The games that Paul is talking about are what we now know as the Olympics. The Greek games as they were known back then was an important event and athletes trained daily to prepare for the games. So, Paul uses the example of an athlete who disciplines his body; Paul says he disciplines his body to make it his slave. Why? Why would we need to make our body our slave? To control our cravings, control our desires, to be prepared to work daily and to keep our body pure, that is, not allowing the desires and the cravings of the world to control our body.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Are you using your God given appetites to do the will of God for your life or to pursue the desires and cravings of the world?

Are you able to see people through the eyes of God and to see God in the people you meet each day?

How are you disciplining your body to stay “pure?”

The Perils of Worldly Love can only be overcome by doing the will of God.

There is no easy answer for this, no easy button we can simply push to solve the issues we face in this world. All Christ followers want to do the will of God, of course we do, it is our deepest desire. But that doesn’t make it any easier to actually do the will of God. Paul talks about this struggle within us in Romans 7:15-21. Paul knows and understands the good that he wants to do, but he ends up doing the things he hates – sin. Paul confesses that it is not really him doing the wrong thing, but sin, that lives in him. This is where most Christ followers find themselves as well, doing what they do not want to do but unable to do the things they do want to do.

What is the answer? Confession. Confess during your prayer time that you want to do the right things, the good thing but sin still lives within you, and you are not the one doing the wrong things but sin which live in you. Secondly, take every thought captive to obedience in Christ. Name it, out loud, and take it to Christ – no matter how many times you need to do to fight back! The enemy will keep attacking until you make a stand. So, take a stand and fight back! Remember you have the FULL armor of God at your disposal! You are covered, head to toe, no part of your body has been left subject to attack that cannot be defeated.

Finally, remember you are a member of the family of God. You have a body of Christ followers who are here to support you in every and any way you need – including our prayer support! Life is too difficult to try and face it alone. The spiritual battles we face are far bigger than we are, and we must not think we have to face them alone. Together we can stand united against every scheme and temptation that comes along. So, count on your family of Christ followers – often!

We do all things to the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 4:1-18

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