Do Not Love the World
“Do not love the world.” And the fact that John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit needed to write this to these congregations and that we, now centuries later God designed for us to read it, suggests that we all have running in us an inclination to do this very thing, no matter how many Ligonier conferences you’ve been to. We have this running through the human heart, no matter how long you’ve been walking with the Lord Jesus, that we need to hear again: “do not love the world.”
You see up in verses 12, 13, and 14 this stylized almost poetic section which John addresses three different groups. And he repeats himself. He writes “little children,” “fathers,” “young men” and then again “children,” “fathers,” “young men.” That’s an important part of the groundwork to lead to this command in verse 15 “do not love the world.” Because he wants to remind us of our identity in Christ.
Listen, no matter where you are in your walk with Jesus you’re in one of these three places. Because these are not age markers so much as their maturity markers. You’re a child, a newborn Christian just starting out. You’re a father, a mother, you’ve been doing this a long time. You’re a young man, a young woman, you’re in the thick of the battle; you’ve been going at it long enough you can’t see that the starting line behind you and you hope that you don’t see the finish line quite yet in front of you. Don’t you love what he says to the young men in verse 14, “I write to you because you are strong.” You know as we talk to our kids or we talk to our grandkids or we try to encourage our friends sometimes we tell them, “I want you to be strong. I want you to be a man. I want you to be a woman. I want you to act like this.” And that’s that’s very appropriate, very biblical but I love what he says here, sometimes you tell people what they’re capable of and that’s the inspiration they need.
“Listen, listen young men you’re strong—okay. What I’m going to tell you here is not impossible for you.” And that for many of us is the first step on sanctification because we have believed this lie this kind of, as one author put it, “ecstatic failureism,” that all we have is Christian’s is just one unbroken series of spiritual failures in our life. And of course it is true in one sense—that’s why we listen to it—it’s true in one sense that we are more broken than we realize, we are more feeble than we realize, we have more sin, and the closer we get to the holiness of God the more we see our own imperfections. And yet God wants you to hear this: “You’re strong. Do not love the world. And I’m not giving you something that you cannot in some measure do with the Spirit’s help.”