Passing Away

“The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).

- 1 John 2:17

One of the sad facts of church history is that the people of God have not always taken the call not to love the world very seriously (1 John 2:15). Time and time again, the church has conformed itself to and has even supported the world’s opposition to the will of God. Many denominations supported and endorsed slavery in the United States during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Professing believers in twentieth-century Germany often endorsed the radical nationalism promoted by the Nazi party.

In our own day, unfortunately, this trend continues, albeit in ways that are less obvious to us. How many congregations structure their worship according to modern entertainment rather than the proclamation of the Word of God and the worship of Him alone? How often do churches become bogged down in programs that are started more for the sake of creating little empires than for meeting the real needs of the people of God?

There may be many reasons for getting caught up in the way the sinful world operates, but perhaps one of the strongest reasons is that we think the world will always exist as it does now. After all, it is easy to look around and assume that since things are the way they are, then they are as they should be and will continue as such forever.

However, as John reminds us today, the world in its present state will not last forever. The present evil system that sets itself in opposition to God is passing away (1 John 2:17). It is foolish to love the world system both because it is opposed to God and because it will not last forever.

Moreover, unlike the world, today’s verse tells us it is the one who does the will of God who will abide forever. This does not mean it is our obedience that earns eternal life for us, for although God requires perfect conformity to His law, all of us have fallen short of this standard (Rom. 3:23). It is the perfect obedience of Christ, imputed to us by faith that provides eternal life for us, and we demonstrate that this obedience has been imputed to us, and thus that we have eternal life, as we do the will of God (James 2:18).

Coram Deo

The decay we see around us every day bears witness that this world will not last forever. Indeed, the new age that began with the coming of Christ will one day be consummated in a new heavens and a new earth. It is the eternal state for which we must long and for which we must store up our treasure. Do you have a tendency to love this world too much? Where is your time and money spent? Ask the Lord to help you store up treasures in heaven.

Passages for Further Study

Isa. 40:8
Dan. 7:13–14
Rom. 8:19–23
1 Cor. 7:31b

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.