Destructive Love: An Affair with the World
1 John 2:15-17

Destructive Love: An Affair with the World

1 John 2:15-17

Big Idea:

Love for the world destroys us. It separates us from love for God and it traps us in things destined to fade and disappoint.


Good morning. It’s good to be with you today. We’re going through the book of 1 John this summer.

  1. Helping us learn what it means to love
  2. Bring clarity about what it means to follow Jesus
  3. Bring encouragement and Assurance about our salvation


15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Big Idea

Love for the world destroys us. It separates us from love for God and it traps us in things destined to fade and disappoint.


Spiritual Adultery: It’s Cause, It’s Reason, It’s Destiny, and Our Hope


  • Spiritual Adultery


John starts this passage with a dire warning. Do not love! At first it seems strange. John just told us to love and that love for one another is a mark of following Christ. He now gives us a prohibition, a negative command to not love. I think it’s important to understand that Christianity isn’t primarily a list of do’s and don’ts. Christianity is about an intimate and personal relationship with the living God. There are times, like now, where that relationship will express itself in warning, in caution, in commands to not do something. Why? 1.) God knows and 2.) God loves. Theo isn’t old enough to fully understand commands yet. Just this week he started to get mobile. I loved this last stage, he looked cute and stayed still. He hasn’t started crawling so he just rolls everywhere. He rolled to our entertainment center and started hitting against it when I saw and remembered our electrical sockets are down there. At that point I had to pull him back away from it. Not because I wanted to ruin his fun, but because I care about his well-being more than that moments joy. God knows and loves us. So, he warns us.

What does he warn us against? He warns us against love for the world. What is love for the world? Why is this a bad thing? Doesn’t John 3:16 say, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”? If God loves the world in John 3:16 why are we commanded to not love the world here? It’s important to understand context and how words are used! The world (kosmos) can mean several things in the Bible: 1.) The whole material order 2.) Universe 3.) Plant earth 4.) The Totality of Human Inhabitant. Here in John however the word mean 5.) Fallen Humanity and it’s rebellion against God. The Bible talks about 3 forms of evil: Sin, Satan, and the World. Sin is the inner brokenness in our nature that manifests itself in rebellion against God. Satan is an evil fallen Angel intended to deceive and destroy God’s plan and people. The World is the culmination of sinful human choices and culture. Ephesians 2 reminds us that this aspect of the world is ruled by Satan. It’s his domain because it fits in line with his nature and character. We see the world exemplified with the tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Men gathered together to create a culture and name for themselves outside of God. In rebellion to God. We see this broken culture in every country and city in the world. It’s seen in our political system, our schools, our insistence in greed as a means of gain, using sexuality as a means of sales, popularizing gluttony, hosting up comfort and luxury at the expense of others. Sinful people in rebellion against God create broken culture and systems that exalt man and subvert God’s right plan and reign. James calls this what it is, Adultery against God. James 4:4-5 says, “ James 4:4-5 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

The most intimate human relationship you can have it that of marriage. It’s the culmination of all the loves: Family (Storge), Friendship (Phileo), Passion and Sexual (Eros), and Unconditional/Divine (Agape). It’s where you know and commit to be faithful to one another. One of the most powerful images the Bible uses of Christians is the Bride of Christ. When you become a Christian, you enter into this unique and intimate relationship with Christ. In some mysterious way, we become one with Him. He takes our sin and grants us union into His life. He promises to be our God and we promise to be His people. He promises to lead us and we promise to follow Him. Adultery in marriage is devastating, destructive, and leaves deep pain and wounds. For in choosing another you declare with your life (if not your words also) that the one you’re married to isn’t sufficient, isn’t enough, is lacking. How much more does our adultery with the world cry out to God and to others that we don’t believe God is sufficient, that He’s enough for us, that joy is found in Him? We slander God’s character when we choose to be unfaithful to Him and His calling in our life. We may speak words of praise while our life demonstrates otherwise. What does this Adultery with the world look like? Why do we do it?


  • It’s Cause


The cause for Adultery against God is love for the world and the things in the world. Verse 16 gets more specific, “16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world” This love for the world is a selfish lusting after. Notice the ESV calls is the desires of. The cause of our Adultery is found in our broken desires and desperation to prove ourselves. This inner brokenness is allured by the things of this world: Desires of the Flesh, Desires of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life. We see this three-fold temptation in multiple places throughout the Bible. The first time is back in Genesis 3. God created Adam and Eve to live in paradise in harmony with Him and His creation. The Serpent came and sought to deceive Eve. Surely you will become like God knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:8-9,”So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of flesh), and that it was a delight to the eyes(Lust of eyes), and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise(Pride of Life),[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” Notice the lust of the flesh arises out of an internal appetite or longing: Gluttony, Laziness, Addiction, Lust, etc. Lust of the Eyes focuses on external impulses: Jealousy/Envy, Greed, Comparison etc. While the Pride of Life focuses on status and identity: Entitlement, Identity, Worth, Status. We see Satan use these 3 temptations against Jesus in both Matthew and Luke. In Matthew 4 Jesus has just been baptized and is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to fast and pray in preparation for His upcoming temptation. After the fasting Satan comes to Jesus and tempts Him to turn stones into bread to satisfy his hunger (Lust of the flesh). Jesus replies, ““‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Notice how Jesus interacts with his desires, he leads them rather than allowing them to lead Him. Satan next takes him up to the pinnacle of the temple and tempts Him to reveal His true Identity to everyone. Throw yourself off the temple top and show everyone that the Father will send His angels down to protect you. Reveal who you are before God’s appointed time (Pride of Life). Satan wants Jesus to try and procure His Identity outside of the Father and His plan for Him. Establish your worth and value on your own terms rather than God’s. Jesus says, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” For the final temptation Satan takes Jesus to see all the kingdoms of the world and their beauty and glory. He tempts Jesus by saying all these can be yours if you will but fall down and worship me. Notice that gaining the world has a price, losing your soul. Jesus replies that it is written you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only. Notice how Satan uses these three aspects of the world to tempt both Adam and Eve and Jesus. How do you think you’re going to be tempted? The Enemy sought to deceive in both cases, he attempted to make it seem like a good thing, a gift, part of God’s plan. John makes clear that these things are opposed to the Father and are not from the Father.


  • It’s Destiny


Have you ever tried to build a house out of cards? You know, where you make a foundation and then try to build off of it? It’s hard and frustrating. All it takes is a slight breeze and everything comes tumbling down. This is what John pictures building your life on the world is like. It’s destined to fall apart. It’s destined to pass. The world and it’s desires are passing away. Like a sand-castle on the beach awaiting the next wave so is a life spent in love with the world. It’s destined to fade and disappoint. Solomon teaches us this lesson through the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon put his hand to satisfying all the fleshly desires his body had: Finest Food, Best Drinks, Sex in all its conceivable forms, leisure and comfort in abundance. He sought to satisfy everything his eye could see: He built forests, had the largest parties in the world, built the largest houses, had the most beautiful clothing and people around him. He built his resume up: Became educated and wise, accomplished international peace and prosperity in his kingdom and around the world, attained a wealth previously unmatched in all of Israel. He lived out all of these temptations to their fullest degree. In the end he says it’s vanity. It’s like trying to catch the wind. They don’t satisfy the human soul. They leave you feeling disappointed and empty. Jesus nails it in Luke 9:23, “23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? Solomon concluded his search by saying, 13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.[c] 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with[d] every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecc.11:13)


  • Our Hope


We can’t love the world and God. They are mutually exclusive. It says the Love of the Father isn’t in us. So what’s our hope? All of us have fallen into these temptations like our parents before us. All of us have loved the world over the Father. In the O.T. God tells a story through one of his prophets named Hosea. His people, the Israelites, have forsaken him and chased after other nations and other false gods. They’ve cheated on Him. God plays this out through Hosea’s marriage to a prostitute named Gomer. Hosea marries her, loves her, provides for her but she still runs away after other loves. Hosea then goes and at great cost to himself buys her back from the pimp she’s indebted herself to. It’s a picture of God’s heart and love for His adulterous people. Our hope is God’s love for us. God’s willingness to pursue an unfaithful people and rescue our hearts. Did you notice in vs.15 that it says if anyone loves the world, the love OF the Father isn’t in them. It didn’t say love FOR the Father, it said love OF the Father. Our hope isn’t in our ability to love God, it’s found in God’s ability to love us. When we receive the Lord of the Father it begins to change and transform our own ability to love. There’s a connection to receiving the Father’s love and reflecting the Father’s love. Have you seen your adultery? Do you see God’s love for you? Believe God’s love for you and allow that love to flow through you through faithfulness to Him. We deny the world’s temptations because we have found something better, God.