Summary: However, there is a love that God hates which John warns us about. It is love for the world. Why are believers not to love the world?
WARNING AGAINST LOVE FOR THE WORLD
John reveals something about his audience in verses 12-14. John is writing to "little children” because their sins are forgiven. Note that verses 12 and 13 use two different words. Verse 12 refers to all believers as the word means literally "born ones." Because of the new birth their sins had been forgiven. Verse 13 uses a different word to describe those just starting out in the Christian life. They have been born again but are still immature in the faith but they have known the Father.
The word, "fathers" is a reference to those who have known Him who is from the beginning, and who have grown to maturity in the faith. The “young men" are those who have overcome the wicked one. They are "strong" because "the word of God abides in them." As a result they have "overcome the wicked one."
To all of God’s children, in whatever stage of spiritual development they are in, John gives a strong warning in verse 15. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The believer is admonished to love God and to love his brother. Such love is one of the evidences of eternal life. However, there is a love that God hates which John warns us about. It is love for the world. Why are believers not to love the world?
First, believers are not to love the world because of what the world is. Some are confused as to the meaning of “world.” The word “world” is used in at least three different ways in Scripture:
• The word “world” often refers to the physical world, the earth which God made. "God that made the world and all things therein." speaks of our planet. (Acts 17:24)
• The word “world” often refers to the world of mankind: John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world.”
• The word “world” often refers to the world system: In this context the world is an enemy which is opposed to God. This is the meaning of “world” in this passage. Satan is described as "the prince of this world" (John 12:31. Jesus said "We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (John 5:19).
The world then is not a natural habitat for a believer for his citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20). Christian fellowship and the world are incompatible because of the moral pollution of sin. All of us are concerned for the pollution of the environment, but are we concerned for the moral pollution?
Second, Christians are not to love the world because of what the world does. Love for the world is irreconcilable with love for the Father. "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Look at what the world does to believers. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
The Lust of the flesh includes anything that appeals to man’s fallen nature. It refers to the basic nature of unregenerate man that makes him blind to spiritual truth. Lust is an illegitimate expression of a basic desire. Hunger is not evil, but gluttony is sinful. Thirst is not evil, but drunkenness is sin, Sleep is a gift of God but laziness is shameful, Sex is God’s precious gift when used rightly in the context of marriage, but used wrongly it becomes immorality. See Galatians 5:19-21 for a list of the deeds of the flesh. Everything God said about the flesh is negative.
The lust of the eyes refers to the unlawful cravings which entice our eyes. The eyes are the gateway into the mind. So much modern entertainment appeals to our eyes. Advertisement appeals are often made by things that are immoral and materialistic. This leads to covetousness.
The lust of the eyes can also include intellectual pursuits that are contrary to God’s word. The lust of the eyes pressures us to think as the world thinks. It is to see things in the light of the world rather than with the eyes of God. The Psalmist prayed, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity” (Psalm 119:37). Our eyes can get us into trouble.
The pride of life speaks of vainglory. It is like a braggart trying to impress people with his importance, or one who tries to out do others in spending and getting, in houses and possessions, in cars and travel (travel now, pay later). Boastful pride motivates much of what such people do.