Summary: God gives us permission not to love the world because who ever loves the world cannot love God.

God’s Permission Not to Love

Text: 1 Jn. 2:15-17


1. Illustration: There’s a story about a wealthy Christian who somehow got obsessed with the idea of taking some of his wealth to heaven. Now he knew the Bible clearly teaches that you can’t take it with you. But so obsessed was he with this desire that he just prayed & prayed & prayed that God would give him permission to take some of his wealth to heaven with him.

Finally, his persistence in prayer paid off. God spoke to him & said, "Okay, enough all ready! You can take one suitcase with you into heaven."

Well, the story continues with the man deep in thought, "What do I take? What are the most valuable things that I can put into my suitcase?"

Well, he finally decided, & filled his suitcase full. Then one day he died, & when next we see him, he is slowly approaching the pearly gates dragging his suitcase behind him.

St. Peter met him there at the gate & said, "Wait a minute. What do you think you’re doing? You’re not allowed to take anything into heaven." The man answered, "You don’t understand. I have special permission from God Himself to take this suitcase into heaven."

Peter rubbed his beard & said, "Well, that’s very unusual. I can’t imagine God letting you do that. Let me look inside your suitcase & see what’s there." So the man dragged the suitcase over, & Peter opened it to see that it was filled with gold bars.

Peter said, "Pavement? You brought pavement to heaven?"

2. Sometimes God gives permission to do things that seem unusual to us. For example, did you know that God gives us permission not to love?

a. Not permission not to love our brothers and sisters.

b. Not permission not to love our enemies.

c. Permission not to love the world.

3. Read 1 Jn. 2:15-17

Proposition: God gives us permission not to love the world because who ever loves the world cannot love God.

Transition: God tells us not to love the world...

I. Because of It’s Nature (15)

A. Do Not Love the World

1. John tells us "Do not love the world or the things in the world."

2. First we must understand what John means when he says "the world."

a. He could be talking about the world as in planet earth. However, we can rule that out because the Bible says that God created the earth and called it good.

b. He could be talking about the world as in the people. Again, we can rule that out because the Bible tells us "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

c. Here, however, the world is presented as the evil system totally under the grip of the devil - Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM:1 John/

3. It is a world that is devoid of anything that is good, and saturated with all that is evil.

a. It is a world that contrary to all that God is.

b. If God is holy, the world is unholy.

c. If God is just, the world is corupt.

d. If God is kind and forgiving, the world is mean and vengeful.

4. It is a world that says:

a. White is black and black is white.

b. Right is wrong and wrong is right.

c. If it feels good do it in spite of the consequences.

5. Not only is the world contrary to God, but it is also hostile towards God.

a. Anyone that is caught in the grips of the world is also hostile towards God.

b. Is it any wonder that the media, television, movies, and the music industry are hostile towards God and His Church?

c. If someone in the world says something negative about Christians, they are looked upon as being concerned and progressive, but if a Christian speaks out against the sinful lifestyles of those in the world, they looked upon as intolerant and out of touch with reality.

6. Illustration: One of my favorite musicians is a guy named Randy Stonehill. Several years ago, he wrote a song called "Stop the world." It said, "Well it’s okay to murder babies, but we really out to save the whales. We’re putting criminals in office because it’s way too crowded in the jails. Right is wrong and wrong is right. White is black and black is white. I think I just lost my appetite. Stop the world I wanna get off. Stop the world, I wanna get off. This is too weird for me. Stop the world I wanna get off, I’ve just got to find a planet where they are interested in sanity.

B. Love of the Father

1. John goes on to say, "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

2. Again, we must understand what John means by love.

3. Here it is not the selfless love for one’s brother (cf. 2:10) but the love that entices by evil desire that is forbidden.

4. It is the world’s ability to seduce the believer, to drag him away from love of the Father that concerns John.

5. John has in mind that Christians are to avoid an infatuation with worldly godlessness, with the realm of darkness that brings base pleasures. Such affection is incompatible with the true love of the Father (Burge, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: The Letters of John, 115).

6. James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

7. Here both John and James tell us that we cannot be a friend of the world and a friend of God at the same time.

a. They are incompatible with one another.

b. They are like water and oil: they do not mix!

c. If you are a friend of the world, you are an enemy to God.

8. You cannot love the Father and also love:

a. Drunkenness

b. Fornication

c. Gossip

d. Greed

e. Perversion

Transition: God also gives us permission not to love the world...

II. Because of It’s Origin (16)

A. Lust of the Flesh

1. John tells us about the origins of the world when he says "For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world."

2. He says that the things of the world are not from the Father, but from the world.

a. They originate from the world, that system organized in opposition against God (Marshall, NICNT, The Epistles of John, 144).

b. They come from all that is in rebellion against God.

c. They come from the pit of Hell.

d. 1 Sam. 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,

3. John tells what some of the things in the world are like "the lust of the flesh..."

a. Lust: to strongly desire to have what belongs to someone else and/or to engage in an activity which is morally wrong—Louw & Nida: NT Greek-English Lexicon

b. Most people when they hear the term "lust of the flesh" assume that it refers to unholy sexual desire, but it is certainly not limited to sexual desires.

c. In other words, John has in mind any desire, any sinful interest, that draws us away from God or at least makes continuing fellowship with him impossible (Burge, 115).

4. Lusts of the flesh can include:

a. Bitterness

b. Envy

c. Revenge

d. Jealousy

e. Rage

5. Gal. 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

B. Lust of the Eyes

1. He also talks about "the lust of the eyes..."

2. This refers to "the tendency to be captivated by outward, visible splendor and show" (Marshall, 145).

3. Most importantly, this refers to thing that we see and desire but are not supposed to have.

4. A Biblical example of this is David when he saw Bathsheba, and he would not rest until he had her.

5. Illustration: There is a restaurant out in Goshen that is a catfish buffet. Once I told the owner that he needed to change the name to "eat until it hurts!" Your stomach tells us that it is full, but your eyes keep telling you "that sure looks good!"

6. I don’t want a cell phone that plays music or takes pictures. I know what you look like!

C. Pride of Life

1. The third thing that John talks about is "the pride of life..."

2. The word pride refers to boasting and arrogance, but it also conveys the idea of exaggerating to impress others (Marshall, 145).

3. This is not just keeping up with the Jones’s, but deliberately trying to out do them and then letting them know about it.

4. Prov. 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.

5. John has in mind an attitude of pretentious arrogance or subtle elitism that comes from one’s view of wealth, rank, or stature in society. It is an overconfidence that makes us lose any notion that we are dependent on God (Burge, 116).

6. Don’t ever apologize for the blessings of God, but you don’t need to brag about them either.

Transition: The third reason God gives permission not to love the world is...

III. Because of It’s Endurance (17)

A. The World is Passing Away

1. John concludes his argument by saying "And the world is passing away, and the lust of it..."

2. The world and the trappings that it includes are corrupted, sick and dying.

a. Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death...

b. All the vanity of this evil world with its devices is passing away. It has already begun to putrify. It is a corpse not yet buried. - Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM:1 John

3. The trappings of the world tells us to live for the pleasure of the moment, but what it doesn’t tell us is living like that only leads to one end - death!

a. It tells us if it feels good do it, but it doesn’t tells us that we are opening ourselves up to sickness and disease.

b. It tells us to eat, drink, and be merry, but it doesn’t tell us that this leads emptiness, pain, and heartache.

c. It tells us to live for the now, but doesn’t tell us that this leads to eternal death in the Lake of Fire!

4. "It is foolish to desire the world because the world and its desires are passing away" (Marshall, 146).

a. 1 Cor. 7:31 For the form of this world is passing away.

b. And the one that seeks its pleasures will share in its destruction.

5. This statement statement would be challenged by many men today who are confident that the world—the system in which we live—is as permanent as anything can be.

a. But the world is not permanent The only sure thing about this world system is that it is not going to be here forever.

b. One day the system will be gone, and the pleasant attractions within it will be gone: all are passing away.—Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament

B. Abides Forever

1. However, John says "...but he who does the will of God abides forever."

2. Illustration: In the 1986 New York City Marathon, almost 20,000 runners entered the race. What is memorable is not who won, but who finished last. His name was Bob Wieland. He finished 19,413th—dead last. Bob completed the New York marathon in 4 days, 2 hours, 47 minutes, and 17 seconds. It was unquestionably the slowest marathon in history—ever. So, what is it that made Bob Wieland’s marathon so special? Bob ran with his arms. 17 years earlier while in Vietnam, Bob’s legs were blown off in battle. He sits on a 15 pound saddle and covers his fists with pads. He uses his arms to catapult himself forward one arm-length at a time. He can run a mile in an hour. That is real endurance in the face of adversity.

3. John boldly proclaims the person who really does the will of God has the breath of eternal life. - Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM:1 John/

4. Rom. 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

5. We should not be conformed to this world, but we must seek to be conformed to the will of God as it is revealed in His word.

a. The question should not be is everybody doing it, but does God approve of it.

b. The question shouldn’t be does society approve of it, but does God approve of it.

c. God’s approval leads to eternal life, but the world’s approval leads to eternal death.


1. Now I don’t know about you today, but I want to do God’s will and not the world’s will.

2. We should not love the world:

a. Because of it’s nature

b. Because of it’s origin

c. Because of it’s endurance

3. Let us not seek after the things of the world, but after the things of God.