Love God or Enjoy Life – Is this our choice?
Turn with me this morning to 1 John 2:15-17.
Last week we finished reading about the encouragement that John was giving to different maturity segments of the church. He knew that life is difficult sometimes and wanted to point out a few things to the people of the church that they should be encouraged about.
Now John makes a bold statement about loving the world and how that is incompatible with loving the Father.
1 John 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
As we start to look at this verse, we need to remember that John is writing to
encourage the church and to
refute some things that the false teachers were claiming.
If we recall from a few weeks ago, he was refuting the claim that
these false teachers did not sin
nor did we have to worry about sinning.
Some of what he is refuting here may be there claim as to how to really enjoy life and to live it to the full.
As we read this, it is important for us to understand what John is talking about when He says “world.”
In the Bible the word, “world” is used in several different ways.
It is used to describe God’s creation.
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (from New International Version)
The world system
Meaning the principles and things that are taught in the world that is said to be real living.
It is in this third sense that “the world” is being spoken of that we are not to love.
And this text is basically saying
don’t love the world system and what it teaches and what it stands for.
For all the things the world says will bring enjoyment, and it lists 3 things
He says those things are
not from the Father.
They are temporary and fleeting and
ultimately don’t do anything for you for the long term, but bring harm. But following the Father and doing what He says will bring real living.
Now to some people, the way they perceive this causes a problem for them.
World Not so bad
Because they may think, the world’s system is not that bad. In fact, I enjoy many things in this world.
World is bad from mouth – Can’t tell by living
Others may say, the world system is bad and it is wrong and I don’t love it, but you may not be able to tell that from watching their life.
World system is bad – not full of Father’s love
There are others who say that the world system is bad, but there life doesn’t appear to be full of the Father’s love. It appears sometimes that they not only hate the world, but hate people.
Is it really possible to not love the world and Love God and enjoy life?
Or is our choice really either Love God or enjoy life?
Today, we are going to look a bit more closely at this passage of Scripture and see what it is teaching us in practical terms and see if that is true to reality.
Then we are going to see what God teaches and if that really brings joy to our life.
So what does this text say about what the world says about enjoying life?
According to the text
The world says you will enjoy this life by Pleasing Yourself
1 John 2:16a
For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man
The cravings of sinful man.
Some versions translate this “the lust of the flesh.”
This is the physical things that we desire to please us in our bodies.
Things like food and drink and sex, etc.
The world says if you just pursue what you want, when you want it, and fill yourself with all that you desire, you will be happy.
God says that is not true.
Going on, it tells us
The world says you will enjoy this life by Loving yourself
1 John 2:16b
16 For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes
The lust of the eyes.
Often times we show our love by the things we provide for those we love. This verse is saying that the world says to show love to yourself by
buying and living for the finer things in life.
Whatever pleases your eye, get that and your life will be good.
Get money at all costs.
Borrow, cheat steal, whatever you need to do to have the finer things, the things that look good, is the only way you will enjoy life.
Madison Avenue markets us based upon the premise that life will be better and will only be better if you have what they are selling.
You won’t be fulfilled unless you have a new car.
You won’t be truly happy without a new house.
You can’t really enjoy life with out the best stereo equipment.
Get those things no matter what the cost so you can enjoy life.
That is what the world says.
The world says you will enjoy this life by Exalting Yourself
1 John 2:16c
16 For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does
Having and doing stuff is nice, but if people don’t know what you have and do, it isn’t near as good.
Prestige and Power and Fame are highly sought after because they will bring exaltation to a person.
It amazes me that so many will listen to what entertainment figures have to say about the political candidates.
Simply because they are famous and they exalt their opinion and themselves.
Now God says that life, true life, is not found in
pleasing yourself as a goal, or in
loving yourself above God, or in
seeking your own exaltation.
Well, Scott, I really don’t believe that. I do think that if you please yourself, love yourself you will be happy.
You know there was a guy in the Bible who tested this theory and found that it really does not bring fullness and enjoyment in life.
Ecclesiastes 2:1, 3-11
2:1 I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good."… 3 I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.
4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well-the delights of the heart of man. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work,
and this was the reward for all my labor.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
Well if those things don’t bring enjoyment in life, what does God say?
Look at verse 17. 1 John 2:17
17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
God says you will enjoy Eternal life by Pleasing the Spirit
Listen to what Paul writes in
Romans 8:5, 11
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
When we live to do God’s will, to please the Spirit, God gives us real and eternal life.
Jesus said in John 10:10
I have come to give life and to give it to the full
So does this mean that I make a choice to either Love God and have eternity or enjoy life now?
For the most part no, but there are times that may be true.
There are times we will forgo short term pleasures, for our long term, eternal enjoyment of life.
Moses chose to skip short term pleasure
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
Moses did forgo the short term pleasure of sin because he was looking to his eternity.
Many times however, we forgo those momentary and fleeting pleasures and we will many times also miss the hardship those choices will bring us.
Maybe you think it is fun to get drunk, until you are in an accident or are arrested for DUI.
Perhaps you think it will be great to be with a woman other than your wife or man other than you husband. It may be enjoyable in the moment, but the destruction to your family, the havoc to your marriage, the long term effects of those decisions, that one moment of pleasure, I will guarantee will be regretted for a very long time.
Now does Loving God mean that anything the world finds enjoyable is bad and that it needs to be avoided at all costs?
We need to remember the whole council of Scripture.
The Lord has told us in His word through Paul in
1 Timothy 4:4-5
4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
1 Timothy 6:17
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (from New International Version)
Listen, we can enjoy the things that God has given and created, but we will never find fulfillment from them when we pursue them as the thing that will bring joy into our life.
This is our problem. We have believed the lie of Satan that says if we want to enjoy life, we have got to look out for number one and pursue our own pleasures, we need to love ourselves first, we need to worship ourselves if we will ever enjoy this life.
God says seek first my kingdom and I will give you all that you need and bless you.
This doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer at times. We will.
This doesn’t mean that we will have everything that we want. We Won’t, thankfully.
This doesn’t mean that we won’t face temptation. We will.
Jesus faced temptations.
There are times that even from legitimate desires, we will be tempted to be controlled by them.
There will be times we forgo eating to focus on the Lord.
There will be times we forgo sexual relations, even within our marriage to focus on prayer.
There will be times we sacrifice and feel that sacrifice as we put others ahead of ourselves.
Practically speaking, How can we live to please the Spirit and overcome these temptations to
love ourselves and
How do we know if we have a legitimate desire that God is providing for or if we are looking to pursue the fulfillment of our desire ahead of God?
The first thing we do is
We pray to God
Through prayer we are going to be able to discern what we should do and to avoid temptation.
When Jesus was preparing to go to the cross, he encouraged the disciples to be praying recognizing that we can succumb to our fleshly desires if we are not seeking the Lord’s help.
41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
So, you need to be a person of prayer if you are going to be able to follow God and enjoy life through troubling circumstances.
We are also going to be helped to overcome the temptation to love ourselves as
We love our neighbor
How do we love our neighbor?
We love through action and sacrifice.
We love with the things that God has given us, our resources and not just our words.
Just like the Good Samaritan. He spent his time, his money, and his effort to help out one who was in need.
As we use and give resources to others, we become less attached to them and we get to see the Lord work in our own lives by providing for our needs.
When we value our money so much that we are unwilling to help or sacrifice for God’s kingdom or for His people, we can unconsciously make money our God
Matthew 6:24 - 24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Now we still exercise discernment through prayer in when and how to give, but we do need to love through our actions and resources.
Finally, to overcome the temptation to exalt ourselves,
We Exalt the Lord
Jesus said when tempted by Satan in Matthew 4:10 to ’Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’"
How do we worship the Lord?
Romans 12:1 says to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.”
Give yourself to God in all you do.
Sing to Him
Live for Him
Paul tells us in Colossians 3:17
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Whatever we do we need to do it unto the Lord.
Are you doing that?
Are you working at your job as unto the Lord?
Are you being a spouse as unto the Lord?
Are you raising your kids as unto the Lord?
Are you serving in the church as unto the Lord?
Or are you pursuing earthly pleasures and just seeking to love and exalt yourself in the things you do?
Let’s pray and ask the Lord to give us the discernment and strength to live our life unto Him and enjoy the fullness of the eternal life that He came to give.