Summary: 1) The Command not to love the world (1 John 2:15a), and 2) Reasons believers are not to love the world (1 John 2:15b–17).

A suicide bomber slaughtered 72 people and wounded more than 200 in a park in Lahore Pakistan last Sunday. Immediately after Sunday’s attack, thousands of Islamists marched from Rawalpindi to nearby Islamabad, commemorating what they regard as Qadri’s martyrdom. Pakistan’s prime minister on Monday vowed to eliminate perpetrators of terror attacks. Yet, the government has been sending mixed signals to Islamic extremists – on the one hand allowing banned radical groups to operate unhindered under new names and radical leaders to openly give inciting speeches, while on the other hanging convicts like Qadri and promising to tackle honor killings and attacks against women. (

In the wake of continued terrorist attacks there have been some fundamental questions as to how to deal with ideologies that oppose Christianity. Many have stated the fact that there are conflicting worldviews of two opposing kingdoms. Put another way, the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of God are inherently incompatible (cf. 4:5–6; 5:4–5; John 15:19; Gal. 6:14). The two are mutually exclusive and opposed to one another. They are antithetical, and cannot peacefully coexist. True Christians therefore will not be characterized by a habitual love for the world, nor will worldly people demonstrate a genuine affection for the gospel and its Lord (John 3:20; Acts 7:51; 13:8–10; 17:5, 13; Rom. 8:7; Col. 1:21; 1 Thess. 2:14–16). Clearly, there is an unmistakable line of demarcation between the things of God and the things of the world. The ongoing moral and ethical deterioration of contemporary culture makes this obvious. Even brief consideration provides a lengthy list of cultural agendas that are aggressively hostile to biblical Christianity: an attack on the traditional family by feminism; an active promotion of sexual promiscuity and homosexuality; an increasing acceptance of violence; an emphasis on materialism and hedonism by the secular media; a steady decline in standards of personal integrity and business ethics; an undermining of right and wrong by postmodern relativism; and so on.

The perfect love of God is a theme that runs throughout Scripture (Deut. 7:7–8; 10:15; Pss. 25:6; 26:3; 36:7, 10; 40:11; 63:3; 69:16; 92:2; 103:4; 119:88; 138:2; 143:8; Isa. 63:7; Jer. 31:3; Hos. 2:19; Zeph. 3:17) and appears with particular emphasis in the New Testament (Rom. 5:5, 8; 8:39; 2 Cor. 13:11; Eph. 2:4–5; 2 Thess. 2:16; Titus 3:4; Jude 21), especially in this epistle (2:5; 3:1; 4:7–21) and elsewhere in John’s writings (John 3:16; 5:42; 11:5, 36; 13:1–2; 14:21, 23; 15:9–10, 12; 16:27; 17:23–24; 19:26; cf. 2 John 3, 6). Yet because God loves perfectly, He also hates perfectly. As the Holy One (cf. 2 Kings 19:22; Ps. 71:22; Prov. 30:3; Isa. 1:4; 40:25), He loves all that is righteous, holy, and in line with His will and glorious purpose (cf. Ex. 15:11; 1 Sam. 2:2; Pss. 22:3; 47:8; 99:3, 5; 145:17; Isa. 6:3; 57:15; Rev. 4:8; 15:4). What this means, of course, is that He simultaneously hates whatever threatens or opposes those things (Deut. 29:20, 27–28; 32:19–22; Pss. 2:2–5; 7:11; 21:8–9; Nah. 1:2–3; Zeph. 1:14–18; Rom. 1:18; Col. 3:6; Rev. 11:18; cf. Matt. 13:41; 25:41; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; 2 Thess. 1:8; Rev. 21:27). The absolutely perfect love of God likewise demands that those who love Him share His hatred of all that is opposed to Him.

This short but familiar passage in John’s first letter describes a major object of God’s hatred—the world and those who love it. In the midst of John’s series of doctrinal and moral tests regarding the assurance of salvation (4:13), the apostle inserted a command not to love the world. In 1 John 2:15–17 the author moves from emphasizing the assurance that the members of the community have in their relationship with God to exhorting them about how they are to deal with the world that hates them and is opposed to God (Akin, D. L. (2001). 1, 2, 3 John (Vol. 38, p. 107). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).

His admonition, which is part of the moral test, divides into two main elements: 1) The Command not to love the world (1 John 2:15a), and 2) Reasons believers are not to love the world (1 John 2:15b–17).

1) The Command Not to Love the World (1 John 2:15a)

1 John 2:15a 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) (ESV)

“Do not love the world” is a PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE with a NEGATIVE PARTICLE, which means to stop an act that is already in progress (Utley, R. J. (1999). The Beloved Disciple’s Memoirs and Letters: The Gospel of John, I, II, and III John (Vol. Volume 4, p. 207). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.) By this John implies his readers may be guilty of misplaced values. In response, he will quickly explain why such an approach to life is inconsistent with experiencing intimacy with God. John does not say to abandon the world. Just as Jesus did not ask that His disciples be taken out of the world, only protected from Satan (John 17:15), John is not saying to flee the world or to reject it completely. He is simply saying not to love it. (Derickson, G. W. (2012). First, Second, and Third John. (H. W. House, W. H. Harris III, & A. W. Pitts, Eds.) (1 Jn 2:15). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.).

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