1 John 1:4 – And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (NKJV)
The Apostle John writes “these things” in 1st John that your joy “may be full” (v.1.4) What things?
- Full joy comes from fellowship with God, walking in the light. (1.5-7)
- Full joy comes from confessing our sin (1.9)
- Full joy comes from having Jesus as our Defender (2.1)
- Full joy comes with knowing God; evidenced by our obedience and love (2.3-11)
- Full joy is for all Christians in every stage of maturity (2.12-14)
There is a “love” that God hates. And that is the love of the world. Sometimes we are guilty of throwing out Christian terms and assuming everyone understands the true meaning. So let’s stop and define “world”.
“The world” in this context can be described in a number of ways. It is sin. It is love of the creation over the Creator. The world is materialism, immorality and hedonism. It is man-made religion and Godless government.
The result of the creation trying to exist
without the Creator constitutes “the world”.
I like to define “the world” in this context as everything man has created for Himself originating from a mindset (passively or deliberate) of “I don’t need God”. Whether religion, government, business, recreation or even trying to establish a purpose and meaning to life… the “world” is humankind’s effort to exist without God. It’s a mentality that is quite content to live life with no regard for God… ignoring Him, denying Him, never thinking of Him. Whatever results from man apart from God (sensuality, materialism, war, paganism, etc.) constitutes “the world”.
Note: I realize there are many ways to define “the world”, some more simple, some more complete, some more elegant. The point remains that man’s attempt to live without God, results in “the world”, whatever form that may take. BR
1 John 2:15 – 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. (NKJV)
So the Apostle John tells us that in part “full joy” comes from NOT loving “the world”. In his usual “I-dare-you-to-try-and-misinterpret-this” direct style of communication, John plainly states that if you love the world, the love of God is not in you. I think this is true on two levels.
- First, and the obvious primary meaning in my opinion, is that a consistent love for the world indicates a lack of true salvation. If a person claims Christ (or not) and continually lives life in an manner that is obviously based on a love for this world and not a love for God, then it is evidence that a true salvation experience most likely has not occurred.
- Second, I believe there is an application for the truly saved as well. To the degree that a “love for the world” infects your life (which it does in various ways and in various degrees for us all), you will no doubt experience a proportionate LACK of the “love of the Father”. In other words, even as a Christian we will most certainly struggle with loving the world our entire life and to the degree we fail in the struggle, we will be missing other Godly attributes and attitudes.
John goes on to describe some specifics about the “love of the world” and while the application to the unbeliever is obvious, genuine Christians should not dismiss the warning or the descriptions of what identifies “worldly” behavior:
- The lust of the flesh
These are lusts that originate in our flesh: uncontrolled appetites, illicit desires, greed, pride, etc. The lust here is any desire derived from our flesh that violates God’s commands.
1 Peter 2:11 – Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, (NKJV)
The “flesh” becomes part of the “world” when it is unrestrained and ungoverned by God’s Word. The lust of the flesh wars against all that is Godly. The more place we give in to the lusts of the flesh, the more unlikely the fruit of the Spirit will be manifest in our lives.
- The lust of the eyes
The eyes are the window and entrance to our mind and heart. Our eyes are the seed bag of our thought life. What we dwell on visually is fertilized in our mind. What we choose to set our eyes on stirs and inflames in our heart, whether holy or lustful.
Psalm 101:3 – I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. (NKJV)
Be careful what you allow your eyes to dwell on. What enters your eyes, plants in your heart and eventually becomes a harvest in your life, whether for God’s glory or your shame.
- The pride of life
The pride of life is an attitude of arrogance that somehow we are in control of life. It’s living day after day believing that we are the masters of our destiny, the creators of our circumstances. It’s living life acting like we are god, and God isn’t.
James 4:14-16 – whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (NKJV)
You cannot add one second to your life. You could be dead before you finish this sentence. In an instant your money, health and possessions could be wiped out. God is in control not us. To live disregarding that is pride. Pride is placing man’s way over God’s.
A life of full joy requires a life marked by a consistently diminishing love for the world. John gives us three plain, working examples of what “the world” is made up of: the lust of the flesh and eyes, and the pride of life. Examine your life today for signs and evidence of what you love… God? Or the world?
Father in Heaven, help us to recognize the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. May we love You and not the world. Grant us this day full joy and may You be glorified in it. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you love the world? Is just a little okay? Does John leave room for exceptions? Do you regularly examine your life for evidence of lust of the flesh and eyes; and the pride of life? What connection do you think there is to your lack of joy and the worldliness you allow in your life?
Application: The Lord promises and grants full joy in our lives. But it’s on His terms, not ours. We want to enjoy the blessings of God, and the pleasures of sin. You have to pick one or the other.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?