Let Love Live Week 4
1 John 2:15-29
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.[b] 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
That opening line in this little section of the letter of John really hits you …
Do not love the world or anything in the world.
Does that mean I can’t enjoy a good pizza or be a keen supporter of my team or that I should go off and join a monastery or convent!?
Does John mean that I have to lose half my friends because they are ‘too worldly’ or never have a beer at a pub or enjoy the footy?
How this man, John, the Apostle who gave us the most famous bible verse in history.
… God so LOVED the world that he gave his only Son to save it … (John 3:16)
That is what John means by his word, ‘command’. Living love with God and with people.
Luther is helpful here. He says that word ‘command’ John uses does not refer to the ten commandments but to what actually happens in a person’s life in this new creation kingdom:
Where Christ dwells through faith, there he makes that person conform to him” (LW 30:240)
call us to ‘not love the world’?
Surely John must mean something else when he says words about not loving ‘the world’?
For John, ‘the world’ is the place of evil, where false or ‘lying’ teaching and teachers live. This anti-messiah Jesus place is what he calls ‘the world’, or ‘system’ or ‘domain’. He is saying, ‘don’t give your heart there’. It is the place and power of;
… the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life …
…the lust of the flesh,
All those physical, emotional, psychological cravings we have to find satisfaction, good feeling, out of control (lusting after them) at the expense of anyone who gets in our way.
…the lust of the eyes, and
That attraction to all that is shiny and new and bright; attraction to the mere outward show or a thing or a person or a system without any references to the depth, character, nature of them.
… the pride of life …
That false confidence that boasts of self-success and glory especially when we are pretty ‘well healed’ or have a significant win or achievement in something.
We have lots of these places and systems: sporting industry, gambling industry (same thing these days!), fashion industry…., even medical science, mental health industry or welfare system that have very little observable interest in paying any respect to the Lord of life, except for some individuals who happen to do that. Thank God for them!
John is saying, don’t ‘love’ these anti-God places, systems, powers wherever you come across them. They will kill your freedom, rob your joy, render you truthless and toothless in God’s great mission to win this world back.
The ‘love’ word John uses is strong. He uses the ‘agape’ word for love, which is always reserved for how God loves; a consistent, long devotion heart-felt self-sacrificing love. He is saying don’t love the anti-Jesus systems and forces in the world with this kind of love. That kind of love is reserved for your Lord, not those opposed to him!
Don’t give your life away to what is anti-Jesus, give it to Jesus. It is better!
But to be clear, John is not saying just hate the whole world and all its people either.
Luther sees that when John says ‘Do not love the world’ he is not saying to us do not love God’s creatures or land or sea or sky or people, because every creature of God is good, as Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:4:
4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving …
No, John is saying do not love the godlessness in the world.
… the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life…
or the “Anti-Messiah” spirit active in the world.
Luther again …
… in this passage the world is godlessness itself, … those who do not and do not pursue the right end, who use the things of the world for their own pleasure and glory.
Why not give your heart to them? For two reasons:
- They are not neutral. They actually are in conflict with the Father’s love for you and you cannot have both loves.
- They don’t last like God’s love lasts. They can never be complete or full or lasting like the love of the Father and the Son are full, and complete and everlasting.
So what indicators are there for you to know you are heading into these systems and places?
We are ‘loving the world and things in it too much;
- When a thing, person or goal engrosses our thoughts and imagination to such a high degree that it limits or even cuts out any serious reflection and attentiveness to the things of God; the word of God, the people of God, the Calling of God in our day. Other things are our first thought in the morning and our last thought at night.
- When all we find ourselves talking about most of the time are things, plans, people and etc that have no reference or connection to God’s plans and ways and will and word.
- When we are unwilling to part with an association, things or place when need be, or give any these up for God’s purposes.
- When we are discontent with our ‘lot in life’, and secretly grieve because we are not blessed with every earthly convenience that everyone else seems to have.
- When we really don’t want the Lord to govern the world and distribute his own gifts as he pleases to whom he pleases.
- When we pursue things, people, status, and enjoy those things when we get them, way more than we pursue the promises and presence of the Father and the Son and enjoy him.
- If we warm to the recognition and symbols of status that systems, communities and others give us and cherish the signs of greater deference and respect that come with them, and get very grumpy when we receive any slight from others instead.
- When we play a few tricks to acquire what we want at cost to someone else.
The list could go on. I guess just looking through those 10 commandments would show us the same warnings.
But now we find why John is giving this warning to his people. There is real threat in his community. It is false teaching. And as we hear last week, faith and love come from truth. We need to get the truth right to believe right so we love well.
There seems to be a false teacher active in the community.
 Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 30: The Catholic Epistles. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 30, p. 248). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.
19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
There were always various characters departing from the Apostle’s teaching in the early church. In this case, it seems to be a guy named Cerinthus.
Cerinthus taught various false thing:
- that the world was created, not by God, but by some other separate power;
- that Jesus was the natural son of Joseph and Mary, although he was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other humans;
- that at Jesus’ baptism the Christ descended upon Him in the likeness of a dove, providing Him miraculous powers;
- that at His death the Christ departed from Him, so that it was only the human Jesus that died and rose again.
What is the root of the lie of people like Cerinthus?
22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also (2:21-23)
There it is. Any teaching that denies that Jesus of Nazareth is God the anointed Saviour in human flesh denies everything.
Luther points out that anyone who denies Jesus as the Son of God, creator of the world and Saviour at any point, automatically denies Jesus everywhere.
When you do that you are dragged ever closer to these anti-Jesus places that only create more lies, deception corruption pain and lovelessness because that are godless places.
So, what will help live in the truth and place our loves in the best place – in Jesus, the one who lasts and can deliver what he says can deliver – freedom, joy, hope, forgiveness, deep peace …. true and wise love in which to live this life?
Here is the anchor point in the strong current – ‘anointing’.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth
You are ‘anointed’, John proclaims. You are chosen, loved, called in the love of God right in the middle of this strong current that always threatens to carry you off to the ‘anti-side’.
This is because Jesus is the Messiah; the ‘Anointed One’ of God. In his first public sermon at Capernaum, Jesus said,
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news …. (Luke 4:18)
By his spiritual resurrection power, we are now anointed by him in our baptism. Paul says;
21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
Even more, like kings and queen, we have been anointed into this royal family of faith in which we serve the world as priests. Luther puts it well …
This spiritual anointing makes kings and priests. Just as that anointing makes Christ a King and a Priest, so it makes us, too, kings and priests in the sight of God, that is, believers and chosen ones.
 Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 30: The Catholic Epistles. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 30, p. 255). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone (else) to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you (enough) about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit… remain in him.
Friend, I don’t know who or what you are getting pulled toward or why and how. I do know there are many voices doing their best to drag you their way – some for obvious evil and often for deceptive good, but nevertheless all part of these anti-messiah powers and places.
I believe the Spirit is giving you his anchor point again today for all that you are battling within and without.
It is the truth that you are anointed, chosen, called by Jesus still, and he is worthy of all your heart because can deliver everything you long for.
One day this strong pull to the ‘dark side’ will cease. When Jesus the King
… appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
No need to be ashamed today friend. The King has begun his ‘new age’ gracious rule and you are his royal subject, anointed by his Spirit in his heart of self-giving love when you don’t deserve it, cannot earn it and struggle to trust it.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. Why would you bother?