Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Growing in Grace is a blog by Pastor Matthew Molesky. His posts explore the Bible, theology, ecclesiology, culture, books, family, and life.

How Can The Apostle John Command: “Do not love the world.”?

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. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 
(The Holy Bible: English Standard Version; 1 Jn 2:15–17)

So, to repeat the title of this article: How Can The Apostle John Command: “Do not love the world.”?

The first way to answer the question is to be sure what he is NOT saying.

He knows what God said in Genesis, when he looked at his creation of the world and “saw that it (the world) was good.” (Genesis 1-2) And John has elaborated on this in his Good News story (John 1), sharing his understanding that the world has been made through Jesus; which is certainly another positive statement on the world. So he ISN'T saying, “Don’t love that world; in other words, the created universe and all that is.”

We also know that John has further elaborated in his Good News story (John 3) that “God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son.” And in another place in this very letter (1 Jn 2:2) that Jesus is the propitiation “for the sins of the whole world.” So, we know that he ISN'T saying, “Don’t love that world; in other words, all the human beings of the world.”

So if he isn’t saying that, what is he saying?

To find a clue, look at what he says in 1 John 4:3-5:

3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.

And, what he says in 1 John 5:19:

19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

So, what is the world to which John is referring, that we are not to love? It is the “evil organized earthly system controlled by the power of the evil one that has aligned itself against God and his kingdom.” (D. Akin) That world, my friends, has been overcome by Jesus in his death and resurrection. That world will not last when the King returns, bringing his kingdom, his new heavens, new earth, new world order. That world “offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. And these are not from the Father.”

And the Good News is that when you believe in Jesus -- and in his strength, and in his power, and by his Spirit -- you do what pleases the Father, when that world passes away, you won’t.

You will live forever.

That is truth worth memorizing and thinking over again, and again, and again.

You Will Never Be The Same