John the Apostle in 1 John 2: 15-17, gives us a direct command that we are not to love the world? What does he mean? If we focus our minds on what we can achieve for ourselves in this world and put all our talents into acquiring wealth and position then we are committing idolatry. John goes onto say that if we love the world; the love of God is not in us. Who then can be saved?
Material possessions in themselves are not sinful. After all, God made all the worlds material from which we have designed and fashioned everything for our own needs. Abraham was wealthy and yet he was found righteous by God. Why? Because he did not put his wealth before his relationship with God. God loves to bestow gifts on his people. He wants us all to be healthy, wealthy and wise but if we misuse the things that he has blessed us with or covet even more, then we become idolaters.
In verse 1 John 2:16 John informs us there are three main sources of temptation in the world:
“ For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the father, but of the world.”
All of these ‘lusts’ or ‘desires’ in human nature are linked but let us look at each one separately.
Lust of the Flesh. There are many lusts of the flesh but let us examine just one.
Everyone has at one time or another tried to lose weight, to diet, so you know how hard it is to shift those excess pounds? Food for some is a constant temptation and the devil knows this. He is well aware that if he can control a person’s appetite by tempting their desire for food, he can reduce their ability to be an active soldier in the army of God. Excess eating slows down the metabolism and expands the waist line. Because the body is constantly working to digest large amounts of food, the brain becomes pre-occupied with the stomach. With less activity from the body the brain cells get clogged in much the same way as a car engine in need of an oil change. The thickness of the oil clogs up the pistons and the car does not run as effectively. Likewise the brain cells become sticky and dulls the senses. The stomach never feels full, leading to more eating, less activity and poor health.
From an inspired pen it is written:
“The enticements, which Christ resisted, were those that we find it so difficult to withstand. There were urged upon him in as much greater degree as his character is superior to ours. With the terrible weight of the sins of the world upon him, Christ withstood the test upon appetite, upon the love of the world and upon the love of display, which leads to presumption. These were the temptations that overcome Adam and Eve and that so readily overcome us.” ‘The Desire of Ages’, Chapter 11, Page 95.
Jesus rebuked Satan by saying:
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
The second lust John informs us about is:
“The Lust of the Eyes”.
Jesus informs us in Matthew 5:28 that when a man looks upon a woman and desires her because of her beauty, he has committed adultery with her in his heart. This also applies to women who look upon men in the same way. It is with the eyes that we begin to covet. When we want something so badly, we eventually turn our thoughts into action. One night, King David was restless so he went to the roof of his dwelling place. From there he could see the house of Uriah, the Hittite. David could see Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba bathing herself and was instantly overcome with desire for her. His eyes saw her beauty so be immediately called his servant to go and get her. In his lust, he forgot the seventh Commandment and committed adultery with her. Not only did he take another man’s wife, he went even further to keep her for himself. He made a plan to ensure Uriah, her husband was put on the front line of battle, where he was killed. Despite David’s later heartfelt repentance and his forgiveness by God for these acts, the consequence of his disregard of the law of God, resulted in the breakdown of discipline in his own family. A series of lawless acts finally led to civil war, causing many unnecessary deaths. (2 Samuel 11).
The third lust is:
“The Pride of Life”.
This is the selfish and arrogant display of those material possessions that in themselves are not evil, but replace the desire to please God. There are many today, even amongst professing Christians, who place their possessions above their love of God. Because they have the things or position in life that wealth brings, they consider themselves superior to others. Jesus says in Luke 12:15:
“Take head and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses”.
When we are in privileged positions and associate with a higher worldly status, it can make us feel more important than we really are. When I worked for the British Embassy in the Slovak Republic, my wife and associated with the British Ambassador and Ambassadors of other nations. We attended functions with the Slovak President and Prime Minister and senior politicians and military officers. On one occasion, I had to represent my boss, the Defence Attaché, in a small village in central Slovakia where I made a televised speech, which was see all over Slovakia and other national Embassy’s. I was treated like a dignitary and given centre place at a reception after my speech. For a short while after that I became somewhat of a minor celebrity with my colleagues. I began to feel quite an important person and my mind swelled with pride. Because I had not given the glory to God, it was not long after this I had an altercation with the Slovak boarder control over my credentials. Thinking myself to be a diplomat I was soon brought down to earth when I was told I did not have diplomatic status but was just a member of the Embassy staff. I was deflated. I had let my association with those in high positions and that day representing the Defence Attaché; make me think I was more important that I really was. God in his wisdom had put me through these situations to teach me a valuable lesson about the pride of life. We all need to learn these lessons and I am thankful that the Lord has opened up his Word to me through the Holy Spirit given to godly Pastors, Prophets and Teachers.
As we approach the end of time, our world government system is in a state of major change. A new world order is coming and with it a time of trouble that will take away most, if not all the personal possessions of those who do not follow the dictates of this new world order system.
In John W Robbins book ‘The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church.’, The Trinity Foundation 1999, he states the following which was written by Pope Pius XI in 1931:
‘Under fascism, property owners may keep their property titles and deeds, but the use of their property is, as Pope Leo XIII wrote: “Common”. Fascism is a form of socialism that retains the forms and trappings of capitalism but not its substance. Under fascism, property titles and deeds are intact, but the institution of private property has disappeared. Government regulations and mandates have replaced it. For this distinction between legal ownership and actual use, the fascist owe a debt to the Roman Church State.’
I found this quite amazing that Hitler’s NAZI party owes a debt of gratitude to the Roman Catholic Church for its system of government. If this is true, then we can expect a very difficult time is about to come on the earth when the Pope becomes the head of the world’s religious organisation under the government of the new world order. Will this not be a return to the dark ages? Property belonging to private individuals will become property of the state. All goods will become ‘common’, that is for use by everyone to share or take as someone has need. Therefore if this is going to happen in the not too distant future, is it not futile to put all our efforts into acquiring a richer lifestyle in this world? Of course this does not mean that we now have to give away everything we own. Not at all! But it does mean that we should now live within our financial means and put our money to better use rather than spending it on increasing our material wealth.
I am convinced that today’s world recession has been manipulated behind the scenes to bring forward the new world order sooner. Wars were started to ensure Protestantism was no longer effective in the world. Bibles are being printed with omissions to bind the consciences of men. America, once the land of the free is now ready to suppress its people and join hands with the Roman See. The mark of the Beast will soon be placed on all who do not follow God. However, we, who believe in God are not to be afraid of the coming tribulation. God has promised us that as long as we believe in him and keep his Commandments, he will protect those of us who are alive during this time of trouble. Then we will become heirs in his kingdom through Christ Jesus, (Revelation 21:7). God will never leave us but we can leave him if we become friends of this world.
In James 4:4 it says:
‘Adulterers and Adulteresses. Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself and enemy of God.’
Are we therefore to hide ourselves away from the world? To isolate ourselves as some hermits have done living in the mountains or locking ourselves up in monasteries’. No! If we do this, then how are we to become ‘the salt of the earth.’ (Matthew 5:13). Salt needs to be put into food to give it flavour. We therefore need to be amongst those in the world to give the good news of the Gospel. Jesus, when praying to his Father in heaven concerning those who follow him said:
“I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from evil.” (John 17:15).
And Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:14 says:
‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers for what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness”
He goes on to say in verse 15:
“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?”
Paul continues by saying that we are the temples of God and as such we should have no agreement with idols and that God will dwell in us and walk among us. That he will be our God and we will be his people? In verses 17 & 18 of the same chapter he instructs us to be separate from the world:
“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you. I will be a father to you and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty”.
This is not just Paul giving us simple advice. He is declaring the command of God that if we are to stay clean in mind and body and have a desire to have perfect characters through fear (respect) of God, then we will not associate with unbelievers.
Most churches today do not preach separation but as believers we must be separate from sin and worldliness in order to be separated TO God. Paul also writes Ephesians, Chapter 5:11:
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
Separation in the Old Testament. The people of Israel had many problems when they failed to separate themselves from the surrounding nations. In Leviticus 20:26, Moses wrote that God taught his people to be separate from other nations but when they consorted with pagans, God instructed them through his Prophets to refrain from evil associations. (Isaiah 30: 1-17).
If we are to be for God, then we are to be like Israel: “a peculiar and special treasure and his Holy nation” (Exodus 19: 5-6; Deuteronomy 6.)
HOW THEN CAN WE CLAIM TO BE A PECULIAR AND SPECIAL TREASURE, A HOLY NATION, IF WE CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THE SAME PRACTICES OF THIS WORLD?
David in Psalm 1: 1 encourages us to walk with God:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the council of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but delights in the law of the Lord.”
Millions of people today are unwittingly following the path of Satan. His system, the world system, opposes everything that Christ stands for. The world media today constantly feeds our desire to be better than others. Millions are hooked on gambling in the hope of getting rich quick. Everyone who plays the Lottery is looking for the big win. The love of money is the god of this world. Happiness today is having a big bank account. Through the media, Satan is feeding our fleshly lusts. We are given a diet of desire for material gain. Talent shows abound on TV. Young people covet fame and the wealth and notoriety that go with it. They have no time for God. In the late 1800’s, early 1900’s, the acting profession was frowned upon. No-one wanted their son’s and daughters to end up on the stage. What a change today. Actors have almost royalty status yet it is a profession that promotes the pride of life as something to be sought after even coveted! Self importance and exhalation; glamour and the wealth of the world are at its core. The stars of stage and screen have become the role models for the young. With such as these in the acting profession, is it any wonder our children are becoming lost in a material world when their idols are misguided fools on their way to destruction with the world.
So in a world turned upside down, how can we help to make a difference and show Christ them others?
As an individual believer, we are to become better ambassadors for Christ. To do this we need to nurture our spiritual growth daily by reading and learning from the Scriptures. We musts become familiar with its contents so that we can give a reason for our faith. We must prayer daily for a better understanding of the Word. Our lives are to become a testimony to our neighbours, showing them how false and destructive the love of the world is. Jesus in John 13:19: informed us:
“By this you will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
If we show that we love one another, then we will also show love to those who do not know Christ – those who for lack of knowledge of God might lose their eternal inheritance. If however, we act the same way as those who do not profess Christ, and curse others who curse us, are we any different to them? If we are discourteous and unfeeling to someone, are we representing a God of love? Jesus said that we would be known by our fruits. Using the parable of a tree and its fruit for that of a Christian, Jesus wants us to understand that as the fruit on a trees branches can be clearly seen as either good or bad. Likewise a person’s character will be seen in plain view. Actions and words will show the character. It is therefore important that as professing Christians, our standards in this life must be higher than the worlds. Even if this means we are held in contempt or ridicule by some. We must all bear good fruit no matter what the situation we find ourselves in. We musts never become self-righteous but always show humility. Treat them as we would like to be treated. We must remember that everyone we speak to is a candidate for the Kingdom of God. We can by our words and actions, either turn a soul to God or away from him. If the latter, then we will be held responsible for that persons death!
In John 15: 18-19, Jesus says
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But you are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”.
And in 1 John 3:13, we are told by Jesus not to be surprised if the world hates us.
HOW THEN DOE WE BEGIN TO SEPARATE OURSELVES FROM THE WORLD?
First we have to recognise the evil character of the world. We must make a conscious decision not to desire or expect approval or fair treatment from those in the world.
We have to make an active attempt to avoid situations and actions that might put us into a place of temptation which would compromise our faith and change our minds back to worldliness. We should avoid visiting places of worldly pleasure or watching ungodly TV or movies. The music we listen too should not be the popular music of today neither should we keep social company with those who do not believe in God. 1 Corinthians 15:33 – “Evil company corrupt good habits” Some versions say “Bad company corrupts good character”.
As Christians we are still to cooperate with others outside the church in projects that are beneficial to the community we live in. We should vote to elect worthy leaders but we must be careful not to give any form of Christian recognition to wordly projects that promote a political or religious agenda. Neither should we party to furthering a person’s or parties worldly ambitions.
We have many examples of individuals in the Bible who have worked in pagan environments whilst still remaining faithful and true to God. Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers, when living in a pagan environment, never lost his connection with God but gained the trust of his captures. Eventually through his fidelity and trust in God he gained a high position in Egypt. Through Joseph the Egyptians around him were made aware of the one true God.
The Prophet Daniel was taken into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. He never waivered in his faith to God and so found favour with the King resulting in him being placed in a high position in the Kingdom of Babylonia. Also Daniels three companions, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who because of their trust in God, would not obey the King’s command to bow to a golden statue. This resulted in them being thrown into a red hot furnace only to astonish King Nebuchadnezzar when they did not burn. This paved the way for the King’s eventual conversion to Daniel’s and our God.
And of course, our best example was Jesus himself. Never once did he ever compromise his integrity to gain the favour of others. These all lived in a corrupt world but were never contaminated by it. – shouldn’t we do the same?
John tells us there are three main forms of temptation which we must avoid.
First there is the ‘Lust of the Flesh’ Our minds must be in control of our flesh so that we do not let the lust of the flesh control our thoughts and actions.
Second: ‘The Lust of the Eyes’ The eyes are the windows of the soul. What we fill our minds with is through what we see. Actions follow from the desire to have what we see. We must therefore learn to turn away from looking at things which will bring sinful thoughts to our mind.
Third: ‘The Pride of Life’. What we possess in life does not make us better than anyone else. We cannot love the things of the world over our love for God. One has to take precedence over the other (1 Corinthians 11:32; 15:33; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Thessalonians 3: 5,2 and 2 Peter 2:12). By remaining separate from the world, we ensure we maintain a close fellowship with God. If we are constantly filled with the things of this world, we will have no time for God and as time is getting shorter by the minute, we don’t want to waste it on worldly pleasures. (John 4:4 and John 15:15). Our separation from worldliness will give a clear signal to others outside the Christian church that we are not like them. Our words and actions will show them we belong to God and in doing so they will want to join us (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
I believe that we are the last generation of humanity. The world is coming to its end. Some reading this may even be alive when Jesus returns. It is therefore my prayer that none, having been called by God, will give up the race towards to final goal of eternal life for the sake of a few earthly pleasures. There is a crown waiting to be placed on everyone’s head by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but only for those. who separate themselves to God.