I John 2:15–17. Love Not the World....

Key Notes: Greek theory of the Cosmos. Hebrew view of the universe. "The "World" in New Testament teaching. "The World" in American political philosophy.

What is the World? We think at once of our "stuff" and our daily "to-do's"—our house and car and daily work. When we read I John about not loving the World or the things that are in the World, we should go back to the Early Church in the Roman Empire because that is the context of I John. Roman religion was polytheistic, borrowed from the Greeks, who borrowed it from the Egyptians. It was corrupt. Eventually the Greeks and Romans rejected Zeus and Company in favor of philosophy and rationalism. But they developed the world-view into which Christianity was born.

The Greeks developed the concept of the Cosmos, meaning order, furnishing, adornment in Greek. They thought the Cosmos was

•one universe.
•a universal order and perhaps a universal law.
•a visible, living thing ?with a soul ?perhaps a god.
•a beautiful thing, bliss to be contemplated.

Aristotle believed that the universe had no beginning or ending; therefore it was eternal. Plato thought the universe may have been created by a Demiurge, a subordinate god. (The high god was pure and could not be contaminated by matter.) Early Church heretics (Gnostics) adopted this concept, so that the OT Creator-god became the Demiurge and was in fact evil.

However, in OT thought, the universe perceived in Greek culture was not in view. The Hebrews had a simpler, more pragmatic view of the world. They were not interested in the universe as such. Heaven and earth are God's creation; we are to be stewards of the earth. The focus is on human life. God oversees Israel and the nations. Our understanding of the World is now much more complex than either the Hebrew or Greeks'.

I. The New Testament  introduces the concept of The World (Gr."kosmos") as a spiritual entity, occupying a segment of time, and organized against God.
     •"...not the spirit of the World, but the Spirit which is from God." (ICor.2:12)
     •God has "made foolish the wisdom of the World." (I Cor.1:20)
     •"... following the course of this World...." (Eph.2:2)
     •"The World passes away and the lust of it...." (I Jn.2:17).

II. The World is wicked and we were once a part of it.
     •Satan is the "Prince of this World." (Jn.12:31; 14:30; 16:11)
     * "The whole World lies in wickedness." (I Jn.5:19)
     •The spirit that is against Christ, of antichrist, is in the World. IJn.4:3
     •...you once walked, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit which is now at work in the sons of  disobedience. Among these we also walked in the passions of our flesh, following the desire of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind". (Eph.2:2)

III. We were saved out of the World, the arena of sin.
•Christ died for the sins of the whole World. Jn.1:29
* "God so loved the world...." (Jn.3:16).
*“God sent His Son into the World that we might live through Him." (I Jn.4:9)
•"God was in Christ reconciling the World to Himself." (II Cor.5:19).
•Jesus is the Light of the World. Jn.8:1
•Jesus' kingdom is not of this World. Jn.18:36

IV. We are separated from the World.
     •We were chosen out of the World. Jn.17:6
     •The World does not know us because it did not know Him. I Jn.3:1
     •The World hates us because it hated Him. Jn.15:18
     •We are in the World (I Jn.4:17), but not of it as Jesus is not of it. Jn.17:16

V. We will overcome the World because He has overcome the World. Jn.16:33
     *We are sent into the World. Jn.17:18
     *"This is the victory that overcomes the World, even our faith." (IJn.5:4)
     *The saints will judge the World. ICor.6:2

Christians have made a difference in the World.
*Christians won the Roman Empire.
*Christians saved civilization after the barbarians destroyed Rome. (How the Irish Saved Civilization.T. Cahill. Bantam Doubleday.’96.)
*The Christian West, not Buddhist, Hindu or Islamic East, created the modern world. Great art and music, invention and technology, and social reforms are some of its products.

So when we come to the World today, the situation is quite different from NT times. American society was founded on Christian principles that we can see in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Consequently when we talk about "the World", it is not the pagan world that the early Church faced. Many of the good as well as some of the bad ideas in American life come from a Biblical base. It is therefore more difficult for us to sort out what "the World" is. The following contains some examples of the drift of ideas from the Bible into secularism.

At least three biblical truths were revised.
1). Original sin was excluded. Pelagius, a Christian heretic of the 5th century (410AD) believed in unconditional free will so that by moral effort people could attain righteousness. Some, like Socrates, did not need the Atonement. This translates in the modern world to salvation by education: if you tell people what is right, they will do it. They are able to do right. Our universities are Pelagian.

2). The "law written on the heart" becomes the basis of political rights.

"...there is a law 'written in the heart of everie man, teaching him what is to bee done, and what is to be fled; and because it is written in the heart, therefore it may not bee put away...and therefore against this law, prescription, statute nor custome may not prevaile.'"  {Origins of American Radicalism. Pantheon Books; S.Lynd,’68, p.31. }.

3). The privileges of the Christian are given to all.


"'Dissenting radicalism' was a vital movement in the history of political philosophy because it revealed the process by which Christian liberties could be transformed into the Rights of Man. The process was psychological....Once men have taken the short step of investigation from the spiritual privileges of the Christian to the spiritual composition of the understanding, the transformation into Natural Rights is achieved" (op.cit.)

4). Some ideas, especially of social justice, are well-supported in Scripture.

America has a dream of true social and economic equality, disallowing Marxism. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one...." (Gal.3:28).
"He has made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth...." (Acts.17:26).

We teach the equality of all racial groups,
and in equal rights for all, blacks and whites, men and women, heterosexual and homosexual, adults and children.

We seek to provide care for the young, the weak and the destitute.
“Seek justice, correct oppression, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. (Isa.1:17). “Let no child be left behind.”

"...as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality. As it is written, ' he who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack.'" (II Cor.8:14–15)
We need universal health care and fair prescription costs for all.

Philanthropy is built into our society.

We expect any adult to be able to administer first aid and life support. The Good Samaritan parable (Lk.10:25) is the basis for state laws requiring a person who comes upon an accident to give aid to the limit of physical and technical ability.

Our best welfare programs are "work-fare" programs, giving job training and opportunities to the poor and unemployed. Social welfare includes the dignity of work.
"Let everyone prove his own work." (Gal.6:4)
"If anyone will not work, let him not eat." (IIThes.3:10)

5). Some ideas are clear misapplications of Christian truth.

Everyone has the Inner Light, has access to the Truth, and therefore can make correct political decisions.

The idea that people remain in the light which God has given them is a fallacy.
"That was the true light that lights every man that comes into the world." (Jn.1:9).

Our prosperity is proof that God is with us.
"Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the field." (Deut.28:2)
"God...richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy." (ITim.6:17). Epicurean philosophy makes pleasure the greatest good.

Capitalism and democratic freedoms go hand in hand. We may have the wealth of the world at our feet, but we deserve it.

We believe in the global economy; we preach the free market everywhere. "Go into the all the world and preach to the Gospel". (Matt.28:19). Evangelistic salesmanship for commercial products overseas is a perversion of our message. Globalism is a commercial as well as a spiritual issue.

God is love." (IJn.4:8).Our society has also decided that love is god.

God loves everybody. We are all going to Heaven, if there is a Heaven, when we die.

"Beer belongs.”...Wine to gladden the heart of man". (Psa.104:15). Alcoholism affects as much as 30% of the population.
Beer consumption is 4.5 gal./ person /yr. in Wisconsin. No problem?

6. Some false applications of Scripture have grievous consequences.

God has wound up the universe like a clock and gone off and left it. We can explain everything by science. God is not necessary and hasn't been for 300 years.

Filthy speech is a problem for prudes. To the pure all things are pure." (Tit.1:15).
"I am persuaded...that nothing is unclean of itself but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it is unclean". (Rom.14:14) .

“Anything goes" “You are not under law but under grace." (Rom.6:14). "Pot is an innocent giggle." Gambling, porn, coke? It's all to be enjoyed. Be outrageous.

Who are we to judge? Everything is relative.

"Judge not that you be not judged." (Matt.7:1)

Conclusion: When the Holy Spirit's presence in the believer becomes the divine light in everyone, salvation through grace becomes free grace for all. Heaven for the redeemed becomes heaven for everyone. Being free in Christ becomes freedom for all, freedom to do anything. God is unnecessary because science understands nature and capitalism will solve our economic problems.

To claim special privileges as a Christian is seen to be exclusive, elitist, arrogant and selfish. A TV commentator recently denounced the idea that some would be saved and some would be lost.

This is the World that God calls us away from, the World that has turned away from Him.We are not to love food and sex, glamour and advertising, money, power and prestige, not our car, our titanium fishing rod, the lake cottage, our Green Bay season tickets, our jewelry, jet ski or snow-mobile.

But we are not called away from the EARTH. It is God's creation. We see God's handiwork in it. We are going to have to work with our "stuff". We will need some money. We are not to be ascetic. Col.2:16–23

We are to love God and Him alone.