[Maximum Joy Series] Love Your Brother And Know Your Real Enemies


Our first real Enemy: the World 

As Christians, it is of most importance to understand our position and standing in Christ. After a transition point where John wants to reassure us of our standing and to remind us of our weapons (forgiveness, intimacy, and Word abiding), today we will move on to understanding one of our real enemies: the world (2:15–17). John gives us three principles to help us overcome the world after our initial faith in Christ: 1) a principle of love (v. 15); 2) a principle of lust (v. 16); and 3) a principle of life (v. 17). 

1) Love (2:15). We cannot love the world and God at the same time—the love of one displaces the love of the other. Love is capable of only one primary focus. The point is so strong that James in his letter to the church says that friendship with the world is enmity with God. It destroys our intimacy. 

2) Lust (2:16). The first two areas where the world operates are in the lust of the flesh and in the lust of the eyes. Lust is an evil desire; it is deceitful (Ephesians 4:22), defiling (2 Peter 2:10), and controlling (1 Peter 1:14). The main problem: they trick us into thinking what is wrong is right. “How can it be wrong if it feels so right?” Lusts deceive us, control us, and consume us. Think about Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:6): the lust of the flesh (“she saw that the fruit was good for food”), the lust of the eyes (“that it was pleasant to the eyes”), and the pride of life (“and a tree desirable to make one wise”). Adam and Eve did not have a sin(ful) nature as they were originally created. There was no evil within them. That came with their fall. But they did have two enemies: the Devil and the world. Both of them worked together and made them fall. 

Even Jesus’ temptation in the desert followed the same pattern: 1) Lust of the flesh—"turn the stones into bread.” 2) Lust of the eyes—the Devil showed Jesus this present world and promised to give it to Jesus if He would worship Satan. 3) Pride of life—"prove how important you are by throwing yourself off the temple just to watch the angels come to rescue.” Jesus overcame the temptation of the Devil and this world by His own resolve to be faithful and by the proper use of God’s Word: “It is written ... It is written ... It is written.” The principle of overcoming lust is transparent: God’s Word wins the war against the lusts of this world! 

3) Life. “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (2:17). The qualification for a life that lasts, that has an eternal perspective, is to do the will of God. This is precisely the opposite of a life tied to the things of this world (lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life). He who does the will of God abides in Him forever. You can do the will of God every day. Every day can count for eternity. Every day can be significant in His eyes. 

Face your enemy (the world) and win the battle by loving God first, by abiding in God’s Word and by doing God’s will. Remember that God’s love language is to keep His commandments. If we are doing His will, we are keeping His commandments; if we are keeping His commandments, the love of God is perfected in us. Fellowship and complete joy are guaranteed.