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. 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. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Some time ago we looked at how God regards us as His beloved little children. So it might be startling just a few verses later for the Apostle John to use such strong language. "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." But like a loving parent warns their children of the dangers of playing with fire, so too is God speaking with us.
In Matthew 6:24 Jesus Himself said, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."
In our previous devotional, Pastor Jason contrasted between the old commandment of God and the commandment of the world. When boiled down to the most basic truth, the old command of God is to live. John 14:6a records Jesus saying "I am the way the truth and the life". Jesus is life. And apart from Him there is only death. And so in order to live, as we have been commanded, we must cling to and worship the giver of life Himself.
Conversely, the world commands us to do what is wise in our own eyes as Eve did in Genesis 3:6. To worship anything and everything other than the Source of life. This is the very reason the Apostle John is using such serious language in our passage today. If we love the world and serve another master we are committing idolatry and it will inevitably lead to death eternally.
We create an idol in our heart whenever we make a good thing into a god thing, hoping it will save us from some personal hell.
"But idolatry is an ancient eastern sin," one might think. It is not. Like sin often does, idolatry masquerades around as something enticing and perhaps even good. We may lack statues, here in the West, but we more than make up for them with sports, entertainment, belongings, status, drugs, alcohol, food, and pornography. Or as John puts it "the lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes and the pride of life". Whatever we obsess over -- that which we devote the best of our time and money to: that is our idol. Even our spouse and children can be worshipped as false gods.
We create an idol in our heart whenever we make a good thing into a god thing, hoping it will save us from some personal hell. And truly humanity has been doing this from the beginning.
Shame on he who thinks himself any better than our first parents. We are fallen, idolatrous humans. And by our will alone we are incapable of being anything other than that.
"But God," Ephesians 2 tells us, "being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—"
By grace we have been saved! Not just from hell and the wrath of God. But from sin as well. From idolatry. From death. We have been given Jesus who is life eternal and have been made alive with Him. And by the power of His Holy Spirit, we can overcome our idols. Idols which cannot save us. Idols which only further enslave us. So, believer, submit to the will of God. Enjoy the freedom He has provided to His children. And do not again submit to the slavery of idolatry.
In your prayer time today, rejoice that our God is not mute, deaf, or blind but powerful and alive. Honestly call on Him to reveal to you any hidden idols and to empower you to smash them beyond repair. Soften your heart and allow Him to convict you in areas you yourself don't even like to think about. Repent of that sin and throw yourself at the feet of our good, gracious, and loving God.