The Test of Worldliness

1 John 2:15-17

Hate to break it to you, not time to relax yet. The fight isn’t over, even for those who have overcome the evil one. Jesus, the perfect ultimate Warrior, prevailed over Satan at his temptation, Satan came back, repeatedly – in the storm (Mark 4:39), demon-possessed people (Mark 1:32-34), wrong counsel of Peter (Mark 8:33), in the Garden (Luke 22:40-46). Paul spoke of wrestling against “spiritual hosts of wickedness” (Eph. 6:12), summed up his life saying “fought the good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7). Peter apparently learned his lesson: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion” (1 Pet. 5:8).

Take heart – John issues his warning here in chapter 2, provides word of immeasurable encouragement in chapter 4: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) Warning comes as part of description: what does true faith look like, what can we expect from real Christians. Recognizing the genuine helps us resist looking like a counterfeit and avoid things that would lead in that direction.

John gives another test – covered love, experience; sound doctrine coming next. This test: worldliness; rubbing up against the world and its value system so we look like it. Paint wall or door or trim, turn around and rub up against it, what happens? Paint transfers from surface to you. Keep doing that long enough and eventually you’ll be covered. Not good, especially when we’re comfortable looking like that. John tells why it isn’t good, what he means by worldliness, and where our investment should be.

A. mutual exclusivity v.15

the world <==> the Father

two powerful and opposing forces in life – equally opposed but not equally powerful, praise God

loyalty to both is impossible – Jesus said: ““No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” Matt. 6:24

god the world worships just as possessive as God who speaks in his Word; neither will unquestioningly accept divided loyalty

God doesn’t share #1 seat: Isa. 42:8, e.g.

he expects to be in 1st place, receive the first and best we have to give – time, energy, treasure

thank God he’s gracious and merciful; like children / students: expect perfection, accept your best

talking about the kind of affection / priority-setting that requires choices, sacrifice

not talking about two things that are equally pleasing to God – read Bible, pray, build up others…

it’s about one choice that brings us closer, other encourages distance

one choice that satisfies God’s expectations, other that satisfies something or someone else

it’s kind of love that ultimately results in worship – the one who gets our highest affection / devotion is one we worship

for whom we sacrifice – can’t do that, can’t devote more money to Lord’s work, can’t go visit/encourage that shut-in, don’t have time for this vital ministry of the church, have to….. it would cut into…..

traditional Baptist Church Covenant:

Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now, in the presence of God and angels, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.

We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love;

To strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to give it a sacred pre-eminence over all institutions of human origin;…

B. worldliness v.16-17a

what characterizes the fallen world-system

what is temporal only

clock is running out, “the sands of time are sinking”, present age and earth and world-system as we know it will come to an end

most of what captivates the world never leaves here; won’t be present in next life, maybe not even next generation

how much in your experience has taken world by storm, speak of it to school-age kids, no clue!

world and its ruler trying to replace God and his benefits, can only come up with cheap imitation that’s easily broken, quickly forgotten

what appeals to senses and desires and ego

think about what unsaved family / friends devote time & treasure to pursuing

how much does little more than stimulate senses, gratify desires for a little while, pump up ego or self-image

NOTE: senses, desires, proper self-image are all good things, but not when they are master we serve

when sole object of effort is to acquire next sensory delight, satisfy desire for something, make self feel or look better, God is no longer one we love and worship

Gen. 3:6 theme Satan has capitalized on from the beginning – Eve’s temptation

the fruit was (1) good for food, the lust of the flesh; (2) pleasant to the eyes, the lust of the eyes; (3) to be desired to make one wise, the pride of life.

Luke 4:1-13 Jesus’ temptation

He tempted Jesus with the lust of the flesh, bread for His hunger (3), the lust of the eyes, “all the kingdoms of the world with their splendor” (5-6), and the pride of life, daring Him to cast Himself from the roof of the Temple in order to prove that He was the Messiah by an ostentatious display of power (9-11).

what perpetuates the lie

that doing what feels good, having what looks good, being what seems good – will satisfy

so you follow mantra, “if it feels good, do it”; what happens when you stop?

how does what looks good stack up when it breaks, wears out, or you neighbor gets a bigger/better/faster one?

how far does being what seems good to all around you in the world, how far does it get you when God says “who are you?”

that means are suitable ends

catch the order of things here:

Psa. 16:8-9 I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. ESV

Psa. 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. ESV

Rom. 15:17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. ESV

world’s way is perverted, upside-down; all that world-system promises will be ours in reality when love for God is #1

C. eternity v.17b

no second best for those who serve God

“It is disheartening to those who care, and surely a great grief to the Spirit, to see how many Christians are content to settle for less than the best. Personally I have for years carried a burden of sorrow as I have moved among evangelical Christians who somewhere in their past have managed to strike a base compromise with their heart’s holier longings and have settled down to a lukewarm, mediocre kind of Christianity utterly unworthy of themselves and of the Lord they claim to serve. And such are found everywhere….” A W Tozer

world and its desires passing away – why?

it’s corruption of sin and Satan that make world with its desires/lusts what they are, a distortion of God’s good gifts

Christ had victory over both at Cross, purchased better gifts for his people

victory has been won even though enemy hasn’t given up yet – his day is coming

loving obedience to God

must be our guiding principle in both this age and the next – same principle guiding Jesus during lifetime

Matt. 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

Matt. 12:50 “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

John 5:30 “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”

investing / applying all we are and have in what has eternal significance

fellowship with Father, one another

being nurtured by fellowship with God – strengthened in faith, understanding, conformity to his will

nurturing, building one another up

Heb. 10:24 And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works.

Matt. 6:19-21 treasure in heaven

“100 years from now no one will know the difference” – if that’s really true in ultimate sense, must re-think priorities

it’s people who leave this life, go to next – it’s our investment in building up people of God that makes treasure in heaven

So who do you trust to set the standard, to know what’s really best – those in life and culture who follow world’s system, or your Heavenly Father? Do choices you make reflect the answer you just gave? Is it obvious from daily routine you are doing “the will of God” as evidence that you possess eternal life? May that be true of all of us, may we honestly say “If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”


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