“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world”
(1 John 2:16, NLT).
According to the Apostle John [thus, it is according to Jesus really, since apostles are God’s instruments] there are at least three different sins related to love for the world: “a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.” Let’s talk briefly about each of these concerns.
First, “A craving for physical pleasure” is translated “the cravings of sinful man” and “the flesh’s desire” in another translations. It means to be dominated by your senses or appetites. Food, sex, music, or other material goods are examples. These items may not in themselves be wrong. The way we use them makes them right or wrong. Wanting food, for example, is not necessarily wrong, but if food becomes that most important thing in your life – you become obsessed with it – then you have a problem. If we want something in a selfish way, and we are willing to get that thing at practically any cost, then we are concentrating on that thing and not much else. That item then becomes like a god until we obtain it. But it is never enough; the desire for things tends to grow and grow.
A second sin is “a craving for everything we see” or “the lust of the eyes” or “eye’s desire.” When we begin to feel that happiness will be found in things that money can buy, we can be tugged into the sin which focuses on the outward show. The Scriptures tell us again and again that what we see around us is temporary – it will eventually wear out or fall apart. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this when he says: “[Don’t] look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Remember, the eyes are the gateway to the mind, so they are vital part of making us who we are. The Psalmist says: “Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through you word” (Psalms 119:37). The more we look at something, the more we will think about it and the more we will want it. And the more we want it, the more we will use whatever energies we have to get it. Then such things become gods to us.
A third sin, one which goes a step further, is called “pride in our achievements and possessions.” Another translators calls this “the boasting of what he has and does” and “life’s empty pride.” Some people are tempted to go beyond outward show or showing off what they have – even to the point of lying. In trying to look better and richer, these people may try to outdo everyone else in describing what they have, whether it is true or not. People who like this are very insecure and unhappy. They spend so much energy trying to look great and important and tries hard to impress others. Beware!
As we examine ourselves over these three sins of the world, take to heart that “these are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever” (1 John 2:16-17). Ask yourself further: what do you think about most of the time? What changes do you need to make so that God is at the centre of your life?
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.