Focal Passage: I John 2:15-27
Many years ago, I took a youth group white water rafting down the Ocoee River. Shortly after starting our guide fell out of the boat. You can imagine my shock and horror at the thought of trying to navigate this river without our guide. Fortunately, we were able to get the guide back in the boat and continue down the river. John’s readers are fortunate to have him as their guide to navigate the difficult issues that are mentioned in this passage.
The first difficult issue John guides them through is their relationship with the world system. John says you cannot love God and the world at the same time. I once saw a lady on a bumper boat; she stepped on the concrete to get out while the boat went in the opposite direction. She had the choice to get wet or fall on the concrete. The bottom line is that you cannot stay upright when you are being pulled in opposite directions.
The word “love” emphasizes something of high value. When we place high value on the world, we are placing less value on God. Sometimes we can fool ourselves by thinking we are okay because we are against the world; however, we are constantly consumed with the things of the world.
John gives us two reasons why we should not be overwhelmed by the world. The first reason is origination. The things of the world belong to the world. He lists three major areas: The lust of the flesh (gratification), the lust of the eyes (greed), and the pride in one’s lifestyle (gloating). Examples of the lust of the flesh are seen in food and sex. We see where this lust has led us today: The obesity epidemic and the sexual revolution in America. The lust of the eyes focuses on what it can get instead of what it can give.
The pride of one’s lifestyle lacks humility, and we know how God feels about that (James 4:6). The second reason John gives is expiration. Verse 17 tells us that the things of this world will perish and only the things done for Christ will last. The verb “is” demonstrates that it is happening and will continue until the end of time.
The next issue John discusses is how to expose the antichrists. He emphasizes that we are in the last hour because of the prevalence of the antichrists. John indicates the false teachers will eventually leave the church, and this departure declares their true devotion. He reminds believers of their anointing by the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives which will give them knowledge and discernment to identify the antichrists. John admonishes them to solidify the truth that his readers know but antichrists deny. The truth is that Jesus is the Messiah and you cannot have the Father without the Son.
A great litmus test to determine if a religion is false, is to see what they do with Jesus. Verses 24-25 states that if we allow this truth to remain in us we will remain with the Father for all eternity. Finally, John reminds his readers that despite the activities of the antichrists around them they have the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth and knowledge of God the Father and the Son.
For eternal fellowship to be enjoyed, we must refrain from being controlled by the world system and remain in the Father to expose the antichrist. What was true for John’s readers is also true for us today.
— Styers is pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Junction.