How do we continue to grow and walk in Jesus? John gives us some ‘do not’s.’
15 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. 16 For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV)
This passage points out the danger of living from a natural perspective. We cannot serve two masters (Matt. 6:24). The ‘world’ here refers to the natural perspective and system rooted in lust and pride which are byproducts of the fall. The lust of the flesh was stirred up by the serpent when he enticed Eve to desire the forbidden fruit by gazing upon it with her eyes. Pride was sown in man when the choice was made to follow natural reasoning rather than God. These things will perish and we must choose to follow the Father or the worldly system. Everything needs to be evaluated from this perspective (see Mat: 6:33). Many things are enticing and appear to be good, but when looked at from the perspective of eternity they lose both their appeal and value. John is here exhorting us to live with an eternal perspective and pointing out that if our first love is a worldly perspective then the love of our Father is not in us. He is not negating a struggle against sin, rather the embracing of sin.
What John is dealing with here is those who claimed to be born again but lived for the world and rejected the Lord’s values. A clear refutation of Gnostic views. John is showing that the two are incompatible and it is a lie to claim to love the Father but reject His value system. Bear in mind the Gnostic idea that we can sin and love the world because we are above it and what we do with our bodies does not matter. John is showing very clearly that it not only matters, it has eternal consequences.
What John doesn’t talk about here, but something that is a spiritual reality, is that when we love and pursue the world it creates veils over out heart. Yahweh explained this to Ezekiel.
1 Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. 2 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 3 “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them? 4 Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, 5 that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.” ’ Ezekiel 14:1-5 (NKJV)
What Ezekiel points out is that if we have idols in our hearts they act as a filter through which we hear from Yahweh. The result, our hearing is distorted.
Having told us what not to do John shifts focus.
18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
Here we come back to the significance of how John refers to our spiritual maturity. The phrase ‘little children in verse 18 refers to immature believers. In verses 20-21 he again strongly refutes Gnostic influences. These verses show that even at our most immature, as believers we have an inward anointing, the presence of the Holy Spirit, to lead and guide us into truth and away from deception. The other fact is that those who truly have a heart to follow Him will continue in this inward anointing and remain in fellowship with other believers. One thing that it is very helpful to understand here is that Christ literally means ‘the Anointed One.’ Jesus is the Anointed One. The antichrist is literally one who is against (anti) the Anointed One, or opposed to the anointing in us. This applies to both the anointing of intimacy and our call to walk in His power and authority. Through opposition and distraction the enemy (antichrist) does everything he can to stop us from walking in an anointing of power. The enemy also opposes and works against the inward anointing of our relationship with Jesus the Anointed One.
This passage brings out the crucial importance of faith. Whether or not we believe it, we have an anointing, the Anointed One lives within us in our spirit. When we choose to believe and act on this glorious truth we experience the results. When in faith we look to Him we experience the reality of His presence, I and many others can attest to this over and over. He is then able to teach us (1 Cor. 2:10-12). Sitting in His presence to be taught is intentional. When my children were little we live on an acreage next to 80 acres of forest. I used to take them into the forest, have them be quiet and ask them what they could hear. In a similar manner this spring I was in a kayak on a lake. I was aware of birds around me but when I intentionally just became quiet and listened in 2-3 minutes I detected the call of 7 different types of birds. This awareness came from being internally quiet and focused. This is how spiritually we access the inward anointing all believers have.
Are we listening?