Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. – 1 John 2:15-17
Some people refer to these verses as a digression from the topic of brotherly love as one of three tests of true fellowship with God. Nevertheless, I believe it is necessary to mention because it is the flip side teaching that a true Christian is marked by his love for the brethren. You cannot love the world and love your brothers and sisters in Christ because you do not love God. It may be helpful to also indicate here that by “world” John here refers to that part of the human race which persists in rebellion against God.
John is commanding us not to give our hearts to that which is apart from, and in conflict, with God. This is a love that drives us to pursue it with the hope of satisfying our desires and getting enjoyment from it. One reason for this command is that the world is full of lusts and pride, which are ungodly. The second reason is that we do not want to love something that will fade away. It will leave us apart from God, in rebellion against Him, and in despair because we chose to love something that is now gone.
Verse 17 compels us to develop an eternal perspective in order to find true fulfillment in life. For several years now I have tried to look forward and ask myself what I want to be or accomplish to no avail. I think it was because I was looking for an ambition that would give my life meaning. I thought about what purpose would make my life worth living. While I have not found the answer yet I believe it would have to be something that matters for time and eternity, and that narrows down to family and the kingdom of God. Those are the only things for which the rewards will outlast me. Anything that can be attained in this life, I feel, will only leave me wondering what to make of my remaining days.
We can obey the commandment today but we will spend the rest of our lives learning how to do so. It is part of that war between the members that Paul writes about in Romans 8. The spiritual and carnal mind fight each other for control of our heart. It is with our whole heart that we are to love the Lord our God, which leaves no room for the world. The challenge is great but we know that if we do the will of God then we will abide in Him forever.