Life-Study of 1, 2, & 3 John, Judeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 2:15-17, verses concerned with the world and the things in the world. In these three verses John defines the world and the things in the world.
The word in 2:15-16, strictly speaking, is not to the fathers nor to the young children; it is a word given to the young men. Of course, whatever is written in the holy Word is written for all of God’s children. Nevertheless, according to the context of chapter two, these verses are written specifically to the young men, to those who are strong, who have the word of God abiding in them, and who have overcome the evil one.
In the first section of this Epistle, the section concerned with the fellowship of the divine life (1:1—2:11), we saw that sin and sins damage our fellowship. In the second section of this Epistle we see two other negative things: the world and antichrist. In verses 13 and 14 John also mentions the evil one. However, this evil one, Satan, the Devil, does not appear directly here. Instead, he wears the masks of the world and of antichrist. No one would love the Devil if he were to appear directly. But everyone loves the world. The world is Satan’s mask that he uses to deceive us and cheat us. In this section of 1 John, the problem is not with the Devil; it is with the world as the Devil’s mask.
For those who love material things according to their lustful desires, Satan will appear wearing the mask of the world. But for those who are religious and care for things that are religious, philosophical, or doctrinal, Satan will come with another mask—the mask of antichrist with his heretical teachings.
The anointing that we have within us enables us to deal with the masks of the world and of antichrist. The young men need to confront the mask of the world. For this reason, the word concerning the world is written to the young men. What is the main problem faced by the young children, the youngest ones in the church life? This problem is the problem of heresy, the mask of antichrist. The antichrists do not consider themselves antichrists, but claim that they are for Christ. This claim, however, is a pretense, a falsehood, a deceit. Therefore, John points out that such ones are antichrist; they are not for Christ. Although they bear the name of Christ, this is a pretense. Whereas the young men in the divine life should overcome the world, the young children need to beware of antichrist. These two negative things—the world and antichrist—are found in the second section of this Epistle.
In verse 15 John says, “Do not love the world, neither the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The Greek word for world, kosmos, has more than one meaning. In Matthew 25:34; John 17:15; Acts 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; and Revelation 13:8, it denotes the material universe as a system created by God. In John 1:29; 3:16; and Romans 5:12, it denotes the fallen human race corrupted and usurped by Satan as components for his evil world system. In 1 Peter 3:3 it denotes adorning, ornament. Here, as in John 15:19; 17:14; and James 4:4, it denotes an order, a set form, an orderly arrangement, hence, an ordered system (set up by Satan, the adversary of God), not the earth. God created man to live on the earth for the fulfillment of His purpose. But His enemy Satan, in order to usurp the God-created man, has formed an anti-God world system on this earth by systematizing men with religion, culture, education, industry, commerce, and entertainment through men’s fallen nature in their lusts, pleasures, pursuits, and even in their indulgence in living necessities, such as food, clothing, housing, and transportation. The whole of such a satanic system lies in the evil one (1 John 5:19). Not loving such a world is the ground for overcoming the evil one. Loving it just a little gives the evil one the ground to defeat us and occupy us.
In verse 15 John says that if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us. The love of the Father here is our love toward Him generated by His love within us. We love Him with the love by which He has loved us.
It is important for us to understand the different meanings of the word kosmos in the New Testament. We have pointed out that this word is used to denote the material universe, the fallen human race corrupted and usurped by Satan, and the anti-God world system set up by Satan in order to usurp the man created by God for the fulfillment of His purpose. It is the last mentioned denotation of kosmos that applies to 2:15. In this verse the world refers to the anti-God world system formed by Satan. Every thing, every one, and every matter have been systematized by the evil one, the adversary of God, and made a part of his world system.
In such a situation, where shall we go? The answer is that we need to go to the Triune God. Only the Triune God has not been systematized by Satan. Along with going to the Triune God, we also need to go to the Word of God. Therefore, since every thing, every one, and every matter have been systematized by Satan, we need to flee to the Triune God and His Word. God’s Word is our refuge, our protection.
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