Don't Be a Demas: Rejecting Love for the World

The story of the Bible is a story of grace.  It's about how a God who is holy, just, and good created a universe to reflect His glory, and then he created people to be His image-bearers and rulers on the earth He created.  It's about how they rebelled against Him and fell under the curse of sin and death which separated them from the God who made them.  It's ultimately about how God, in eternity past, set his affections on His people to do everything needed, namely send His Son, Jesus, as a substitutionary sacrifice, to bring them back to Him. Grace is a major theme of that story.

In the midst of the unfolding of the drama of grace, there are also warnings along the way.  Warnings God gave to his people so that they might not stumble, and so that they might know and be assured that they are in Him.  Warnings in Scripture are intended to do two things.  First, they are intended to spur believers on to pursue holiness and spread the gospel of grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  Second, the warnings are intended for unbelievers in the church (not in the world) to either draw them to repentance or to expose as false believers leading the flock astray and expel them from the church.

We see such a warning in 1 John 2:15-17 to reject love for the world.

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 everything in the world ​— ​the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions ​— ​is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever. (CSB)

Included in this warning in verse 16 are three unholy affections that the Lord says belong to the world, and as such believers are to reject them. 

1. The Lust of the Flesh

 Desires in and of themselves are not bad.  The question we must ask is what is the object of our desires? The temptation of the flesh, the lure of the world, would drive us to seek to fulfill our desires in ways contrary to God’s will and His word.  So this isn’t just speaking of sexual immorality but any fleshly desire.  Desire for affection, companionship, food, intellectual engagement, etc. 

John is saying that in Christ you already have everything you need to have all these desires met.  But because we still have indwelling sin, we must recognize that sometimes were are tempted to pursue things that aren’t good for us, even when they seem good at first. So don’t run to the world to have your desires met, run to the one who created you with those desires instead and let Him fulfill them

2. The Lust of the Eyes

This refers to what you see.  Your eyes are a gateway to your mind and heart.  David lusted for Bathsheba because he “saw” her bathing.  Sometimes this world will use things that are attractive to draw our minds and hearts away from God.  What you see has a profound effect on you.  I’m sure all of us can picture something in our life we have seen and never been able to forget.  Sight is a powerful thing.  It is after all what lured Eve to the forbidden fruit.

To quote the child’s song, be careful little eyes what you see.  Focus your mind’s eye on Christ.  He is supremely beautiful.  Don’t allow your sight to draw you away and give in to sinful appetites.

3. The Pride of Life

This one is tricky.  But I believe it is referring to being prideful or boastful about either what you have (possessions) or how you live, your lifestyle.  We are tempted to make an idol out of our stuff, our achievements, and our position.

The world is so tricky in how it labels things.  It says “be proud to be (you name it), a woman, a man, an American, a soldier, a teacher, etc.”  All of these things have merit.  Of course, there are sinful things people often take pride in as well.  But this is just another way Satan takes something good and makes it an idol.  None of these things are bad things.  We need teachers, soldiers, faithful Americans, men and women.  But are they your boast? Are they were you get your sense of pride. Are they your idol? Because there is only one thing Scripture says we should boast in:

Galatians 6:14 " But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world". (CSB) To Paul in this passage when he says the world is crucified to Him, he is saying the world is spiritually counted as dead, of no use.  In the same way he has been crucified to the world, he has died to the things of the world.

 Never allow God’s good things, to take the place of God. The cross is the source of all our blessings.  The cross is where our victory was achieved.  

We can't embrace these unholy affections because ultimately they will not last.  We dare not give up a greater love (God) in order to pursue and make idols out of lesser loves.       

Let's consider an example of this from Scripture.  Demas was a man mentioned in Colosians 4 and commended for his faithful service to the Lord.  He was working alongside Luke to spread the Gospel.  We hear about Demas again in 2 Timothy 4:10.  Paul is in jail.  He knows the end of his life is near, and that he will soon die a martyr for the gospel.  Paul simply says of Demas, "he has deserted me, because he loved this present world".  Demas loved the world and fell in love with the things of the world.

 John reminds us to give all our hope and affection and love to God.  He is eternal and any investment made in Him will never go away.  What good does it do us to have all the stuff the world desires for us to have but to lose Christ along the way.  Devote all you have to the eternal.  Don't be a Demas.


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