Upon completing a hospital tour for a first grade class, the charge nurse asked, "Does anyone have any questions?" Immediately a small hand went up. "Why does everyone wash their hands all the time?" an astute first grader asked. The charge nurse wisely responded, "Well, we wash our hands really for two reasons: one, we all love good health
; and two, we all hate germs
!" The nurse's two-fold answer actually demonstrates the nature of so many facets of life. Often a positive affirmation of one thing naturally implies the negative rejection of another. In other words, loving something often involves hating something else
. This is definitely true in our spiritual lives!
Consider the following verses from the word of God:
- Psalm 97:10 - "You who love the LORD, hate evil!"
- Proverbs 8:13 - "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate."
- Amos 5:15 - "Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate."
- Romans 12:9 - "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."
One cannot truly love God without hating sin. To hate sin is to hate the world--not the planet or the people but the wickedness that characterizes our world. One cannot love the world and truly love God. God hates the love of the world! The apostle John wrote - "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. 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. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (I John 2:15-17).
Three considerations must be noted regarding the world and our spiritual lives:
1. PICKING (2:15)
We must choose between God and the world. It is impossible to love both though many try to do so. Jesus Himself taught this concept on more than one occasion (cf. Matt. 6:24; 12:30). James explained that being sympathetic with the world makes us God's enemies (James 4:4; cf. Psa. 7:11). Each one of us must choose either Almighty God and His way of righteousness or the lure of the world with its darkness and destruction. Which will it be for you?
2. PRINCIPLES (2:16)
In picking between God and the world, one actually chooses a set of principles by which he will pattern his life. There are three basic qualities that govern those of the world:
- Lust of the flesh. Inherent in our physical, fleshly bodies are natural drives, desires, and appetites. These desires are not inherently sinful, though they must only be satisfied in a divinely approved fashion (cf. I Cor. 9:27). The world is saturated with this type of lust.
- Lust of the eyes. In a spiritual sense, our eyes have an appetite. The eyes are a gateway to the mind, and if we don't control them they will control us! There is a strong connection between the lust of the eyes and covetousness (e.g., Josh. 7:21). The world is dominated by this type of lust.
- Pride of life. To be arrogant and puffed up is not consistent with Christian principles (cf. Phil. 2:3), but it is the way of the world. We must humble ourselves and rely upon God. Ungodly pride is seen everywhere in our world.
The commonality shared by these three principles is easy to identify--selfishness! Those of the world live for themselves, but true followers of Christ must be characterized by self-denial (cf. Matt. 16:24; Gal. 2:20).
3. PERMANENCE (2:17)
In making the decisions of life and eternity, we should definitely consider the permanence, of lack thereof, of the two options. The world, the moral order opposed to Christ, is passing away. The day will come when all its adherents will be banished into everlasting punishment (cf. Matt. 25:46). There will be no life or happiness, only suffering and despair (cf. Rom. 2:8,9). Sin is a passing pleasure; it is temporary (cf. Heb. 11:25). The lusts of the world are passing away with the world itself. In hell, there will be no lusts of the flesh, for the bodies will be spiritual (cf. I Cor. 15:42-44); there will be no lusts of eyes, for the pitiable souls will be in "the blackness of darkness forever" (Jude 13); there will be no pride of life, for hell is the "second death" (Rev. 21:8).
May we all echo the sentiments of Paul - "We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (II Cor. 4:18). Friends, let us hold to God's unchanging hand and hate the ways of the world (cf. Eph. 5:11)!