by Mike Ratliff
15 Μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον μηδὲ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷ τὸν κόσμον, οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς ἐν αὐτῷ· (1 John 2:15 NA27)
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. (1 John 2:15 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
I’ve been on the road almost constantly over the last couple of weeks. In that time, I have not been able to write or post much, but that did not keep me from reading my emails from our CRN discussion group in the evening in my hotel room and marveling at the continuing spread of silliness that pretends to be Evangelicalism in our time. If we are not prayerful and become careless in our own abiding in our Lord, we can become distracted and then susceptible to the wiles of our enemy to become discouraged and even despair about these things. On the other hand, when we are in the heat of battle and God is using us, it is amazing how clear we can see the compromise all around us. We see believers with a love for truth and a profession of faith, but also with a love for this world and the things of this world that becomes evident in those compromises. When this takes place in “Christian leadership” what are the evidences we should look for? Are there consistent ones that obviously point to ones that we can say, “Blindness has blinded his eyes?”
In the passages we are going to work through (1 John 2:7-17) we will see the evidences of those who are walking in that darkness and those who aren’t. However, before we do that I would like to share one other observation. I know that “Christian” liberals will disagree with me on this, but the number one evidence of someone who claims to be a Christian, but who walks in darkness because the darkness has blinded his eyes are those whose view of the Sacred Scripture is something other than the infallible, complete and inerrant inspired Word of God. I witnessed this as I was doing some research on Roger Olson at Baylor University a few weeks ago and then listened to Dr. James White dissect his latest book Against Calvinism. In that book, on his own website, and in other sources, his consistently uses the following “reasoning” to refuse to believe in the Sovereignty of God as we understand it as plainly revealed in Sacred Scripture. What is that “reasoning?” He says that he does not care what the “literal interpretation” of the Bible says about it. If what it literally says is against what he believes then that proves that taking the Bible literally is foolishness. He even says that if it was proven to him that the God of the Bible that we worship, who is Sovereign and does as He pleases, was proven to be the real God then he would refuse to worship him. Yes, that is right, if God does not line up with his own idea of his nature for God then he is not worthy of his praise. That is what he says. Dr. James White said that this is the same sort of argumentation that he has had in debates with atheists. I have as well.
That view of Christianity is with man at the center and God as not Sovereign. I find that description nowhere in the Word of God. The temporal view of handling the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has resulted in the sad silliness that is being played out all around us in our time. Yes, there are pockets of churches with good pastors. I know this because we go to one in our area. What is the difference? The difference is that where it is done right, God is over all. He is Sovereign and his Word is his truth that reveals him to us. His Word, therefore, is preached as is commanded within it. God, therefore, blesses this and we grow spiritually into mature Christians, as is the will of God. This whole process involves much more of course. We operate as a church serving one another, et cetera. As our elders say, those who grow strong in the Word like this are not very likely to fall for the fads and every wind of doctrine such as ‘seeker-sensitivity,’ the Charismatic movement, “Loves Wins,” “The Shack”, “The Prayer of Jabez”, “The Message”, “Open Theism,” “New Calvinism,” et cetera.
Now, let us look at 1 John 2:7-17.
7 Ἀγαπητοί, οὐκ ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφω ὑμῖν ἀλλ᾽ ἐντολὴν παλαιὰν ἣν εἴχετε ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς· ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ παλαιά ἐστιν ὁ λόγος ὃν ἠκούσατε. 8 πάλιν ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφω ὑμῖν, ὅ ἐστιν ἀληθὲς ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ἡ σκοτία παράγεται καὶ τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν ἤδη φαίνει. 9 Ὁ λέγων ἐν τῷ φωτὶ εἶναι καὶ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ μισῶν ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ ἐστὶν ἕως ἄρτι. 10 ὁ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ μένει καὶ σκάνδαλον ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν· 11 ὁ δὲ μισῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ ἐστὶν καὶ ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ περιπατεῖ καὶ οὐκ οἶδεν ποῦ ὑπάγει, ὅτι ἡ σκοτία ἐτύφλωσεν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ. 12 Γράφω ὑμῖν, τεκνία, ὅτι ἀφέωνται ὑμῖν αἱ ἁμαρτίαι διὰ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ. 13 γράφω ὑμῖν, πατέρες, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς. γράφω ὑμῖν, νεανίσκοι, ὅτι νενικήκατε τὸν πονηρόν. 14 ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, παιδία, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν πατέρα. ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, πατέρες, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς. ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, νεανίσκοι, ὅτι ἰσχυροί ἐστε καὶ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν μένει καὶ νενικήκατε τὸν πονηρόν. 15 Μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον μηδὲ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷ τὸν κόσμον, οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς ἐν αὐτῷ· 16 ὅτι πᾶν τὸ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, ἡ ἐπιθυμία τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ ἡ ἐπιθυμία τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν καὶ ἡ ἀλαζονεία τοῦ βίου, οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ἐστίν. 17 καὶ ὁ κόσμος παράγεται καὶ ἡ ἐπιθυμία αὐτοῦ, ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. (1 John 2:7-17 NA27)
7 Beloved, I do not write a new command to you, but an old command that you have had from the beginning. The old command is the word that you heard. 8 Again, I write a new command to you that is true in him and in you because the darkness is passing away the true light is already shining. 9 The one who says he is in the light, but who hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 The one loving his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But, the one hating his brother is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know where he goes because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 12 I write to you little children because your sins have been forgiven because of his name. 13 I write to you fathers because you have known the one from the beginning. I write to you young men because you have overcome the evil one. 14 I wrote to you young children because you have known the Father. I wrote to you fathers because you have known the one from the beginning. I wrote to you young men because you are strong, the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 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 Because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride about life’s possessions is not of the Father, but is of the world 17 And the world is passing away and the lust of it, but the one doing the will of God remains into the age. (1 John 2:7-17 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
If you take this passage and compare it with the “message” coming from so much of what calls itself “evangelicalism” these days, you will find a mixed bag to be sure. First, there is a decided confusion about the purpose of the Church so there is confusion about salvation itself and, therefore, the Gospel. However, John had no issues with telling everyone plainly that the Gospel is all about what he shared in vv12-14. Sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus’ name. Those whose sins are forgiven have overcome the evil one. These same ones are strong in the Lord because the word of God abides in them and they have overcome the evil one. However, let us be frank. Those John was writing to obviously heard the real Gospel preached to them and believed. They were also being properly shepherded by a good pastor who card for their souls. Therefore, they heard the Word preached and so the Word dwelt in them along with the living Word because they were in Christ. They were also taught to not love the world, but to love Christ and hope in him and therein, do the will of God. However, notice that those whose love is for this world do not possess the spiritual light within and prove it by being in spiritual darkness. This is marked by them stumbling, but those in the light do not stumble.
Think with me about those in our time who are so-called Christian leaders, but who make astounding blunders, partnering with obvious heretics or those with questionable theology at best. These “face plants” are actually examples of stumbling because of being in spiritual darkness. Be discerning my brethren. Pray for wisdom and always be ready to forgive as these men come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and repent. Always pray for that. However, if they do not, they will only grow worse and worse and then it will be more than obvious. Sad, so sad…
Soli Deo Gloria!