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 NA28)
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 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
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 the strangeness and growing apostasy in the visible church. 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 Scriptures 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 for a post a few years ago using the research of Dr. James White who dissected Olson’s book Against Calvinism. In that book, on his own website, and in other sources, he 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 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. 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. Your elders should be saying things such as, “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 Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 9 The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
Do Not Love the World
15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:7-17 NASB)
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 cared 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!