As we look at today’s society, things have changed dramatically in our culture from just a few years ago. True Christians are bombarded with the world’s take on what is right versus what Scripture tells us. We are told that things that were wrong in the past are no longer wrong, what was right in the past is no longer right, and it all seems to be upside down. 1 John 2:16-17 says, “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (NLT) The King James Version (KJV) of this passage says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Listening to the National news every night, I see and hear the world’s enticing…lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, making it seem that these things are normal. When we go against their idea of what is right or normal, we are labeled as hate-mongers, odd, or out of touch with reality. Generally speaking, they regard those who are Believers in Jesus Christ, as the enemy, and sometimes the world can be hateful toward our view of these issues. We can be attacked for our views and many times ostracized. The world offers things that bring only temporary pleasure and Spiritual death, but what God offers brings enduring joy and eternal life. John is talking about the world system, which goes against God’s laws and His will.
Remember Adam and Eve? They had to deal with this when the serpent enticed Eve to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve saw the fruit that was good for food. (lust of the flesh) She saw that it was pleasant to the eyes, (lust of the eyes) and finally, she believed the serpent when he told her it would make her wise. (pride of life) Read Genesis 3 for the whole story, and you can see how they were taken in by worldly desires and the lies of the enemy, Satan. Jesus was also tempted in these three areas. Satan tempted Jesus with the lust of the flesh by telling Jesus to make stones into bread after He had fasted for 40 days and nights. Then Satan tempted Jesus with the lust of the eyes by taking Jesus to a high pinnacle and Satan told Him that He could have all the kingdoms of the world if He would bow down and worship Satan. Lastly, Satan tempted Jesus with the pride of life by telling Jesus to throw Himself down from the temple, in other words, commit suicide. How is that relevant today?
The lust of the flesh is the first thing we see in 1 John 2:16. What is included in the lust of the flesh? This is whatever appeals to our physical nature and takes priority over God’s will for us to live a righteous and holy life. It can be anything from sexual rebellion that go against God’s laws, to living a lifestyle that is self-centered and focused on possessions. Some run after what the world has to offer in this area, thinking that it will bring true happiness, but eventually, all it brings is heartache, misery, and no peace. Some keep searching for something to fill the void, but what the world offers leaves them empty. However, God offers peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7) and Spiritual riches that last throughout eternity. (Matthew 6:19-21) He gives us joy, not just happiness, but real joy, deep inside that supersedes anything the evil world system has to offer. (Psalm 16:11) As we live our lives for Jesus, following His example, spreading the Good News of salvation that He purchased for us; we store these treasures in Heaven where they will endure for all time. (Matthew 6:21)
The second worldly enticement is the lust of the eyes. These are things that peak our desire for the next greatest thing. They look good and we want them. Advertisers use this tactic with great efficiency. We are bombarded with “You NEED this” whatever they are selling. It’s a trap as old as time itself. J. Vernon McGee, in his commentary of 1 John says, “There is a godless philosophy which is trying to get control of the world today. There will come a day when Antichrist will arise—he is coming to rule this world for Satan. This is an attractive world that we live in, with all of its display, all of its pageantry, all of its human glory.” For a Believer, the only thing we need isn’t a “thing” but a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only One who brings true satisfaction and fills the deepest needs of our hearts.
The final worldly trap is the pride of life. The world is full of arrogant people. The attitude of the world is that of overwhelming pridefulness. Such people try to lord it over others, stating they are better than anyone else, and they make it clear that the rest of the world needs to get out of their way because they take precedence over everyone else. The Bible tells us that pride is sinful. God’s way is that of humility. “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (James 4:6 ESV)
As we put others ahead of our own needs, we are showing the love of Jesus. As we exhibit the characteristics of a godly life, our verse today tells us that we will live forever. Don’t be wooed by the trappings of this world. As Believers, the world may hate us and our stance on the many issues they are promoting, but we know that if we stand firm upon God’s precepts, we will live in the grace of God.