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As the World Burns - 1John 2:15-17

The book of Revelation gives us a picture of the world and the Church by means of the symbolism of Babylon the Great Harlot and New Jerusalem the Bride of Christ

1John 2:15-17; John 7:7, 15:18-19; Acts 5:27-33,40-42; Revelation 21:1-11; 1 John 5:4-8

May 25, 2014 12:00 AM


[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 all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. [17] And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1John 2:15-17 ESV)

In the last few installments of our study of 1John 2, we’ve talked about what John means when he uses the phrase “the world” and especially when he says, “Do not love the world or the things that are in the world.” Last week, we considered this definition of John’s phrase, “the world”:

Specifically, he is speaking of the world system n.the people constituting the world whose values, beliefs, and morals are in distinction and rebellion to God’s.  The world system is everything that is explicitly not Christian.  It is particularly those people who are anti-Christian, anti-God, anti-Bible, anti-Church, ungodly, wicked, and sinful.  When John speaks of the Christian duty not to love the world, he is saying, “Don’t live like, don’t think like, and don’t be conformed to the world that is in rebellion toward God.

This week, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania gave us yet another astounding example of the worldly, anti-Christian, anti-God, anti-church, anti-biblical thinking of this age.  Now, the state of Pennsylvania has corrected thousands of years of wrong-headed thinking by suddenly declaring sodomy to be not only legal, but acceptable behavior.  If you question this, just wait until a gay couple asks me to perform their wedding.  I pray that never happens.  But if it does, you will see what the world thinks of those of us who dare to disagree with them.

You recall from last week what Jesus said when He was speaking to His own brothers, the members of His own family, about the world and how it treated Him.

7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. (John 7:7 ESV)

If we want to get along peacefully with the world, we must do what they say, think what they think, walk and talk and dress and participate in all the things they do WITHOUT RAISING ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR MORALITY.  Because once you say, “This is evil”, you have immediately become an enemy of the world.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19 ESV)

And to be honest, if we really believe what God has said in His word, then the conclusion we must come to is this: I am happy to be counted among those whom the world hates because of Jesus Christ.  I am thrilled to be counted worthy to suffer for His name’s sake.

In Acts 5, we read the account of the apostles preaching at the Temple when the Pharisees became jealous of them and threw them all into prison.  But an angel comes that night and sets them free and tells the to go back and preach some more!  So they get arrested AGAIN and are brought before the Pharisees and they command the apostles to stop preaching the gospel.  To which Peter responds,

[29] . . . “We must obey God rather than men. [30] The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. [31] God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. [32] And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:27-32 ESV)

So when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “Oh.  Well in that case, go in peace, brothers!”

No!  They did not say that.  The next verse says:

[33] When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. (Acts 5:33 ESV)

[40] and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. [41] Then they left the presence of the council,

Grumbling against the Lord because they we not having their best life now.  No!

Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. [42] And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. (Acts 5:40-42 ESV)

That, my friends, is the normal reaction of an unbelieving, and especially an unbelieving religious world, to the preaching of the truth of God’s word.  But the response of the apostles, JOY, is something most of us have yet to experience.  How would you feel if the world hated you specifically because you love Jesus?  It’s a good day when that happens, even if you get a beating for it.

Look with me at Revelation 18.  Revelation 18 is the Bible’s definition of John’s phrase, “the world”.  Read (and comment on) 18:1 through 19:2.

These verses describe the final day of what John calls “the world”.  All the sin, all the ungodliness, all the idolatry, all the greed, all the sexual immorality, and everything that opposes God in any way --or in other words, Babylon -- will be thrown down by God Himself.  This is why John says to his readers and to us, “Do not love the world or the things that are in the world because the world is passing away along with its desires.” Along with it’s sinful, God-hating passions.

So in Revelation, the world is personified.  The world is presented to us as a prostitute named Babylon and through her wiles, she drives the people of the world crazy with passion for all things wicked.  And she will die, along with all those who love her.  So, beloved, do not love the world.  Do not love Babylon the great whore.

But there is another city in Revelation which represents everything holy and good in the world, namely God’s people.  The name of that city is Jerusalem, the new Jerusalem.

[21:1] Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. [2] And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. [4] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)

[9] Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” [10] And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, [11] having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:9-11 ESV)

Babylon = “the world” New Jerusalem = All the people of God, the Bride of Christ

Now notice verse 5:

5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers (or overcomes; Same Greek word used by John in 1John 2) will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my (creature, worshipper, slave, servant?) son.

8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars (i.e. everyone who does not conquer or overcome the world/Babylon), their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:5-8 ESV)

There is no purgatory mentioned here.  There are no second chances at this point.  I think the case can be made which says the Christian is the person who does not love the world.  Rather, he overcomes the world.  And the means by which he overcomes and conquers the world is through faith.

[4] For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. [5] Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5 ESV)

When we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, we are actually saying two things: God is right and the world is wrong.  God is righteous and the world is evil.  You cannot say, “God is right and I love the world.”  That is not overcoming.  That is not a person who has been born of God.  That is syncretism and idolatry.  And idolators, liars, sorcerers, the sexually immoral, and everyone else who has preferred the world to Jesus Christ -- their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.


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