“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 John tells us here that he believes the darkest shadow to fall on the human heart is that of worldliness. No doubt each one of us has that sin to which we have a special aversion. As you read the scriptures it is evident that Matthew, Mark and Luke place a special emphasis on the sin of blasphemy. Paul stresses the danger of the sin of unbelief. James highlights the wickedness of idle hands. But John details the dangers entwined in the sin of worldliness. Why is that? It could very well be because this was the sin that had so often ensnared him.
John began his life with an ambitious drive for personal achievement. This internal impulse was so strong in John’s heart that it often overshadowed his walk with the Lord, and caused him to climb over everyone else in a selfish desire for his own advancement. He even asked to have a special seat in Christ’s kingdom – a seat where he would eternally and exclusively enjoy the presence of the Lord. But now, in his mature years, he saw this seeming piety for the wicked sin that it was – worldliness.
Why was this worldliness? After all, wasn’t John asking to sit next to Jesus – in Heaven? It was worldliness because John desired to have a personal monopoly on the presence of God. It was worldliness because he desired something to the exclusion of everyone else. It was worldliness because he was looking to fulfill the desire of his heart to the detriment of everyone else.
Worldliness, at its root, is the desire to satisfy self. It comes from our fallen nature trying to get what it wants. That’s why John says “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.”
You see, the world that John speaks of is not a place, but rather a preoccupation with my own personal desires. If it were just a place then I could easily escape it and find peace. No, the world is not what is “out there,” but what is in me. No matter where I go that place can immediately become worldly because of what I bring within me. Whenever I think only of myself then that location is the world. Even if I think of Heaven if it is for my own betterment or enjoyment to the detriment of others, then that thought is by definition a worldly thought.
I’m not called to be driven out of the world, but to make sure that the world is driven out of me. I’m to do everything, with the help of the Spirit of God, to remove every vestige of this selfish desire from my own heart. Therefore, I will only find peace, not by seeking to remove myself from the things of this world, but by allowing Christ to so fill me that His presence drives the desires of this world from my heart.
If the selfish man is driven far from the garden of my heart then I won’t need to be removed from the presence of the tree. If a clean spirit is created within me then I have nothing to fear from living amongst the unclean streets. When Christ is in control of my heart I won’t see any difference between Judea’s wilderness and Cana’s wedding. They will all be alike because, at either place I will think of others, not of myself.