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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF JOHN - Chapter 2 - Verse 15
Verse 15. Love not the world. The term world seems to be used in the Scriptures in three senses;
(1,) As denoting the physical universe; the world as it appears to the eye; the world considered as the work of God, as a material creation.
(2.) The world as applied to the people that reside in it—" the world of mankind."
(3.) As the dwellers on the earth are by nature without religion, and act under a set of maxims, aims, and principles that have reference only to this life, the term comes to be used with reference to that community; that is, to the objects which they peculiarly seek, and the principles by which they are actuated, Considered with reference to the first sense of the word, it is not improper to love the world as the work of God, and as illustrating his perfections; for we may suppose that God loves his own works, and it is not wrong that we should find pleasure in their contemplation. Considered with reference to the second sense of the word, it is not wrong to love the people of the world with a love of benevolence, and to have attachment to our kindred and friends who constitute a part of it, though they are not Christians. It is only with reference to the word as used in the third sense that the command here can be understood to be applicable, or that the love of the world is forbidden; with reference to the objects sought, the maxims that prevail, the principles that reign in that community that lives for this world as contradistinguished from the world to come. The meaning is, that we are not to fix our affections on worldly objects—on what the world can furnish—as our portion, with the spirit with which they do who live only for this world, regardless of the life to come. We are not to make this world the object of our chief affection; we are not to be influenced by the maxims and feelings which prevail among those who do. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 12:2, and See Barnes "Jas 4:4".
Neither the things that are in the world. Referred to in the next verse as "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." This explanation shows what John meant by "the things that are in the world." He does not say that we are in no sense to love anything that is in the material world; that we are to feel no interest in flowers, and streams, and forests, and fountains; that we are to have no admiration for what God has done as the Creator of all things; that we are to cherish no love for any of the inhabitants of the world, our friends and kindred; or that we are to pursue none of the objects of this life in making provision for our families; but that we are not to love the things which are sought merely to pamper the appetite, to please the eye, or to promote pride in living. These are the objects sought by the people of the world; these are not the objects to be sought by the Christian.
If any man love the world, etc. If, in this sense, a man loves the world, it shows that he has no true religion; that is, if characteristically he loves the world as his portion, and lives for that; if it is the ruling principle of his life to gain and enjoy that, it shows that his heart has never been renewed, and that he has no part with the children of God. See Barnes "Jas 4:4"; See Barnes "Mt 6:24".
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