Living in the Light Part Three: 1 John 2:15-2
I. Not Loving The World
“World” is used here to mean: “a system organized in opposition to God.” – I.H. Marshall
The “Way of the World” includes (but is not limited to):
- The lust of the flesh (not limited to sexual desire lived out of accord with God’s design, but “Any and every desire of man [sic] in his rebellion against God is what is meant.” I.H. Marshall)
- The lust of the eyes (Likely focused on greed/envy)
- The pride of life (boasting in such a way as to impress others)
“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. That world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out – but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”
– 1 John 2:15-17 in The Message
II. Jesus’ Identity: A Central Issue of Christian Orthodoxy
“I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the anti-Christ.” – 2 John 7
Greek: heresus – means “choice” and the origin of the English word “heresy”. Heresy is defining God by our own choice rather than by what God has revealed of God’s self.
“23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” – 1 John 2:23-24
III. Truth still matters in a “post-truth” world
The Bible is telling one overarching story that comes to its climax in Jesus (see Luke 24). The Bible is a “narrative of universal intent” – it claims to be true and binding for every single person in history.
It has been noted by philosophers, starting in particular with Jean-Francois Lyotard in his book The Postmodern Condition (1979), that metanarratives, or “grand stories”, are inherently oppressive since they are absolute claims that oversimplify the world and use their story as a way of gaining control over people. Biblical scholar, Richard Bauckham, argues that the Bible, though forming an overarching story is not open to the critique of metanarrative that Lyotard offers. It can claim to be true, but that the truth claims it makes are do not – or should not – lead to oppression or power plays for a number of reasons:
1. Metanarratives try and explain and oversimplify all of reality, but the Bible never makes this claim. It speaks truthfully about God and God’s plans for the world, but it speaks clearly about the reality that there are still mysteries (See Romans 11:33). God knows all, but Christians do not claim to, and therefore, we don’t have a proud position of saying we have all the answers. But we can humbly say, we know and love and trust the One who answers our deepest needs.
2. Metanarratives claim to be able to solve the world’s problems. Though the Bible speaks of how God will one-day right all wrongs, this isn’t a redemption that human beings can bring about on our own. We can work for justice and healing, but ultimately, redemption is God’s work and only Jesus’ return will spell the end of all evil.
3. The heart of the Christian story is one, not of oppression of others through force or coercion, but of God’s self-giving service and sacrifice for the sake of others. The central storyline of the Bible is that God the Son comes to humanity, even taking on human flesh, lives a perfect life, and then dies a horrible death, not for his own sins, but for his enemies. And then he calls us to emulate this same kind of self-giving love for others. Though the Bible has been used as a tool of oppression that can only arise as a distortion of its message.
IV. Holding on to the Truth of Jesus – Experiencing the Trinity
“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” – 1 John 2:20
The Hebrew word for Messiah (Hebrew = Mashiach) translates to “Anointed One.”
Jesus’ experiences his “anointing” from his Father by receiving the Holy Spirit at his baptism (Luke 3:22; see also Lk 4:18).
The Holy Spirit enables us to Discern What Matters, Including Jesus’ True Identity:
- By inspiring the apostles to pass on their testimony as recorded in the New Testament (John 14:26; John 15:26-27)
- By confirming the truth of Jesus’ in our hearts (see 1 John 3:24; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16)
We need to take the witness of the Scriptures with utmost seriousness.
Read it and meditate on the text daily – “Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law [torah = instruction] of the Lord, and who meditates on it day and night.” – Psalm 1:3
Life Group Study: Living in the Light Part Three
Open Up: Everyone in the group: share one way that you experienced joy that comes from God through his good creation this past week?
Read 1 John 2:15-27
- In his message, Pastor Dave pointed out that John uses the phrase “the world” to refer to “a system organized in opposition to God” (quoting I.H. Marshall). How does John describe this pattern of life in v. 16?
(Note that although sexual immorality would be included in the phrase “lust of the flesh”, it is most likely that John is using “flesh” in accordance with the Jewish idea of “flesh” as describing any and every impulse that is contrary to God’s design).
- How does this understanding of “the world” help clarify the kind of behaviours that John likely has in view here? How is that different than having joy in God’s gracious provision through the world he made and loves? Discuss.
- Discuss the various ways that you personally need to keep relying on God’s help to not become trapped in “love for the world”. Discuss what it looks like for us to focus on “doing the will of God” instead.
- What are the consequences for “loving the world”? What is the promise for whoever “does the will of God”? In what ways does this challenge you or encourage you?
- John encourages believers to “see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you” (v.24). Pastor Dave suggested that the “anointing” John speaks of here is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer (see 1 John 3:24). The Spirit enables us to “know the truth” in at least two ways: an inner “witness” to the truth of Jesus and the reality that the Spirit inspired the New Testament witnesses to record what they had seen and heard.
How does John’s strong encouragement – both to a life of loving God’s and his ways, not the “world’s”, and to maintain your trust in Jesus as the Saving King – give you further reason to read and study the Bible personally and corporately? What is one way that you can be encouraged by your group to keep meditating on the Scriptures, in reliance on the Spirit, in your daily pattern of life?
6. Additional Question if time and technology permits.
Watch the Bible Project Video: “The Bible as Jewish Meditation Literature.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=VhmlJBUIoLk
Discuss what stood out to you in the video.
When describing the process of daily reading and meditating on the Scriptures, we heard the writers use this phrase: “The Bible starts to read you, because ultimately, the writers of this book want you to adopt this story as your story.”
How do you think that reading and reflecting on Scripture – meditating on it daily and in a weekly rhythm with others – will mean that the Bible begins to “read us”, become “our story”? What do you think that will mean for us?
Take time to pray for any needs of your Life Group. Pray also for our community, that we would be focused on living in ways that are not “loving the world” in the sense that John means, but is genuinely seeking to be “distinct from the world, for the sake of the world.”