Love is the central theme of this letter. To love, is to freely give yourself to somebody or something; you become their willing servant. It is right to serve God and other people in Jesus' Name. It is what we are designed to do. However the way of the world is to seduce us into giving ourselves to people, things and ideas in a way that Jesus cannot honour.
There are three elements to worldliness: the 'lust of the flesh' is both a personal impulse and a community permission to please ourselves and gain satisfaction from what we can capture for ourselves. The 'lust of the eyes' is an intense dominating desire to have what we do not possess, and is actively encouraged by every consumer economy. The 'pride of life' is the inner boasting of who I am and what I do.
None of these motivations come from Father God. He does not love them nor does His love flow through them. They have no lasting substance and are like vapour which is soon blown away. There is no eternal purpose in them and those who serve them cannot be serving the Father at the same time. They are part of Satan's plan to disrupt the loving purpose of God. Therefore, do not give yourself to the world. Instead, give yourself fully to God and to serving His people and His mission in the world. That is the purpose of your eternal life.
Practically, it is difficult not to love and serve the worldly impulses. God wants us to continue living in a corrupt world but not be corrupted by it. Jesus said, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." (John 17:15). Every day there will be some sort of spiritual battle: most are not with other people, but come as we deal with the seductive temptations which come from the world and lure our fleshly desires (James 1:13-15). That is why we need to stay tuned by God's Word and keep praying so that we can keep in step with the Spirit and not march to the drumbeat of the world (Galatians 5:24-26).
© Dr Paul Adams