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|招きの言葉||Call to Worship||詩篇Psalm 116篇1～9節|
|さ ん び||Opening Praise||「主の十字架に The Wonderful Cross」|
|さ ん び||Praise||「詩篇100」|
|聖書朗読||Scripture Reading||ヨハネの手紙第一 1 John ２章15～１７節|
|聖書の話||Sermon||「二つの愛の闘い～The Battle Between Two Loves」
|賛 美||Hymn of Response||新聖歌226番「わが主を十字架の」|
|献金と祈り||Offering & Prayer|
|頌 栄||Doxology||教会福音讃美歌271番 「父・子・聖霊の」|
|後 奏||Amen||讃美歌 567番[V]「アーメン・アーメン・アーメン」|
How do you know that you will enter into heaven when you die? This is the question that the apostle John has been answering throughout this letter. Last time, we saw that Christian life is hard. We noticed that we need to be encouraged in the midst of difficulty. We learned that growing in our faith takes time. Today, we’ll see what it means to grow in our faith. Our points today will be 1. What does it mean to not love the world? 2. Why should we not love the world? and 3. How do we stop loving the world? But before we begin, let us start with prayer.
Point 1: What does it mean to not love the world?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
1 John 2:15
“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.”
When we place these two texts next to each other, it might be a bit confusing. The first verses explain that God loves the world. Today’s text commands that we shouldn’t love the world. Both verses were written by the same author, so what is going on? What seems like a contradiction becomes clearer when we remember that words can carry multiple meanings. The New Testament was originally written in ancient Greek. The word for “world” in Greek is “kosmos.” “Kosmos” is used in three primary ways throughout the New Testament. When the apostle John says “for God so loved the world,” he uses the word world to mean this: the fallen people that God would redeem and restore. How then is the apostle John using the word world in today’s text? First, let me explain what it does not mean.
There is a belief in some religions that the physical world is bad and that the spiritual world is good. The gnostics that sought to invade the church during the apostle John’s time also made similar claims. However, the Bible has something different to say about the physical world. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, explains that God is the Creator of all things. After creating everything, this is what the Bible says.
“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
The physical world and the things in it were really good. However, Genesis 3 explains that sin entered into the world through the first man, Adam. That’s why God’s good creation has been affected by corruption and decay. Whether through watching the news or in our personal experiences, we can sense the brokenness in the world. And not just externally, but internally as well. God created us in His image and called us to know and love Him. He called us to also love one another. However, we can see how self-centered we can be at times. Though God is King and Ruler over all things, we fail to live like that is true. We serve creation but not the creator. We love the gifts but not the gift giver. Instead of obeying God, we obey our own hearts.
When the apostle John uses the word world in today’s passage, he means this: everything that is in opposition to Jesus Christ and his Lordship over the world. Do not love the world means do not love the things that go against Jesus as King. It means, don’t follow the lusts, passions, and appetites within your own heart. The Bible gives us the only way to view the world and the only way to live our lives. Loving the world is in direct opposition to that standard of living. Verse 16 of today’s texts says,
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.
However, the bad news is that we have all fallen short of this standard of living.
Romans 1:29-32 says this:
“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice, they are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
This is the philosophy of the world that seeks to oppose Jesus as Lord. Furthermore, not only are our hearts inclined to evil things, but also to make the good things in life ultimate. As John Calvin puts it, our hearts are idol-making factories. We make good things ultimate, prioritizing them above God. I am not just talking about the people outside the church, but I’m also about myself. Though we might be aware of some of our rebellion against God, we are actually much more sinful than we will ever know.
Point 2: Why should we not love the world?
When I was younger, my mom encouraged me and my sister to read the Bible every day. There were times when I had to physically write Bible verses even though I did not know what they meant. My mom made us have family worship at home many times per week. However, I didn’t want to do any of these things most of the time. Not only was the Bible hard to understand but she made us do it in Korean. I am ashamed to say this but there were many times when I acted like I was asleep to avoid these things. When I thought about following God and the Bible, I thought that it was boring. I thought that it went against how I wanted to live my life. I saw how my friends had fun living without rules and I thought that they were genuinely happy. I was confused about how anybody would even want to live a restrained life. However, the more that I learned about God and about the Bible, I realized this: God doesn’t give us rules and restrictions to limit our happiness. It’s actually quite the opposite. God gives us the only way to truly enjoy this life to the fullest.
Imagine for a moment if a fish was given ultimate freedom. He was now free from the boundaries of the sea and went wherever his heart would lead. But what happens to a fish outside of water? His freedom would not only lead to death but also to the suffering leading up to it. If humans were given the ultimate freedom to live to their heart’s content, this world would be a scary place to live. When we live out our heart’s desires, we might think that we will experience true happiness. However, true happiness is found in knowing and loving the one who created us.
Blaise Pascal says: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” Why shouldn’t we love the world or the things in it? Because we were created for something infinitely better than that.
C.S. Lewis writes: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
To summarize the book of Ecclesiastes, without Christ, all of life is meaningless. When we have Christ, we will experience joy that is infinitely more satisfying than following the desires of our own hearts.
Point 3: How do we stop loving the world?
A field full of pink elephants. When I say those words, what are you thinking about? Probably a field of pink elephants. What about when I say, please don’t think about the field full of pink elephants? What are you now thinking about? Most likely, you’re still thinking about a field of pink elephants. When the Bible says do not love the world, you might see some victory in your life when repeating that command in your mind over and over again. It is truly a good reminder. But, what if I told you that there was a better way? Instead of merely focusing on the negative, actively think about the positive. For a second, please think about a nice day at the beach. Think about the sounds of the waves, the warmth of the sun, and the cool breeze against your face. When thinking about the beach, how many pink elephants did you think about? Hopefully none. The Bible gives us the ultimate truth to center our minds on. Instead of summarizing this ultimate truth in my own words, here is Romans 8:1-7:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
The Bible gives a radically different way to relate to God than other religions. Instead of earning our salvation through our ability to follow the law, the Word of God gives us these two truths. First, we will never ever ever ever be able to earn our way into heaven through our good works. Second, salvation comes through Christ and Christ alone. He lived the only life of perfectly loving the Father. He died the death that lovers of the world deserved. Out of love, Jesus gives us his perfect record. And when God looks at us and our world-loving hearts, all He sees is Christ. On this side of eternity, we will never be able to fully let go of the world. Our sinful tendencies will continue to reside in our flesh. However, the Bible explains the reality of the already but not yet. We are fully saved now, but we are also being saved. We are holy saints but are not completely holy yet. The process of becoming more like Christ is called sanctification. This process starts from the moment we have faith in Christ and will continue on until we die. In this lifetime, we will not experience a complete sanctification, but a progressive one. Christians long for the day when God will redeem and restore this world from the dominion of sin. We long for the day when sin is fully gone from our hearts. This life we live is so short in light of eternity. Therefore, let us seek to replace the love of the world with the love of the Father. Let us seek to live for His will and not ours. Not so that He would love us more, but because He already loves us more than we could ever imagine. I will end by rereading today’s text:
1 John 2:15-17
“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. 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. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”