“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.” (1 John 2:16, ESV)
I know that I promised a verse per week; but this one needs context. So if you can get the whole section you’ll be better off:
“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.” (1 John 2:15–17, ESV)
First, notice John’s goal. He calls us to love God rather than the world. Second he helps us to see how sin calls us away from loving God. The amazing thing is how this verse is connected to the text from last week. Do you remember? The serpent tempted Eve to disbelieve God’s words. He called her away from loving and trusting God. Did you read the larger context of the memory verse (Genesis 3:1ff)?
After she listened to Satan’s lies about God and his word she “… saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6, ESV)
Eve saw that what God had forbidden was appealing to the desires of the flesh—it looked tasty. It was visually appealing—it was a delight to her eyes. It appealed to the pride of life—it was desired to make her wise. This literal temptation was a picture of the way that we are called away from God by the fallen condition in which we live. It appeals to the desires of our flesh, our eyes and our desire for status and recognition in this world. John calls us away from sin because it separates us from God. It separated Adam and Eve from God physically and spiritually. It does the same work in our lives today. We see something that does not belong to us and we covet. Our flesh longs for some satisfaction that cannot be fulfilled in the way God intended but we take anyway. We long to be thought well of, respected, and to have recognition and approval from the world. If you stop to think about sin, it always falls into one of those categories. We are surrounded by this kind of temptation all day long. How will we ever be rescued?
Thankfully, Jesus went into the wilderness (Matthew 4). It was a place where literal barrenness pictured well the bleak reality brought on by sin. After 40 days of fasting Jesus was hungry and was tempted to satisfy the very legitimate desire of his flesh in an illegitimate way. He was tempted to cling to his position and status as the Son of God. He refused to respond to this appeal to the pride of life. Then he was shown the kingdoms of the world and told they could be his if he would bow to Satan. He was tempted in every way that we are and yet without sin. He refused to shortcut the purposes of God by taking his own path. He loved the father and demonstrated that by keeping his commandments. He appealed to and believed God’s word in his battle against sin. And he was successful!
Jesus Christ has won the battle. He rescues us from death and hell. He sets us free to love God rather than the world. Thanks be to God for so great a salvation! Praise the Lord!