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Don’t Love the World? (1 John 2:12-17) - Caught Up

Made for More / Andrew Hopper | Mercy Hill Church
The Truth Network Radio
July 15, 2023 8:00 am

Don’t Love the World? (1 John 2:12-17) - Caught Up

Made for More / Andrew Hopper | Mercy Hill Church

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July 15, 2023 8:00 am

Pastor Jonathan Yarboro is bringing us into Week 2 of our Caught Up Sermon Series in this message called, “Don’t Love the World?”.

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Alright, well Mercy Hill Church, isn't it incredible what God is doing in our midst? When we get to hear Pastor Andrew talking about what's taken place over Easter and what's taken place over Kids Week, and I just want to add to that a little bit. You know, we've had two baptism weekends here recently, and now we are sitting, get this, at 167 people who have been baptized at Mercy Hill Church this year.

Isn't that incredible? It's amazing what God is doing, and I am just so enjoyed to be a part of that, and I hope that you are too. And my name is Jonathan Yarbrough. I'm one of the pastors here at Mercy Hill Church. Chances are that you have heard of me, though maybe not by my real name. My guess is that you probably know me from a sermon that Pastor Andrew preached, and yes, I am the Mack truck.

Or if you want to go by another term that he used during that same sermon, this may be even a little better, that big ol' boy. I mean, that's me. But, you know, I also take a little issue with what he said about the security team, because, you know, he said the security team was all about leg day, and they occasionally miss, you know, the cardio days. But I just, you know, cardio is walking from the gym to your car. That counts.

That counts. It's okay to laugh about that stuff. I get it. I realize the ridiculousness of it all. I see myself in the mirror. I also see the look on people's faces when I get on an airplane and I'm walking down the aisle and they're sitting there and they've got an empty seat beside them and I'm by myself. And they're looking and I lock eyes with them and I can tell that they're saying, please don't sit next to me.

I completely understand how it works. For me, though, it wasn't always like this. You know, I wasn't really into the gym and all that kind of stuff before we moved to the triad.

Before we moved here, we lived in the mountains of North Carolina. When we lived there, I wasn't going to a gym, I was riding bikes. Now, when I say that, I'm guessing that a couple of different images could have popped in your mind that are very, very different from one another. One of those might be like a leather vest with a chain wallet. But on the other side of the spectrum, you might be picturing full-body spandex. If you're picturing me in a leather vest on like a fat boy, you're wrong. But, and I'm sorry, if you're sitting there right now picturing me fully encased in spandex, sitting atop two very skinny tires, you're right. That was me. And actually, I had one of those spandex outfits that was entirely white.

Yeah. The deal is before I was the Mack truck, I was the albino rhino coming down those hills. So when you're really into cycling, you know, you want your kids to also get into that kind of stuff. Whatever interest you have, you want your children to follow suit. And so I remember, you know, when my daughter was five, I was really wanting her to learn how to ride bikes and get on the road with me and all that. And so by the time she was six, I had taught her to ride a bicycle. She had this princess bike, you know, and so when she learned to ride that thing without training wheels, we took that right up to the bike shop and we traded that in on a real bike. A bike that had a free hub and some hand brakes and some gears.

And I bought her some padded cycling shorts and a jersey to go with it. Because here's the thing, if you're going to be riding bikes with me in the mountains, then there's a couple of things you gotta have. You gotta have gears to get up the hills, and you gotta get aerodynamic to go down the hills.

Very, very important. And so once all this is happening and we're riding our bikes on the greenway, and we're just rolling around, we're going as fast as we can, we're coming around the curves. I've been teaching her all this stuff, you know, about how to go about riding the bike. Because there's more than just riding the bike when you're doing like the real cycling thing. You got lingo and all this kind of stuff that goes with it.

And you have to learn that if you're going to be able to fit into it. And so I'm teaching her how to do things like ride on the road using hand signals. You know, it's gotta be left turn, it's right turn, it's slow down. If there's debris in the road, you let the person know.

There's debris in the road. Just like this. And so she's learning to do all of this stuff, you know. We're going around, she's yelling to me, hey I'm on your wheel. All these kinds of things like this.

It sounds totally ridiculous to people. On your left, she's saying to pedestrians as we're passing them. It's all going really, really great.

I'm getting so excited about this because by now I can picture what the future is going to look like. I know that we're going to be doing amazing races and things like that together. She's right behind me, we're going around, we're talking. I'm like talking to her about all the riders that are currently in the Tour de France, you know.

Like she knows all these people. And I look over my shoulder, I look over my shoulder to check on her to make sure she's still on my wheel. And you know, she's gone. I just didn't see her.

That was unnerving. And so I looked over my other shoulder and when I did that, she clearly wasn't there. I stopped the bike and I turned the thing around and I'm looking and about 75 yards behind me, the bike is just laying right in the middle of the trail.

And there's no daughter. Catherine isn't there. So I go barreling down toward her bicycle that's laying in the trail as fast as I can. I get there and I'm looking around and I start calling for her because I can't see her. You know, I'm going, Catherine! Catherine!

Like this, you know. And so I'm looking around, I don't see her. And it takes a while, but after a few moments, I finally spot her. And she is in this field of wild flowers chasing after a stupid butterfly. Yo, we were on the ride of our lives. And she's chasing a butterfly.

It's kind of funny, I know. But for some of us, we have similar kinds of distractions, don't we? Maybe even more serious distractions.

The kind of distractions that when we get caught up in them, we end up not being able to quite get out of them. Some of those things that we think of, you know, maybe it's like projecting this image of yourself. And then you find yourself, after you've done that, you just got to work harder and maintain that just to keep people kind of following you. Maybe it's buying things that you can't afford. And next thing you know, you're in way over your head in debt. Maybe it's watching questionable videos on the internet. And next thing you know, you're stuck in an addiction to pornography. Maybe it's telling some small lies. And the next thing you know, you're having to tell bigger lies to cover up the small lies. Maybe it's investing all of your time into the success of your kids. And the next thing you know, it's their success that determines your success.

You ever been there? Well, God has this clear purpose for us. We read in Psalm 139 that He took us and He formed us in our mother's womb. And when a creator forms something, He does that with purpose. God had a purpose when He created you.

He did that with you in mind, with that purpose in mind. St. Augustine said this very famous quote, you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in thee. Haven't you ever felt that sense of restlessness? That feeling that there has to be more to life than these things that I'm chasing.

When you have some kind of goal in mind for what you're finally going to get and that that is going to bring your heart at peace. When you're young, those things look kind of silly sometimes, you know. Sometimes it's like a youngster will be, when I finally get my first cell phone, everything's gonna be great. And then they start thinking about finishing school, they start thinking about if I can just have the right group of friends, if I can get a boyfriend, some of them are like when I can see my abs, you know, all kinds of things like that. And then later these things build and the stakes get a little bit higher and they start thinking about things like landing that dream job. They start thinking about who is it that I'm going to marry?

How am I going to buy my first house? They can have a picture in their mind of a certain amount of money that if they can get to this salary scale then everything in their life is going to be okay. Having a family of their own.

And then later in life after these boxes have been checked off, we find ourselves chasing down more things, just trying to find that thing that's going to settle us down. Finally having enough money to retire so that we can trade in the work boots, you know. Maybe it's paying off the mortgage and being done with that bill for the month. Seeing your kids graduate or even get married. Buying a second home, you know, at the mountains or at the beach.

Some people have this vision of taking their entire families on vacation and in that vision it includes their grandchildren. But what is it that would make us think that after chasing all of these things for our entire lives that when we get to the end of those things and we check those boxes that it would somehow make any kind of difference. Some of us reach those goals and here's what I can promise you guys. You're going to feel just as empty. Just as empty.

Just as restless as you always have. God made you for a specific purpose. And as Pastor Andrew says, that purpose is way more than possessions and promotions.

And your kids were made for way more than straight A's and soccer. As a matter of fact, you know the reason that we might find ourselves so restless, always looking for that next thing, is because we're living lives that are mere distractions. Distractions from what God intended for us. We all get distracted and we all have these certain sort of life drifts into different sin patterns in our lives.

As we get older and go into different stages of life, they can change. But the temptations themselves, well they remain the same throughout our entire lives. That brings me to the big idea of today's sermon. The empty promises of the world can keep you from the eternal purposes of God. Today we're going to look at 1 John 2, verses 12-17. We're going to dive into both of these two things, the eternal purposes of God and the empty promises of the world. And I want to give you a road map of how we're going to get there and walk through the passage.

We're actually going to take a backward approach to this. We're going to start with verses 15-17. We're going to work our way through that and then we're going to tag our way back into verses 12-14.

When we do that, I'll end it with kind of making some life application that's super practical and that will be our time together that we'll have today. So let's pick up 1 John 2, verse 15. This is what it says. 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 the 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. Okay, before we go too deep into this, I feel like I need to take just a moment and acknowledge a couple of groups of people that might be in the room. Now some of you aren't going to fit either one of these groups of people because maybe you're coming around and this is like brand new stuff to you and you're like, Jonathan, I'm not sure that I'm buying what you're selling anyway. And that's okay because what I'm getting ready to address is some baggage that people that have been around church can carry into this passage.

And you're probably not going to have that baggage. But before we move on, I've got to address the two different groups of people carrying some of that baggage. Alright, the first are people that have come out of a tradition where your tradition is all about love.

The mantra, you could say, of people coming out of this might be something like this. Love wins. Love trumps everything, right? If that's you, something may have felt a little bit off in your gut when we read this passage because you might have a problem when we read something like, do not love the world or the things in the world. You might hear that and you're thinking, well Jonathan, I know John 3.16 and John 3.16 says that God loved the world. And if God loves the world, why can't we?

I'm going to tell you. Because it's two different things. It's talking about two different things. In John 3.16, when it talks about the world, that world is all about the creation that God made. The whole of the creation.

All of it. And he looked at it and he said that it was good. When a creator sees all that he's created, he looks at that and he loves that. But then, when you get down into 1 John 2 and it talks about the world, it's a little different take.

Think about it this way. I can talk about the world as a whole and then I can talk about world as in part of that world. Like maybe it's the little world that I live in. Or the little world that's over there in this part of the world. So sometimes you can talk about world as the whole and sometimes you can talk about world as a small part of it. And in 1 John 2, the part that it's talking about is the part that is fallen, the part that is broken, the part where everything is wrong and messed up. The part that has us thinking, how are we in this mess? It's talking about the part of the world that is in opposition to the mission of God.

If you were paying attention in the last sermon series y'all, this world that he's talking about in 1 John 2, it's Babylon. It's two different things. That's how we can reconcile it in our minds. Now others of you though, you may be coming out of a different kind of tradition. You may be coming out of a tradition that is all about shaming you into right behavior. And when you read that passage, it's a little different. The mantra of these people might be something like this that's said very forcefully. Kind of like, don't cross that line.

And I mean don't even get near that line. For those of you that have come out of that kind of tradition, when I say something like that, it jars you and it takes you back. It like triggers some emotions in you. Well here's the thing. We're going to walk through some of those things and my hope is this, that you can know that I know that some of you are in that place. And my hope is that by you knowing that I know that you're there, that maybe that can help you trust me a little more as we walk through the passage. Because here's what I'm going to promise to do for you. I'm going to take this a little deeper maybe than the way you've heard it before.

Okay? So with all that in mind, all that caveat, let's go back to verse 15 and let's dig in and get a little deeper. It says this, 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. We've got to understand a little bit about Jewish thought here. Jewish thought had this idea of two different ages that exist. The present age and the age to come. The present age is the world that is filled with all this evil.

Like the fallen broken world that I was talking about. That's the present age. The coming age though is when God comes and makes everything sad untrue. When everything is set to right. When everything is good.

Set back to the way that He intended it to be. Well Christianity, when Jesus comes along, they make an adaptation of this Jewish thought and Jesus becomes the lynchpin that connects these two ideas. So that when this idea of the coming age, it comes immediately as Jesus comes, but it only comes to the people who are following Jesus who have placed their trust in Him. And so consequently these people are living in one world that is in opposition to the world that is all around them. You have this idea that you have an eternal kingdom that comes with Jesus and this eternal kingdom is pressing up against a terminal kingdom. A kingdom that's coming to an end. A kingdom that is going to die. It is that kingdom where we see injustice that prevails. Where we see sickness and death rule.

Where there's pain and suffering that loom large. And that is the world that we are commanded not to love. Because we can't love both. We can't love God and also love everything that God is against.

We can't love God and love what God hates. I've got this friend who absolutely despises government mandated trees and shrubberies. And when he first said this I had no idea what he was talking about. But after riding around in a car with him for a while and we're going through parking lots and now I'm driving by myself without him, here's what happens. I pull up in a parking lot waiting for cars to come by and I go to look to my left to see if there is a car that's coming so I can know whether or not it's safe for me to pull forward. But I can't see the cars that are coming because there's a stupid bush beside me.

And when I can't see those cars and I'm looking into this stupid bush here's what's going through my head now. And I hate government mandated trees and shrubberies. You see by spending time with my friend I learned to hate what he hated. The more we love God, the more we hate what God hates. The more we love God, the more we love what God loves. Verse 16 helps us kind of put this into perspective and to understand more about this world that we are forbidden to love.

This is the verse that for those of you in that second camp somewhat triggering. For all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world. What is it that defines the world? It's the desire of the flesh, it's the desire of the eyes, and it's the pride of life.

These are the things that the world promises to us. In Genesis we see it all the way back in Genesis with Eve. Eve having this conversation with the serpent in the garden. And this is what it says that she saw that the tree was good for food. That's the desire of the flesh. That she saw that the tree was a delight to the eyes, the desire of the eyes. That she saw that the tree would make one wise, as wise as God even.

That is the pride of life. In the gospels, the devil tempts Jesus with the exact same three things. Eve gives in to those temptations and she eats of that tree. But Jesus does not because He understands something.

This is the first point. The world promises what it cannot produce. Let's look at each one of these things, these desires, and they go way deeper than they first appear. Let's first look at the desires of the flesh, okay? What does our flesh desire more than anything else?

That's comfort. We want to be comfortable. Now that could be materialism, that could be collecting more things, but the key to understanding the nuance of the desire of the flesh is understanding that it's the acquisition of these things at the expense of others. The desire of the flesh objectifies people. The desire of the flesh degrades people, hurts people, it oppresses people, and it does it all for personal comfort. It's at the root of racism. It's at the root of sexism, ageism, all those other isms that we despise that we know are wrong. It's pornography without care about the person on the other side of the screen who is stuck in sex trafficking. It's being stingy with your tip in the restaurant because your greed is more important than her rent. It's parking in the handicapped spot because your convenience is more important than their basic access. Whatever stage of life that you are in, our appetites, they lead to the desire of the flesh. It's getting ahead at the expense of others. Let's move to the desire of the eyes.

The desire of the eyes is marked by our tendency to be captivated by outward appearance or show. Now, when my family moved from the mountains down to the triad, we live in High Point, we moved in and Christmas rolled around just a few months after we had moved there and as I'm looking around I'm not seeing anybody putting up any Christmas decorations and that ain't cool. Because where I came from, we had it going on when it came to Christmas decorations and when I say we had it going on, I need you to picture like Griswold kind of going on. That was our house. And so when we rolled up in there into High Point and we decided that we were going to show people how Christmas was done, my goal was that you would pull up near our neighborhood and you would see the sky lit up before you ever came near our house.

And y'all, I was successful. I put those lights up and here's what we started seeing. People would start coming by our house and they're starting to go slow because they're going what in the world is this spectacle in what was our neighborhood? That's right, I took over the neighborhood. They're rolling through, they're looking at it, Christmas passes by and here's what I find. The next year, lights started going up.

People saw what we did and they want to be a part of it. And when I saw their lights going up, you know what I did? I went to the store. Because I had to have more lights.

Because I couldn't let them win. I had to let them know that I had more than they did. It's the reason guys that when Jesus starts talking about this stuff, He says, if your eye offends you, pluck it out. The desire of the eyes is all about seeing something, acquiring that thing and then flaunting that thing. When we start talking about this idea of the desire of the eyes, we can see it in the Old Testament with Achan. Achan coveting what the Bible calls a goodly Babylonish garment. When David looks at Bathsheba and it says that he's looking after Bathsheba as she bathes. The desire of the eyes is the love of beauty, divorced from the love of good.

Hey, but we've got to be careful. It's important that we give a full stop and understand that we as fallen, broken humans can't be the ones to define what good is. Our family's little Shih Tzu named Theo, he can't define work because he don't work. Little Theo, this is what he does, he naps and he goes outside to go potty and he naps and he eats whatever it is we give him and then he naps and then he plays and then he naps. Now he's the beneficiary of our work, but we can't depend on that little dog to define what work is because it's not in him.

He is after all a Shih Tzu. Same principle, good is not in us. How do we know that? Because the Bible tells us that in Isaiah 53, 6 when it says that we have all gone astray. In Romans 3 it tells us that no one is righteous, not even one of us is good. Only what is good has the right to define what good is. And the Bible says that only God is good. We're the beneficiaries of God's goodness, but we don't get to define it.

So I need to be clear, let's amend the statement that was on the slide to say this. The desire of the eyes is the love of beauty divorced from the love of good as defined by God. When a child sees a new toy that her friend has and begins to pester her parents over and over and over again for that thing, you know what that is? That's the desire of the eyes.

When people purchase a house that they can't afford, next thing you know they're house poor, you know what that is? That's the desire of the eyes. When someone sees another person of the same sex, whether online or in person, and they begin to fantasize about that person, you know what that is? That's the desire of the eyes. When a man sees another man's wife that he thinks is beautiful and begins to think about her and think about her so much that he starts trying to figure out ways to be near her, y'all, that's the desire of the eyes.

It can look different once again at all these stages of our lives, but our affections are what lead us to the desire of the eyes. Whatever we see, we want it, and after we get it, we flaunt it. Let's move to the pride of life. The Greek word that's used here for pride of life is alazoneia.

To the ancient moralist, the alazone represented the person who laid claims to possessions and achievements that weren't his for the purpose of exalting himself. Yeah, the pride of life, it is about pride, but it's rooted in something even deeper than that. It stems from our ambition, our desire to be known, because prideful people need you to know who they are. The pride of life can be seen in calling yourself assistant regional manager when you're really the assistant to the regional manager, right? Seriously, it's social media posts that project a false image of someone's reality.

You know, their family looks really great on the outside, but it turns out the whole thing is a ruse. It's the person flaunting degrees that they got like honorary degrees they didn't actually earn, they were just given to them, and they flaunt them like they're their own. It's taking credit for the work of others. It's maybe inflating your resume, making it seem like you are a way bigger deal than what you really are. Y'all, it's name dropping. Whatever it is that you tend to place your identity in, I mean that can be all kinds of things, you know? It can be your family, it can be your job, it can be your reputation, your bank account, it can be your influence.

It's when you take all of these things, any of these things, and you pretentiously inflate them to make it seem like you are way bigger than what you really are. Why is it important to have our heads around all these things? Let's look at verse 17 and see. This is the crux of it. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. The passage ends by setting up a clear dichotomy. The world and the will of God. One dies and one lives forever. We tend to think of the things of the world as one day passing away, but the Bible doesn't say that. What the Bible says is that they won't one day pass away, they already are passing away. You know, we think about that earlier way, that it will one day pass away when cars go to the junkyard, when lovers die, when jobs end, when reputations are forgotten. But what it really is more like, it's more like us putting up these things into a position of God, hoping that they're going to bring us joy, and really all they are is dead men walking.

They're already dying. But the will of God, the mission of God, the purpose of God, these are the things of forever. The world promises what it can't produce because the world replaces God with decaying idols. Remember we're the citizens of a kingdom that is already but not yet. The values of God conflict with the values of the world. The values of the age to come conflict with the present age. Untangling them is difficult, very, very difficult.

As a matter of fact, I would say they're too difficult for you and I to do. And if all we had was verses 15 through 17, we'd live in a constant state of shame. But there is good news, and that's why we have to go to verses 12 to 14.

Shifts gears a little bit here, and it moves to a poem-like thing. Check it out at verse 12. I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong. And the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. It says little children, fathers, young men.

And it repeats. Little children, fathers, young men. Maybe the intent here is to just make sure they've covered all the bases and they've got all the generations. But remember, it's a poem. And so we've got to be careful not to read something that is a metaphor literally. Because here's the deal, it's not just about men. It's about women too. And so as we read that, we can see that what it's really about is degrees of spiritual maturity. Little children, those who are new to the faith.

Young men, those who are maturing and becoming leaders. Fathers, those who have made more disciples and are now training up those leaders. Here's what I need you to hear, though, from the passage, from that little poem. If the world promises what it cannot produce, watch this, the Gospel gives what we cannot lose. What does the Gospel give?

It gives us three things. Into verses 12 to 14, the Gospel forgives your sin, the Gospel gives you a relationship with God, and the Gospel grants you victory. The Gospel forgives your sin, not because of anything that you have done, but it says because of His name. You are not forgiven simply because you mustered up enough energy to withstand the temptations of the devil once and for all. Instead, you are forgiven because Jesus came and He withstood that temptation, living the life you could never live and dying the death that you deserve.

Allowing you to have the life that you could never have on your own. You are forgiven. The sins of your past, they're forgiven. The sins that you can't seem to get over because they've left such scars in your life, hey, they're forgiven. The sins that you will commit today and every other day until the day that you die, they are already forgiven because of what Jesus has done.

The Gospel gives you a relationship with God, and how in the world can that be? It's because God looks now upon you and instead of seeing you, He sees His perfect Son who went through the cross and He paid the penalty for your sin. You're not merely known by God. You were adopted into the family of God.

You're one of His children now. Hey, maybe you've struggled with this whole idea of family. Maybe you've struggled with scars of abandonment.

Maybe you've struggled with abuse or neglect. The Gospel says you have a perfect Father. That Father is not some far off, emotionally detached fiend that is just waiting for you to make a mistake so that He could punish you. That's not our Heavenly Father.

Instead, He loves you and He beams with pride every single time that He thinks of you and every single time that He sees you. The Gospel says you know Him and that you're in a relationship with Him. The Gospel grants you victory. You have inherited the spoils of the war that God has won on your behalf. Jesus fought the battle, y'all, and His victory made it possible for you to overcome evil, to overcome the world. You may think of yourself as weak, unable to withstand any of those temptations.

You may even think of yourself as a hobbit at the entrance of Mordor. But God's given you victory. And watch this, He's called you strong. He's spoken these things over you and all you've got to do is live into them.

Let me give you the application. Get caught up in what will live forever, not what is already dying. The butterfly effect.

I mean it literally happened for me, right? I've got this dream of what my relationship with my daughter is going to look like as we're riding bikes together. And a literal butterfly changed that. I didn't know what I thought about that. That butterfly crushed the vision. But here's the thing. What is the dream of having my daughter with me on the road?
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-15 18:14:59 / 2023-07-15 18:28:41 / 14

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