Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Loving the World

is our pre-Christian state.

1 John 2:15–17 (ESV)

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.

The preceding lesson helps here; this is not addressed to non-believers. But that immediately raises a tough question. How can John say, of a believer, “the love of the Father is not in him.”?

To answer that, we must first figure out exactly what John means by “the love of the Father.” Specifically, is love of the Father love to the Father or love from the Father?

It’s “to.” Father (πατρὸς “patros”) is in the genitive case as an objective genitive. Okay, so how can someone be a Christian yet not love the Father?

It happens all the time. That’s why this passage begins, in the imperative, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” It’s also why Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24b ESV)

This is important teaching about the battle with our sinful nature. Being born into Christ does not immediately rid us of sin. Loving the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is completely normal. It’s our pre-Christian state.

No one just throws that off instantly.

Sanctification is a painfully slow process, which we never complete this side of eternity. But take heart, the pain is a sign that it’s working.

The problem is that our behavior doesn’t change as quickly as our standards. This is a natural consequence of how growth in Christ works.

When we’re born again the Holy Spirit illuminates us—opens our eyes. We learn what sin is and can see it. Seeing our sin is essential to ridding ourselves of it. But the old habits are still there. The Holy Spirit leads us on the road to righteousness, while our newborn eyesight helps keep us on the path.

But this means our growth in behavior lags behind our improving vision. We have to first see the sin, then be horrified (if not depressed) by it, then start to eliminate it.

The result is incredibly frustrating. Growth in Christ feels like going backwards.

When I became a Christian, I was aware of dozens of my sins. Now I can see hundreds.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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