Some of the Bible’s commands and perspectives will never be understood by people who aren’t Christians. The Bible actually says that people who do not have God’s Spirit dwelling in them will not understand the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14).
I think one of the most misunderstood words, especially in John’s writings, is when he uses the word “world.” Throughout his writings John uses this word in three different ways. Sometimes he’s talking about the inhabited world, the people that dwell on the earth (John 3:16).
Another way he uses the word “world” is to speak of the universe or the physical world we live in. But the third way he talks about it is the evil world system. This is when he talks about everything that stands against God and against his plan and purposes.
One of the greatest passages about temptation talks about three different types of temptation that the world presents to us. Temptation is nothing without our desires. Temptation finds those desires, our weak spots, and preys upon them until we give in.
John first talks about our relationship with the world and what it should and should not be. Then he describes three temptations that the world uses to get to us. What kind of “world” is he talking about? This one is the evil world system that sets itself up opposed to God.
First John 2:15 describes our relationship with the evil world system. He tells us not to love the world or the things in the world. We live here work for Jesus. But we can get comfortable with the things that we see, the physical realm, and forget God’s plan and our purpose in the spiritual realm.
We must not get complacent or comfortable in this world. There are a lot of things that appeal to our old, sinful desires. If we allow our flesh to win the battle of desire and try to take us back to a place we left behind long ago, we will end up reverting to old desires and the old life. It would take time but eventually we will look back and wonder how we got so far off the narrow road.
We must not love the world because it opposes God and his plans for our lives and the lives of those living in darkness around us. We must also not become accustomed to the things of this world. We can use them as tools but we must not worship them or love them more than Jesus.
Then John lays out three distractions for the Christian, things the world offers that prey on our former desires and try to drag us back into that former lifestyle. John reminds us that love in the world means the Father’s love is not in us. This may remind you of James talking about the decision between loving the world and being an enemy of God (James 4:4-5). These three desires come from 1 John 2:16.
The first temptation John presents is the lust of the flesh. These are the things that we desire for our bodies. They include things like food and sex. Joseph refused to commit adultery with Potiphar’s his wife (Genesis 39:9). But David, the man who had power and everything he wanted, violated Bathsheba and fell for this desire.
The second temptation is the lust of the eyes. These are the temptations that please us when we look at them. One of the most common ones is to lust after a person’s image. Job made a covenant with his eyes to keep from lusting after young maidens (Job 31:1). These things are pleasing to the eyes.
They cause us to want but we look at. Coveting is one of the sins that follow the lust of the eyes. My mentor has a great way to avoid the lust of the eyes. He says that God created two of the most important weapons against the lust of the eyes: the eyelid and the neck. Close your eyes and turn your head to avoid being sucked in to this desire.
The final temptation is the pride of life. This is the desire to have things like fame, fortune, power, and authority. These are people who seek political office to control others rather than help them. They seek a higher place in the company for the money and power over others. They know how to use people to get what they want.
John started this sentence talking about these three temptations that massager desires and attempt to bring us down. But the sentence that contains them begins with reminding Christians at these temptations, these desires, are in the world. They are things the world produces and tries to give us.
Each one of these three temptations does not come from the Father. James teaches us that the Father doesn’t tempt us (James 1:13-14). The only thing that comes from our Father are the good gifts he lavishes upon us (James 1:17). So anything that tempts us away from his kingdom is not from him.
It comes from the world. And we must remember that. It’s like when we order a product from one company but when we receive it in the mail looks nothing like what we ordered. These temptations from the world seek to take us away from Jesus and his kingdom and his best for us.
We must never forget that temptation is always trying to trick us. We must be watchful and alert, making sure that it does not take us to places that God does not intend for our best. Be on guard against these desires and temptations.
Leave a comment and let us know how you stand against these temptations and what examples you think of for each of these three desires.