1 John 2:16
“ 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)
I invite you to help me raid the devil’s tackle box. What are the lures he uses to catch us? I think we’ll discover they aren’t evil, repulsive, ugly. Actually, they’re very attractive — how else would they lure? And he didn’t create them. God did! The devil uses God’s good gifts to lure us into a devil’s lifestyle. They’re God’s good gifts: our bodies with the body’s appetites, the world around us, our sense of worth. How could the devil use such wonderful gifts to lure us into bad attitudes and behavior?
Let’s ask John to help us get started in the raiding party. 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.” The “world” can’t mean the people of the world (John 3:16). Surely it doesn’t mean God’s good gifts. So it must have to do with how we love those gifts.
What is it to “love” God’s good gifts in a God-displeasing way? Well, surely it would make him sad, dishonor him if we abused His gifts, misused them? And how might that be? He tells us explicitly in verse 16: the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life.
Let us consider one lure today and two of these lures tomorrow.
- Lust of the flesh. We can love food too much. It’s called gluttony. I don’t know how this sin made the list of “the seven deadly sins” because there’s not much about it in Scripture. Actually, until 20th century America there wasn’t much of a temptation to over-eat – most people throughout most of history were too busy finding enough to eat and working off what they did eat. But since our bodies don’t belong to us and since God takes up residence in them, to abuse them is not right. And certainly there has never been a society in history that has committed gluttony like ours. There are other ways we get caught by Satan’s lures — athletics, sleep, travel, entertainment, alcohol, or books. Anything that goes beyond God’s design for the fulfillment of God-given desires to enjoy, to have or to be. When we go outside God’s design, that’s to love the world through the lust of the flesh, the appetites of our bodies.
But if there’s any lust of the flesh, appetite of the body, that America is devoted to more than food, it would be sex. Now THAT the Bible does talk about from beginning to end! It’s God’s good gift when used as he designed, but to violate His standard is to love the world. And, says John, if you do that, the love of the Father is not in you. God’s exquisite gifts of taste buds, of sex—to abuse them is to devalue them and if we really cared adequately about our own selves, we’d run from every lure to misuse them.
Think of sex. People grab for pleasure and get it. But every illicit pleasure diminishes one’s capacity for the maximum ecstasy reserved for those who use the wonderful gift of sex God’s way — in marriage. It’s a package deal. Split them and you reduce the ultimate pleasure he designed. You get the animal rush. But you abort the potential for bringing a passionate, permanent love relationship to a climax.
Suppose there’s a family friend who’s very fond of you. He also happens to own the factory in town that makes Porsches and he’s promised you a brand new $100,000 Porsche when you grow up and get your driver’s license. For your 14th birthday he takes you down to the plant to give you a preview, to show you how it’s all put together. Your eyes pop as the different glistening parts roll down the assembly line. Then comes the magnificent engine. You’ve never seen anything like it. “Crank it up” you shout excitedly. They crank it up and VROOM! You say to your benefactor, “I want that gift. Now.” “Are you sure?” he says. “If you’d just wait you could have the whole package. One without the other may be exciting and a bit of fun for a while, but the end product will be diminished. Are you sure you want it now?” “Oh, yes, yes, yes!” “Well, if you insist…” You take it home and every evening you crank up that magnificent gift and listen with rapture as it purrs and roars. What a rush! But you never ride that car, you never really get anywhere near what your benefactor planned. Even after you get your license and he helps you try to put back together his gift for you, it never runs as smooth or as fast.
Maybe you’re single and you’ve already been fooling around with that powerful engine; take it back to the Manufacturer. Give it over to him. And when the time comes he’ll put it all together and you can drive that sucker home. It will be worth the wait — trust me!
Sex and marriage are designed for one another. Split them, and you’re left with a poorer gift. One without the other isn’t the exquisite gift God plans for you. Unless, of course, he has something even better in mind for you. Paul reminds us of that — a special relationship with him reserved for those gifted with singleness. But most of us need to be reminded often, sex without marriage or marriage with a used engine won’t be all God intended.
And some of you married folks. Maybe the old Porsche is getting a bit worn, a few dents in her body, maybe some knocks in your engine. You look at that cute little Miata flashing by in the next lane and begin to think, “Now if I put this engine in that baby we could really fly!” Don’t you believe it. Oh, you’ll get an initial Vroom no doubt — as Solomon tells us, illicit sex has a special kick to it — stolen water is sweet, he says (Proverbs 9:17). But it won’t last. It’s likely to blow up in your face and if not, it usually ends in a crash. Whatever, it never runs as the Designer planned. If you don’t believe me, just read the statistics.
Please — don’t mess with God’s good gift of your body. Save it, keep it tuned up, run it the Manufacturer’s way. But maybe you love the world too much. Then, says John, there’s a reason: the love of the Father is not in you and you don’t love HIM.