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). “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
The three lures of the devil: your body, your things, your significance — God’s good gifts. Satan wants you to fall in love with them so he can turn them into the ultimate ugly like himself — lust, covetousness, pride. Yesterday we examined the lust of the flesh. Today let’s consider the lures of the lust of the eye and the pride of life.
- Lust of the eye. When do you pursue covetousness instead of contentment? To covet is to desire, seek, pursue something not yours. Or, not in God’s plan for you. Have you noticed that a person doesn’t have to be poor to be covetous. If you did have a lot, you might be even MORE covetous — clinging to what you have, guarding it, trusting it. The temptation of a desire-filled eye is a powerful enticement for both the haves and the have-nots. To love stuff is to prove the love of the Father is not in us. At least love for God doesn’t dominate our life. Is covetousness a small sin? Surely the 10th commandment is the least of all the commandments? Well…
- It’s dumb because it doesn’t usually improve anything much, just agitates your own spirit. But it’s far worse than dumb.
- Covetousness is so bad, in fact, that Scripture calls it idolatry. Idolatry of things. Not idolizing an admirable person or grand cause, but just plain things. Stuff replacing love and worship of God is so bad, Paul tells us, the covetous will never inherit the kingdom. He even ranks the covetous along with adulterers and thieves (1 Corinthians 6:10).
- You see, covetousness is a cancer of the spirit. Cancer is a good cell in our body gone bad, eating up its brothers. Covetousness is a cancer of the spirit gone berserk, eating away at our love for God, eating away at our love for others with love for self. But note a strange thing about covetousness and contentment, counterintuitive to the contemporary mindset: Covetousness is a great LOSS and contentment a great GAIN! That’s what Paul told Timothy (1 Timothy 6:6-10). “If you love the world — the lust of the eye, stuff — the love of the Father is not in you. And,” Paul tells young Timothy, “it will drown you in a sea of destruction and perdition.” Strong words. Not mine—God’s!
- Pride. Instead of humility, the servant heart. “I am among you as one who serves,” said the King of all the worlds. Then He washed their dusty feet; yes, even the feet of the ultimate betrayer. Then he said, “Now get on with it—you do the same.” But we are not naturally that way.
Paul said, “Let each consider others better than self.” Even when they’re obviously not better? Yes — treat them as your betters. A slave might have been much more intelligent, much better looking, much more spiritual than his owner, but as a servant he treated his master as his better. That’s the servant role.
Why is pride a particularly enticing temptation? Maybe because fame is not only a lure for the greatly gifted, for those who have earned recognition by performance, but just as much for those who do not have it but want it and seek it.
Why is pride such an evil thing? The trouble with pride is that it’s a break with reality. And any break with reality is destructive, not health-giving. Of course a low self-image, evaluating ourselves below what we are, what God has invested in us, what we are in Christ — that is destructive, too, because that low view of self also is a break with reality. But Scripture focuses on our bent toward grasping for the glory, thinking of ourselves more highly than is true and wanting others to recognize our worth. To distort reality does not enhance your value, it diminishes it — doesn’t make you more grand but more tawdry. Satan discovered that. He exalted himself, grasping for the power and glory that are God’s and became the ultimate ugly, the premier failure. Jesus, on the other hand, came down, embraced the humble, servant role. And displayed the ultimate beauty.
How do you spot destructive pride? Easy — where does the spotlight shine? Who gets the credit? God will take the three root sins—lust, covetousness, and pride — the stench of the world — and change them into the fragrance of Jesus — pure, contented, humble.