Saturday, July 18, 2009

7-19 I John 2:17-19 Lusts vs Love

(Jacob Gheyn II "Lusts of the Flesh" 16-17th cent)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

7/19- The Lord’s Day I John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If you love the world, love for the Father [a] is not in you. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful people, the lust of their eyes and their boasting about what they have and do—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.(TNIV)

Calvin commentary abridged: 2:15- “Love not the world”- The writer has said before that the only rule for living the Christian life is to love God. When we are preoccupied with the prideful temporary love of the world, we turn all our thoughts and affections in another direction. This vanity must be torn away from us so that the love of God may reign in us. Until our minds are cleansed, the former doctrine may be said a hundred times, but without our hearing. It would be like pouring water on a ball. No drop can be gathered on the ball because there is no empty place to retain the water. By the word “world”- understand everything connected with the present life apart from the kingdom of God and the hope of eternal life. So John includes in “the world” corruptions of every kind, and the abyss of all evils. In the world are pleasures, delights, and all those allurements by which people are captivated, so as to draw us away from God. The love of the world is severely condemned, because when we value earthly things so much, we forget God and our own good and are possessed by a beastly stupidity. “If anyone loves the world”- How necessary it is to cast away the love of the world if we wish to please God. What belongs to the world is wholly at variance with God. A corrupt mode of life is here talked about which has nothing in common with the kingdom of God. When people become so degenerated that they are satisfied with the present life, and think no more of immortal life than mute animals, they make themselves a slave to earthly lusts.
2:16- “The Lust of the flesh” John inserted these three particulars as examples of ways people live for the world. Paul in Romans 13:14 says to make no provision for the flesh and its lusts. The flesh is the body and all that belongs to it. Another way to look at it is when worldly people seek to live softly and delicately and are intent only on their own advantage. Well known from Cicero are the threefold division of Epicurus: he made the difference between lusts; he made some natural and necessary; some natural and not necessary; and some neither natural and necessary. But John, knowing the rebellion of the human heart unhestitantly condemns all lusts of the flesh because it always flows out without restraint.
“the lust of the eyes”- He includes sexual lusts as well as the pride which delights in pomp and splendor.
“Pride” or haughtiness; with which is connected ambition, boasting, contempt of others, blind love of self, headstrong self-confidence. As soon as the world presents itself, our lusts or desires, when our heart is corrupt, are captivated by it, like unbridled wild beasts;
2:17- “and the world passes away” As nothing in the world lasts, and as it all fades away in a moment, John concludes that those who seek happiness from the world do not provide well for themselves. The true happiness which God offers his children is eternal. Therefore it is shameful to be entangled with the world which with all its benefits will soon vanish away. “Lust” or “desires” is what is is coveted or what captivates the desires of people. What is most desirable in the world is but a shadowy phantom. By saying those who do the will of God lives forever he means that those who seek God shall be perpetually blessed. If anyone says “but no one does what God commands” the answer is that he is not speaking of keeping the law perfectly, but the obedience of faith, which however imperfect it may be, is yet approved by God. The will of God is first made known in the law, but as no one satisfies the law, no happiness can be found from the law. But Christ comes to meet the despairing with new help. Christ not only regenerates us by his Spirit that he may obey God, but he also allows that our endeavor (our striving) should obtain the praise of perfect righteousness.

John Calvin summed up the Christian life (sanctification) as dying to self and living to God (mortification and vivification). This fits in nicely with this passage. We are to die to our lusts, our comforts, our temporary pleasures that tend to lure our hearts away from the eternal, good will of Christ. Hollywood holds up the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life. But what loses in Hollywood’s idea of lust is true love. A previous generation had people who were often having 50th wedding anniversaries. Today, the standard is feeling more than commitment. The common person in American today may say, “I don’t care if it lasts or not.” There is a long string of broken hearts and torn up lives because of this. Children without parents, parents who cannot depend on working together for their children’s mutual benefit; the lack of discipline. Lust is a mean master. In contrast to lust is true love. In contrast to the temporary are the lasting benefits of Christ. Christian growth is not done perfectly here, and it is done by the Holy Spirit. Yet it is not to be despised because it is not perfect. The very striving or endeavoring after God is a work of the Spirit.

Prayer: Lord, change our hearts and the hearts of those we know and love to you. Help us to give ourselves for what will last, not for what fades away.

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