Do not love the world nor 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 lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
I want to continue my series on the kingdom of Heaven. Many Christians have been spoon fed a view of the kingdom that relegates it to either the after-life or the second coming of Christ. Thus, they fail to lay hold of the power of the kingdom that is present and rising in our midst.
Under this type of mindset, it is easy to misinterpret the Scriptures that speak about not loving this world. We might think God is saying we should despise Earth while we yearn to escape to Heaven one day. Or, we might think life on Earth is about “holding down the fort” until Jesus comes to rescue us instead of working towards a bright future as we partner with the King.
But we cannot dismiss the passages like the one in the beginning of this post. The key is to understand that we are told throughout the NT not to conform to this “age”, not that we should shun the Earth itself. This is what is meant by “world” in this passage. It is a value system based on lust. Lust is not just unhealthy sexual stuff but a self-centered, godless worldview promoted by the fallen king of selfishness himself.
We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)
This world system, as we are told, will pass away, but the one who does the will of God lives forever. But we are also told that “the Earth will remain forever” (see Ecc. 1:4). What this all boils down to is that the Kingdom of God is taking over this present godless world system. I believe this is what “the one who does the will of God” refers to. Jesus told His disciples to pray:
Your kingdom come. Your will be done; in Earth as it is in Heaven (Matt. 6:10)
So God’s will is that His kingdom come to Earth until it looks exactly like Heaven down here. Those who do the will of God are those who participate with the King in establishing the kingdom. I am not saying that your salvation hinges on some immeasurable contribution to the kingdom of God, but that only Kingdom work will last forever.
The rest will pass away or “burn up” as the Bible says in other passages like this one:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10).
“Wait John”, you might say, “how is the Earth to remain forever if it is to be burned up?” This, according to many theologians, is a cleansing fire that will eliminate corruption from the Earth rather than an annihilation of the Earth itself. This seems to go along with the idea of the “age” passing away with its lust, but the will of God (kingdom work) lasting forever.
Paul gives further clarity into how this affects people at a personal level. He tells us:
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Cor. 3:11-15).
The “work” is what will go through the fire test. The works of the kingdom of darkness will be burned up. However, we are assured that it is Christ alone who saves, not the amount of Kingdom work we crank out itself. But how could we yearn for anything else as a new creation in Christ?
In fact, we are told that we believers have already escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust. We can now manifest a new divine nature as we abide in Christ. Peter said;
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Pet. 1:4)
I hope this is all starting to make more sense by now. We are pilgrims, aliens, and sojourners in this age because we know there is coming a time where only the nature of our King will prevail. Until then, we are looking forward to the heavenly city whose builder is God as mentioned in Hebrews 11 and 13. However, we are kingdom builders and have a key role in the kingdom coming to Earth in the present age.
As Jesus prayed for us on His last night on Earth:
I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world (Jn 17:14-15).
We are not to yearn for escape, but for the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God on Earth. Going to heaven is not your mission; going into hell to destroy it is. Its gates will not prevail against the advancing church. Our hatred towards the world system must be rooted in our love for the souls it is destroying.
This is the Kingdom message. This is your mission. Seek it first.
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15)