As we continue our series on 1 John, I look forward to answering your questions each week. This week's message was Whoever Does the Will of God Abides Foreverand it came from 1 John 2:15-17. Let's take a look at your questions.
1. If we cannot love the world, why can God love the world? If so, how can we know the difference?
Scripture indicates that God does indeed love the world (e.g., John 3.16). So how is it that God can love the world but Christians are commanded not to? The difference comes in how we understand the meaning of the word “world.” John 3.16 uses the word “world” to include all people. In other words, it is saying that God loves everyone – he loves the world. The context in which John uses the word “world” in 1 John 2.15 is in reference to the “world system,” or the way the world works – what the world says is right and good instead of what God says is right and good. As we said in the sermon on Sunday, God has given us good things in the world that we are to use, but we are not to use them outside of the ways in which God has prescribed them to be used. The moment we use them beyond the boundaries God has put in place, we run the risk of loving the world.
It’s also worth noting that when Jesus was on the earth he loved the world perfectly. By that I mean that he never gave in to the temptation to use the things in the world in a manner that did not glorify God. You and I struggle with the desire to love things of the world beyond what God would have us love them. Jesus was likewise tempted with that very temptation, but never gave in to it. He is the model for how we are to regard things in the world.
2. Is God’s judgment of Zechariah 14.12 a parallel of 1 John 2.15-17?
No. While the judgment recorded in Zechariah 14.12 bears some similarities to 1 John 2.15-17 in that it references flesh and eyes, I do not see it as a parallel text. The context of Zechariah 14.12 is one of judgment on “all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem…” whereas the context of 1 John 2.15-17 is one of a pastor shepherding his flock (John and his readers) in the midst of false teachings in the church.
3. How can I know that I am doing the will of God?
At the end of verse 15 of 1 John 2, John says, “He who does the will of God abides forever.” We often wonder about God’s will – what is it? How do I know I am in it? Can I be out of it? These are all good questions, but sometimes we fret over them too much, I think. Quite simply, the will of God is what is revealed in his word – nothing more, and nothing less. God has shown us how he thinks, how he acts, and his character and nature. Everything we need to know about him is in the Bible, and everything we need to know about how to relate to him is in the Bible. So how can you know that you are doing the will of God? Read the Bible, and do what it says. If you’re doing that, then you are “doing the will of God.” This is what John wants his readers to do rather than participate in what the world has to offer. Instead of loving the world, be immersed in the Bible and do what it says.