Chapter 2 (cont’d)
15-17: a) Do not love (the things in) the world, b) (the things in) the world are: desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, and pride in possessions, c) if you love these desires, then the love of the Father is not in you.
Once again, John hits hard with a black and white statement about the nature of spiritual life – you either have life or you don’t – and then he gives some diagnostics to check against your life (see also note on 2:7-11).
These verses (and Luke 17:1-4) show that sinful and tempting desires will come to the life of the believer but when they come, there is an important question to ask: do I love these desires or hate them? If you love these desires (which come from man’s wicked heart; James 1:13-15), then the love of the Father is not in you.
Is it possible that you are saved but God is allowing you to struggle, as your heart continues to harden to the convicting work of the Spirit, so that eventually your sin becomes so overwhelmingly obvious that you turn to him? Absolutely.
However, this verse says that if you are sinning and you love it, it is more likely that God has nothing to do with you.
In either scenario – whether you love sin or are a numb believer – man’s response ought to be the same: repent and turn in faith. As I have struggled with assurance over the years, this is the inescapable conclusion I always find in Scripture. Whether a believer or not, when confronted by the gospel, man must testify that he is a sinner in the midst a holy God.
The second part to this is faith. To stop at repentance would lead to depression, but the gospel is good news! The good news is that, through faith in the work of Christ, we can be saved from sin and be given right standing with God. Jesus took our unrighteousness and gave us his righteousness. When God sees us, though still sinful, he sees the perfect life of Christ. There is no better news than this!