1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or 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 desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Do not love the world
After coming to Christ the Christian becomes increasingly weary of this world. He finds himself despising the flesh. He abhors the depravity he sees in himself. The lusts of the flesh agitate him. The evil he sees in and around him “torments his righteous soul” (2 Peter 2:8). I know this because all Christians have been given the Holy Spirit. If the Christian could love the world–if he could get comfortable here and never long for a better country–God’s love would not be in him at all. But it is, and so he struggles.
- Galatians 5:17; For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
- Romans 7:15-25; I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
The love of the Father
The Christian wrestles internally because the love of the Father is in him. He has been born of God. His flesh is altogether evil and his spirit is altogether righteous. The two cannot, and will never, coexist in peace.
He is God’s child now. He cannot love the world. It’s foreign to him. His citizenship is in heaven.
So if you are a Christian, don’t even try to love the world. It will only make the battle more intense. Stop investing in it. Seek the things which are above.
- Colossians 3:1-4; If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
- Philippians 3:20-21; Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
The world is passing away
This life is excruciatingly short. “You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes;” James 4:14. So instead of loving this world, love the life to come. If you have Christ, you have eternal life. Make that your joy. Make Him your love. Make your desire to do His will while you are here. Not because you fear damnation but because you joy in salvation–the eternal life He has freely given to you.
- 2 Corinthians 5:1-9; We know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
After Jesus tells the disciples about the end times, He warns them: “Watch yourselves.” Don’t watch the signs of the times or the things of this earth, but your own heart. Stay awake, pray; keep your lives free from the sin that so easily hinders us.
- 2 Peter 3:11-18; “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not
carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.”
Lest your hearts be weighed down
We are called to live our lives differently in light of Jesus’ promise to return. Considering our hope of eternal life, we are commissioned to conduct ourselves in holiness. This is not to for the sake of earning favor with God or impressing each other with greater levels of self-attained righteousness. The purpose of our calling to holiness is so that our hearts will not be weighed down. Sin is an entrapment. It burdens us. The Lord wants us to be free from the cares of this world. He wants us to be free from the encumbrance of sin.
- Hebrews 12:1-2; “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Stay awake at all times, praying
Psalm 127:2 says, “He gives His beloved sleep.” Jesus is not asking us to stay awake physically but to stay awake spiritually. Be alert. Be watchful. Be aware. Do not be spiritually lazy. Keep watch, not for signs of the times necessarily, but of yourselves. Set your eyes on the Lord and so keep yourself in the love of God.
- Colossians 3:1-10; “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
Watch yourselves. In lieu of Jesus’ imminent return and your guaranteed inheritance in heaven regardless of whether He returns in your lifetime, live your lives in holiness conducting yourself throughout the time of your stay here in godly reverence. Don’t become entangled in the overwhelming weight and hindrance of sin, but set your eyes on Christ, our life. When He appears, we will appear with Him and be evermore in His presence where there is fullness of joy and pleasure forever.
“These are the inheritances that Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the people of Israel distributed by lot at Shiloh before the LORD, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. So they finished dividing the land.”
They finished dividing the land
Hundreds of years have passed since God made His promises to Abraham. We get the privilege of reading this testimony of God’s faithfulness as it unfolds. Too bad Abraham didn’t get to read what we are reading! Having the promise of an inheritance in Canaan and of an offspring as numerous as the dust of the earth, he believed God without receiving the outcome. He “died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar;” Hebrews 11:13.
- Romans 4:18-21 “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”
Abraham looked forward to that which was unseen. His faith, we’re told, was reckoned to His account as righteousness. The Lord considered Abraham to be a righteous man because he took God at His word and trusted Him as able to do that which He promised.
We have received promises like Abraham did. With some of the promises we even have their fulfillments written down for us in the book of Revelation. Having witnessed the Lord’s faithfulness to Abraham, and having every reason to believe He is both faithful and able to carry out His promises to us, let us also grow strong in faith.
We have the promise of Jesus’ continual guidance and presence on this earth
- Hebrews 13:5-6 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'”
- Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
- Psalms 48:14 “This is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.”
- Matthew 28:20b “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We have the promise of Jesus’ return
- John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
We have the promise of Jesus’ kingdom
- Luke 12:32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
- Hebrews 12:28 “Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
- James 2:5 “Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?”
- 1Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
We have the promise of being brought into Jesus’ presence for all eternity
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
- Revelation 21:3-5 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'”
- Revelation 21:22-23 “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
- Revelation 22:3-6 “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true.'”
I have only mentioned a fraction of His promises and a fraction of the verses concerning the fraction of promises I mentioned! How overwhelming does the Lord need to convince us before we believe in Him wholeheartedly?
- 1 Thessalonians 5:24 “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
“He said therefore, ‘A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.'”
A far country
Jesus is telling this parable because He is on His way to Jerusalem to be crucified, but those who were with Him thought He was going to establish His kingdom immediately. The death of their promised king would be misunderstood. So, just as He did in His upperoom discourse in the book of John, Jesus tells them beforehand that He would be leaving. “You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe;” John 14:28-29.
Jesus always conducted Himself in light of His heavenly citizenship. He knew His kingdom was not of this earth. He knew He was a sojourner here.
- John 18:36 “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.'”
It was not that He disassociated Himself from the world; on the contrary, He loved the world and desired to gather all men to Himself.
In leiu of His belonging to a heavenly kingdom, He spent His life loving people.
- John 13:1-5 “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
To receive for himself a kingdom
Jesus knew that the Father had given all things into his hands. He knew where He had come from and where He was going. In light of this He stripped Himself and served.
- Philippians 2:4-11 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
God has highly exalted him
It was not Christ who exalted Himself, but God.
- John 8:54 “Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, “He is our God.”‘”
- John 3:35-36 “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
- Ephesians 1:16-23 “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that He worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
And then return
Just as surely as He came, Jesus will return.
- John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Jesus promises He will return because He wants us be with Him (John 17:24). He has every intention–He is purposed, He is resolute to keep His promise: He will return.
- 2 Peter 3:9-14 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”
“You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
You will not abandon my soul to Sheol
In his first sermon, on the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted this verse saying it speaks prophetically of Christ’s resurrection. Christ, the Holy One of God, was not abandoned to hell nor did He see corruption. He rose again!
Now, since Christ rose again, we know for certain that we who believe in Him will also rise again.
- Romans 6:5 “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:21 “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
- John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.'”
- John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
In your presence there is fullness of joy
The joy we so desperately seek after will never be found on this earth. Yes, we can be joyful in part, we can be happy and content to an extent; but true, full, complete joy will only be found in God’s presence.
- Psalm 17:15 “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”
- Galations 5:5 “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”
- Romans 8:23-25 “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 “For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
In this life we will always groan. We are homesick. We want to be where God is. In His presence there is fullness of joy.
It shouldn’t be necessary to say, but just as a reminder: eternity is forever.
No more sorrow, no more pain, no more tears forever. Not just the numb absence of pain, but pleasure forever. Always joyful, always happy, always content, always in God’s presence.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
“‘Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'”
Receive the kingdom of God
Receiving the kingdom of God is a matter of faith. In the same way a child unreservedly, without prejudice, without pride, ambition, and vanity (John Gill) receives what is promised to him, so ought those who desire eternity receive the kingdom. Jesus promised, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom;” Luke 12:32. As a child resting in the secure care of his parents are those who receive the promise of God’s kingdom.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is the absolute assurance of an expectation, the conviction concerning something unseen. Faith is the response of one who receives a promise and believes it, trusting in the character of the one who made he promise. Like a child unreservedly trusting in her parents, we receive God’s kingdom.
- 1 Peter 1:8-9 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
- 2 Corinthians 4:18 “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. For we know [have assurance] that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
What must I do
I doubt it is a coincidence that the ruler’s question is so closely recorded after Jesus’ words about child-like faith. Jesus just finished saying, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” The ruler subsequently asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” It’s just like us adults to be thick-headed and clueless.
Jesus said in the negative tense, Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” So, we can obviously accurately assume the positive form is true: “Whoever does receive the kingdom of God like a child shall enter it.”
What must I do to inherit eternal life? What must I do to live forever in God’s kingdom? You must receive Him–the King–in the same simplistic dependency as a child.
By receiving Jesus Christ, you receive life and are made to be fit for heaven.
- John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
- John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
- John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
- John 6:40 “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
There’s nothing you can do but believe
The ruler addressed Jesus as good when he inquired about the kingdom. Jesus responded, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” He then proceeded to tell him that the way to inherit eternal life was through absolute perfection. But no one is good. No one but God. So, in essence, what Jesus was saying was, “There is nothing you can do; only God can.”
Luke 18:27; “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
It is impossible for man to maintain the required perfection to enter heaven. “Then who can be saved?” (18:26). Anyone who believes in the Lord–anyone who receives Christ and His kingdom through faith.
- Galatians 2:16 “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law [by maintaining a self attained righteousness] but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
- Romans 3:21-25 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”
No one but God is good. If you receive Him, you will be given His righteousness and made fit for the kingdom and an heir of eternal life.
What must you do? Believe.