1 John 2:16
“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.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 10th session of the 1 John lecture series.
In the last session, I explained that, if we love the world, the love of God is not in us.
Here, the ‘world’ refers to the world of darkness which is under the control of the enemy devil and Satan.
Those children of God who have received the Holy Spirit realize the love of God and begin to love God.
But having love for God doesn’t mean they have cast away all their love for the world.
They will have a continually growing love for God to the extent that they cast off their love for the world, namely their desire to take fleshly things.
On the other hand, if they do not try to cast off flesh, but continue to love the things of this world, their love for God will cool down.
Just as one servant cannot serve two masters, we cannot love God to the extent that we love the world.
What will happen when our love for God is all gone away-
It means the Holy Spirit in us will be quenched, and we will not be saved.
That is why God’s children have to cast away their love for the world quickly.
Also, they have to pull out the contents of the flesh that had filled them before they believed in God.
Today’s reading passage explains these contents of the flesh in three categories.
It says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.”
From now, let us learn about these three things in more detail.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, first, the lust of the flesh is the desire to follow the flesh and commit sins.
As you have heard in the sermon series, ‘Spirit, Soul and Body’, the flesh is the body of man combined with sinful natures.
Here, the body is the body of man from which the knowledge of spirit leaked out after the fall of Adam.
The ‘lust of the flesh’ is the sinful natures in heart that are trying to be revealed externally. In other words, it is the desire to commit sins.
The lust of the flesh is the desire to commit various sins such as fornication and adultery, stealing, hating others, or becoming angry.
If you have sinful natures in heart, you will also have the desire to follow those natures.
Those who have envy will feel good only after they demonstrate their envy and bring down others.
If they have the natures of judging and condemning others, they feel that it is fun to spread rumors and to judge others.
Those who have hot tempers feel good only after they vent their anger whenever they feel angry.
If they want to suppress it, they feel very uncomfortable.
Now, let us look into the process of the lust of the flesh being motivated and revealing itself externally.
If men have sinful natures in their hearts, they will have thoughts of untruth based on the sinful natures.
Namely, to the extent that they have flesh in heart, they will have fleshly thoughts.
As they begin to have fleshly thoughts, the lust of the flesh is motivated.
Let me illustrate the example of ‘envy’. Suppose a person has envy.
When a person’s colleague was praised by his boss, the person begins to have fleshly thoughts that are derived from the nature of flesh called ‘envy’.
He thinks, “What did he do so that the boss is praising him- He didn’t really do anything better than many others, but the boss has been praising him publically and praised him many times. If the boss keeps on doing that, he will start thinking he really is more excellent than others. It is not fair and it is not right.” So many others thoughts of the same kind will continue to come into his mind.
As these fleshly thoughts progress and accumulate, his lust of the flesh will soon be agitated, and this in turn will motivate his envy.
He feels uncomfortable and his face becomes rigid and cold.
When he talks to his colleague, he cannot talk in a nice way. He may complain about the person or even slander him around others.
Now, what do we have to do to prevent the lust of the flesh from motivating the envy-
First, we have to cut off the fleshly thoughts.
When your coworker is being praised, if you begin to have such thoughts as, “Why is he being praised- He didn’t really do anything exceptionally well. It’s not right” then, you have to stop such thoughts right there.
But sometimes even though you try to stop such thoughts, they just keep coming into your mind.
In this case, you have to change those thoughts into good thoughts rather than trying stop thinking.
Not just the thoughts, but you have to change the feelings, too.
When others are praised, you have to change the uncomfortable feelings into good and happy feelings.
You should begin to have good thoughts and feelings thinking, “I am happy and grateful that he is being praised, and loved, and encouraged by his boss.”
Along with this kind of effort, there is something more important.
You have to get rid of the sinful nature. You have to cast off the sinful nature from your heart.
In order to pull out the sinful nature called ‘envy’ from your heart, you have to remember your attitude of mind and feelings that you had at the moment of feeling envious. Then you have to pray about it.
You have to pray fervently until those feelings and thoughts of envy disappear completely.
But there are personal differences in the time and effort it takes to get rid of sinful natures.
According to the temperament of each person, some have strong envy and jealousy, while others have relatively weak envy and jealousy so that they pull them out easily.
Also, when people cannot enjoy and have what they want to enjoy and have in their lives, envy and jealousy may grow strongly because they store up sorrow and resentment in heart.
But in any situation, if you are always thankful and think in goodness, you can stop storing up more envy in your heart.
But if you become resentful because others have what you don’t have, and if you have uncomfortable and hard feelings against them, your envy will only become stronger to the extent that you accept evil feelings.
However, anybody can cast away such sinful natures if they have the determination and try to change themselves by asking God for His grace and strength.
The important thing is that you have to realize how much God hates such an evilness of heart.
Also, as said in Proverbs 14:30, “A tranquil heart is life to the body, But passion is rottenness to the bones,” you have to thoroughly realize how harmful envy is for you.
To that extent, you will cling to God, and you will try to have good heartedness and good thoughts.
When God sees the effort, He will help you.
You will be able to feel that your sinful natures are cast away through the grace and strength of God and the help of the Holy Spirit.
As you cast away the sinful natures one by one, if you experience the happiness and joy of casting away sins, the speed of sanctification will accelerate.
There is one more thing you have to remember in the process of casting away flesh.
To cast away the flesh that is in you, you must not accept any more flesh from the world.
Namely, you have to cut off the lust of the eyes.
The ‘lust of the eyes’ is the nature that agitates our heart and makes us follow fleshly things through what we see and hear.
Suppose you store something in your heart with a good feeling as you experienced something.
Then you will remember the same feelings when you hear or see something that can remind you of the same thing.
For example, suppose a person liked the taste of a red apple very much.
So, the next time the person sees a picture of a red apple, the taste and feeling of enjoying it will be remembered.
They will remember the refreshing and sweet taste and the feeling of the cracking as a bite is taken. They will then have the desire to eat one.
As that desire becomes stronger, they may actually eat one.
But those who have never tasted an apple before will not really have the desire to eat it when they see the picture of a red apple.
It’s similar with the lust of the eyes.
Those who enjoyed the world with a good feeling would want to enjoy the world again when they come in contact with things that remind them of those feelings.
Following their feelings and desires they take in these fleshly things.
In order to avoid such temptations, they have to remove the things from around them that can give them such temptations.
They must not see, hear, or be in the proximity of such things.
Suppose a person who is trying to quit drinking goes to a bar and he sees others drinking and smells the liquor.
Then, thoughts like, ‘It smells good. I think I’d like to have just one too!’ will be stimulated.
His desire for liquor that he suppressed will become much stronger.
So, he must not even go near any liquor.
In the same way, if some students want to get away from computer games, they have to get rid of the computers.
Those who want to cast away anger must not watch violent movies. Those who want to cast away an adulterous mind must not put themselves in any adulterous situations.
Sometimes, when some heinous crime is covered in detail in the news or described in movies, copycat crimes also increase.
They cover it with the intent to stop people from committing such crimes, but instead similar kinds of crimes increase in number.
Those who had the desire, but could not actually commit crimes learn how to commit such a crime and they can easily follow it.
Of course, it is not very common for people to imitate crimes of great magnitude.
But generally, people are affected by what they see and what they hear without them realizing it.
For example, if you watch a movie in which the hero uses a particular accent or a lot of foul language, a person might unknowingly copy his accent or use the language.
If you listen to certain music continually, you begin to hum the melody without realizing it.
Therefore, you who are longing for holiness must be careful about what you see and hear and be watchful.
You have to see and hear only good things and accept only good things in heart.