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The World, The Christ, and Us – Part 3

The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life…

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 NKJV)

15Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16For 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.  17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NASB)

15 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. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NKJV)

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.  (1 John 2:15-17 ASV)

15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. Because everything that belongs to the world— 16 the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever. (1 John 2:15-17 HCSB)

15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17 KJV)

15Love not ye the world, nor the things in the world; if any one doth love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,  16because all that [is] in the world — the desire of the flesh, and the desire of the eyes, and the ostentation of the life — is not of the Father, but of the world,  17and the world doth pass away, and the desire of it, and he who is doing the will of God, he doth remain — to the age. (1 John 2:15-17 YLT)

15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NIV)

15 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. 16For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the des ires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

It is interesting to note, also, that what the Apostle is doing in this warning passage is not just referring to the world, but to all three of the cords that bind our souls for destruction: the flesh, the world, and the devil.  The lust of the flesh obviously refers to the flesh.  The lust of the eyes refers to the desire to obtain and find pleasure in the things of this world.  And the “ostentation” or vain-glory of life is that Satanic influence to exalt and glory in ourselves, rather than to be humbled to the dust by the glory of our magnificent Creator.

Consider what our Lord Himself says in the gospels.  In the gospel of Matthew, we read his words:

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:28-30)

In the gospel of Mark, we hear something very similar:

“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.  And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'” (Mark 9:43,45,47-48).

In the passage from Matthew, Jesus starts with the heart and the sinful intent.  He then goes on to say it is better to cut off your hand or tear out your eye if they cause you to sin.  Of course, it is not the hand and the eye that cause the sin; they are the just the medium for its consumption.  It is the heart (or mind or affections) that control the members of the body.  The addition of the foot in the gospel of Mark is interesting, since this suggests the way we walk as well as that which we stand upon.  The Greek word “peripateo” means “to live” or “to walk”.  For a practical example of how our “walk” is basically the same as the life that is lived out of our heart, see Ephesians chapters 4 and 5.

Considering these warning passages in the gospels, there seems to be many parallels in John’s epistle.  I do not think that Jesus, the great physician meant for people to literally maim and mutilate themselves.  I do think He intended to underscore the severity of dealing with our sin.  The hands that so often feed the flesh the desires of its appetites; the eyes full of desire, seeking their satisfaction in whatever delights them; and the feet–the way we walk and what it is we are standing on.  They are both saying the same things different ways.  Seeking sensual pleasures, earthly treasures, and self-glorification will separate you from God eternally.  They are antithetical to the will of God.  Their end is hell and hopelessness.  If we are pursuing such ends, we MUST REPENT and turn again… for “God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (Acts 3:26)

It should also be noted that the fruit of the hand and the eye grows from the root of heart.  A rotten heart may produce bad fruit (the works or use of the hands and eyes), but they do not make the root bad.  It is not the fruit that corrupts the root, but the fruit stems forth from what is in the root.

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit.” (Luke 6:43)

And he said, “Are you also still without understanding?  Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?  But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matthew 15:16-20)

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.  Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.” (Luke 11:34-35)

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Necrophilia and Narcissism

Two terms that evoke strong reactions.  One speaks of the disgusting “love” of the dead.  The other speaks of the disgusting “love” of the self.

Necrophilia. . .

Cigarettes.  Alcohol.  Sugar.  Artificial sweeteners.  Coffee.  Soda.  Gossip.  Pornography.  Adultery.  Anger.  Sex.  Violence.  Television.

Why are we so drawn to death?  So much of what we really desire, what we are motivated to obtain and to “enjoy”–that is, what we feed on to satisfy whatever it is we must be hungering for since that is what we consume–is not only unhealthy (or perhaps our appetite for it is not), but our voracious consumption of it only works to bring about death.  Death.  How much time and money do we spend feeding our bodies, our minds, and our souls that which produces no life, but in fact quite the opposite?  Who wants to answer this question honestly?

How much of what we feed our bodies, our minds, and our souls produces and sustains life?  Do we long for healthy foods to feed our bodies, or pursue vigorous activities and exercise?  Or do we prefer junk food, candy, fast food, cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs?  Instead of dumb bells or a pair of hiking boots, do we prefer a TV remote or a video game controller?

Do we feed our minds good books, Scripture, seek quiet time for meditating and reflecting on what we’re learning?  Do we seek opportunities to put what we know to use, to teach others, and to benefit those around us with what we have learned or been gifted with?  Or do we prefer to entertain ourselves with constant, mindless noise–whether it be music or television or video games?  Do we spend our time putting useful things into our mind, or do we just fill it with so much junk?

And do we spend time daily on our knees in prayer, bringing our needs before the Lord, seeking His provision in our life?  Do we read the Scriptures as if they are the very words of life, wrestling with them and begging God for understanding. . . or if understanding, begging for help with application?  Are we thanking God for all the things He is bringing about in our life, even the trials that strengthen our faith, and the afflictions that destroy our foolish pride?  Do we spend time helping others, ministering to them and meeting their needs?  And do we practice forgiveness when the Lord challenges us to live and to love as He did, sacrificially?  Or do we give ourselves to anger and a vengeful spirit?  Or to gossip, seeking the sin in others?  Or perhaps entertain lustful thoughts, hiding the adulterous hearts that beat within our breast?  Do we put unclean things before our eyes, and erect idols where only God should live?

And lest you think yourself somehow elevated because some of the most obvious entrees above are not a vice to you, then consider the second option. . .

Naricissism.

Maybe you think well of yourself because you have healthier appetites, and so you esteem yourself as being somehow better than those whose appetites seem to lead toward destruction.  Maybe in your own secret and subtle way, you pray quietly to yourself like that Pharisee, “Lord I thank you that you have not made me like these other men. . . even like this tax collector.”  Maybe you have deceived yourself, forgetting your unworthiness before the King.  Perhaps you have fallen asleep and forgotten that neither you nor your appetites are healthy, and that you are a sinner still in need of grace.  For our Lord said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Be careful you are not thanking Him that you are not like the Necrophiliac.

I don’t know if the old American Puritan Thomas Sheperd wrote these words or if Alexander Whyte penned them in his appreciation for Shepard, but I thought they reveal much of the human heart:

‘There is no difference. I am as you are, and you are as I am. Just try the thing yourselves. Just begin to love God with all your heart, and you will soon see that the more you try to do that the less will you feel satisfied that you succeed. And, in like manner, when you begin to love your neighbour as yourself you will begin to get a lesson with a vengeance in the spiritual life. Just try to rejoice in all your neighbour’s well-being as much as you rejoice in your own. Just try to relish and enjoy all other men’s praises of your neighbour as you relish and enjoy all other men’s praises of yourself. Just try to take delight in all your neighbour’s rewards, promotions, prosperities as you take delight in your own. And go on trying to do that toward all men around you, friend and foe, and you will get a lesson in the infinite and exquisite holiness and spirituality of God’s law of love, and at the same time a lesson in the abominable and unspeakable corruptions of your own heart that will make you wiser in all these matters than all your teachers.’

Necrophiliac.  Narcissist.  It is tempting to say that most of us are one or the other, but I do not think that is true.  I think there is a danger that most of us are both, although we may have certain tendencies to lean more toward one or the other.  Both are self-consuming.  And though means and motives may differ, both are self-absorbed and leave very little by way of fruit to offer others.

Christ was raised up from the dead.  He did not remain in the grave; He was raised up and is at the right hand of the Father.  If you are a Christian, you do not worship a dead man.  Therefore, if we love Him we must leave our Necrophilia.  At the same time, “By this we know love, that He laid His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”  We must not be so in love with our own lives that we hold on to them and value them more than we value the lives of others.  We must also come to Him understanding that our own lives are worthless, and that He is the true life.  Therefore, if we love Him, we must reject our Narcissism.  In Christ, we are called to love sacrificially, to give our lives for the sake of another without loving those things that bring about death.

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