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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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Book Review: Shadow of the Cross by Walter Chantry

Who wants to read a book on “denying self”!? Everything in our culture urges us to esteem self. The “world” (as the Apostle John would call it) encourages us to please self, to satisfy self, live for self. When people in our self-bloated culture begin to have that uncomfortable disturbance, discontent with the reality of self… that disquiet in their spirit because they are so saturated with self-this, self-that, self-centeredness, selfishness, what do they do? Do they seek God? Ha! No, they venture on a quest to “find themselves“, as if somehow they lost this crucial aspect of their identity. How completely antithetical to everything the “world” teaches are the words of our Lord:

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:24-28)

“Self” is the most common source of the infection that sickens our soul, and our constant consumption of it, the cause of our condemnation. But the example of Christ, and the teaching of Christ and His apostles is clear. That which has true and lasting value is found not in the self-serving, self-loving nature of our flesh, but in loving and serving to others, submitting to one another in Christ; this is a gift of grace that is only available through the Spirit. But as Chantry writes:

“Often the Bible describes sin as selfishness. Isaiah 53:6: ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way’. 2 Timothy 3:1-2 states the obvious in shocking terms: ‘This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves…’ That is the disgusting reality of our generation. Men are making decisions with only one consideration, ‘their own selves’.” (page 11)

Chantry rightly defines the problem, then discusses the ONLY true solution to it, even as the Apostle Paul said to the foolish Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20). It is only through the cross of Christ that we may die to self and live for others. Chantry elaborates on the meaning of the cross of Christ, as well as what it means to take up our own cross.

He goes on to discuss the Christian theme of self-denial as with reflections on how it should be practiced in Christian liberty, in marriage, in ministry, and in prayer. Each of these chapters is thoughtful and thought-provoking. The book is not very long and can be read in just one or two sittings. But I would encourage you to read it more than once, and to chew on what Chantry puts forth here. It is no substitute for the direct teachings of Scripture on this important matter, but as a reflection and an aid to meditation, it is extremely helpful and I might say even necessary to combat the over-indulgence of “self” that our society forces on us daily.

Peace & Blessings,
Simple Mann

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A Cordial Reminder from Thomas Watson

From Thomas Watson’s Divine Cordial:

If you do not love God, you will love something else, either the world or sin; and are those worthy of your love? Is it not better to love God than these? It is better to love God than the WORLD, as appears in the following particulars.

If you set your love on worldly things, they will not satisfy. You may as well satisfy your body with air, as your soul with earth! “In the fullness of his sufficiency, he shall be in straits” (Job 22:22). Plenty has its poverty. If the globe of the world were yours, it would not fill your soul. Will you set your love on that which will never give you contentment? Is it not better to love God? He will give you that which shall satisfy your soul to all eternity! “When I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalm 17:15). When I awake out of the sleep of death, and shall have some of the rays and beams of God’s glory put upon me, I shall then be satisfied with His likeness.

If you love worldly things, they cannot remove trouble of mind. If there is a thorn in the conscience, all the world cannot pluck it out. King Saul, being perplexed in mind, all his crown jewels could not comfort him (1 Sam. 28:15). But if you love God, He can give you peace when nothing else can; He can turn the “shadow of death into the morning” (Amos 5:8). He can apply Christ’s blood to refresh your soul; He can whisper His love by the Spirit, and with one smile scatter all your fears and disquiets.

If you love the world, you love that which may keep you out of heaven. Worldly contentments may be compared to the wagons in an army; while the soldiers have been entertaining themselves at the wagons, they have lost the battle. “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23). Prosperity, to many, is like a large sail to a small boat, which quickly overturns it; so that by loving the world, you love that which will endanger you. But if you love God, there is no fear of losing heaven. He will be a Rock to hide you—but not to hurt you. By loving Him, we come to enjoy Him forever.

You may love worldly things—but they cannot love you in return. You love gold and silver—but your gold cannot love you in return. You love a picture—but the picture cannot love you in return. You give away your love to the creature—and receive no love back. But if you love God, He will love you in return. “If any man loves me, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). God will not be behindhand in love to us. For our drop of love to Him, we shall receive an ocean of His love!

When you love the world, you love that which is worse than yourselves. The soul, as Damascen says, is a sparkle of celestial brightness; it carries in it an idea and resemblance of God. While you love the world, you love that which is infinitely below the worth of your souls. Will any one lay out cost upon sackcloth? When you lay out your love upon the world, you hang a pearl upon a swine—you love that which is inferior to yourself. As Christ speaks in another sense of the fowls of the air, “Are you nor much better than they?” (Matt. 6:26), so I say of worldly things, Are you not much better than they? You love a fair house, or a beautiful garment—are you not much better than they? But if you love God, you place your love on the most noble and sublime object—you love that which is better than yourselves. God is better than the soul, better than angels, better than heaven!

You may love the world, and receive hatred for your love. “Because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). Would it not vex one to lay out money upon a piece of ground which, instead of bringing forth grain or fruit, should yield nothing but nettles? Thus it is with all earthly things—we love them, and they prove nettles to sting us! We meet with nothing but disappointment. “Let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon” (Judg. 9:15). While we love the creature, fire comes out of this bramble to devour us; but if we love God, He will not return hatred for love. “I love those who love me” (Proverbs 7:17). God may chastise His children—but He cannot hate them. Every believer is part of Christ, and God can as well hate Christ as hate a believer.

You may over-love the creature. You may love wine too much, and silver too much; but you cannot love God too much. If it were possible to exceed, excess here were a virtue; but it is our sin that we cannot love God enough. “How weak is your heart!” (Ezek. 16:30). So it may be said, How weak is our love to God! It is like water of the last drawing from the still—which has less spirit in it. If we could love God far more than we do–yet it can never be proportionate to His worth; so that there is no danger of excess in our love to God.

You may love worldly things, and they die and leave you. Riches take wings! Relations drop away! There is nothing here abiding. The creature has a little honey in its mouth–but it has wings! It will soon fly away. But if you love God, He is “a portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). As He is called a Sun for comfort, so a Rock for eternity; He abides forever. Thus we see it is better to love God than the world.

If it is better to love God than the world—surely also it is better to love God than SIN. “They are haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They are forever inventing new ways of sinning.” (Romans 1:30). What is there in sin, that any should love it? Sin is a debt. “Forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:12). It is a debt which binds over to the wrath of God; why should we love sin? Does any man love to be in debt? Sin is a disease. “The whole head is sick” (Isaiah 1:5). And will you love sin? Will any man hug a disease? Will he love his plague sores? Sin is a pollution. The apostle calls it “filthiness” (James 1:21). It is compared to leprosy and to poison of asps. God’s heart rises against sinners. “My soul loathed them” (Zech. 11:8). Sin is a hideous monster. Lust makes a man brutish; malice makes him devilish. What is in sin to be loved? Shall we love deformity? Sin is an enemy. It is compared to a “serpent” (Proverbs 23:32). Sin has five sharp stings—shame, guilt, horror, death, damnation. Will a man love that which seeks his death? Surely then it is better to love God than sin. God will save you, sin will damn you! Is he not a fool—who loves damnation? Many love sin, more than God.

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