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1 John 2:15

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Love not the world - The term “world” seems to be used in the Scriptures in three senses:

(1)As denoting the physical universe; the world as it appears to the eye; the world considered as the work of God, as a material creation.

(2)the world as applied to the people that reside in it - “the world of mankind.”

(3)as the dwellers on the earth are by nature without religion, and act under a set of maxims, aims, and principles that have reference only to this life, the term comes to be used with reference to that community; that is, to the objects which they especially seek, and the principles by which they are actuated.

Considered with reference to the first sense of the word, it is not improper to love the world as the work of God, and as illustrating his perfections; for we may suppose that God loves his own works, and it is not wrong that we should find pleasure in their contemplation. Considered with reference to the second sense of the word, it is not wrong to love the people of the world with a love of benevolence, and to have attachment to our kindred and friends who constitute a part of it, though they are not Christians. It is only with reference to the word as used in the third sense that the command here can be understood to be applicable, or that the love of the world is forbidden; with reference to the objects sought, the maxims that prevail, the principles that reign in that community that lives for this world as contradistinguished from the world to come. The meaning is, that we are not to fix our affections on worldly objects - on what the world can furnish - as our portion, with the spirit with which they do who live only for this world, regardless of the life to come. We are not to make this world the object of our chief affection; we are not to be influenced by the maxims and feelings which prevail among those who do. Compare the Romans 12:2 note, and James 4:4 note. See also Matthew 16:26; Luke 9:25; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 3:19; Galatians 4:3; Colossians 2:8.

Neither the things that are in the world - Referred to in the next verse as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” This explanation shows what John meant by “the things that are in the world.” He does not say that we are in no sense to love “anything” that is in the material world; that we are to feel no interest in flowers, and streams, and forests, and fountains; that we are to have no admiration for what God has done as the Creator of all things; that we are to cherish no love for any of the inhabitants of the world, our friends and kindred; or that we are to pursue none of the objects of this life in making provision for our families; but that we are not to love the things which are sought merely to pamper the appetite, to please the eye, or to promote pride in living. These are the objects sought by the people of the world; these are not the objects to be sought by the Christian.

If any man love the world … - If, in this sense, a person loves the world, it shows that he has no true religion; that is, if characteristically he loves the world as his portion, and lives for that; if it is the ruling principle of his life to gain and enjoy that, it shows that his heart has never been renewed, and that he has no part with the children of God. See the James 4:4 note; Matthew 6:24 note.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The things of the world may be desired and possessed for the uses and purposes which God intended, and they are to be used by his grace, and to his glory; but believers must not seek or value them for those purposes to which sin abuses them. The world draws the heart from God; and the more the love of the world prevails, the more the love of God decays. The things of the world are classed according to the three ruling inclinations of depraved nature. 1. The lust of the flesh, of the body: wrong desires of the heart, the appetite of indulging all things that excite and inflame sensual pleasures. 2. The lust of the eyes: the eyes are delighted with riches and rich possessions; this is the lust of covetousness. 3. The pride of life: a vain man craves the grandeur and pomp of a vain-glorious life; this includes thirst after honour and applause. The things of the world quickly fade and die away; desire itself will ere long fail and cease, but holy affection is not like the lust that passes away. The love of God shall never fail. Many vain efforts have been made to evade the force of this passage by limitations, distinctions, or exceptions. Many have tried to show how far we may be carnally-minded, and love the world; but the plain meaning of these verses cannot easily be mistaken. Unless this victory over the world is begun in the heart, a man has no root in himself, but will fall away, or at most remain an unfruitful professor. Yet these vanities are so alluring to the corruption in our hearts, that without constant watching and prayer, we cannot escape the world, or obtain victory over the god and prince of it.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Love not the world - Though these several classes were so well acquainted with Divine things, and had all tasted the powers of the world to come: yet so apt are men to be drawn aside by sensible things, that the Holy Spirit saw it necessary to caution these against the love of the world, the inordinate desire of earthly things. Covetousness is the predominant vice of old age: Ye fathers, love not the world. The things which are in the world, its profits, pleasures, and honors, have the strongest allurements for youth; therefore, ye young men, little children, and babes, love not the things of this world. Let those hearts abide faithful to God who have taken him for their portion.

The love of the Father is not in him - The love of God and the love of earthly things are incompatible. If you give place to the love of the world, the love of God cannot dwell in you; and if you have not his love, you can have no peace, no holiness, no heaven.

Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 530

Such can stand the test of the judgment no better than the man who received the one talent and hid it in the earth. When called to account, he accused God of injustice: “I knew Thee that Thou art an hard man, reaping where Thou hast not sown, and gathering where Thou hast not strewed: and I was afraid, and went and hid Thy talent in the earth [where the cause of God could not be benefited with it]: lo, there Thou hast that is Thine.” Saith God: “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.... And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This man was afraid that his Lord would be benefited by the improvement of his talent. 1T 530.1

I saw that there are many who have wrapped their talent in a napkin and hid it in the earth. They seem to think that every penny which is invested in the cause of God is lost to them beyond redemption. To those who feel thus, it is even so. They will receive no reward. They give grudgingly only because they feel obliged to do something. God loveth the cheerful giver. Those who flatter themselves that they can shift their responsibility upon the wife or children are deceived by the enemy. A transfer of property will not lessen their responsibility. They are accountable for the means which Heaven has entrusted to their care, and in no way can they excuse themselves from this responsibility until they are released by rendering back to God that which He has committed to them. 1T 530.2

The love of the world separates from God. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” It is impossible for any to discern the truth while the world has their affections. The world comes between them and God, beclouding the vision and benumbing the sensibilities to such a degree that it is impossible for them to discern sacred things. God calls upon such: “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” Those who have stained their hands with the pollution of the world are required to cleanse themselves from its stains. Those who think they can serve the world and yet love God are double-minded. But they cannot serve God and mammon. They are men of two minds, loving the world and losing all sense of their obligation to God, and yet professing to be Christ's followers. They are neither the one thing nor the other. They will lose both worlds unless they cleanse their hands and purify their hearts through obedience to the pure principles of truth. “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.” “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 1T 530.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 199

God is displeased with the slack, loose manner in which many of His professed people conduct their worldly business. They seem to have lost all sense of the fact that the property they are using belongs to God, and that they must render to Him an account of their stewardship. Some leave their worldly business in perfect confusion. Satan has his eye on it all, and he strikes at a favorable opportunity, and by his management takes much means out of the ranks of Sabbathkeepers. And this means goes into his ranks. Some who are aged are unwilling to make any settlement of their worldly business, and in an unexpected moment they sicken and die. Their children who have no interest in the truth, take the property. Satan has managed it as suited him. “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?” 1T 199.1

I was shown the awful fact that Satan and his angels have had more to do with the management of the property of God's professed people than the Lord has. Stewards of the last days are unwise. They suffer Satan to control their business matters, and get into his ranks what belongs to, and should be in, the cause of God. God takes notice of you, unfaithful stewards; He will call you to account. I saw that the stewards of God can by faithful, judicious management keep their business in this world square, exact, and straight. And it is especially the privilege and duty of the aged, the feeble, and those who have no children, to place their means where it can be used in the cause of God if they should be suddenly taken away. But I saw that Satan and his angels exult over their success in this matter. And those who should be wise heirs of salvation almost willingly let their Lord's money slip out of their hands into the enemy's ranks. In this way they strengthen Satan's kingdom, and seem to feel very easy about it! 1T 199.2

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 458-9

Satan seduced Israel into licentiousness before leading them to idolatry. Those who will dishonor God's image and defile His temple in their own persons will not scruple at any dishonor to God that will gratify the desire of their depraved hearts. Sensual indulgence weakens the mind and debases the soul. The moral and intellectual powers are benumbed and paralyzed by the gratification of the animal propensities; and it is impossible for the slave of passion to realize the sacred obligation of the law of God, to appreciate the atonement, or to place a right value upon the soul. Goodness, purity, and truth, reverence for God, and love for sacred things—all those holy affections and noble desires that link men with the heavenly world—are consumed in the fires of lust. The soul becomes a blackened and desolate waste, the habitation of the evil spirits, and the “cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” Beings formed in the image of God are dragged down to a level with the brutes. PP 458.1

It was by associating with idolaters and joining in their festivities that the Hebrews were led to transgress God's law and bring His judgments upon the nation. So now it is by leading the followers of Christ to associate with the ungodly and unite in their amusements that Satan is most successful in alluring them into sin. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean.” 2 Corinthians 6:17. God requires of His people now as great a distinction from the world, in customs, habits, and principles, as He required of Israel anciently. If they faithfully follow the teachings of His word, this distinction will exist; it cannot be otherwise. The warnings given to the Hebrews against assimilating with the heathen were not more direct or explicit than are those forbidding Christians to conform to the spirit and customs of the ungodly. Christ speaks to us, “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.” 1 John 2:15. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God; whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4. The followers of Christ are to separate themselves from sinners, choosing their society only when there is opportunity to do them good. We cannot be too decided in shunning the company of those who exert an influence to draw us away from God. While we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” we are to shun temptation, so far as possible. PP 458.2

It was when the Israelites were in a condition of outward ease and security that they were led into sin. They failed to keep God ever before them, they neglected prayer and cherished a spirit of self-confidence. Ease and self-indulgence left the citadel of the soul unguarded, and debasing thoughts found entrance. It was the traitors within the walls that overthrew the strongholds of principle and betrayed Israel into the power of Satan. It is thus that Satan still seeks to compass the ruin of the soul. A long preparatory process, unknown to the world, goes on in the heart before the Christian commits open sin. The mind does not come down at once from purity and holiness to depravity, corruption, and crime. It takes time to degrade those formed in the image of God to the brutal or the satanic. By beholding we become changed. By the indulgence of impure thoughts man can so educate his mind that sin which he once loathed will become pleasant to him. PP 459.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 59

There is a work for you both to do. Forever cease your murmurings. Brother G, suffer not the close, penurious, selfish spirit of your wife to control your actions. You have been drinking in the same spirit, and you have both robbed God. The plea of poverty is upon you lips, but Heaven knows it is false; yet your words will be all true; you will be poor indeed, if you continue to cherish the love of the world as you have done. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse.” Wipe off this curse as fast as possible. 2T 59.1

Brother G, as God's steward, look to Him. It is He to whom you are to give account of your stewardship, not to your wife. It is God's means that you are handling. He has only lent it you a little while to prove you, to try you, to see if you will be “rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate,” laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that ye may lay hold on eternal life. God will require His own with usury. May He help you to prepare for the judgment. Let self be crucified. Let the precious graces of the Spirit live in your hearts. Turn out the world with its corrupting lust. “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.” If your profession is as high as heaven, and yet you are selfish and world-loving, you can have no part in the kingdom with the sanctified, the pure and holy. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” If your treasure is in heaven, your heart will be there. You will talk of heaven, eternal life, the immortal crown. If you lay up your treasure on earth, you will be talking of earthly things, worrying about losses and gains. “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” 2T 59.2

There is light and salvation for you if you will only feel that you must have it or perish. Jesus can save to the uttermost. But, Sister G, if God has ever spoken by me, you are terribly deceived in regard to yourself, and must have a thorough conversion, or you will never be one of that number who have come up through great tribulation, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 2T 60.1

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