I have included this article because it helps people differentiate themselves from being lukewarm in faith (one of the rebuked Laodiceans in the book of Revelation) to zealous. After all, the Lord Jesus Himself was described as having a zealous nature (“the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” – Psalm 69:9 & John 2:17) and he was the perfect God/Man. Hence whatever was appropriate for the Lord to exhibit behaviour-wise must be even more necessary for us, his merely human (though Holy Spirit inspired) disciples. We cannot be lukewarm and have hearts on fire for the Lord and His great commission. He wants to be first in our lives, and in our hearts, or nothing.
The article below explores this theme for us, how to avoid loving the world and hence falling away from our first love in Christ. It is taken from the ever-honest and faithful Journal of Bible Accuracy website: http://www.jba.gr/Articles/nkjv_jbamayjune00a.htm
God’s Word gives this commandment in I John 2:15-17. There we read:
I 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 lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
According to this passage: “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father IS NOT in him”. In other words: the love of the world eliminates the love of the Father. It is impossible for both of them to co-exist. I would like today to have a look at some things pertaining to this subject, starting from the book of Judges.
1. Judges 1-2
In Judges 1-2 Israel, the people of God, had finally arrived in the promised land and were ready to take it. However, God’s command was not only to take it but also to remove from it all the nations that pre-occupied it. As we read in Deuteronomy 7:16
“And you shall destroy all the peoples whom the LORD your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.
Also Deuteronomy 7:2-6
“and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly. But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacredpillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire. For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.”
The Lord had chosen Israel to be HIS PEOPLE. His people therefore should have no mix with the Gentiles. The Lord didn’t want a mixed people, with half a foot in Him and half in the world. In contrast, He wanted His people to be TOTALLY given to Him, knowing that any mixture with the nations would turn them away from Him.
Despite the clearness of the Lord’s command, Israel denied to follow it. Judges 1:27-33 tells us:
“Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land……..Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites……Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron……Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho,……Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath;”
Then in chapter 2 we read:
“Then the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, “I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.” But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, “I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”
Instead of separating from the Gentiles, Israel mixed with them and denied to drive them away. Probably, they might have reasons. They might think that what God had said was ……. too much. That, at the end, they could manage to serve God, having the Gentiles living in their midst. It is not difficult to find excuses to compromise the Word of God. There are many excuses that one can find to justify a place for the world in him. However, the truth was that God had spoken. He had spoken, commanding His people to be separated from the Gentiles. As He has also spoken to us, His people, commanding us not to be yoked together with the unbelievers:
II Corinthians 6:14-18
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty”
God has spoken. He wants His people a holy people, without any mixture with the world and its practices. He didn’t want Israel to mix with the Gentiles, for He knew that any such mixture would bring them far from Him and near to the Gentiles, which is what finally happened:
“And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.”
The mixture of the people of God with the Gentiles will always bring loss. The love of the world kills the love of the Father, and the yoking together with the Gentiles leads to the forsaking of the Lord and the worshipping of the gods the Gentiles worship. The love for the Lord freezes, when His children start looking at the world, at “the nations round about them”. When they permit “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:19) to enter their hearts and turn them away from the Lord, as the Gentiles turned the Israelites away when the latter permitted them to be their land-mates.
2. James 4:4 and other passages
The fact that the love of God and the love of the world are things entirely incompatible to each other, is also confirmed by other passages of the Scripture that put the one against the other. Such a passage is also James 4:4. There we read:
“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.”
The adulterer is one who is in a marriage relationship, and yet seeks relationships outside of it. This makes him adulterer. Similarly, adulterer in James 4 is the one that though in a covenant with God, though engaged with the Lord Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 11:2), he is also after other covenants and namely covenants with the world. This makes him adulterer. In other words, it is adultery to have a relationship with the Lord and simultaneously to seek a friendship with the world. Friendship both with the world and with God is NOT POSSIBLE. In the heart of a man of God only God should dwell, and He does not accept roommates there. As Luke 10:27 characteristically says:
“So he answered and said, “You shall love the Lord your God WITH ALL your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind”
And Matthew 6:24
“No one can SERVE TWO MASTERS; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
It is impossible to serve two masters. It is impossible to have our eyes fixed both to God and to the world. For:
“where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
It is not possible to have our hearts in heaven when our treasure is in the things of the earth. We cannot walk the way of God, having our eyes fixed on the things of the world. To walk the way of the Lord we need the respective vision and Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us how it is called:
“let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Also Colossians 3:1-2
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
The things we should set our minds on are the THINGS ABOVE. The Christian vision is the LORD JESUS CHRIST. All the others, though they may seem logical and good, are wrong visions leading to wrong ways. As Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-25:
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
The way of Jesus Christ, the right way, is not the way of self but its exact opposite: the way of self’s denial. The one that wants to follow him, should no longer seek his own will but the will of the one that died for him. As II Corinthians 5:14-15 tells us:
II Corinthians 5:14-15
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
Jesus Christ died that we should no longer live for ourselves but for HIM who died for us. “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and its desires”, Galatians 5:24 says. We will either follow Christ or the flesh. We will either serve God or the world. We will either be yoked together with the unbelievers or with God. There are no intermediate states acceptable. The way of God is contrary to the way of the world and we cannot be walking in both.