1st John 2:16-17 Do Not Love The World Pt. 2—The Lust of the Flesh, The Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life
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.
In verse 16, John takes a look at this worldly system that God empowers us to overcome. When we willingly choose to participate in the worldly system, choose to “play the game”, then we have to understand that “all that is in the world”, as John says, all that the world has to offer apart from God is a threat to us. John wants to show us how loving this worldly system will sap away all your love for God, and introduce a distance from God that is harmful to the life of a Christian, and will hinder your walk with the Lord. The worldly system and “the things in the world,” really offer nothing but temptation and sin. These things stand in opposition to God. John summarizes all that the worldly system apart from God has to offer in three phrases: “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.” These three categories of temptations are the three ways that the enemy, through the worldly system, tries to tempt the believer into sin.
In Genesis 3:6, all the way back to the fall of man, we see these same three. 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband with her, and he ate. She desired the one food forbidden to her “the lust of the flesh”. She saw the tree fruit was good for food “the lust of the eye” tempting her to eat as if it would be good for her to do something God had forbidden, and it was desirable to make one wise the prideful desire to be wise as God is wise, and to come to God on our own terms instead of His.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan, we see the same three temptations. In Matthew 4:1-11
And the fact that the enemy used the same 3 temptations on Eve at the beginning of creation, when she failed the test, and the same 3 types of temptations to try to snare Jesus almost 2,000 years ago when He passed the test, and he uses the same 3 temptations to try to trip us up today says that the enemy may be clever, but he is NOT original. Why? Because people don’t change! These three “the lust of the flesh”, “the lust of the eyes” and “the pride of life” arise from us.
The Lust of the Flesh-By “lust of the flesh” we mean a lust related to our “flesh”, our human nature corrupted by sin, and describes what it means to live life dominated by the senses—the body. In the extreme, it would include “gluttonous in food , . . . slavish in pleasure, lustful and lax in morals, selfish in the use of possessions; regardless of all the spiritual values; extravagant in the gratification of material desires.” The “lust of the flesh” is all desires centered in your nature without regard to the will of God. It is that which constantly fights against the things of God in your life. The lust of the flesh is contrary to the desire to do the will of God. In Galatians 5:19-21, we see Paul catalogue some deeds of the flesh. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, So, we see that these deeds of the flesh, are often borne of lusts of the flesh, or in some cases lusts of the eye. All of these things are born out of a love of sin, a desire to feed our corrupt human nature instead of the New Life in Christ that we have been given.
The Lust of the Eyes-John now addresses those desires arising from what we see around us in the world. John is describing desires that are aroused visually; eyes that see and wrongly desire. In the Bible, the eyes are the primary way that we perceive the world around us, and also a primary gate of temptation. Consider the case of God’s servant David who saw Bathsheba, lusted after her, and later committed adultery with her, not to mention murder. Job had a lesson for all of us men when he said in 31:1: “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully on a woman.” But it’s not just sexual lust, or wrong sexual desire that’s in view here. In Matthew 6:22, Jesus says that the eye is the lamp of the body. “If your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” Your eyes are closely related to your heart! Proverbs 17:24 says that “wisdom is in the presence of one who has understanding, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.” The Psalmist says of the arrogant in Psalm 73:7, “Their eye bulges from fatness; the imaginations of their heart run riot.” How many people know that our eyes can get us into a lot of trouble? No wonder Jesus said in Matthew 18:9 “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. The “lust of the eyes” describes someone who is captivated by an outward show of materialism, physical beauty, or desire for stuff.
The Pride of Life–The boastful pride of life is all about a haughty attitude. It has to do with pretension and arrogance, the desire for Position, status, fame. This term was common in the Greco-Roman world as a one of the character flaws of the wealthy and powerful who abused those who they thought were beneath them, and in general, just thought of themselves as better than everyone else. This word describes the pretentious, prideful braggart. We become trapped in this egotism.
is not from the Father, but is from the world.” -Everything that makes up the world system is what is not from the Father, not from God. All of these temptations do not come from God. As James tells us in 1:13-15 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life are evil, and are used by our flesh, the world and the enemy to cause inappropriate desire in us, and entice us to evil desires, which lead to sin, and eventually, to death.
17 The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God continues to live forever. A love or lust for the things of the world can prevent us from having a close relationship with God. Remember the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10:17-27. Both the world and its lusts are passing away. The world and it’s evil system are dying. We should not spend all our time focused on this temporary world.
but he who does the will of God remains forever.
The Christian who is following Christ in obedient service to the Kingdom of God does not need to worry about his status in this world, because he has a place of honor in the next world. He doesn’t need to worry about glory and applause and adoration here, because he will be a treasure to Jesus in the next world, and receive glory and honor because he is a fellow heir with Christ.