************ Sermon on 1 John 2:16 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 10, 2019
1 John 2:15-17
1 John 2:16
"The Weapons of the World"
On this Lord's Supper Sunday I want to focus on sin and the world's role in what John calls the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does. None of this comes from God; all of it comes from the world.
Don't forget what "world" means in this passage. It isn't the physical world, the globe hanging in space. It isn't the world of humanity. World is the system of evil under the control of Satan that hates God, Christ, the Gospel, the Bible, the church, and everything that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. The world, the system of evil under Satan, encourages sin. It wants people to fall into sin. It especially wants Christians to fall into sin. And, it works hard to accomplish this.
I Sin is in the Heart
A This morning I want to ask where does the sin in our life come from? Does it come from the world? Can we blame the society, the culture, in which we live? Can we blame TV, the internet, video games, movies? That's the approach of the Amish who try to build a wall between themselves and the world.
Where does the sin in our life come from? Does it come from Satan? In the Garden of Eden, Eve said it was the Devil who is to blame when she ate the forbidden fruit.
Where does the sin in our life come from? Can we blame family and friends, the people we surround ourselves with? More than one person think if they surround themselves and their children with a better class of people they cut themselves off from sin.
Where does the sin in our life come from? Another answer is to blame God. God is responsible for sin. After all, the sovereign God allowed evil in the world.
Where does the sin in our life come from? Listen to what Jesus says about all of these answers:
(Mk 7:15) Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. We can't blame the world, we can't blame society, we can't blame the devil, we can't blame family and friends, we can't blame God. It isn't bad movies, violent video games, bad literature, and wicked people that cause sin. We can't blame sin on anything or anyone in our environment.
B Where does the sin in our life come from? Jesus has an answer for us. Jesus was questioned about why He didn't do ritual washing. Listen to what He said in response:
(Mt 15:19-20) For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (20) These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'
(Cf James 1:14-15)
Where does the sin in our life come from? Here is the simple answer: it was always there; we were born with it; it is in you; it is in your heart.
If you lived in a utopian commune, if you lived in a monastery, if you cut yourself off from all worldly contact, you would still be in the grip of sin because it is not outside, it is inside. If you create a Christian society with Christian radio and TV, Christian books, Christian newspaper, Christian doctor, Christian health insurance, and the Bible everywhere, you would still have sin in your life because it is not outside, it is inside.
In Romans 7:5 Paul says something that might shock and surprise you:
(Rom 7:5) For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.Do you hear what Paul says? Among the unconverted, among unbelievers, among those who don't know Jesus, the law arouses sinful passions. The law arouses sinful passions. Nailing the Ten Commandments on your door, putting the Ten Commandments on the wall of every classroom, displaying the Ten Commandments in every courtroom, arouses sin in the lives of the unbelieving. Wow! Man is so sinful, so twisted, so depraved, that his sinful passions are actually aroused by the law of God. Because the sinner hates God he rebels against anything and everything God says and wants.
How does all this fit in with our text for today? The world does not cause us to sin. However, the world does tempt us to sin. The world, the system of evil under Satan, encourages sin. It wants people to fall into sin. It especially wants Christians to fall into sin. And, it works hard to accomplish this. Our text mentions three paths, three roads, used by Satan and the world to impact fallen hearts: the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does.
II What the World Uses
A First, Satan uses the world to appeal to "the cravings of sinful man." Cravings. The word is often used in the New Testament. Sometimes it means good desires. But it can also mean evil desires. In our text John means the evil desires of the sinful heart.
Usually we think "the cravings of sinful man" means sexual sin. John has more in mind. "The cravings of sinful man" means any corrupt desire. It means any desire for anything outside of God's law. It means any attitude, thought, word, or deed that God forbids.
"The cravings of sinful man" takes the desire for something good and turns it into something bad. For instance, God gives us a desire for food but the cravings of sinful man turns it into gluttony. God gives us a desire for marriage but the cravings of sinful man turns to adultery. God gives us a desire for fun and relaxation and parties and times of celebration but the cravings of sinful man turns this into alcoholism, addiction, and living for pleasure.
In Galatians 5 Paul spells out the cravings of sinful man: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. The list is not exhaustive. Under the direction and control of Satan, this is what the world strives for. It takes legitimate desires and perverts them.
B Second, Satan uses the world to appeal to "the lust of the eyes." There is a song that warns, "O be careful little eyes what you see." Why? Because the eyes, like the cravings of sinful man, are a gateway to the soul. Again, it is something perverted by the world. The gift of sight is a wonderful blessing from the Lord. Imagine if you couldn't see a flower, a sunset, a little child. But eyes can be misused. Lot's wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. Achan saw gold, silver, and a beautiful robe in Jericho and took what belonged to God. David saw a woman who was another man's wife and he needed to possess her.
C Third, Satan uses the world to appeal to the pride of life, boasting of what one has and does. Think of loud bragging. Think of the claim to be better than anyone else: I have a better house, better job, better wife/husband, better kids, better giving, better dairy, better car/truck, better computer, better entertainment system. To boast that you exceed over everyone else. Not realizing where you end up exceeding is iniquity and sin and lawlessness.
D Do you know why Satan uses the cravings of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life? Because it works. It worked already in the Garden of Eden. Consider Eve. She had all the food she could or want to eat. But Satan put it in her heart to want more -- the cravings of the flesh. She saw that the forbidden fruit was pleasing to the eye -- the lust of the eyes. And Satan told her she would be like God -- the pride of life. It worked back then and it continues to work today.
III Jesus' Answer to Satan
A On this Lord's Supper Sunday let's end with Jesus and His temptation. Jesus was led by the Spirit in the desert where for forty days He was tempted by the devil.
Jesus ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them He was hungry (Lk 4:1-2). The devil said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." Forty days. Forty days of not eating. He was hungry. So the devil was saying, "You have the power to turn stones into bread. So feed yourself." To use the language of our text, "Satisfy the cravings of sinful man." Jesus didn't fall for that.
Then Satan led Him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. "Take a look. All that you see can be yours if you worship me." To use the language of our text, Satan wanted Jesus to follow "the lust of his eyes." Jesus didn't fall for that either.
What's left? "The boasting of what he has and does." Satan led Jerusalem to the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here." In effect, he wanted Jesus to say, "Let me show you I am the Messiah!" Pride of life.
Satan does what Satan knows. So Satan appealed to the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. But Jesus, in His perfection, fights Satan off with Scripture.
Living in this world, living in this life, living in this flesh, we fall again and again for the temptations of Satan. Too often Satan successfully attacks us with the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. But not Jesus. Jesus does not fall. Jesus does not fail.
B Recognize, congregation, recognize this is part of what Jesus does as Savior. He is obedient in our place. He is holy and pure and righteous in our place. He fulfills the law in our place. Where we fail, Jesus is perfect in our place. And all this perfection of Jesus is applied to our account. So this morning, because of Jesus, we are able to have fellowship with God at His table.
But there is more. Christ suffered when He was in the desert. He suffered under the temptations of Satan. During His whole life on earth but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race. So this morning we celebrate Jesus was punished in our place.
Under the direction of Satan the world uses the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life to make us fall and fail. But, in Christ, we have overcome the world (1 Jn 5:4). In Christ, we are friends of God rather than friends of the world.
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