1 John 2:15-17 December 2016
THE MAN CENTRED CULTURE
Ill. George W. Truett, a well-known pastor, was invited to dinner in the home of a very wealthy man in Texas. After the meal, the host led him to a place where they could get a good view of the surrounding area. Pointing to the oil wells punctuating the landscape, he boasted, ‘twenty-five years ago I had nothing. Now, as far as you can see, it’s all mine.? Looking in the opposite direction at his sprawling fields of grain, he said, ‘that’s all mine.? Turning east toward huge herds of cattle, he bragged, ‘they’re all mine.? Then pointing to the west and a beautiful forest, he exclaimed, ‘that too is all mine.’ He paused, expecting Dr. Truett to compliment him on his great success. Truett, however, placing one hand on the man’s shoulder and pointing heavenward with the other, simply said, “How much do you have in that direction”? The man hung his head and confessed, “I never thought of that?”
Jesus said, “What profit is there for a man who gains the whole world and loses his own soul.”
This morning we are going to look at what John calls the world.
The clarification of the world, the characteristics of the world and the condemnation of the world.
THE CLARIFICATION OF THE WORLD v15
What does John mean when he speaks of the world?
The Bible tells us that God loved the world and yet John says here we are not to love the world.
What’s the difference? God loves the world that He created which includes the human race, but the when John speaks of the world here, he is not talking about the world that God has created, He is talking about the godless culture that humans have created under the influence of the god of this world: Satan. You could say it’s another world within the world.
It’s called a godless culture because those who belong to it have rejected God, His truth, His standards and values and replaced God with themselves. In this godless culture people are exalted and worshipped in the place of God, people have made up their own rules, standards and values. They have chosen to reject the truth of God and believe lies.
The Bible says that when we become Christians although we remain living in this godless culture, we don’t belong to it. We have become citizens of God’s Kingdom and His kingdom’s values and standards are completely the opposite to those of this godless culture. In God’s Kingdom, God, not man is exalted and worshipped. God’s will, not man’s is carried out. In God’s Kingdom we live to please God, not ourselves.
That is why if you are a true follower of Jesus, you will always feel like a misfit in this world. Something has changed on the inside and you don’t look at things the way you used to. You have different values, different priorities, different standards, different loves, different desires. In a real sense you have been ruined for this world.
Ill. Mary Grimmer who became a Christian in this church when David Metcalfe was pastor was telling us that before she was a Christian she used to go out dancing most Saturday nights. After she became a Christian she asked David if she could still go out dancing. David said to her, “As long as you feel okay about it.” A wise answer. Well she went along and later David asked her how she got on. She said, “It’s different now. I didn’t enjoy it, I felt so out of place as though I don’t belong there anymore.”
Ill. A new Christian once asked Charles Spurgeon, “Now that I am a Christian, how much of the world should I give up.” Spurgeon responded, “Don’t worry, the world will give you up.”
Ill. A friend of mine who became a Christian just 4 years ago was studying at Waikato University. He was a very bright student and was getting excellent grades. He told me that his aim in life was to get a top job, be successful and make a lot of money. After he became a Christian his outlook and values completely changed. He told that he wanted to work a 4 day week and spend his time off helping homeless and needy people in Wellington.
John says that if we love this world, this culture that man has created with its godless attitudes, values and behaviour, we cannot love God, because this man centred culture is opposed to God and all that He stands for.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WORLD v16
John says here that the godless culture in which we live is characterized by three basic attitudes. Lust, greed and pride. These basic attitudes are behind everything that goes on in this godless society.
Lust [the craving for physical pleasure].
This is not limited to sexual lust. It is any appetite of the body that is taken beyond the limits God has set for it.
God gave us the gift of sex to be used within the confines of marriage between a man and his wife.
You and I know that our culture doesn’t agree with that and condones premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, pornography and sexual perversion.
The sex education programme in our schools tells our young people that there are only two sexual options they need to consider: Safe sex and unsafe sex. Abstinence is not even mentioned.
But as I said this graving for physical pleasure is not limited to the sexual gratification, it applies to every desire for physical pleasure and that includes things like eating, drinking alcohol, drugs, relaxation, physical exercise, etc, etc. All these things can be abused or taken to excess. And when that happens it becomes an addiction and we lose control.
Those who belong to this godless culture live to gratify their physical desires.
Paul puts it like this in Phil 3:19 “Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.”
Greed [The craving for everything we see]
A leading economic journal stated that the 2 things that drive world economies are greed and fear. The desire to have more and the fear of losing what you’ve got.
This is why communism failed. The communist idealists believed that everyone in a communist country would be happy to work for minimal wages knowing they were building a society that would benefit everyone. It didn’t work, because there was no point in working harder or longer hours if you only got the same wage as everyone else. That is why Russia and China went backwards under communist rule.
China still calls itself communist, but it no longer practices communist ideals. They know that if they want a strong economy they need to appeal to people’s desire for more. And better, greed.
This godless society thrives on greed. It constantly tells people they should never be satisfied with what they have even if it is adequate. This culture keeps telling us that we need more, bigger and better and we are flooded with images on the net, TV, newspapers, circulars, aiming to make us dissatisfied and discontent with what we have.
Ill. The leader of an electronics firm boasted, “When we introduced pocket transistor radios years ago, nobody needed them and they didn’t sell. We had to convince the consumer that they needed our products. We launched a vigorous advertising campaign and sales have boomed ever since.
Ill. Many years ago a major American company had trouble keeping employees working in their assembly plant in Panama. You see their workers lived in a rural community where they didn’t have money so bartered vegetables and animal products for clothing and medicine etc. But the assembly plant paid them in cash. Since the average employee had more money after a week’s work than they had ever seen in their life, many of them quit their jobs, because they felt they had earned all they needed.
What was the solution? The Company gave all their employees a catalogue from Sears Roebuck, the big postal retail outlet. No one quit their job after that, because they all wanted the things they saw in that catalogue.
Ill. On Boxing day 2013 the police were called out to the Base shopping centre in Hamilton because the shops could not handle the number of bargain seekers pouring into them in the post-Christmas a buying frenzy. People who were mostly buying stuff they didn’t need, but the temptation was too great to resist.
The problem is that when we give unto this discontentment and greed, we will never be satisfied – the more we have the more we want. Greed is like a bottomless pit and it causes so much suffering and misery. “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
When it came to material possessions Paul could say, “I know what it is to have a lot and to have little. I have learned in whatever circumstances I find myself, there to be content.”
Writing to Timothy he said, “Godliness with contentment brings great gain”
In our godless culture, people have rejected God and put themselves in the place of God.
In this culture, human beings see themselves as the ultimate authority on all matters. Human beings decide what is true and false, what is right and wrong, what is good and bad. Human beings claim to be the most intelligent, most knowledgeable, the wisest, the most powerful creatures on earth and possibly in the universe.
Ill. In 1692 Harvard University adopted as its Motto, “Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae” “Truth for Christ and the Church.” The university Crest showed three books. One book was facing downwards to show that human knowledge is limited. More recently they have changed the Motto to Veritas – Truth and turned the book face up to show how unlimited man’s knowledge is.
In this culture human beings boast about their achievements, their abilities and possessions and they want recognition, admiration, praise and even worship.
It’s interesting how we call people who have made it to the top in their field of expertise idols, icons, legends.
It all began when the very first human beings rebelled against God’s leadership because they believed that in doing so they would become like God. They could live without God, do their own thing, make up their own rules and become exalted gods themselves.
This deep is a very deceptive thing. We want others to believe we are something that we are not. We want them to look up to us, admire us, recognize us, praise us.
We fish for compliments, we like to let others know how knowledgeable we are, how busy we are, how helpful we are. We talk about the famous people we know, the good works we are doing, etc, etc and behind it all is pride – the desire for recognition, admiration, praise.
Ill. Remember, I told you of something that happened a couple of years ago. The Baptist Union wanted to give me a gift as recognition for my years of service as a Pastor and I said to Lois, “I don’t want any recognition.” She came back with, “Well why do you keep telling people that you are one of the longest serving Baptist Pastors in NZ.”
This pride is so subtle.
Ill. A pastor was told by one of his members that she believed he was one of the greatest preachers she had ever heard. On the way home in the car he told his wife about it and asked, “I wonder how many great preachers there are in the world today?” Unable to resist, she replied, “One less than you think dear.”
From 1955 to 1976 Richard Daly was the Mayor of Chicago. Whenever Richard spoke publicly he had one of his staff write the speech for him. One day his speech writer asked for an increase in salary.
Richard Daly responded “I’m not going to give you a raise. You are getting paid more than enough already. It should be enough for you that you are working for a great American hero like me.”
2 weeks later the Mayor was about to speak at the national convention of American War veterans.
He never looked at his speeches until he got up to deliver them. Richard stood up before the huge crowd and nationwide TV cameras and started to read. “I’m concerned for you. I have a heart for you. I am deeply convinced that this country needs to take care of its war veterans. So, today I am proposing a seventeen point plan that includes the city, state and federal government, to care of the veterans of this country.” Now by this time everyone, including Richard Daly, was on the edge of their seat waiting to hear what the proposal was. He turned the page and saw only these words: “You’re on your own now, you great American hero.”
We so want to make a good impression on others that whenever someone criticizes or corrects us, we are devastated because they have exposed and unmasked the real us and then we become defensive and resentful.
This is the way the people of this godless culture behave. They have rejected God and promote and exalt themselves in His place. They refuse to believe that everything they are and have comes from God and have taken all the credit to themselves.
These are the 3 main attitudes that characterize the people who belong to this godless culture – lust, greed and pride.
If we are serious about following Jesus we will ate these attitudes whenever we see them pop up in ourselves and reject them in Jesus name.
THE CONDEMNATION OF THE WORLD v17
This godless culture, this man centred system is doomed. There is no future for this society that man has created apart from God and I’ll tell you why? Because a culture that is built on lust, greed and pride and all that comes from that cannot survive.
One day all man’s earthly achievements and possessions will disappear. All that time and energy people spent trying to build up their assets and make a name for themselves will be wasted – because all that stuff will be gone and so will they.
David Pawson was talking about a man in North England who bought a fabulous home on a large piece of land and spent all his spare time and money on renovating it. It became a real show piece with lavish furnishings and park like gardens.
Towards the end of his life he was told that the roading board need the property to build a new expressway. The house was completely demolished
The army of Alexander the Great was advancing on Persia. At one critical point, it appeared that his troops might be defeated. The soldiers had taken so much plunder from their previous campaigns that they had become weighted down and were losing their effectiveness in combat. Alexander immediately commanded that all the spoils be thrown into a heap and burned. The men complained bitterly, but soon came to see the wisdom of the order. Someone wrote, “It was as if wings had been given to them — they walked lightly again. ” Victory was assured.