For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.1 John 2:16 RSV
The specific areas mentioned in this verse are where we must fight this battle against sin. It is not enough to say,
Don't love the world. It must be brought down to specifics. It must be reduced to that with which we actually come in contact. So John adds,
all that is in the world, and he defines this. He gives a list of these areas and says,
These do not come from the Father but are of the world. To reject a philosophy, we must do so in certain specific actions.
There is first, he says, the lust of the flesh. In the Scriptures this word flesh is usually something more than simply the body. It is the sinful nature, the fallen condition of humanity, which is present in the body. What is this lust of the flesh? There are certain things that our body desires that are perfectly proper, God-given. God has made us, as humans, to have certain urges and hungers, and to satisfy these is not wrong. But the flesh, that sinful propensity within us, always seeks to add something, to go beyond the satisfying of God-given desires.
There is a second division John sets before us: the lust of the eyes. What is this? The eye symbolizes that which pleases the mind or inner life. The lust of the eyes, like that of the flesh, goes beyond simple needs. Our minds were made by God to search and inquire, to take the great facts that revelation or nature set before us and to explore them. But there are certain limits to these. There are limits within nature, and there are limits within revelation. But the flesh takes this basic permission of God and pushes it beyond God's will to extremes we are forbidden to follow.
There is still a third division, which is the pride of life. This is the desire to awaken envy or adulation in other people. The first two divisions had to do with satisfying ourselves, not as God intended us to be satisfied, but beyond that. But they were directed toward us and only incidentally involved others. The pride of life, however, cannot exist except as it relates to others. It seeks to create a sense of envy, rivalry, and burning jealousy in the hearts of others and gives us pleasure in doing this to them. It is the desire to outshine or to outrank someone else.
What does John say about this? John does not say,
Do not have anything to do with any of this. But what he does say is this one phrase,
Do not love these things, do not set your hearts on them, do not think of them as important. Do not give yourselves to amassing things, do not love luxury and ease, and do not strive to outshine others. Oh, the subtlety with which this whole philosophy makes its appeal to us! When the love of these things, the importance of them, occupies our major interest; when we find them using up most of our money; when we find them looming large in our thoughts so that we are constantly dreaming of that new something we hope to get, then we are in danger, terrible danger. This is what the apostle wants to make clear.
Father, open my eyes to my own self. Make me to hear the probing question from the Holy Spirit,What is your heart truly set upon? What is your true love?
What are three areas in which we are engaged in battle against our lusts and pride? How does this evidence itself in how we spend our time and our money?