The Apostle John wrote to the churches of the Asia region over which he exercised Apostolic authority. To the believers on those churches he issued a command, followed by 3 reasons for that command:
Do not love the world or the things in the world (1 John 2:15a)
The command is, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” By world, he means the invisible, spiritual system of evil. We know this because the other two definitions for world in scripture do not fit the context.
He would not tell believers to hate the physical world. God had called it very good back in the beginning of time (Gen 1:31). Granted it is tainted with the stench of sin, but the physical world still reflects God’s glory. See Psalm 19:1-6 for an example.
Likewise, John would not tell believers to hate the world of humanity. God gave His Son to die for humanity. God loves people in the world (John 3:16), therefore we should love people in the world.
So, the command is to not love the evil world order. We are not to love the invisible, evil system governed by Satan, or anything pertaining to it. He gives three reasons for giving such a command.
The first reason believers should not love the world is because of who we are.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15b)
Believers are children of God who have been forgiven. They have an increasingly intimate relationship with Him, and have His word abiding in them. To love the world reveals a heart that is lacking love for the Father. Love for God is not a motivating factor in his heart and life. It is true that the world often lures true believers into temptations, whether through worldly priorities, amusements, riches or lusts, but the true believer desires to resist those worldly efforts to seduce him. Because of who we are, we should not love the world.
The second reason believers should not love the world is because of the character of things in the world.
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 (1 John 2:16).
He uses 3 categories to denote the basic spheres of worldliness. (These categories can also be seen in the account of the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:6), as well as the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 22:15)).
The lust of the flesh refers to the debased desires that have their origin in man’s fallen nature. Sexual sin is usually the first thought that comes to mind with this term, but it is not limited to that. It is any desire or craving that has a disposition of hostility toward God.
The lust of the eyes refers to the cravings and desires that are stimulated by what is seen. The thought here is the greed that is aroused by what is visible, but may also include the sinful pleasures that are stimulated by what is seen.
The pride of life refers to a state of arrogance regarding ones possessions, but with the implication of a complete lack of basis for it. It is a false arrogance, pretentious pride, boastful haughtiness. It conveys the idea of ultimate emptiness of boasting.
The third reason believers should not love the world is because it is going to be destroyed.
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:17)
The invisible, evil system that is governed by Satan is passing away. In fact, the verb tense of “is passing away” indicates that it is already in the process of self-destruction. No matter how strong the present appeal of the world, it will offer no lasting satisfaction. It carries the seed of its own destruction. One day this world-system of evil will be swept off the scene in cataclysmic judgment at the return of Jesus Christ.
In contrast to the transitory nature of the world, the believer will live forever. He has nothing to fear concerning the world’s demise. The one who does the will of God is the one who will outlive the world and all of its enticing lusts and sinful pleasures. It is foolish to desire the world.
What other reasons do we need to not love the world? Because of who we are, because of what the world is, and because the world is disintegrating, we should not love the world. We should stay focused on Jesus Christ. With such a great sacrifice, so great a salvation, and such a great Advocate (1 Jn 2:2) by our side, why would we choose to love the world?