Question:

What does it mean to love the world?

Answer:

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (I John 2:15-17).

The Bible uses "world" in three different senses:

  1. It can refer to the physical world that is in this universe (Matthew 16:26; John 13:1).
  2. It can refer to the people who reside in this world (John 3:16).
  3. It can refer to those who are focused on this present life and, therefore, are without God (I Corinthians 1:20; 3:19; Colossians 2:8). In other words, "world" becomes a stand in for sinful people. "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (I John 5:19).

It is in this latter sense that John warns against loving the world. Those who are focused on this life have different goals than those focused on God.

"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error" (I John 4:4-6).

"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4).

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:19).