Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone love the world the love of the Father is not in him. 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 from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and its lust; but the one who does the will of God abides forever, 1 John 2:15-17.
The Bible uses the word “world” in different contexts, on the one hand we have John 3:16, For God so loved the world…, then we have the passage before us; the meaning of the word “world” is not the same in these two passages and in this respect the language of the Bible is no different than language across the world – the context controls the meaning. In John 3:16 we are told that God loves the world and elsewhere in Scripture we are taught to love our fellow man; God loves the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son to bear the sins of the world; the message is that God loves people, He loves His creation, even though we have rejected Him and marred His image in us He loves us with a passion beyond our understanding. In John 3:16 the “world” is people (see also 1 John 2:2).
But in 1 John 2:15 – 17 the “world” is not people, it may have people in it and subject to it and who are proponents of it, but it is not people. Whatever the “world” means in 1 John 2:15, it means something that is so dark and sinister and insidious that to love this thing, to be enmeshed in this thing, to pursue this thing, is to alienate oneself from the love of the Father and to associate with something that is passing away and will be no more.
This poison was introduced to humanity in Genesis 3:6, the cup of the “world” was offered and we drank it, and for millennia we have passed the cup of poison from generation to generation. The bartender, if you will excuse the image, in Genesis was Satan, whether the drink was shaken or stirred I do not know; I do know that we have been collectively drunk on the lethal cocktail through the corridors of time.
It is tempting to define the term “world” in such a way as to leave the matter done and allow the reader to move on, but something so sinister does not lend itself to concise definition; from the Garden to Cain and Abel, from Babel to the slaughter of infants in Egypt, from idols in Solomon’s Temple to the wickedness in high places of Ephesians Chapter 6 to the swirling images of Revelation – evil working through the system termed the “world” in 1 John 2:15 has myriad images and manifestations; what are its images and manifestations in our day? What are its images and temptations in my heart and mind? What bait does it dangle in my life, luring me to bite on its hook?