Maybe you worry that the aim of this book is to impose legalistic restrictions and enforce unrealistic rules. The idea of "resisting the seduction of a fallen world" sounds like something out of an Amish handbook. "Besides," you wonder, "how can we evangelize the world if we don't relate to it?"

Or perhaps you consider these matters to be private: "Don't tell me how to run my relationship with God." No one has the right to question or intrude. Your personal standards are sacred. You know how much of the world you can tolerate without becoming intoxicated, and no one else can tell you when you've had too much.

Whatever the reason, this verse makes you uncomfortable. It invades your personal space. You're afraid if you get too close, these ten little words might come between you and the things in the world you enjoy. You're reluctant to discuss "worldliness" because then you might have to change.

Or perhaps you think 1 John 2:15 (and thus this book) doesn't apply to you. Maybe because of your age, or your position in the church, or your reputation for godliness, you think you're immune to worldliness. From all outward appearances you're anything but worldly—a solid member of your local church, an exemplary Christian who worships on Sunday and faithfully attends a small group. You've never committed a scandalous sin. In fact, you may be reading this book for someone else.

If we don't ignore 1 John 2:15 outright, we load it up with qualifications. We file down its edges with explanations. We dismiss it as applying only to those more "worldly" than us. We empty it of its authority, its meaning for our day-today lives.

"Do not love the world" is not, however, an outdated command or a remnant of an over-scrupulous tradition. It is God's Word. It comes straight from a loving heavenly Father to you and me. And it demands our urgent attention.

For if we ignore this verse, we are not merely guilty of presuming to manufacture our own Bible; we're in danger of being seduced by a fallen world.

And this threat is not confined to a specific group of people. We're all susceptible. There's no such thing as immunity based on age or position or ability to absorb the world without its affecting us. When it comes to worldliness, we're all at risk.

Don't believe me? Then let me introduce you to one of the most tragic characters in the Bible. Meet Demas.

Demas the Deserter

If ever there was a guy you'd have a hard time labeling "worldly," it would be Demas. Or so it seems.

As a close friend and traveling companion of the apostle Paul, Demas participated in spreading the gospel and strengthening the fledgling church throughout the Roman Empire. He left home and family to hit the long, dusty, and dangerous road with the itinerant apostle. He stood by Paul—likely at great personal risk—when the apostle landed in prison for the first time. We read of him sending greetings to the church in Colossae and to the Christian Philemon.

Here would appear to be a model Christian. A guy we would all admire, respect, and want to emulate.

Yet, a postscript in Paul's second letter to Timothy forms his epitaph: "Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me" (2 Tim. 4:10).

Whoa. These words are like a kick to the gut. It's impossible to read them without feeling the sadness that was no doubt acutely felt by the apostle.

What a tragedy! A life wasted. A testimony ruined. The gospel maligned. For Demas, in love with this present world, not only deserted Paul and the saints—he deserted his Savior.

What happened? How did Demas go from passionate follower of Christ, close companion to the apostle, willing to risk all for the sake of the gospel, to deserter? Where did things go horribly wrong?

Before Demas deserted, he drifted.

It wasn't immediate. It wasn't obvious at first. He didn't go from disciple to deserter in a day. No, it was a gradual weakening, a subtle contaminating, and an eventual conforming to this world.