- Thursday, November 13, 2008
A sinful craving is when a legitimate desire for financial success becomes a silent demand for financial success; an interest in clothes and fashion becomes a preoccupation; love of music morphs into an obsession with the hottest band; or the desire to enjoy a good movie becomes a need to see the latest blockbuster.
There may be nothing wrong with these desires in and of themselves; but when they dominate the landscape of our lives—when we must have them or else!—we've succumbed to idolatry and worldliness. And as Calvin says, our hearts are a perpetual factory of idols.11 We're pumping out these things on a regular basis.
Or take John's next phrase, "the lust of his eyes." Our hearts may generate sinful cravings, but they can also be aroused by what we see. The eyes themselves are a precious gift from God. But they're also windows into our soul, providing opportunities for us not simply to observe but to covet. Please don't limit this to sexual sin; practically anything we see can stimulate greed in our souls.
So what are you captivated by? Really, what do you think about most often, what images have the power to arouse your interest? It's probably whatever is coming to mind right now. And we must ask ourselves, what value does it have?
If you're more excited about the release of a new movie or video game than about serving in the local church, if you're drawn to people more because of their physical attractiveness or personality than their character, if you're impressed by Hollywood stars or professional athletes regardless of their lack of integrity or morality, then you've been seduced by this fallen world.
And finally, "the boasting of what he has and does." We're all so familiar with this temptation, are we not? We find ourselves so easily tempted to take pride in our work, our talents or abilities, our physical appearance, possessions, or accomplishments.
We might be too polite to boast aloud, but secretly we revel in what we have and what we've done. We think we're significant because of our assets and achievements, and we want others to notice. How do you define yourself? How does your profile read? How do you want to be known?
Do you think of yourself as "the guy with the impressive title" or "the most attractive girl in the room"? Are you the person with the Ivy-League education or the fancy car or the beautifully decorated home? Is your hobby or talent or career the most important thing about you? Or is it even your spouse or your kids—their successes and accomplishments?
We must not define ourselves by, or boast in, anything we possess or accomplish in this world. Instead we should identify with Christ and his definition of greatness: the humble, the servant.
The cravings of sinful man . . . the lust of his eyes . . . the boasting of what he has and does. We don't often identify these root issues of the sin of worldliness. And once again, clip, clip, clip—1 John 2:15 is left out of "our" version of the Bible.
Where There Is No Future
After highlighting the godlessness of the things of the world, John then exposes their futility: "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever" (1 John 2:17 NIV). The verse is clear: these things don't last. They pass away.
My friend, I don't want you to waste your life pursuing things that won't last. I don't want you to have what John Owen describes as "living affections to dying things."12
There's no future in worldliness. None. This world is temporary and superficial, and it doesn't satisfy. Oh, I know, the world sparkles, the world dazzles. I know because I've been there. I immersed myself in the world. I passionately pursued everything it had to offer. And what did I discover? It didn't deliver as advertised. It deceived me. What it did deliver were unadvertised consequences I wasn't informed of and didn't anticipate. For sin carries with it the seeds of dissatisfaction and destruction.
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