Why did Paul emphasize the cross of Christ so much? Because the cross gives us power over the world as it works the death of that old Adam in us that listens to the deception of this world. When we read John’s words about not loving the world or the things of the world, it is good to look at the context of this verse.
“I have written unto you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves 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 of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever. Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; by which we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:14-18 KJ2000)
The word translated world is the Greek word kosmos. It can mean the earth and the universe itself, God’s creation, but most often it in the New Testament it means:
1) an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government
6) the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ
7) world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly
7a) the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)
John went on to write, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world [kosmos] is in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:19-20 RSVA)
There are only two realities for humans on this earth. We are either in the power of the evil one and his kosmos system, or we are in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were of their father the devil, that he was a liar and murder from the beginning, and they would do his works (see John 8:40-44). They proved Him right by having Him killed!
Jesus had an interesting dialogue with Pilate at His trial:
Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world [kosmos]; if my kingship were of this world [kosmos], my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world [kosmos].” (John 18:35-36 RSVA)
Jesus said to His disciples, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world [kosmos] is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world [kosmos] may know that I love the Father…” (John 14:30-31 RSVA)
Satan is the ruler of this world and world powers do his bidding, often unconsciously. The Bible speaks of the world [kosmos] and the earth. These words are translated from two different Greek words. Paul wrote,
“For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth [Greek – ghay – soil, terrain, the earth]. (Ephesians 1:9-10 RSVA)
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 RSVA)
“You are the salt of the earth [ghay]; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. (Matthew 5:13 RSVA)
The earth as God’s creation is not evil. We read in Genesis that He made all things good. Evil is what Satan has done on this earth as he set up his kingdom here to rule over men by his lies and deceptions. It is this kingdom, his kosmos, that is judged and condemned. We are not to be of his kingdom and worldly ruler-ship. The kosmos is not Jesus’ kingdom. This ungodly kingdom of Satan has armies that fight for their sovereigns and do their will. It is all under the wicked one. His princes rule over these principalities. Jesus’ kingdom is one of peace and righteousness, “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17 RSVA). The earth is ours to enjoy as it reflects His glory and love for mankind (see Romans 1:20).
In his letter, John is speaking of the kosmos that is under the authority of the Wicked One. We who are mature have overcome the devil. As it is in Christ, the Prince of this kosmos comes and he finds nothing in us that he can use to tempt us. And as John wrote, we who are mature and abide in Christ, “Love not the kosmos, neither the things that are in the kosmos [for] If any man loves the kosmos, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the kosmos, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the kosmos.”
The prince of this kosmos system tempts us through the lust of the eyes, the lust of our flesh, and the pride of life. These were the three things he used to tempt Eve in the garden in the beginning. When she caved in to that temptation, she gave dominion over the earth to him.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [the lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [the lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [the pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:6 KJ2000)
There was one other Great Temptation later, and if Satan had succeeded, it would have sealed all our fates. Satan tempted the very Son of God to use His God given powers to do a selfish thing. That worm used these same three temptations on our Lord.
The lust of the flesh: “And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Matthew 4:3 RSVA)
The lust of the eyes: “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9 RSVA)
The pride of life: “Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (Matthew 4:5-6 RSVA). Yes, Jesus, below you are all the temple worshipers. All you have to do is jump off this pinnacle into their midst and float down to earth in their sight and they will all know you are the Son of God and follow you.
Satan has perfected his temptations in these three areas. When we hear him speaking to us to do his will, it will always be in one of these three areas. But the Spirit of God is not about puffing up by our pride and satisfying our fleshly nature, but He is about lifting up Christ and crucifying our carnal natures. This is how we know which spirit is speaking to us.
John went on to say in 1 John 2 that there are many antichrists in the church and you will know them by what they teach. Do they speak of the kosmos of Satan and work to build up their kingdoms with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life? They do this by preaching worldly power and prosperity, being lifted up before men as “larger than life” leaders, and always falling for “the seven deadly sins”).
In this hour of great deception we who are Christ’s do not need men who seek to draw disciples after themselves teaching us (see Acts 20:29-31)! We need ears that can hear the Holy Spirit, the unction within us. He will lead us into all truth and away from error.
But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4 RSVA – emphasis added)
(A special thanks to Susanne Schuberth of Germany for inspirations I got as I read her blog article, https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/how-can-we-discern-gods-voice-from-other-voices/#respond )