What does it mean that the Bible says “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15)? Does it mean that we should not watch TV, use phones and gadgets and so on because they can lure us into sin?
To answer this question it is good to look at what exactly John is writing here: “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 desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
The rebellious world
‘The world’ here does not mean everything that is on this earth. God created this earth, and there is a lot good in it. ‘The world’ here refers to the world as it rebels against God. What is it in this world that rebels against God? John mentions the desires of the flesh and of the eyes and pride in possessions. These are the things that are most important to people who have not been born again: sexual desires, ambition, and stuff that you want to have.
Its about whats going on inside
The interesting thing here is that these are not ‘things’, not gadgets. This is about what is going on inside us. John reminds us: if your heart is set on the things of this world, you are wasting your time with a snowman. These things are just temporary. They will pass. But if you are living with God, then you will live eternally.
Do the will of God
So the most important question is not what gadgets we should or should not have. The most important thing is what helps us to do the will of God. A TV in itself is not the problem. Does watching TV help you to understand and do the will of God? That very much depends on what programs you watch. But in general we can say that many TV programs are appealing to the desires that John condemns here: sexual desires outside marriage; ambition; and greed for material possessions. Many Christians would do well to be far more critical in what TV programs they watch.
A telephone is not the problem. The problem is what we talk about. Are we gossiping or black mouthing other people? Or are we helping other people and are we talking about the Lord? The internet is not the problem. The problem is what we are reading and watching on the internet. Internet pornography is a problem for most men and many women. So we should find ways to use the internet without being tempted to sin. An internet filter is a good help with that.
Music is not the problem. The problem is what kind of music we are listening. Is it music that glorifies sins as sex outside marriage, violent behaviour, and greed? Or is it music that glorifies God? Money is not the problem. But if our ambition is to get rich we are very easily tempted to sin.
You are exactly right in your question that it is about ‘luring us into sin’. When we realise that sin lives within us, even after we have become children of God, we will see the importance of staying away from things that tempt us to sin. We should love nothing more than we love God. Therefore we should be willing to give up everything that draws us away from God.
Our old nature in loving the world
But in the end, we should again remind ourselves that it is not about things. Things do not make us sin. It is our old nature, if not crucified with Christ, that makes us sin. We should not mainly focus on loving the world less. We should focus on loving God more, and the things of this world will lose their appeal. “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7-8).