1 John 2:17 - Lasting
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.1 John 2:17
What is lasting? What is not? We like to know that about many things. If we enjoy something, we hope it lasts. If something hurts we hope it doesn’t last long; we hope it goes away soon.
But liking or not liking something is not the only, or best, way to evaluate the lasting and not-lasting things. Sometimes we can be fooled by our likes and dislikes – we fool ourselves. We feel something is good for us simply because we enjoy it. We wish it would last forever. But in reality, it may be destructive to us and damaging to others. We can also fool ourselves the other way. We don’t like something. We wish it would go away. But it may really be very good, beneficial. What lasts, what doesn’t: we have to learn that not all things that seem or feel good should last. And we have to learn that some things we dislike should last.
God’s Word reveals what we wouldn’t come up with ourselves about the most important lasting and not-lasting things. From the Lord, we must learn about a whole world that won’t last. About who alone belongs to the lasting world. The world and its lusts are passing away. The world is mankind in rebellion against God. It is the system of sinful human existence that has pushed God out – or tries. It is the way of life lived by the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (v16). Feelings, appearances, and self are first. Lust and pride: living out of desires, living for self. Man’s desires set on the creation but not on its Creator. Lust: desire apart from God, desire without God. And pride: boasting not in God but in man, in self. Self is the highest good. That whole system is passing away, says the Word of God. It has the seed of death and decay in it. Here is not where to invest, where to find oneself. This world cannot give life and this way of living is not the goal of life. Living according to this world’s system is death and decay and destruction. It is not of God; it doesn’t want Him, can’t stand his involvement, and won’t have his rule. And therefore He will not let it go on. It cannot go on, because it does not have eternity in it.
The one who does the will of God remains forever. Here is what is lasting. Here is who is lasting. Why? Because this is from the eternal God. Because the person who does the will of God is in line with God’s order of existence. This way of being has, as it were, eternity built into it. Whoever does the will of God is in fellowship with the eternal God and so partakes of eternity – eternal life.
Who, then, does the will of God so as to remain forever? We all are by nature from the world. Lust and pride have been our own close companions. And therefore we are of the passing away, decaying order. But God has sent us the one for us, who is of God, who is God – the eternal Son. He, the eternal, abiding one, came for us in our flesh. He did God’s will perfectly, while dying for our sin – our lust and pride. He came to live his life in our flesh, submitting his desire entirely to God’s will, humbling Himself to the bitter and shameful end. No lust, not pride for Him. He in our flesh partaking of eternity, the abiding life above, in communion with the eternal God, in absolute conformity to God’s will. Now He abides forever in the presence of God. We abide forever in Him: by God’s grace, through faith in the eternal Son. We have been taken out of the passing away world and been joined to the eternal, abiding life. Abiding in the Son by faith, we are counted as those who do the will of God — and so we also abide. And this will be seen and experienced more and more. We are joined to the one who did the will of God and He lives in us and we are in Him. Eternal life, Christ, his Spirit, has taken hold of us and shapes us. We are of a different world. From the world above. The will-of-God world. Lust and pride give way to fear of God and praise for Him. The passing away things pass away from us. The abiding life takes hold and abides in us.
The lasting and the not lasting. They are worlds apart. What a wonder of grace to belong to Christ, the abiding Life in our flesh, in whom we may belong to the abiding world above.