Week of the Publican and Pharisee: Friday – 1 John 2:7-17 – And the world passeth away.

1John 2:16 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. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

The scriptures have a marvelous capability to apply truth to each of us in unique ways, wholly suited to our personalities. This does not mean that there are different truths for each person, as he reads the scriptures, but the Holy Spirit, “blowing where it will” (John 3:8), and speaking to us in “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26), impresses upon the soul the truth in such a way that it can be assimilated and put to use.

The verse above, from today’s epistle reading, has always communicated to me an essential “tool” to resist temptation. The theological content of this verse is profound, but I have found immense practical value by using the phrase “And the world passeth away” as a sort of play on words and mnemonic device.

The lust of the eyes is a pernicious and tireless foe, but I have found it immensely easier to combat this often SHORT ACTING temptation by clinging to this verse. Oftentimes, we are presented with a person, or image in a billboard, or advertisement, or magazine cover, which will be within our field of vision for only a small moment, if we recall that just as the beauty in that image will pass away, so will we pass away from the proximity of that image. If we are in a car, and see a billboard, in only a moment, we are carried at 65 miles and hour away so that literally it has “passed away”; we could not look at the image after we have passed it even if we tried to. In the same way, a person what we may be tempted to stare at will turn a corner, or better yet, we will move away, and no longer can their image tempt us, because it has passed away. In the grocery line, all we need do is take one step forward and the magazine cover has passed away. Even if we only avert our eyes for a very little while, or even push the “back” button on our browser, we are assured that the tempting image will literally “pass away”, as we continue about our business.

And what happens to us when these images pass way? We have suffered no loss, and our soul feels immense relief, and although the temptation has passed away, our will has been strengthened against this type of temptation, and that strength will not pass away, if we continue to be vigilant.

1 John 2:7-17 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. 12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. 13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. 14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 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. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
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