|Volume 19 Number 4 April 2017||
Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:13-15)
Do you know why the Dead Sea in Israel is “dead?” Most will tell you, correctly so, that the Dead Sea is dead because of the high content of salt and other minerals, which make the sea uninhabitable by living things. The minerals and salts are so thick that one need not ever worry about sinking. Even the largest among us would float on this super saturated sea. Yet, that is really only part of the story.
The mineral and salt content is so high because the Dead Sea has no outlet. No water flows out of it, but the Jordan River continually dumps water in. The water evaporates off leaving behind the heavier minerals to saturate the water. For this reason, nothing grows beside the Dead Sea. There are no trees, shrubs, gardens or grassy dunes as one finds just slightly north along the River Jordan.
Now, one might wonder, “Why would God create such a thing? How does that happen, and what purpose does it serve?” Well, I cannot give answers to these in their entirety, but I can tell you that it is a wonderful illustration of the dangers of assuming certain types of behavior or patterns of thinking. Let’s consider them by category.
Financially If our financial lives are solely about receiving and never giving, then death reigns in us. Our wealth builds up in our hearts and eventually chokes the life out of us. Why? Wealth is nothing more than a tool that is designed with an outlet in mind. It must be used for the purposes of good. When it is not, then, it causes all sorts of difficulties in our lives.
Mentally One cannot bottle up things like anger, malice, resentment, envy, anxiety, covetousness, sorrow, joy, etc. without some sort of release. We all need someone with whom to talk, vent, lean on, celebrate or mourn. Pent up emotions that find no outlet lead (often very literally) to death and patterns of thinking that lead to it.
Spiritually You are not designed to be an endpoint for salvation. You were designed to receive it and pass it along, reaching out, teaching men the truth of God’s Word. When we do not and thus fail in our mission, we begin a journey that will not only lead to a spiritual death here and now, but to the great second death in eternal separation from God.
Now, I am told that the Dead Sea, while supporting no living creatures, actually has restorative properties in the minerals brought from the lake. Several companies harvest these and actually turn them into cosmetics, creams and restorative facial products. Life can come from death, but it must have an outlet.
What are your spiritual outlets? Are you teaching his word, being that shoulder to cry on, or helping others when financially possible? In this day, may you seek many spiritual outlets. Ironically, the more outlets you have, the greater you usually grow.
“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” (1 John 2:15 ESV). The Christian life is to be one characterized by love. We are called to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-40). Those who do that, who follow God’s command to love, who love like Christ, belong to Him. Yet, where does our love stop? Is there a limit or are there things that we are not to love? The apostle John answered that question in 1 John 2:15.
John started by warning us not to “love the world or the things in the world.” What was he talking about? We might think back to the Gospel according to John and remember that famous passage, the one everyone knows, the one we see at sporting events (John 3:16), which speaks of God’s love for the “world.” This is certainly a great passage of Scripture, one that teaches us the way that God loves the world. God has loved the world or has shown His love for the world by giving His Son, Jesus. However, how can God love the world and yet John instructed us not to love the world? Is this some kind of contradiction?
The word “world” is like any other word. It has different meanings depending on the context in which it appears. If I said “grab the mouse,” you might not want to do that if I was talking about an animal called a “mouse,” but you would have no issue following those instructions if what I was pointing to was a computer “mouse.” Context is key.
John 3:16 talks about humanity, people, the human family. God loves the human race. He loves all people, all kinds of people, but in John’s letter, he wrote about worldliness—a system that has no room for God, a system that places self above God.
Worldliness has to do with greed, hate, gossip, slander, adultery, fornication, lying, cheating, etc. What about materialism and gluttony? Are these also a part of this “world”? Absolutely.
One article said this about materialism.
The belief that material possessions improve individuals’ personal and social well-being permeates America. However, contrary to this belief, multiple studies show that materialists, compared to non-materialists, have lower social and personal well-being. Compulsive and impulsive spending, increased debt, decreased savings, depression, social anxiety, decreased subjective well-being, less psychological need satisfaction, and other undesirable outcomes have all been linked with materialistic values and materialistic purchasing behaviors. (https://www.beyondthepurchase.org/blog/03/is-the-united-states-materialistic/)
That’s from a secular magazine; that is not the Bible, and yet it talks about the dangers and destructive nature of being materialistic. The problem is that is our culture and most people are wrapped up in it.
More and more people are in debt because they buy things they cannot afford. We buy things we do not need to impress people who do not like us so we can feel good about ourselves. Again, materialism is just one aspect of worldliness.
John warned about loving the world, becoming wrapped up in this wicked and evil system, which puts stuff above God, that puts desires above God and that puts self above God. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. Why is that true? Part of the problem is that you cannot love the world and love God at the same time. The love of the world simply pushes God out, and at its basic level is enmity, ill-will or hatred toward God (Luke 16:13).
James says, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). A person has to choose. Does he want a relationship with God or does he desire the things of this world?
“Well,” someone might ask, “What do I get if I follow the world? What do I get if I follow God?” John went on to tell us that the world is passing away along with whatever is attached to it. All of that materialism and self-ism is all connected to the world, and John informed us that the world is passing away. You might have lots of stuff here and now, you might have popularity and educational accolades, but that is it. What lasting joy or meaning is found in the stuff of this world? None. If you are connected to the world, then you will pass away along with the world. That is John’s point. You get to be dragged down by the world because you are attached to it.
In the movie Cast Away, Tom Hanks’ character was in a plane that crashed into the ocean, and the plane started to sink. So, Tom’s character grabbed a life preserver and opened it up, but there was a problem. A rope that was attached to the raft was caught on the plane that was sinking. This man was being dragged down with the plane. Finally, the rope became unstuck, and Tom’s character was able to reach the surface.
That scene illustrates the point that John was trying to get across. If we stay attached to the world, we will sink with it. We will be dragged down, we will pass away along with the world. However, there is an alternative of which John spoke. The world is literally going to hell, but there is hope. John said the person doing God’s will abides forever.
There are two choices, two roads—the broad road or the narrow, the way of Christ or the way of this corrupt system. If you want to live forever, if you want eternal life, the choice is to attach yourself to God through Christ. What is the will of God? “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us” (1 John 3:23).
The will of God is to put our faith in Jesus and to love as He loved. Don’t love the world, don’t put your hope, trust and faith in money or in power, in popularity or in good looks, in fine clothing or in cars. None of that is eternal, none of that lasts. The only place to find everlasting hope and joy is in the eternal Son, the one who took on flesh and beat death. This is the path to eternal life, following God and obeying His commands. If you stay attached to Jesus, you will abide, you will find eternal life.