The apostle Paul had been imprisoned for preaching the gospel of Jesus. Over the period of time that he was bound, various Christian brothers were with him and ministered to him; mention is made of Luke, Demas, Mark, Aristarchus, Crescens, Timothy, Titus, and Onesimus. He certainly taught them the things of God. Perhaps they brought him food and other necessities. Luke, being a physician, probably ministered to Paul’s health. Some were Paul’s messengers to carry letters to the churches or to preach the gospel in some location that needed to hear the word. Paul had obviously sent Timothy on some mission, because he wrote two letters to him. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he asks him to return because he needed him. 2 Timothy 4:9-10 “Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica — Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.” Of special note is Demas. Demas had forsaken Paul. Demas had ministered to Paul, had been taught by Paul, and had suffered alongside of Paul. But Demas had had enough; this life as a Christian was difficult and not what he wanted. He wanted to enjoy the pleasures of this life rather than to deny himself. Demas loved this present world.
What does it mean to love the world? The apostle John taught us what it means. 1 John 2:15-17 “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 lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” To love the world is to have a strong desire or lust for the things of the world. The lust of the flesh is a strong desire for the sensual pleasures of life. This would include sexual pleasures and desires for lots of delicious food and drink. From the list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21, I believe the lust of the flesh would include adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, drunkenness, and revelries. The lust of the eyes would be anything that you see that creates in you a strong desire to possess it. This might include a beautiful or handsome person, clothes, houses, lands, furniture, motorcycles, cars, trucks, toys, cell phones, guns, and travels. The pride of life is anything that makes you feel superior to someone else. This might include honors or titles your receive, your accomplishments, your physical or mental characteristics or skills, knowledge you have, special family members, and important people you know or have met – anything you can be proud of or will make people look up to you. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are not of the Father, but are of the world. These are the things that people of the world desire and seek. To love the sensual pleasures of life, to love the possessions of this life, and to desire to be superior to others is to love the world. Apparently, Demas wanted these things rather than to love and serve God.
John said that if you love the world, you don’t love God the Father. In other words, you can’t have a love for both – it’s one or the other. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” James 4:4 “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” You may want to somehow have both a love for the things of the world and a love for God. But it is clear that you must make a choice because they are opposed to each other.
So, when you love God, does that mean you must give up all pleasures and enjoyment in life? Of course not! 1 Timothy 6:17 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” God wants you to enjoy the things He richly gives you. You can enjoy a beautiful sunset or flowers or rocks or wildlife or the stars; you can enjoy the wonders and beauties of God’s creation. You can enjoy intimacy with a loving wife or husband. You can enjoy the birth of a child. You can enjoy the possessions He has given you. Ecclesiastes 2:24 “Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.” You can enjoy a simple meal with loved ones. You can enjoy the fruit of your labor. God gives you much to enjoy in life. In fact, I dare say that when you love God rather than the world, you will have more true pleasure in life. Matthew 6:31-33 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” God’s will is that you first seek Him and His kingdom and His righteousness, then your needs will be satisfied and He will give you much to enjoy in life.
Loving God means that you deny yourself rather than love the things of the world. Matthew 16:24-26 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’” My encouragement is to love God. Deny yourself in that you do not love the world. By loving God you will find your life.