Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
The inner-sanctum of God’s temple is our heart; the holy of holies in the temple of the Holy Spirit.
“Love” has been identified as the positive expression of Christ’s light in the children of God, but John puts an important restraint on the holy expression of Christ’s light: the light of Christ cannot love the darkness of this world.
Do not love the world: the “present-active” verb for love describes our state-of-being towards the world. This imperative not only targets our “affections”, but also the zeal, devotion, and loyalties of our life as well.
James applies this same doctrine in his epistle:
James 4:4-5 (CSB) You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. 5 Or do you think it’s without reason that the Scripture says: The spirit he made to dwell in us envies intensely?
This prohibition is described in terms of both faithfulness and friendship. We cannot be faithful to God and faithful to this world, nor can we enjoy fellowship with God and fellowship with this world.
Or anything in the world: specifically, anything through which the darkness of this world can captivate our faithfulness and entice our fellowship.
Eucherius of Lyons (420–449), who was bishop of Lyons c. 435–449 and known for explaining difficult Scripture passages by means of a threefold reading of the text in literal, moral and spiritual form, wrote the following:
Do not love the world or the things in it, says the apostle, for all these things flatter our gaze with their deceptive show. Let the power of the eyes be focused on the light, not given over to error, and since that power is available for the enjoyment of life, let it not receive what causes death.
If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them: John provides the first reason why Christians must not love the world and a negative test to verify that we do not love the Father.
Here, every believer must privately examine themselves in the presence of the Lord, who will judge both the living and the dead at his appearing: love for the Father excludes the world; love for the world excludes the Father.