Lesson Book, Level 4: Life—Knowing and Experiencing Life, by Witness Lee

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First John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world, neither the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’’ The Greek word for world, kosmos, has more than one meaning. [In Matthew 25:34; John 17:5; Acts 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; and Revelation 13:8, it denotes the material universe as a system created by God. In John 1:29; 3:16; and Romans 5:12, it denotes the fallen human race corrupted and usurped by Satan as components for his evil world system. In 1 Peter 3:3 it denotes adorning, ornament. Here, as in John 15:19; 17:14; and James 4:4, it denotes an order, a set form, an orderly arrangement, hence, an ordered system (set up by Satan, the adversary of God), not the earth. God created man to live on the earth for the fulfillment of His purpose. But His enemy Satan, in order to usurp the God-created man, has formed an anti-God world system on this earth by systematizing men with religion, culture, education, industry, commerce, entertainment, etc., through men’s fallen nature in their lusts, pleasures, pursuits, and even in their indulgence in living necessities, such as food, clothing, housing, and transportation.]


[We have seen that the world in 1 John 2:15 denotes an evil, satanic, anti-God system that is constituted of the things created by God. Satan has used these things to form his system. However, these things are not the contents of the satanic world system.] What, then are the contents of the satanic system?

[First John 2:16 says, “Because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the vainglory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.’’

The contents of this system are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the vainglory of life. The lust of the flesh is the passionate desire of the body; the lust of the eyes is the passionate desire of the soul through the eyes; the vainglory of life is the empty pride, boast, confidence, assurance, and display of material things of the present life.]

[We may use owning a car as an illustration of the difference between something used by Satan to form his system and the actual contents of this system. How can a car be utilized by the enemy of God to form his evil system? The car itself is not a problem and is not the content of Satan’s system. The problem is with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and, in particular, with the vainglory of the present life. If it were not for man’s vainglory, a car would not become a problem. However, many people like to buy an expensive car in order to make a display. In their case, the car they drive is used for vainglory. In this country a car is a necessity. The problem, therefore, is not with the car itself; the problem is with the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. When you consider a certain kind of car, you may desire to have it. Some may think about a certain car day and night. The car is not wrong—the persons are wrong. The problem is not with the car they need; the problem is with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the vainglory of life.]


[Through baptism we are delivered from the world by water. Noah’s family was saved through the flood which destroyed the world and thus was delivered from the corrupted world. The Israelites were saved through the water of the Red Sea which drowned the Egyptian army, and they were thus delivered from the Egyptian world which ruled over them. Baptism is foreshadowed by these two incidents of passing through the waters of death (1 Pet. 3:20-21; 1 Cor. 10:1-2). Baptism by immersion delivers us from the world. Therefore, when a believer is baptized, he has passed through both the flood and the Red Sea. His ascent from the water denotes his separation from the world.]

(Lesson Book, Level 4: Life—Knowing and Experiencing Life, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)