“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15) Taken by itself and without context, this seems to be clearly a contradiction of the familiar verse in John 3:16 “… that God so loved the world …” A fundamental precept in studying scripture is that context rules. Simply reading the next verse, helps to shed light on John’s message. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16)
The context of John 3:16 tells us that the Father’s love sent His Son to save us from the sin and penalty of sin so that we could reconcile to God and each other. The world system referred in 1 John 2 is without our savior, the sin nature since the fall is dominate. This is the world that John is referring to. This world system is an enemy to God’s Kingdom. Charles Finney describe it this way. “But to love the world is to make worldly things the principal objects of desire and pursuit.” He goes on to explain “… an individual manifests a disposition to give the acquisition of wealth, or of worldly objects, the preference, and aims rather at obtaining worldly things than at glorifying God and of doing good to men, it is certain that the love of the world is supreme in his heart.” This may include gossip, lies and deceit that “takes someone down” to bolster one’s own position. Pride and other actions and attitudes that draw attention to self and our selfish desires that draws us away from God’s plans for us, are all examples of the world that John references.
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (John 6:24) The word that is translated to wealth is mammōnás or mammon. According to the Word Study Dictionary, it states ” … the personification of riches. Mammon, the comprehensive word for all kinds of possessions, earnings, and gains, a designation of material value, the god of materialism.”