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"How to Boil a Frog"

Pastor Thomas Atchison's Sermon Notes

1 John 2:15-2:17 [15] Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
[16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
[17] And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Some time ago a book was written on church life called, "The Frog In The Kettle." It was an interesting title designed to call to mind how it is so easy to gradually drift into trouble. Perhaps you could subtitle the book "How to Boil a Frog." The way to boil a frog is not to put him in a pot of boiling water. If you drop him in the boiling water, he’ll jump out before he’s boiled. So you put him in a pot of cold water, and he’s perfectly comfortable. Then you put him on the stove, and little by little the water gets warm. It’s very pleasant at first. By the time it gets a little warmer, he is swimming around like he is in a frog Jacuzzi. But finally, when it’s boiling, it’s too late. His strength has been gradually sapped, leaving him powerless to hop out. That’s how you boil a frog. The parable of the boiling frog gives us great insight into how we gradually move into places and attitudes that are dangerous. We don’t dive right in. We slowly wade in. We start at the shallow end of the pool. And slowly we find ourselves getting in deeper and deeper. But it is so slow that we hardly realize it. Finally, we are in over our heads, struggling to find which way is up. That image is a fitting description of what can happen in a person’s life, especially the young who can slowly be molded into the shape of the world. High school and college graduates all over the nation face a multitude of decisions this time of year. The question that I would like to pose to all of us today is a question that we must answer over and over again throughout our lives.                              

Who or what are we going to love?

We are engaged in a battle today. The New Testament identifies for us a THREE-FOLD ENEMY that is designed to challenge our love and impede our spiritual progress. The NT also gives what our response should be to this unholy trinity in order to maintain our love for God.

I. We are to Flee the World

Meet Public Enemy #1 – The World. The way of the world seeks to seduce or pull our hearts away from God.               

2:15 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;
2:16 because all that is in the world
(the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world.


Lust – preoccupation with gratifying physical desires. It is natural, God-given cravings out of balance. It is a craving that drives us to excess. What is being referred to here is how we allow a desire for food, or drink, or sex, or any other legitimate human need to control us. These things begin to be our focus. We become connoisseurs of these pleasures and live for them. We are to flee lust, and by contrast, pursue self-control.

Materialism – craving and accumulating things. Lust pushes us into a never satisfied state of being. Did you know your eyes have an appetite? Have you heard the expression, "feast your eyes on this?" The eyes have an appetite. It is through the eyes, for the most part, that our thoughts are formed. What we see determines to a great extend what we think. In other words, what we look at and focus upon in this life will greatly determine the direction of our life. So, this old world does everything it can to appeal to you through the lust of the eyes. We are to flee materialism, and by contrast, we are to pursue a spirit of generosity.

Pride – obsession with one’s status or importance. Someone has well-said, "We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like!" We are to flee pride, and by contrast, value humble service in whatever role God places us. We are servants, not those who are to be served.

Each of these three things often strike harder at different times in our life: The YOUNG are most often affected by the "lust of the flesh." The MIDDLE-AGED are usually afflicted by the "lust of the eyes." The AGED are likely to be plagued with the "pride of life."
The lust of the flesh is the desire to do something apart from the will of God. The lust of the eyes is the desire to have something apart from the will of God. The pride of life is the desire to be something apart from the will of God. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are all seductions. All of them are a siren song to love something else instead of loving the Father.


Some people think worldliness has to do with external behavior – the people we associate with, the places we go, the activities in which we participate. This is not entirely accurate. God wants us to love the world that He made and the people that He has created. We must engage the world to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. "World" in this context refers to an ordered system, an arranged order. For example, we speak of the "world of politics" or the "world of sports." We differentiate between time by speaking of the "ancient world" and the "modern world." We may even say that a certain person lives "in a world of his own." The world, as John speaks of it, is defined as the way of thinking and living that fails to acknowledge God as central. It is the world system of living without God. It is a philosophy of life and a way of thinking.

We are to flee worldliness. 1 Timothy 6:10, 11 says:"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows". 6:11 "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." 2 Timothy 2:22: "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."


Are you going to love a lifestyle, your possessions, or a status in life? Will you be a person who operates purely on a material or temporal level with no regard for the spiritual dimension? Or will the way of God factor into your plans and decisions?

II. We are to Deny the Flesh


Meet Public Enemy #2 – The Flesh. The flesh seeks to seduce or pull our hearts away from God.

1. John 7:18-24 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me. 21 So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. 23 But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Paul meant that sin had thoroughly corrupted his nature  ("flesh"). Even though he was a Christian he was still a sinner He knew what he should do, but he did not always do it. This deeplyfrustrated Paul. The agony of this tension and our inability to rid ourselves of our sinful nature that urges us to do things that lead to death come out strongly here. It’s in our nature to destroy ourselves. What Christian has not felt the guilt and pain of doing things that he or she knows are wrong?

We will never escape this battle with temptation in this life. Eugene Peterson recast Paul’s thought in this verse as follows. "I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?"

We are simply told to deny the flesh by the power of the Spirit. The sin nature will always seek to pull us down an easier road.


Romans 6:12 says: Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires… Romans 8:13 says: For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.

III. We are to Resist the Devil

Meet Public Enemy #3 – The Devil. The Devil seeks to seduce or pull our hearts away from God.

New English reads: 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.

We are to resist satanic advances: 1 Peter 5:9 Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your fellow Christians throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering.

Satan is behind a lot of the suffering in our world. We resist Satan when we refuse to his temptations to deny our Lord or to be faithless to Him.

Fleeing Worldliness-Denying Fleshliness-Resisting Devilishness

Perhaps all of these can best be accomplished by loving Jesus the way we should. The greatest need is to love Jesus. Loving Jesus is the greatest way to combat worldliness, the flesh, and the Devil. When you love Jesus with all your heart, there is no more room for the world and what it offers. So let me change the question. The question was: Do you love the world and what it offers?

The question now is: Do you love Jesus with all your heart? That should be our goal.
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