I bet you’ve heard that expression many times, haven’t you? Maybe we really need to shed a few pounds, but we won’t forgo the pint of ice cream every day. We can’t have it both ways. Or you’re having a bad morning and you decide to just go back to bed, only to be haunted by the thought that the car payment is coming due, and you really need the money. We can’t have it both ways.

From a spiritual point of view, we want the peace, security and blessings that come with serving God, but we also want to hang onto some things of the world that aren’t necessarily good for us. We can’t have it both ways.

Thankfully, the Bible gives us a lot of instruction on how to face the struggle to have it both ways and come out victoriously. Take the Apostle John for example. He found it necessary to write to believers to expose the many false teachings that had crept into the church, teachings that declared nothing off limits. John also went to great lengths to encourage the church to pursue a life of holiness with God and separation from the world.

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. 16 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. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1st John 2:15-17

These three short verses of scripture reveal to us what I think is one of the most powerful truths in the entire Bible; we cannot love both God and the world. He calls us to make a choice. Knowing the dangers of being pulled in and swept away by the world’s enticements, John clearly states that to love this world will cost us the love of the Father. I don’t know about you, but I believe that is a very grave position to be in. What is John really saying here? He is saying that we can’t have it both ways. We cannot love the world and our Heavenly Father at the same time.

The three most familiar tools in the enemy’s arsenal are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. John tells us that none of these come from the Father, but from the world. Or to be very specific, they come from Satan.

When you really think about it, it’s easy to fall in love with the world, because the world makes it easy to do so! It accepts everyone-on its terms. Yet what the world doesn’t tell us is that it wants something from us in return. It wants our love, our time, and our undivided attention. If you love the world, the world will in turn reward you. It’s that simple. It may offer you a place of prestige, of status, of honor, of comfort. The world knows how to reward those that love it and can make you feel right at home here.

What the world neglects to tell you however is that even at their best, the rewards that come from this world last only as long as we live and all too often, we don’t realize that until it’s too late. The day will come however when all of the accolades we’ve earned as well as every creature comfort will be left here for others to deal with. Oh, and last time I checked, Heaven still wasn’t accepting U-Hauls and moving vans!

You know what I’ve been thinking? I’m thinking I’m too near the finish line to be caught up in the things this world can offer me. That’s right, I’ve been at this far too long to ever think of compromising my relationship with God for some shiny trinket or gadget. Time is slipping away from us and nothing this world can give us can change that fact. These are dangerous, perilous times we are living in and there can be no room for compromise in our hearts.

God is calling all of us to make a choice: love the world, or love God.

One thing is certain my friends…we can’t have it both ways!