In medicine, the more that is known about how a disease is contracted, the better prepared one is to avoid it.
In security, the more one understands how the employees or customers steal, the more prepared the company is to prevent it.
In military, the more one understands how his enemy will attack, the better prepared the military will be to resist such an attack.
Likewise, spiritually the more we understand how we are tempted, the more prepared we will be to resist sin.
1 John 2:15-17: “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. 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. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
The word “world” can refer to: (1) The universe – the Kosmos, the Greeks so used. (Roy Lanier Jr. cites John 17:24 for this usage); (2) The earth (Romans 1:8; 1 John 3:17); (3) By metonymy: The human race which inhabits this ordered sphere (1 John 2:2; Matthew 5:14); (4) The gentiles as distinguished from the Jews (Vine’s cites Romans 11:17); (5) The sum of temporal possessions (Matthew 16:26; 1 Corinthians 7:31); (6) The evil which dominates this world (John 15:18-19; Galatians 6:14; Colossians 2:8; James 1:27; James 4:4; 1 John 4:5; 1 John 5:19). I do believe that this last usage is in usage here [though, it is possible to live this material world too much (2 Timothy 3:4b; Romans 1:25; Luke 8:14; Matthew 6:33; Colossians 3:2)].
The “things of the world” means do not love anything that may be included in the term “world”. It is a movement from the general to the specific. Notice that the warning starts with what we love, or where our affections are. God should be ultimate love (Matthew 10:37; 22:37-39)
Let’s consider the three areas of temptation. First there is the lust of the flesh (that is: fleshly needs, desires, and appetites). Robert Taylor Jr. adds, “Bodily appetites are not wrong per se. But they are to be fulfilled legitimately. We hunger for food, air, sexual release, security, etc. There are wrong ways to obtain such; there are right ways to obtain such” (Studies in Romans, p. 114). Kerry Duke has also said, “Since we dwell in a physical body, we are dependent upon the world. We must breathe, eat, and sleep to survive… even more significant is that those drives are involuntary, having been instilled by the Creator… Man’s craving for food is an inherent drive. Wish though he may that this did not exist, man cannot escape the need for food. But though the desire itself is not of man’s choosing, his response to it is. In fact, how man handles physical hunger is indicative of whether he exercises a basic Christian virtue: temperance or self-control” (God at a Distance, p. 87). Again, he writes of man’s sexual drive, “The feelings themselves may be involuntary and spontaneous, but to experience a feeling is one thing; how one responds to it is a different matter” (ibid, p. 95). “…It is important to remember that although dealing with the intensity of the sexual drive is a major struggle of life, fulfilling this desire is not a necessity of life” (ibid, pg. 98). And to the married he said, “For the Christian, the sexual drive is not so much an enemy to be conquered as a force to be channeled” (ibid, p. 91). False teachers sometimes appeal to our fleshly desires (2 Peter 2:18-20).
Second, there is the lust of the eyes (that is: temptation comes through our senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell). The eyes are an avenue for temptation to come our way (2 Samuel 11:2; Proverbs 6:25; Proverbs 23:31). The ears are another avenue (Proverbs 2:16; Proverbs 6:20-24; Proverbs 7:4-5). Smell may also lead to temptation (Proverbs 7:17; possibly Genesis 25:29-30). We need to be careful what we allow to come into our minds by these avenues (Job 31:1; Proverbs 23:31; Matthew 5:29; 2 Peter 2:14).
Third, there is the pride (vain-glory) of life. Most of us like to be liked. We want to receive the praise of men. We must decide whose praise is the most important to us. In John 12:42-43 – there were some who believed in Jesus, but they would not confess Him, “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Our ultimate aim needs to be to please God, not man. (Read 1 Thessalonians 2:4; Galatians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 5:9 NKJV). Let us accept the truth: if we truly are what we should be, not all will speak well of us (Luke 6:26). False teachers some times play upon our desires to be admired (Jude 16).
Furthermore, Most of us like the comforts of life. Some have erred from the faith for the things of life (1 Timothy 6:9-10; 2 Timothy 4:10), and have failed to be spiritually fruitful ( Luke 8:14). There is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying material things (1 Timothy 6:17). However, let us have as our priority the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1-2). Let us “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” ( Matthew 6:33).
Beware of how temptations come to us. Tempting situations which we can avoid, we should avoid. Those things which are unavoidable (natural, physical desires of the flesh) we should understand how such can be used to tempt us, and be sober, and vigilant (1 Peter 5:8).