Where Are You Spiritually? 1 John 2:12-14

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1 Where Are You Spiritually? 1 John 2:12-14 Introduction: The apostle John s writing in 1 John 2:12-14 is set apart from the other paragraphs in almost all the English translations because it seems to come across in such poetic fashion: I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. It s as though John is speaking here of various stages of spiritual development within the Christian life. You see his reference to children, young men, and fathers, which seems at first glance to be a natural flow or development of three distinct stages within the Christian life. We all start off as spiritual children, or spiritual babes, as the first and most formative stage of Christian living, and after being weaned off of spiritual milk, we progress on to more solid food as young men and women of faith, which of course could be seen as the second stage of the Christian life. We grow into this stage as we take on more and more maturity spiritually until we advance into the most mature third stage of development spiritually, which is the father level, where we become the most mature that we can be for the sake of God s kingdom. While there does seem to be some truth to these ideas, this passage isn t as easy as this somewhat conventional look at the developmental stages of the Christian life. What do I mean? Let s take a closer look at this passage and I ll attempt to show you what I mean: I. John s Spiritual Encouragement to Everyone (Children) in the Community of Faith (vv. 12, 13c)

2 2 I am writing to you, little Children, because your sins are forgiven for his name s sake. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. By his reference to children here, John seems to be talking to everyone in the community of faith, not just young Christians: 1 John 2:1 1 John 2:14, 18 (παιδία), 28 (τεκνία) 1 John 3:1-2, 7, 10, 18 1 John 4:4 1 John 5:2, 21 These terms (τεκνίον & παιδίον) are used interchangeably and synonymously in 1 John to refer to the entire community of God s people, referred to simply as God s children. It isn t really talking about the first stage of the Christian life, out of which everyone progresses to a more mature stage. While it is true that as Christians we all mature and grow spiritually, we will always remain God s spiritual children. We never leave this designation in order to progress onto another stage of spiritual development. Just as in a human family, you and I will always be the sons and daughters (children) of our parents, regardless of our age or circumstances. If there is spiritual development though as God s spiritual children, of what kind is it? A. All God s Children have had all Their Sins Forgiven (v. 12)!... Your sins are forgiven for his name s sake. This is what is true of all God s spiritual children and we praise Him for that! For his name s sake, which means that our forgiveness is directly related to what Jesus did on the cross for us, we are forgiven and set free from sin, both now and forever! If I am a child of God, and therefore have been forgiven, I don t ever want to grow out of that stage! John uses

3 3 the perfect tense to tell us that we were forgiven and this forgiveness has lasting value into the forever future! Your sins have been forgiven for His name s sake! B. All God s Children Call God Their Own Father (v. 13c)!... You know the Father. A second characteristic of those who are God s children is that we are forever able to call God our heavenly Father! He is not our Judge any longer because of what Christ has done on the cross for us, and our relationship to him is now one of filial love! He is our Father! We can go to Him through Christ and seek His counsel and bask in His love! Again, the perfect tense signals a past action with continuing results, meaning that we have come to know and will continue to know the Father! John encourages his readers with the truth a truth which is the reality for all stages of spiritual development that all those who are genuine Christians can rightfully call God the Father their Father! This naturally brings us to second outline point: II. John s Spiritual Encouragement to Fathers in the Community of Faith (vv. 13a, 14a) I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. If there is to be any official, spiritually differentiated developmental stages within the Christian life beyond the overarching classification of being called children of God, John designates it as fathers and young men. He first speaks of those who are thus called fathers in the household of faith. A. The Blessing of Sweet Fellowship with the Father! (v. 13a) You know him who is from the beginning.

4 4 Again, the perfect tense shows us that the blessing we have of intimacy with Christ has happened and will continue to have lasting effects upon us. John says, You have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to those of you have been around a long time, who have the spiritual maturity that years and experience puts on a person, and I encourage you to continue to enjoy the blessing of sweet fellowship with the One who is from the beginning. Whether or not John is referring to the Father or the Son as the One who is from the beginning, we can t be sure, but John he being the aged one himself is nevertheless seeking to encourage those in these churches to think of their privileged position of having long-standing intimacy with God. There is absolutely no replacement for the experience of spending many, many years in Christ! John 17:3 Philippians 3:17 1 Timothy 4:6-8, 12 2 Timothy 4:6-8 Hebrews 13:7 It is as though the fathers are calling upon the Father! What is true regarding our heavenly Father should also become progressively true of us! We should be mature and wise and fruitful and seasoned in the faith! B. The Blessing of Sure Fellowship with the Father! (v. 14a)... You know him who is from the beginning. I think John adds something here when he speaks of knowing the Father and the Son. It is strongly implied by the word know. It is the fact that we have sure fellowship with the Godhead! Remember that John is emphasizing the certainty of their salvation because the heretics he was contending against kept insisting that they were the ones with the special, secret knowledge (Gnosis) of God. However, it s as if John is

5 5 saying that only those in the genuine community of faith are the ones who know, or are sure or have the certainty of intimacy with God. This is a great passage on their assurance which John is writing to them! 1 John 5:13 III. John s Spiritual Encouragement to Young Men in the Community of Faith (vv. 13b, 14b) I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Notice the characteristics of young men in the spiritual family of God. First, John describes them as those who have overcome the evil one. A. Young Men Overcome Evil! (v. 13b)... You have overcome the evil one. Spiritually young men and women in the household of faith haven t overcome the Devil in the sense that he is no longer a threat to them! Not at all! It is rather that Satan no longer has mastery over them! He does not control them any longer! What an encouragement this is! 1 John 5:4-5 But before we become too confident about having overcome the evil one of this world, as John tells the young men and women in 1 John 2:13-14, he will also immediately command them not to love the world nor the things in the world: 1 John 2:15-17

6 6 How do we resist the world and its gravitational pull? B. Young Men Are Strong and Know the Word of God! (v. 14b)... You are strong, and the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. We aren t strong in and of ourselves, but our strength comes from the grace of God! He is the One who gives us the strength to fight off the attacks of the world! Ephesians 6:10 1 Timothy 1:12 2 Timothy 2:1 2 Timothy 4:17 us! Why are we strong? Because the Word of God abides in Psalm 119: John 1: John 2:3-6, 7 Conclusion: So, where are you spiritually? Are you a child of God? Have you been forgiven for Christ s sake? Are you strong and does the Word of God abide in you? Have you overcome the evil one? Do you know the sweet and sure blessing of fellowship with the Heavenly Father? If you are not a child of God, the blood of Jesus can cleanse you from all sin (1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:1-2) If you are in need of forgiveness, confess your sins and He will be faithful and just to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)

7 7 Being strong in the Lord comes from practicing the truth and walking in the light (1 John 1:6-7) Having the Word of God abiding in you comes from keeping His commandments and walking in the same way as Jesus walked (1 John 2:4, 6) Experiencing the sweet and sure blessing of fellowship with our Heavenly Father comes from proclaiming the eternal life Jesus Christ which has been manifested to us (1 John 1:2-3)

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