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.
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 desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—
is not from the Father but is from the world.
And the world is passing away along with its desires,
but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
I John 2:12-17
This week is a bit of a parenthesis before going to the third in our series of tests. This parenthesis is written for those who are sensitive. You know the ones. You may even be that person. The one in the group to whom the precautions are not being addressed, but who thinks they are for her! The person it is least intended for.
If you are that person, you know the times you have been hurt by comments and warnings, certain they were meant for you. When really, they were for others who were much less sensitive. I was that person for many, many years Because I did not understand the truth of this doctrine. In a sense, John is taking time to talk to those who may be misunderstanding some of his comments, especially the harsher ones. If you are like I was, this section is for you.
***He didn’t want to have them think that because they could think of times they had broken GOD’s commands, disobeyed GOD, that they were, in truth, not His children.
Of course, that wasn’t true! Remember, our obedience or ability to obey is not predicated on OUR flawless ability to obey, but on Christ’s perfect record to obey on our behalf. That is the only thing that will give us a righteous record…a transformed record. I’ll be passing on more resources.
Remember, he is writing this letter to those who are Believers for the most part. But in any group, there are always those who are pretenders and deceivers. They know the truth and don’t want to do it. The earlier warnings have been for them as they do not attempt to be honest or true before GOD.
John’s readers (vss. 12-14)
In this section, they are dear children, fathers, and young men. I won’t go into the discussion that Boice does about all the possibilities of who they could be, I’ll just tell you what he came up with. You’ll need the book for the more detailed discussion…which is interesting.
This is written to those who are young in the faith. They know they are forgiven and they know the Father. John doesn’t want them to be discouraged or disheartened by his earlier warnings. He wants them to grow in their faith and walk with Christ.
It is interesting that the advice written to the fathers in both places, is the same! It also parallels the second advice written to the children but the way it is written is interesting. Here, he is pointing out a longer relationship most likely. There is a little question as to whether it is referring to Christ or the Father but in the end it doesn’t make a huge difference in the interpretation of the passage either way.
By talking to fathers (longer, more mature believers), he is reminding them of GOD’s eternal existence, His unchanging faithfulness, as well as the spiritual trust and wisdom these engender. These people have had a lifetime of spiritual experience, have known the Eternal One and have come to fully trust Him. They will be able to rejoice in the truths the apostle supports and rejoice with him.
I will add a personal word here and say that having older, mature believers in a church is a gift you need. If your church does not have any, or many, you need to ask yourselves why are they not there? Find ways to get them there even if it means calming down the loudness of your music (it is hard on aging ears…it is hard on young ears too!), adjusting your message to something less limited to a younger age group. Truth will draw all ages if it is not too narrowly focused on one age group or one culture (gen X for example). Each cultural group has its own blindspots and other groups are needed to keep a church body more focused on the truth of the gospel.
These are the ones who are energetically engaged in the business of Christian living and are expected to be the church’s first line of defense in case of attack. The ones John was writing to were to be major opponents of Gnosticism.
Here are the 3 things he says about these people:
- They are strong. They have shown they are able to withstand Satan’s attacks.
- They understand the Gospel, they know and live by GOD’s Word. cf. Psalm 119:9, Revelation 12:11, Ephesians 6:17.
- They have learned to live in victory over sin as they overcome the Evil One in the power of Christ. As John has said, they never will be sinless, but they are seeing victory over sin in places in their lives as they battle against it.
An appeal to John’s readers vss. 15-17
Don’t love the world. The most likely choice of meanings here is the world’s system of values. But to understand this better, we need to state the positive…and that has been stated from way back in the Old Testament! Love GOD with all your heart!
Do not court the intimacy and the favour of the unchristian world around you; do not take its customs for your laws, nor adopt its ideals, nor covet its prizes, not seek fellowship with its life. Robert Law
Why we are not to love the world
- Love for the Father and love for the world (system) are incompatible. GOD is set over against the world’s sin and its values. As a result, it is impossible to serve GOD and the world’s values at the same time! cf. Matthew 6:24. The summary here of the world’s system is this: “the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does.”
- Everything that is in the world is transitory and will be destroyed! The values and those characterized by its values…will all be gone! What will last? The one who does the will of GOD!
Do we love and serve GOD? Then we must turn from all that keeps us from the love and service that GOD requires. I am always challenged to move toward GOD and away from my love of the world.