header photo

Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

Knowing Him (1 John 2:12-14)

    Up to this point in 1 John, John has made it a point to let the Christians he was writing to know that they must be honest and humble about their sin, they must truly turn from a life of sin and not have anything to do with the darkness if they are going to truly be in the light of the Father. He’s been pretty blunt, maybe even a little harsh as he has talked about the importance of love governing the life of the believer. He’s made them question if they are liars, not in the truth and not in the light. He’s maybe even made some of them question their salvation.
    The passage we’re going to look at today then, is going to provide encouragement and assurance for what might have been some ruffled feathers and bruised toes.
    I’d love for you to join me in 1 John 2:12-14. “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name. 13 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. 14 I write to you, dear 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 lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” (NIV)
    John uses three different ways of addressing Christians. He calls them children, young men, and fathers. This isn’t just coincidence or random titles he’s chosen. These titles represent three different life stages that we’re all familiar with, right?
    Children represents all those who are new in faith, new believers, just learning, just starting out in their love for Christ. They are excited and passionate about having an experience with Jesus, but not very grounded or mature in their faith. They’ve only just begun to have their eyes opened to their own sin and the ways they ought to walk with Christ. Sometimes they can be legalistic in an attempt to try to live a life free of sin. We’ve all been there, or maybe you’re just there now, just starting off in faith.
    Young men aren’t representative of just men. They’re representative of all Christians who aren’t brand-new in their faith, but still retain the excitement of being a disciple of Jesus and they’re actively involved in doing Kingdom work in the world and serving in the church. They’re much more grounded and mature in their faith. They’re hungry for the Word of God, and don’t seem to be able to get enough. But, like teenagers and young adults, sometimes these believers have a hard time still struggling with control of their lives. They have a desire to do what is Godly and right, and want to completely surrender to the Spirit’s will, but they struggle taking that control back, and the enemy tries to attack them in this area.
    Fathers represent all mature believers, again, not just those that are men. They can represent those who have matured enough in their faith and walk with Jesus that they are actively seeking to disciple others who are less mature in the faith to help them grow. These believers are more disciplined in their quiet times, and have a walk with the Lord that is marked by constant and consistent growth. They have completely surrendered their lives to the control of the Spirit. But, they often lack the passion and energy of less mature believers for Kingdom work and serving the church.
    Children—are new believers, full of excitement, but not well grounded.
    Young men—are believers with more maturity, still excited about faith and doing Kingdom works, but not completely surrendered to the Spirit.
    Fathers—are believers that are mature and discipling others, completely surrendered, but often lack energy and passion for Kingdom work.
    Where do you find yourself? Maybe you can clearly identify yourself at one of these stages in your walk with Christ. Maybe you actually see yourself between one of these stages, a mix of two if you will. Maybe you’ve left the immaturity of the “child” stage and are more well-grounded in the Word like those in the “young men” stage, but are still overwhelmed by a personal life of sin. Maybe you’re in-between the “young man” and “father” stage, mature and discipling others, and surrendered to the Spirit, but still with excitement and passion for Kingdom work. Where are you in these categories John uses?
    It’s good to know. I believe one of the things that will help us be honest and humble in our relationship with Christ is to frequently evaluate our walk with Him. To identify where we see weaknesses in our armor. To see where we aren’t walking with Him like we should. If we can be good at self-evaluation, and Spirit-evaluation, that only helps us in our walk with Christ! King David prayed this prayer, which shows his desire to have the Spirit search the deepest parts of his heart, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV)
    Know thyself, right? Know where your walk with Christ is at.
    The great thing about this passage though, is that regardless of where you find yourself in your relationship with Jesus, there is encouragement. When we know where we are at in our walk with Christ, when we’re honest with ourselves and the Lord, we do start to see those weak areas. We can feel discouraged by this at times.
    Maybe these past few weeks you’ve seen that you don’t love other brothers and sisters like Jesus has loved you. Maybe you’ve seen that you still walk in darkness in some ways. Regardless of how long you’ve been a believer, or what your walk looks like, there is encouragement and assurance that John gives.
    The first assurance John gives is for all believers. He says, “children”, but really that means that it applies to all of us because all believers have been at that stage at some point. Verse 12, “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name.”
    The first assurance we have, all Christians, is that your sins have been forgiven. Remember 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV) If you have confessed your sin to Christ, whatever they might be, your sins are forgiven. You are forgiven! You don’t have to confess sins you’ve already confessed over and over again. Confess it and take the assurance from God’s Word that you are forgiven.
    Now, a note here. Does this mean that since Christ is faithful to forgive your sins when you confess them that then you can go out and sin some more and just confess those sins? No, of course not.
    What did Jesus tell the woman caught in adultery when she realized there was no one there to condemn her of her sins? “And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on do not sin any longer.” (John 8:11, NASB) Go and do not sin any longer.
    Paul added this as well, that when we do sin, there is grace that covers our sin and leads us to confession, repentance, and forgiveness. But, as he says here in Romans 6:1-2, 11-14 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”
    Just because we receive grace when we sin, doesn’t mean we keep sinning. We are to walk away from a life of sin. We don’t receive condemnation from Christ, and our confessed sins are forgiven, yes, so go and sin no more.
    Let’s go back to 1 John 2:13, “ 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.” Here John first addresses mature believers, specifically. Remember that mature believers are disciplined in their walk, they are guided by the Spirit, they are surrendered to the Spirit, they are discipling others in the faith, but they can lack the enthusiasm and energy for Kingdom work that other believers that are less mature in the faith might have.
    John assures mature believers, elders in the faith, that they know Him who is from the beginning. At first glance, you might think that John is talking about knowing God, but that’s not completely true. In verse 14 he assures children, and therefore all believers, that they do know the Father, so the “Him” here in verse 13 is different. God, yes, but God the Spirit. Him who is from the beginning. John is speaking in terms of the Holy Trinity in these passages. He clearly speaks of the Son, the Father, and the other “Him” here is the Spirit.
    John assures matures believers that they do know the Spirit. Doesn’t that seem like an odd thing to assure mature believers of? Maybe, but even mature believers get discouraged. This is a reminder of the personal change that they have experienced through a life walked in the Spirit. We saw through our study in Galatians that when the Spirit really gets a hold of you and you walk in the Spirit, you change! Your whole personal life changes. Once you’ve surrendered your life completely to the control of the Spirit, He is free to truly make you into a new person. That personal change is proof for mature believers that they do know the Spirit. This is meant to be encouragement when excitement and energy is low and discouragement creeps in, that mature believers are exactly right where they need to be, walking in step with the Spirit, knowing Him and being truly guided by Him.
    In verse 13, John then assures “young men”, believers who are marked by excitement for Kingdom works, but maybe not fully surrendered to the Spirit. You could almost think of these believers as Spiritual warriors, in the thick of the battle with boots on the ground. John assures them that they have overcome the evil one, and in verse 14 he adds to it that they are strong.
    The encouragement and assurance for these believers is that their personal witness, their strength and commitment to Kingdom work is not in vain. It is encouragement that even though they might struggle with fully surrendering to the Spirit in all ways, that they have the victory in Jesus. They have the power to say no to sin and to completely surrender to the Spirit so every part of their personal witness will be effective for the Kingdom.
    Finally, in verse 14, John assures these believers that the Word of God lives in them. John has just spent the previous verses talking about how believers must have love for their brothers and sisters, and not hate. He talks about love that is selfless, intentional, and desires to do good to others. John has just said that those who love like this, in them the Word of God lives, and that those who don’t love like this walk in darkness. They likely had begun to question if the Word of God lived in them, since their love was imperfect at times.
    John says yes. Even though our love may be imperfect, if we’re seeking and desire to love the way Jesus loves us, John is assuring that the Word of God does in fact live in you. John even says that God’s love is made complete in you!
    Regardless of where you’re at in your walk with Christ, regardless of what you might have doubts about, John’s point here was to assure and encourage you, that if you are in Christ, you are forgiven, you have the Holy Spirit, you can be effective in ministry, and you do have the love of God in you!
    The only “but” here is that you must be in Christ! You must know Him and He must know you! You must have a relationship with Jesus for any of these to be possible. It starts with this, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9, NIV. If you have done this, these encouragements and assurances from John are for you.

1. Growing Up with God: Do you see these assurances in your relationship with God? If so, which? How do those assurances comfort you that your relationship is true? If you don’t see some of those assurances, why not?

2. Growing Deeper with the Body: What encouragement can you offer another believer in the church through these assurances? Consider speaking those assurances to a brother or sister who is struggling, or writing a note or letter!

3. Go Out: How can you talk about the forgiveness of sins available to all to someone in your life who doesn’t yet know Christ? What things might you say to help them understand their personal need for knowing Jesus?

Go Back