Read 1 John 2:12-17
The art of storytelling is an ancient craft. Those who are gifted know how to build tension early to capture the reader’s attention. John knows his audience well. He begins his first letter reminding us that Jesus is the Word of life and just in case you don’t read the whole letter, he makes sure you get this point right up front. In the next section, John presents a problem and suggests we could be liars, the truth has escaped us. Ouch! That hurts to read!
The reading today begins with a segue. I think John is saying, “Now that I have your attention, let me tell you why I’m writing to you.” This letter is personal, written to the people he loves. These are the sheep of his flock, those with whom he is personally responsible. He is providing us with a great example of how to love others inside the body of Christ. When we do this well, others will want to know more, but that’s not the main point. He wants us to be encouraged and strong, bold and faithful. If we are out in the world trying to make disciples, seeking the lost, serving the least and lonely, we will grow weary. We need to hear words of encouragement. This poem is music to our ears.
I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
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, 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.
1 John 2:12-14
Your sins have been forgiven by Jesus, on the account of His name! We talked about this last week at a Bible study. This bold proclamation runs completely counter to what the great deceiver is whispering (or shouting) in our ears. Jesus took care of our sin. We are a new creation.
Unlike anything else in history, you know Him, you know the Father. He lives in you. Remember these words, my friends, and take them to heart. There is no “if” or “but” in John’s thoughts here.
You are strong. You have overcome the evil one.
Please print this affirmation and put it in a place where you can read it every morning if that helps. He that is within you has won. You are part of the victorious family!
Don’t Love the World
John anticipates our reaction to his affirming words by reminding us that the world is not going to agree with what he just said. In fact, we should expect the opposite when we effectively preach the gospel. To be clear, John provides some overall definitions to guide our thinking.
For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16
Lust and pride are key issues we all have to deal with. Rest assured those who are far from Christ are affected by these problems as well. Pornography feeds the lust of eyes and flesh in this country, perhaps the entire world. John’s ancient words are clearly the target of such desires. Don’t you think it’s odd that John would write this in the first century? It’s not a new issue!
The challenge for us is to shine the light into the darkest places without coming across as those who are so holy that we are immune from worldly issues. Yes, we are strong. Yes, we have overcome the evil one. But while we are walking around in skin, we’re going to be tempted to think otherwise.
It’s important to be reminded of this reality:
The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17
We are temporary residents of earth. I think it’s important to remember this truth to keep me focused. Lord, when I am tempted by what the world has to offer, please remind me that my days are numbered, that I have limited time to do the work You have called me to do. Remind me that Your strength is within me, I am Yours.