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Summary: Three groups of persons within the family of faith are addressed. What is said of each group doesn’t appear to be age related. These groups may represent different levels of Christian maturity within the community. We could call them three stages of spir

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1 JOHN 2: 12-14 [LIFE, LIGHT & LOVE SERIES]

SPIRITUAL STAGES

[Ephesians 6:10-20]

In the introduction or prologue John indicated that the general purpose of his letter was to help believers mature into Christ-likeness. Having laid down the general principles between light and darkness and love and hate, John now wants to encourage their spiritual walk [maturity] in the way of light. Due to all the warnings John didn’t want his readers to think that he was dissatisfied with their spiritual condition. So John here assured genuine believers that he not only wrote for -but because of their spiritual progress. He wanted to strengthen their faith in Christ and undergird the basis of all spiritual growth (CIT).

Three groups of persons within the family of faith are addressed. They are called children, young men and fathers. What is said of each group doesn’t appear to be age related. These groups may represent different levels of Christian maturity within the community. We could call them three stages of spiritual growth. The culminating point is some glorious results of spiritual growth.

Only the light of God’s Word can dispel darkness and equip believers to overcome the enemy. The truth and power of Christ’s Word are sufficient to bring all of us to a full knowledge of the Father.

STAGE I. SPIRITUAL CHILDHOOD, 12.

STAGE II. SPIRITUAL ADOLESCENCE, 13a.

STAGE III. SPIRITUAL PARENTHOOD, 13b.

STAGE IV. SPIRITUAL GROWTH’S OUTCOMES, 13c -14.

The critical content John wants to communicate in verse 12 is that their sins have been forgiven. “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.”

If we look at the passage as three stages of spiritual growth, the first would be childhood. The Greek term "little children" refers to toddlers. And if there's one thing toddlers are good at - it's is tripping and falling. Until they learn to walk they need someone to pick them up, dry their tears, bandage their skinned knees, and reassure them that falling down doesn't mean they’ll never walk or that they're not part of the family.

There are two things a spiritual toddler needs to understand. The first is the difference between their stage of growth and their standing before God. Don't get these two things mixed up! You have been pardon because of Jesus. Trusting in the finished work of Christ is the only thing that gives you right standing with God. From that moment on you are a fully accepted and redeemed child of God. That's how He sees you. If you forget that you'll be in trouble, because every time you fall the Devil will make you doubt your salvation or God’s acceptance and love of you.

The forgiveness you receive at the new birth is a judicial act by God, making you a member of His forever family. You are justified or in right standing with God. But the forgiveness you receive on a daily basis is a relational act. Confession and forgiveness keeps you relationally close to God.

Suppose you enter some wrong numbers into your calculator. What do you do? You have a little button called “clear entry" which allows you to erase your error and start over. That's what the blood of Christ does for you. Repentance allows you to override sin by triggering God's forgiveness so that the flow of His grace continues. And when grace flows, growth follows.

The important thing to remember about sin is to always keep short accounts with God. We have been forgiven for being a sinner, but we need daily forgiveness for individual sins.

So as children of God we are forgiven and redeemed by Jesus’ sacrifice. We are pardoned, and the penalty for sin is removed. Because our sins have been forgiven we can enjoy an intimate relationship or fellowship with God. This relationship remains close and vibrate if I confess my daily sins and receive His cleansing.

STAGE II. SPIRITUAL ADOLESCENCE, 13b.

As we grow in faith we begin to overcome the enemy. Look at the second part of verse 13. “...I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.”

So the second stage in spiritual growth is adolescence. If you've ever had young men or teenagers, you know that the transition from adolescence into adulthood can be a bumpy ride. Teenagers clash with their parents and other authority figures because they're moving from dependence to independence. They wrestle with conflicting feelings of wanting their freedom, yet not really wanting it - especially if mom and dad are still paying the bills. They chafe at observing curfews, particularly when their friends don't have to. They don't like getting approval for movies, dates, parties, dress codes, or using the [family] car. They especially dislike hearing what my Dad told me, "As long as you're under my roof you'll live by my rules. When you get your own family you can establish "your own rules."

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