Summary: John has given his readers a great deal of corrective instruction in the opening chapters of this book - now he speaks words of encouragement and exhortation for them (and for us!) to take to heart and to put into practice in our own lives.
The Demas Dilemma - 1 John 2:12-17 - July 14, 2013
Series: That We May Know – Life With Jesus - #7
As a parent I’ve learned something about myself over the years and it’s something I’ve seen in others as well. This is what I’ve learned … I’ve learned that as a parent, I find that it’s often easier to rebuke, than it is to lift someone up, and it’s easier to correct, than it is to encourage them. And yet encouragement usually goes so much further than correction does in helping someone become all that they can be. Correction is often necessary, but encouragement is essential.
And as we think back over the weeks that we’ve been in this series in 1 John, it’s fair to say that John’s been giving his readers, and therefore us, a great deal of corrective instruction. Some of them, just like some of us, have had false ideas of what it means to be a Christian and what the Christian life looks like. They’ve deceived themselves and so the correction is absolutely necessary.
Today though we’re going to see how John balances that correction with a word of encouragement. I’ll ask you to open your Bibles with me please to the book of 1 John, 1 John, chapter 2, beginning in verse 12. And as you’re turning there let me just remind you of where John has led us to so far in our study of this book.
His whole purpose in writing it is so that we might have life in Jesus, and with Jesus, and through Jesus; that we might know Jesus, and the Father, and might have real life with them here and now. But he goes on to say that there are some things that will prevent us from knowing, and experiencing, that abundant life, that salvation, that hope, to which we are called.
And the first is our attitude. We need to check our attitude towards sin. If we think sin is really no big deal, or that we’re the exception to God’s word, or if we justify it, excuse it, or continue in it after learning the truth about it … well the truth then is that we’re walking in darkness and we aren’t really doing life with Jesus at all. We have not understood, nor accepted the Gospel, and if we think we are Christians, then we’ve deceived ourselves. We’re still dead in our sins and transgressions because the Gospel is about newness – the new creation, the new life, the new hope, and the new attitude towards sin.
Secondly he tells us that we need to check our walk. Are we living for God or are we living for ourselves? Has His word become the guide by which you live your life or do you simply do what seems right in your own eyes? If you’re not taking God’s word to heart and living by it, then you’re probably not saved, because Scripture tells us that we know that we’ve come to know God when we obey His commands. The person who says, “Yeah, I know God, I’m a Christian, but does not obey God’s word, makes themselves out to be a liar and the truth is not in them.”
And then thirdly, John says that we need to check our hearts. See, hatred is a sign of unbelief. The over-riding characteristic of the Christian, is their love for God, and their love for one another. If you’re not loving on God, and if you’re not loving on one another, chances are that you’re not a Christian after all, because the two greatest commandments that we are given, are that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and that we are to love our neighbours as ourselves. Jesus says that the world around us will know that we are His disciples by our love for one another.
So those are the words of correction that John gives us – words of warning: check your attitude, check your walk and check your heart. Each of us is to examine ourselves in light of these truths to see if we are walking in the darkness, or if we’re living in the light. And we have the assurance that Christ Jesus is in us then, unless of course, we fail the testing. That brings us to our verses this morning as we begin reading in verse 12. John says, …
“I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known 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, NIV84)