Summary: John had experienced adversity in life and great spiritual challenges. He realized that a close relationship with Christ and continued growth were vital for victorious living. Many lack growth due to spiritual immaturity. Growth is key for victory.
The Path to Spiritual Victory
1 John 2: 12-17
The love and concern John has for the church is evident as we continue to read this epistle. He began by exalting Christ, reminding the believer of whom they have believed. He offered a challenge regarding our fellowship with the Lord and shared the comfort of knowing we have an Advocate when we sin and come short. Our last study dealt with the believer’s love for the Scripture and others. Each thought is practical in application, but also essential in our lives.
John continues to exhort and guide the church in our text today. We find guidance and instruction concerning a victorious spiritual life. He speaks to a broad audience, but the approach is essentially the same. Many in John’s day faced adversity and suffered defeat. The same is true for us as well. Life is difficult at best. We all face seasons of difficulty, times when our faith is tried and we feel discouraged or defeated. Many struggle with spiritual victory.
Let’s move into our text verses and examine the directions John offers as we consider: The Path to Spiritual Victory.
I. The Importance of a Relationship (12-13) – Here John addresses all believers directly. As he speaks to three specific groups, he covers each phase of our spiritual journey. All believers fit into one of the categories mentioned. Although they differ in many ways, they all share a personal relationship with Christ. The first relationship mentioned is that of:
A. The Children (12-13c) – I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. [13c] I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. This speaks of those who are babes in Christ, yet to reach spiritual maturity. We know they are born again by the reference to their sins being forgiven and knowing the Father. They have not yet reached maturity, but they belong to Christ. There is much to learn, and a great need for growth, but the potential is there. They have reached the first step toward maturity in Christ and spiritual victory.
B. The Fathers (13a) – I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. John also addresses the wise and spiritually mature. This level of maturity is reached at different times, depending on many variables, but it is safe to say these are not new converts. These have known Christ in salvation for some time. They have spent time with Him, reading His Word, serving in ministry, praying, all in continued fellowship with the Lord.
C. The Young Men (13b) – I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. Now John speaks to those who are midway through the spiritual journey. He describes them as young men. This refers to those who have been saved for a while and are growing significantly in the Lord. They may not have reached absolute maturity, but they have endured some battles along the way and have come through them victorious. They possess a hunger and zeal for the Lord. They are strong, ambitious, eager, and committed.
II. The Importance of our Remembrance (14) – I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Our relationship with Christ is essential and foundational, but to experience spiritual victory there has to be more than a mere relationship. Being part of the family of God also bears responsibilities. John challenges us to remember our relationship and the obligations associated with it. Notice:
A. The Emphasis (14) – As we read the text did it appear to you that John had repeated himself here? A quick reading of the text would miss an important aspect he intended to convey. Verses 12-13 were given in present tense. This verse reveals past tense; I have written…This is not the first time John has shared these thoughts with the mature and those who are rapidly growing in Christ. He doesn’t mention the little children because they have yet to advance spiritually.
John is emphasizing continued spiritual growth. These have reached a level beyond childhood. They are no longer babes in Christ. That is to be commended, but it also must be guarded. There is no place for complacence in our spiritual lives. Regardless of where we are with the Lord, there is always room for improvement!
B. The Exhortation (14) – John is basically reminding them of the same exhortation he gave in the past. Things have not changed. The struggles of life will continue. The need for a closer walk with the Lord and advanced wisdom will remain. The enemy will not leave them alone simply because they have reached a certain level in their spiritual lives. They must continue to hunger after the Lord and study His Word.