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.