Summary: In the Bible, God speaks to us, and in prayer, we speak to him. And the two are interdependent in their effectiveness. The Scripture teaches us to pray and shows us what to pray and how to pray and tells us the basis for prayer and fills us with encourage
This is the last Sunday of Prayer Week. The reason we sandwich Prayer Week with a sermon on prayer and a sermon on the word of God is that these are the two great means of grace that God uses to conform us to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29; Colossians 3:10).
The Interdependence of Prayer and the Word
In the Bible, God speaks to us, and in prayer, we speak to him. And the two are interdependent in their effectiveness. The Scripture teaches us to pray and shows us what to pray and how to pray and tells us the basis for prayer and fills us with encouragement that God hears our prayers. And prayer applies the Scriptures to ourselves and others. It turns the word into prayer, and it pleads for help from God in understanding the meaning of the word and living the word. So prayer and the word are interdependent in the way they help us be conformed to the image of Christ.
Strong by the Word of God
The verse that we are focusing on today is 1 John 2:14b, “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” This is the second time John said this. In the middle of verse 13, he said, “I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.” So the second time he says it (for emphasis, I think), he doesn’t just say they have overcome the evil one; he says two more things about them: They are strong and the word of God abides in them. I think he mentions both of these because one answers why they have overcome the devil: because they are strong. And the other answers how they are strong: by the word of God abiding in them.
Of course, this is not just true of young men. John singles them out, I think, because he tends to call all Christians children so often (fourteen times in this letter) that he wants to make sure that they know he is aware of the old men (fathers) and young men in the church, and that there is a war to be fought with sin and Satan, and that there is a special role for men in the battle. But the principle is the same for every Christian, old or young, man or woman. The evil one—the devil—is conquered by the strength that comes from having the word of God abide in us.
That is the main point I want to emphasize today: Our strength to triumph over the evil one comes from the word of God abiding in us. If you don’t get anything else, please get this: Your strength to overcome the evil one comes from having the word of God abiding in you—1 John 2:14. My prayer is that this will be an incentive to you this year to become more and more Bible-saturated. May the Lord say of you at the end of 2007, “You are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”
The Victory of the Word of God over Satan
There are two activities of Satan that the word of God enables us to overcome. I think all of his faith-destroying efforts can be summed up under these two activities. One is Satan’s accusation. The other is Satan’s temptation. He accuses and he tempts. He accuses us with the sin that we have already done. And he tempts us to do the sin we haven’t yet done. What John teaches us is that the word of God abiding in us is the way we conquer the evil one in both of these activities. Let’s take them one at a time and see how the word of God works in both kinds of triumph.
1. The Victory of the Word over Satan’s Accusation
First, let’s make sure we see that accusation is one of Satan’s great activities against the believers. The very name Satan means accuser or adversary. And John in particular draws out this meaning in Revelation 2:10-11 and connects it to the word of God:
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
What John means is that Satan’s accusations fall to the ground—they are conquered—when believers trust in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, to cover all their sins, and make that truth their testimony even if it costs them their lives. They may die from the persecution, but they are more than conquerors over the accuser. The accusations of the devil are nullified when we are under the blood of the Lamb—that is, when we are “in” the Son of God who died for us.