Grab your Bible and let’s go deeper into 1 John 2:
Dr. John Stott says it so well describing the letters of John when saying, “Against this backdrop of the current uncertain, postmodern world, to read the letters of John is to enter another world altogether, for its marks are assurance, knowledge, confidence, and boldness.”
He goes on to say, “The author’s purpose in writing is known from his own definition of it. He wrote the Gospel for unbelievers in order to arouse their faith, and the letters for believers in order to deepen their assurance. His desire for the readers of the Gospel was that through faith they might receive life; for the readers of the letters that they might know they already had it.”
- Certainty about who we are in Christ.
1 John 2:12-14
13a “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.”
First of all, he is writing to the church- to those showing evidence for salvation. He is saying, your sins ARE forgiven. You can be certain of this. Nothing more to prove, nothing more to accomplish, it has been done by Jesus.
13b “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.”
Notice, he says, you know! “You know” is affirmation language.
These are reminders of who we are. It is a plea for certainty. He is saying to those of us who are alive in Christ… YOU KNOW.
13c “I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. 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.”
Don’t forget… You know! You have! You are!
John is saying to his brothers and sisters in Christ, be certain!
Remember, you overcame the evil one. You are strong in Christ and the word of God abides in you!
He wants them to be certain, so he says two of these things twice:
- You know him who is from the beginning & 2. You have overcome the evil one.
Before we move on to verse 15, notice verse 14 more closely:
14b “I write to you… because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”
Notice 2 things: 1- the evidence of strength 2- the evidence of victory over temptation and sin.
WHY do they have these evidences? Because the Word of God abides in them!
How does one navigate this uncertain world? How do you grow in maturity in faith and life in Christ?
–The Word of God!
Don’t minimize the crucial place of the word of God here.
We need to receive it and need it to abide in us. When we do this, we abide in Christ and we abide in his great accomplishment on the cross that defeats the accusations of the devil.
We overcome the evil one by the word of God because day by day this word is abiding in us.
It is living in us. The gospel—the great story of redemption and the great Christ of redemption and the great God of redemption and the great process of redemption and the great effects of redemption—this gospel, this word of God, is not something believed once and left behind.
We believe the word of God and then it “abides” in us.
Some of you really need this.
You need to stop trying to fight the evil one and all his lies and temptations against you on your own.
John is saying, know who you are in Christ. Know that, in Christ, you have defeated the evil one.
Don’t kind of know it. KNOW IT. CLAIM IT. LIVE OUT OF IT. ABIDE IN IT!
BE CERTAIN IN HIS VICTORIOUS WORK ON YOUR BEHALF!
- Certainty about those who love and desire this uncertain world.
1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
The section begins with a command! “Do not love the world or the things in the world.”
The word WORLD here means “life without God”.
Sometimes, the word world in the Bible means the entire planet.
Other places the word WORLD refers to a specific group of people.
But here, it’s referring to a system that’s opposed to God. The world here is referring to people, cultures, lifestyles and ways of thought that totally neglect God.
We are to NOT BE IN LOVE WITH this world and it is described well in Romans 1:28-32, “28When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done. 29Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, fighting, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They are forever inventing new ways of sinning and are disobedient to their parents. 31They refuse to understand, break their promises, and are heartless and unforgiving. 32They are fully aware of God’s death penalty for those who do these things, yet they go right ahead and do them anyway.” And, worse yet, they encourage others to do them too.
WHY should we not be in love with the WORLD?
<>The first incentive John gives is big!
He says in 15b, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” In other words the reason you shouldn’t love the world is that you can’t love the world and God at the same time.
Love for the world pushes out love for God and love for God pushes out love for the world.
James 4:4 “…whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
Real quick: what is he not saying here?
- He is not saying, we are to hate other people.
Christ himself commanded to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matt 5:44) What John is saying here is not to be “IN LOVE” with the world as in don’t have over affections for the world. *More on this in a moment.
- He’s also not saying, “Don’t love mountains. Don’t love the beach.”
God gave us this world to enjoy and have dominion over in such a way that it points us to him. The problem is when we make the things of this world our greatest love, our greatest joy, or our reason for living.
John is saying that those who love this world more than God is a matter of idolatry… of worship…. of sinful man’s deepest desires. Read verse 16 with me.
16 “For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world.”
The Greek word used here for “desire” is the same word used for “lust”. It is the word epi- thum-ia.
Epithumia = An over desire- an excessive desire.
All throughout the New Testament this word pops up when dealing with the core of one’s heart.
The problem is when you and I think of worldly desires or evil desires, we think of something forbidden like: to kill someone, to steal, or to deal drugs to kids.
But that’s not only what epithumia is! Now listen because we must get this and then do business with it.
It is any desire for anything in this world that is bigger or over GOD.
John Calvin clearly says:
“The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.”
So often the object of our desires is good and the evil lies in the lordship of the desire.
I am a parent: it is very possible to turn my kids into idols.
I am a pastor: it is possible to turn my job into an idol.
If you are a fan of a team: it is possible to turn your following or cheering into an idol.
If you love a certain kind of food or drink: it is possible to turn your eating or drinking into an idol.
All of these things are considered good things. They are good things that you and I all too easily inflate to function as God in our lives.
Not only is the overinflation of God’s creation a huge problem for us, the amount of temptation to give as much of us to it as we give is also a great problem.
John highlights three sources of temptation to have an over desire or love for this world:
- desires of the flesh, 2. lust of the eyes, 3. pride of life.
The first thing that we need to see about these temptations is that it reveals a common pattern in how Satan works.
When Satan came to Adam and Eve in the garden:
He tempted their flesh= that the fruit would be good for taste.
He tempted their eyes= it was pleasing to the eye.
He tempted their pride of life= it would make them as smart as God.
Know this today, you and I are going to be continually tempted through these three portals:
our desires of our physical body, our eyes, and our pride. Quickly, I will deal with each of those.
I have to be quick here so we are going to run. But, I want to give it a minute.
- Desires of the flesh – The first one is the lust of the flesh. These are the physical yearnings and desires.
Is physical pleasure a sin? No, it’s not. God made our bodies to enjoy things.
That’s why food tastes good. That’s why kissing a loved one is enjoyable.
That’s why hugging your kids is joy because God made our bodies to enjoy certain things and that pleasure is not bad.
But, if you make all your decisions solely based out of the desires of your physical body, you will end up being a glutton who eats way too much food, a drunkard who drinks way too much alcohol, a drug addict, a person who is a sexual addict and a pervert, or a person who is addicted to euphoric highs through competition or fast things.
In this lifestyle, you end up as one who just lives from high to high or experience to experience or from euphoria to euphoria. That’s the lust of your flesh.
- Desires of the eyes – The second thing is the lust of the eyes. If you don’t know by now, we see things. We see lots of things in this life. Do you realize John is highlighting the gravity of this temptation and this is way before modern marketing, advertising, movies, media, or internet?
So, lust of your flesh= pleasure in the world’s stuff- to worship other things with your actions.
Lust of your eyes= the desire to get more- to have something that’s not yours- to worship other things with your mind.
- Pride in possessions – or other translations say pride in life.
This is the over-desire to be someone in this life. It is rooted in what’s called the “fear of man.”
It is to be looked at by other men as one who has arrived, who is somebody, and who has nice things.
Before we move on, are you aware of your struggles in these areas?
John is saying you need to be certain of the ways of the world so that you do not fall into its alluring trap.
1 John 2:17 “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
John takes his warning further by saying, “And the world is passing away along with its desires“.
Nobody buys stock in a company that is sure to go bankrupt.
Nobody sets up house in a sinking ship.
No reasonable person would lay up treasure where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, would they?
John is saying, be certain of this fact: the world and its desires are passing away!
To set your heart on the world is only asking for heartache and eternal misery in the end.
So, not only is the world passing away, but if you share the desires of the world, you will pass away too.
àYou will not only lose your precious treasure and status, you will lose your life!
17b John says, ” but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
The opposite of loving the world is not only loving the Father (as it says in verse 15), but also doing the will of the Father (as it says here in verse 17).
And that connection is solidified again and again.
Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Later, John will say in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.”
So loving the Father in verse 15 and doing the will of God in verse 17 are not really separate things.
- Warnings of the deceivers- the anyones.
God’s Word constantly is calling his children to be alert, to be aware, to be on guard & we see it here too as he warns us about three types of people:
- The deceivers:
1 John 2:26 “I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.”
Be aware of deception! Do you realize: we are at war.
If you are in Christ, you are called men and women in God’s army. Which means you are at war.
Now, let me assure you that you now fight on the right side of the war- the victorious side. This we know.
But, the enemy wants nothing more than to send his spies to trick you, deceive you, sway you, confuse you, and cause you to not be certain. Instead, John is saying be certain in Christ and beware of deceivers!
Finally, John says beware of…
- the anyones.
1 John 2:27 “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you.”
Be careful of the anyones: these are the people out there with something to say!
Just because someone has something to say, doesn’t mean they speak truth or that they center on Christ or that they truly love you.
I am aware that some of you watch TV evangelists and some of you read any “Christian book” that is recommended to you.
BEWARE! All of this must be tested. The testing and the vetting is the role of your pastors and elders and the spiritual leaders who are appointed to help you grow in Christ and not be deceived.
As one of your shepherds, I bring YOU this warning today. Be mindful, vigilant, and picky about what you read and watch and consider truth or sound teaching.
Because there are many out there who are good, loving, nice people with good intentions who promote false, inaccurate, not Christ-centered teachings and beliefs. These are the ANYONES!
- Life in certainty & the good news.
1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
The Bible teaches us that we can be certain that God’s elect will overcome and endure to the end.
If you are truly saved by Jesus and not religion or your own good works but Jesus’ work alone:
the Bible says that you cannot lose your salvation!
I think 1 John 2:19 is especially relevant to this issue.
The author makes it clear within this verse that people who depart from the faith do this only because they were not truly a part of that faith. If you can lose your salvation, there is no certainty!
If you can be demoted from it as some teach or believe, there is not certainty.
But, you cannot be demoted from what you did not earn! Salvation is a gift from God.
To say you can lose it is to say God made a mistake! He doesn’t make mistakes!
Now this doesn’t mean those who backslide and then come back are certainly unsaved. Salvation belongs to the LORD. We have to be very careful about who we declare is his and who isn’t. I will tell you this- the Bible again and again gives us instruction on how to treat an unrepentant person.
Therefore, the one who looked like they were saved, but in the end, loves this world and not God was never saved! This is good news. Be certain that you cannot lose your salvation.
1 John 2:20-21 “But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.
21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.”
You have- did you hear it again?
This is John’s “BE certain” language again! “You have” means You ARE possessors of….
possessors of what? What do we have? God’s anointing which is Christ’s victory over death on your behalf, the never-ending presence and counsel of the Holy Spirit, and THE TRUTH OF GOD.
Notice he didn’t say, you might have. He says “YOU HAVE”.
Look at verse 24…
1 John 2:24 “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise (not might be the promise) that he made to us–eternal life.”
Twice in this verse, John stresses that the truth that should remain in them is truth that came to them through their ears at the beginning of their Christian walk: “what you heard from the beginning”.
This was the preaching of the gospel by the apostles.
Here, John makes an effort to avoid the saying that what the church needs is new revelation.
It does not. It needs to let the original apostolic gospel-centered teaching about Christ abide in them.
Now verse 25- “And this is the promise that he made to us–eternal life.”
This is good news! WHY? Because the promises of God = certainty.
God doesn’t go back on his promises! They are iron clad.
They are rooted in his very nature which is truth and faithfulness!
This is cause for certainty in our lives!
1 John 2:27b “But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie–just as it has taught you, abide in him.”
Soldiers, you can be certain that if Christ alone is your Lord and Savior, the one who you trust your entire life to, the one who you desire more than any other,
You are an indwelling of the Holy Spirit- abide in Him.
Your certainty… needs to be built on your new identity in Christ.
Your power… needs to come from your life in Christ.
Your instruction… needs to come from the Word of God.
Abide in HIM! Be certain in HIM as you live in this uncertain world!
For His glory and by His grace,
Soldiers for Jesus MC