1 John 2 begins as John talks to those he calls little children. This chapter gives us a look at the progression of spiritual maturity as he speaks to four distinct groups or levels and each has some unique qualities. He begins the chapter this way: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin”. If you ever wondered if you have the opportunity to live without sin – this should answer that question head on. We can be sinless, but scripture elsewhere tells us we won’t be without sin. But the good news is that we are not slaves to sin – the devil won’t make you do it – sin is a choice that we can control and overcome. John goes on to say “if anyone does sin” – which he knew we would – that we have an “advocate….Jesus Christ….the propitiation for our sins….and also the sins of the whole world”. Jesus is God’s answer to our sin problem. He is the remediation and payment. Propitiation can be defined as “covering” and Jesus blood covers our sin when we accept His love and grace.
If you wonder if you are living as Jesus desires – John makes it clear when he says “by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar….whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected….whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked….Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness….Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling….whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness”. Do you see a pattern here? Whoever does a particular life action shows what their relationship is with Jesus. How are you doing with the whoevers?
Then John shows us the different levels of spiritual maturity. You’ll recall he began the chapter with “little children”. Now he shows us the other levels:
- “little children your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake
- children you know the Father
- young men, because you have overcome the evil one
- young men, because you are strong
- young men the word of God abides in you
- young men you have overcome the evil one
- fathers you know him who is from the beginning
- fathers you know him who is from the beginning”
We move through maturity as we grow in our relationship with Jesus. We start as children, become young men, and then become fathers. It is very interesting that when John writes about fathers – he uses the exact same description – that “you know Him”. Maturity means we have a strong relationship. We have become sure of who God is and know Him intimately. Do you truly know Him?
John then reminds us that we should be different than the world. In fact he warns us “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. 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”. This is a very important couple of verses. It describes where the battle is going to take place. John tells us three things that will trip us up:
These will get us into trouble if we are not careful to stay away from the world. The world will pull us into these areas where we are controlled by our passions, we fall prey to power, or we fall into a race to accumulate possessions. How are you living in the world but not becoming part of it? That is the tightrope we must walk as a Christ Follower. We should not just fit in. We are called to stand out and be different. John ends the chapter the same way he began – with instructions to the little children. That is our secret for how to deal with our life in the world. “Little children, abide in him”. You want to live successfully as a believer in the world? Abide in Jesus. All day, every day. This is our secret to being a Christ Follower – we need to be all in about abiding in Him!