In 1 John 2:18-27 John bounces back and forth between speaking truth about the dissidents (whom he refers to as 'antichrists') and contrasting truth about the true believers. This week we're going to focus on those verses where he speaks the truth about the antichrists (2:18-19 and 2:22-23). Next week we'll look at the verses which truth about the true believers (2:20-21 and 2:24-27). Please pray that God would make us aware of everything in our lives that is working to keep us from fully trusting in Christ, that God would grant us a clear understanding of who he truly is, and that we would act accordingly—in repentance and faith and for the glory of God.
In order to provide helpful contrast and avoid an unbiblical dichotomy, last week I pointed us to John's words in John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life"). In other words, before looking at the manner in which we must not love the world and the things of the world, I wanted us to see that there is a way in which God, through this same John, commands us to love the world; namely, by seeing the people and things of the world as instruments pointing us to God. This week, then, we are going to look at the explicit meaning of this text. Let's pray that God would be pleased to strike in us a healthy ballance between rightly and not wrongly loving the world and the things of the world.
In our passage this week, John continues to use contrast as means of helping the true believers understand what it means to walk as Jesus walked. Here he draws his reader's attention to the sharp distinction between love for the things of the world and the things of God. He is emphatic that the former is incompatible with the latter. However, we must be careful to understand what he is and isn't saying. Let's pray that God would grant us a right understanding of this passage in order that we might apply it rightly for our good and his glory.
1 John 2:12-14 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 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.
In the way of a refresher, to this point in this short, simple, and overwhelmingly loving letter, written by the apostle John to the true believers in the several churches under his leadership, John had reminded the believers of the gospel—the good news that there is full joy in fellowship with God and all the saints through faith in the exemplary life, sacrificial death, and vindicating resurrection of Jesus Christ—which he had been taught by Jesus Christ, who, being fully God, came to earth fully man, and dwelt with John and many others teaching and preaching and living this gospel. Further, he had reminded the true believers that they could know that this joy and fellowship were theirs and that they were in Jesus as they found themselves walking in the light and acknowledging their sin and keeping God's commandments and walking like Jesus and loving the brothers.
In Sunday's passage, John essentially repeats himself using a significantly different style and tone. Let's pray that God would grant us the joy of seeing the gospel and its encouragement freshly through these few, unique verses in 1 John precisely (as I believe John meant) because of their uniqueness.
This third test that John is giving to his churches, in order to strengthen them in their faith and in the assurance of their salvation, is a negative test. Not negative in the sense that it’s a “bad” test, but negative in the sense that he’s showing them the opposite of what is good so that they can be even more assured that what they have is truly good.
We'll be taking a look at the contrast between love and hate within the context of how we treat each other within the Church.
To prepare for the sermon read all of 1 John again. This book is like a musical symphony with movements and themes that John keeps repeating and doing different things with along the way. Like any good symphony, you'll be cheating yourself out of a richness of understanding and experience if you are only listening to one small part.