SBC Banner


Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

August 7, 2013

 1 John 2:12-17

  1. Verses 12-14. In these three verses, John uses the terms children, fathers, and young men. The children mentioned in this text most likely refer to the whole church. John used the word children various times in his writings to refer to the entire church so there is no reason to think he is referring to something different now. In the first mention of children, John highlights that they have had their sins forgiven. The next time he refers to them at the end of verse 13 is to remind them that they have known the father. John references the fathers which might be a reference to those who were mature in the faith who have come to really know God. This is a sign of spiritual maturity. They just don’t know about God they really have come to know him well. The last group is those who are called young men. This might refer to those who are young in the faith but are actively growing. John reminds them that they have overcome the devil and that they are strong because of the word of God. Most likely John uses this section of his letter to speak to the entire church the new in Christ as well as the more mature in Christ to remind them that they are not just any people, but they are the people who have been called to walk in the light and who have been given power to live for God. By reminding them of who they are and what they have been given, John assures his readers that they can be confident that they know God. Each statement of verse 14 describes the believer's standing in salvation: as children of God, they are strong, they have God's word abiding in them and they have overcome the evil one. But these are not simply abstract truths. The author's point is twofold: First, we can have confidence with God because God has not changed. Second, this same, faithful God is not alien and distant, but knowable in the love of Christ. What God revealed in Christ was not a new side of the divine character, but the confirmation of the love and forgiveness that have always characterized God's actions.

  2. Verses 15-17. Remembering the greatest command to love God, John challenges us to hate the world and the things of the world. John qualifies what he means when he says the world. He categorizes them into the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes, and the boasting of what man has and does.

    1. The cravings of sinful man are "desires that come from the flesh," or "human striving." This means desire that is shaped by the world unaware of and untouched by God, all those desires and plans that are shaped entirely by our impulses and not by the Spirit of God. The criticism of the "desire of the flesh" rests not on the fact that such desires come from sin--for "flesh" need not have that meaning--but on the fact that they do not come from the Spirit. Had John given some examples relevant to today, he surely would have included this culture's pervasive materialism, workaholic ethic, sexually loose morals, and vain ambitions. Any attitude or action that makes the individual-- and not God--the center and measure of the universe smacks of worldliness. "Worldliness" is serving many gods, be they personal whims, ambitions or strivings.

    2. Human eyes are the source of the lust in the next phrase. We might translate lust of his eyes as "desire that comes from what the eyes see." These desires do not come from the insight that God gives, but are shaped by the world in its ignorance of or opposition to God. They may include greed, materialism and envy, for later the Elder warns those who do not aid their brothers and sisters in need (3:16). Those held by the grip of the world lust for what they see, and not for what the Spirit gives them eyes to see as good.

    3. The third phrase in this trio is boasting of what he has and does. The pride spoken of is self-reliance, self-sufficiency. Either people trust in themselves, or they derive their values, assurance and life from God. It is exactly this attitude of self-sufficiency, seeing things in our own light and not by the light of God.

    4. Those who live this way experience a futile existence, dedicated to things that are short-lived and offer little lasting satisfaction, for the world and its desires pass away. John means that God's light, already shining (2:8), has overcome the power that animates the world of darkness (2:12-14). Those who put their trust in earthly possessions commit their energies and selves to a sphere whose end has already been assured. They strive to live by a power that has been drained of its source of energy and is now running on empty.

click here to select another lesson