The Lord's Day Morning
July 31, 2011
“Just For You”
1 John 2:12-14
The Reverend Mr. William F. Joseph
If you have your Bible, turn with me to the epistle of John, 1 John chapter 2. As I look around, I see folks that I know have been to camp, not just this year, but some of you back in the old days when Twin Lakes was a day camp only, and we would ride the blue bus out there, so I know that there are campers here. And then I know that just because there are campers here now, that Twin Lakes is also — has overnight sessions, and then there are a couple of you guys I think here from DeSoto, went to DeSoto, and a couple from Alpine — one or two, thousand — one or two. I was a Laney boy and well, I'm probably the only one here who went to Laney, but anyway. And then I look around and I see that there are plenty of you who probably were in boot camp as well, either in one of our engagements or you were drafted or you volunteered, but you had to go through that long, long period of physical exhaustion and whatever they call it, boot camp. And then I see that there are probably some around here who, with their businesses, have to go regularly to a camp of training where they’re separated from their families. Isn't it always good that when you’re at camp or at training or at boot camp that periodically they would have mail call and you would, you know you weren't getting anything, but anyway, and you were surprised when all of a sudden your name was called out and there was a letter for you. That's what we're going to do today. We’re going to read a letter to you. So hear the Word of God from 1 John chapter 2 beginning at verse 12.
Hear the Word of God. Before we read, let's pray.
Father, we come to You and ask that You would help us as we both read and as we meditate upon Your Word, that You will guide and direct. Father, every time that we open Your Word we are in desperate, total, and complete need of Your Spirit's help to think it through, to reason it through, to put it into action. So help us Father, we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
“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.”
This book is a book that is written to give to believers’ assurance, to encourage them in their daily walk. As it begins, it begins with this phrase in John 1 verse 3, 1 John 1 verse 3. It says, “so that you too may have fellowship with us and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” Two reasons — one, that fellowship with each other and fellowship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and that our joy might be complete. So as it starts out that way, you really get psyched up and ready to read this one and yet what does he do in the first couple of chapters here? He starts telling us about reality, sin — and not sin out yonder, sin right here in our midst, sin among us who are believers. Look at verse 6. “If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and to not practice the truth.” Well that's, oh yeah, okay. And then 8 he says, “And we say that we have no sin — if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth us not in us.” And then 1:10 says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us.” And then chapter 2 it just keeps on going. He says, “Whoever says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him.” And then verse 9. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” John doesn't pull any punches. He knows us pretty well, doesn't he? Oh, just me, he just knows me. I know you guys don't struggle with any of those things like loving each other and caring for each other. What kind of letter is this for assurance, for encouragement?
Well he comes along now and he says something very interesting. He says, “I'm writing to you.” And guess what? He includes everybody in here. He includes every one of us who are in here today and he includes us as he's writing because he could have just said this, but you know, let me just kind of let you know, we really don't have the illusion that you hear everything that we say when we're up here and that you remember it between that door and the door to your car. If you do, that's God's Spirit, I promise you. John made sure he wrote it down. He wrote it so that you would always have God's letter to you where he says, “I am writing to you.” Let's look at the three people that he's writing to.
To the little Children
The first group is little children, which is a term of endearment for John, a term of endearment which is all the people that he's writing to, all the believers that he's writing to, which means everyone in this house who heard the Word read, this letter was to you. This letter was to you. It was to give you encouragement. And look at what he says, twice in this letter. He says, “I am writing to you, little children.” Twice he is saying to you that he is writing to you whether you are a little children who is ninety and been a Christian since you were three — that's a long time — or you have only been a Christian a couple of months or years, he's writing to you because he's writing to his children. And what does he say? I'm writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name's sake. If he were writing to children only and then he was going to write to — in other words, if he was just dividing us all into age groups he probably would have said, “I'm writing to you, children, then young men, then fathers,” but he doesn't. He writes to children and then to fathers and young men. So he mixes up the order which tells us that this first section is not just to children, it's to all those who understand and know the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name. He's writing to us because, as little children, you know your sins are forgiven. You know the good news. You know that God saves sinners. You hear that, you believe it.
It reminds me of the paralytic whose friends wanted him to take him in to see Jesus. And as they came, the doors were packed shut because there were so many people in the house. So they take him around, up the stairs, and up to the roof, and they open the roof and the let him down in front of Jesus. And what does Jesus say to him? “Your sins are forgiven.” And everybody looks at Jesus like, “What?” And the Pharisees go, “Man, nobody can do that but God.” And Jesus says, “Now which is easier, to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” And then He tells the man to take up his bed and walk, proving that He is the God who can forgive sins.
If you know that, you are one who's also thought through what that costs God to do for you. If you’re one of these little children and your sins are forgiven for His name's sake, then you understand that though you should have died on the cross of Calvary, though you should have spent eternity in hell, though you should have suffered the torment of hell forever, Jesus suffered the torment for every sin you ever committed for all eternity in the space of six hours for you. And you know that this forgiveness, though easy to talk about, the forgiveness of sins, is not an easy thing. Even our God died that we might have life, that we might become children of God, that we might receive the righteousness of Christ so that God looks at us and sees us as perfect and righteous and holy, not because we are but because Christ and His righteousness, His perfection, His holiness is given to us, imputed to us. And that is exactly what these people, these little children believe. You've heard that. You've heard it from this pulpit. You know about the forgiveness of sins - the forgiveness of sins, the forgiveness of our trespasses, the forgiveness of our debts, the forgiveness of what we owe God.
But notice, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name's sake.” Why did Christ forgive us? Why did Christ take our punishment? Why did Christ do that? For the glory of His Father, for the glory of His great grace. That He would show His favor to those who deserve His anger and His wrath — what a great thing! So we as little children, whether ninety years old or ten years old, however old we are in Christ, we know the blessed sound when we hear the words, “Our sins are forgiven.”
But he also addresses - in verse 13, he says, “I write to you children because you know the Father.” Now notice even in our reading today if you look at Hebrews chapter 8 verse 11 you read about knowing the Lord and it says, “And they shall not teach each one his neighbor and each one this brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall know Me from the least of them (children) to the greatest (fathers); for I will be merciful toward their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more.” See, even in our reading we are reminded of these things. So we are children because why? We have been reminded that we know the Father, not that we're getting to know God, not that we have to keep learning new things that are secret and hidden. No, this is saying, you know God. How do you know God? John chapter 17 says, “This is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Knowing God is eternal life.
It's also that intimacy with God. Jesus said this, “And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” How do you know about Jesus? Not just the preaching of this pulpit, not just your reading of the Word, but because Jesus Himself has manifested Himself to you so that you understand that as God and King, He took your punishment, and yet as Lord of all, He served you so that you would be His child and cry out to Him, “Abba, Father.”
So what is the application of this? There are two that I see right off the bat. One is for you who believe in the Lord Jesus, your sin still bothers you. The whole context of this passage is John dealing with the sin of God's people, forcing them to look at their sin. Does your sin bother you? Do you see your sin? Remember that Christ forgave you. Is Christ dear to you? Is His Word important to you? Do you seek after Him? It was written for you so that you might trust, that you might follow after Him, that you might be children who imitate their Father. But it's also written to those who could care less, who are not bothered by their sin, who would just as easily ignore. You know you can sit here for many, many sermons, and yet at the last day Jesus will say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” And when it talks to little children and says of those little children that they know God, “you know the Father,” and you sit there and don't know. And I don't mean know about. Every one of you in here knows about God. I'm talking about know God, intimately acquainted.
To the Fathers
He then goes to talk to the fathers, to those who are mature in the faith, to those who have known Him, who is from the beginning. They know the Father. John is repeating here, he repeatedly writes in his gospel about the Father and the Son and about their close relationship and about their obedience. Listen to what he says. “Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. If you knew Me, you would have known My Father also.” In other words, knowledge of Jesus is also knowledge of the Father. So he writes to the fathers in this context, reminding us of the responsibility that is ours, those of us who have known the Lord for a long time, those of us who have struggled through life and already conquered some battles and struggled with things.
And what does his say? “We exhort each one of you and encourage you and charge you to talk in a manner worthy of the Lord.” Fathers are to teach the younger men and the children. Older wives, older women are to teach the younger women how to love their husbands. In other words they’re to teach them because why? Because you know God. You've spent a lot of time with Him. You've heard His Word over the years. You've struggled with your sin; you've overcome some sin. You know how difficult it is. You know the frustrations. You know the times you've wanted to quit, the times that you've wanted to leave, and yet God hasn't let you go because He knows you. You’re needed, and he writes this letter to you. “You have known Him from the beginning.” From the beginning. You’re reminded that no matter how hard it's gotten as the days have grown longer, as the hours continue to grow, but as time seems to pass so fast, so quickly, as you look at your lives, fathers and mothers in Christ, and yet you’re reminded that He who began a good work in you back many years ago, that He who began a good work in you will complete it to the day of Christ Jesus. He will complete it. He continues to work on you. You have an intimate relationship with Christ and you've gained that by hearing His Word preached. You've gained it by reading the Word yourself. You've gained it by meditating on that Word. Okay, maybe not every day, but if you've been around for fifteen, twenty, thirty years, okay, you've been meditating on it a lot. And so you know the Father. You know Him who is from the beginning, and therefore we are to encourage one another. Fathers and mothers who have known the Lord a long time, you are to be an encouragement to the body of believers, but John is writing to you to encourage you. You know the Father and you've known the Father who is from the beginning.
To the young men
But then John writes to you young men and young women. You who are engaged in the midst of the struggle, you who are struggling with the first chapters that deal with sin because you see your sin and you hate your sin and you want to leave it, you want to flee from it, and yet it's right there at your elbow, as Romans talks about. “The things you want to do are the very things you don't do and the very things you don't want are the very things you do.” And it says what? “You have overcome the evil one.” And you look at each other and you look and me and you go, “No I haven't!” I'm still struggling, I'm still struggling! But you remember the words of Jesus when He says, “In the world you will have tribulation but take heart, I have overcome the world.” We don't overcome because we have overcome; we overcome because Jesus has overcome for us. He's overcome our enemy. He says, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” He has overcome our enemy. He has overcome the one that tempts us.
And then he encourages you to overcome evil with good. Young men, young women, those of you still striving against sin, still struggling with sin, those who are struggling to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, to avoid captivity by empty and vain philosophies, you who are struggling to glorify Christ, even today in every aspect of what you do, remember you have overcome. You've already won because of Christ. But notice what else he says. “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.” Wait, you’re strong? Yeah. Yeah, we're strong. Stand us up, let temptation come along, and all the temptation has to do is go — puff! Just puff on us and what happens? We flutter to the ground we fall so fast. And yet we have one who has withstood the temptations. When He was standing, when Satan was puffing on Him, Satan would puff and He would stand. And so Satan would leave Him alone, right? No! Satan came and huffed and puffed. Did He fall? No! Then Satan came and huffed and puffed and blew His house down! And yet He never sinned because He was strong.
You see, he's pointing to the fact not that we are strong but in Christ we are strong, in the Lord Jesus we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. We can do all things through Christ. “And so be strong in the Lord,” he says, “and in the strength of His might, put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” And look at how easily that verse relates to the theme. Be strong, but what does it say next? You are strong and “the Word of God abides in you.” In other words, what? In other words, you have trusted God because of His Word. You think about the Word, you hear the Word. The most common thing you find when you come to First Pres. is what? They’re either teaching from the Bible, they’re preaching the Bible, and they’re talking about the Bible. Don't hang around those First Pres. people! All they want to talk about is…the Bible! Why? Because our God, through His Word, has given us new hearts that long for His Word, that are absorbed with His Word, that think about His Word, and so we are to be encouraged because the Word of God is able to set us free, to enable us to live to God's glory. It's living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces to the division of soul and spirit of joints and marrow.
What's the application of that? To the young men and the young women, you've got battles, you've got struggles, but in Christ you are strong. In Christ, the Word of God does abide in you. In Christ, you have overcome the evil one. Did I leave anybody out? The only people that I may have left out are those of you who do not know Jesus. There is no encouragement for you if you do not know Jesus. But we, who by God's grace has changed our lives, who now desire to live as His children, who are struggling with sin, he has written us a letter and in that letter he has encouraged us because our sins are forgiven for His name's sake. We know the Father, we are strong, His Word abides in us, and through Him, we have overcome the evil one — not anything we have done, but everything that He has done. So encourage one another with these words.
Father, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the fact that You, Lord Jesus, have done everything that is necessary for our salvation. Thank You that You have changed our hearts. And Lord Jesus, I would even ask that today as we are here in this house, as again some of us have sat under Your Word with cold hearts, will You remind us that without You there is no salvation, and will You call those dead hearts to be changed to live, beating, responding to every word that You proclaim. We ask this in Christ's name and for His sake. Amen.
Let's respond as we sing hymn number 693, “Blessed Assurance.”
And now may grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit be and abide with each one of you both now and forever. Amen.
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