1 John 2:12-14 Because You Know and You Are (Rev. Erik Veerman)
1 John 2:12-14
Rev. Erik Veerman
Because You Know and You Are
We’re back in the book of 1 John for our sermon text. It’s been a few weeks. Although, it seems like it’s been a few months. I’m glad to have our church move mostly behind us.
By the way, we have some Bible available in the back, if you didn’t pick one up, feel free to do so now. Our reading is from 1 John 2:12-14. It’s found on page 1210 of the provided Bibles.
As you are turning there, let me give you some reminders. The apostle John wrote this letter to his home church. Likely that was the church in Ephesus where he lived. 1 John is one of the last letters written in the New Testament… written at the very end of the first century. John was in his mid-90s at the time. Imagine that. The last living disciple of Jesus. I think you would agree, he was very with it. That comes out in his letter.
Our banner behind me captures the theological heart of John’s letter. It’s from chapter 1. “God is light and in him is no darkness.” John is very clear about (1) who God is and (2) who Jesus is, and John is very clear about what true Christianity looks like. That’s the second part of the quote on our 1 John banner. The call to “walk in the light.” To not walk in darkness. To walk in the light of God and his Gospel.
We’re in the middle of chapter 2 this morning. It’s more of a side comment that John is making. It has some very encouraging reminders for us.
Let’s now turn our attention to God’s Word. This is God’s Holy Word. His sufficient, inspired, and inerrant word. Please stand.
Reading of 1 John 2:12-14
My Christmas gift to Amy this year was a washing machine. It wasn’t a hint. She loves it. In fact, I didn’t buy her a new washing machine. Instead, I bought her a 23-year-old washing machine. Let me borrow the words of verse 7, “I am giving you no new washing machine, but an old washing machine that you had from the very beginning.”
This thing has a very powerful motor in it. When it’s doing its thing, it really agitates your clothes. Especially when you set it for heavy dirt. The most important feature is that you tell it how much water to put in it. If you have a small load but the clothes are really dirty, you can max out the water to get your clothes clean. I think the old adage is true, they don’t make them like they used to.
So far, 1 John has been like a heavy-duty washing machine.
Here’s what I mean: the church at the time was living in the gap. It was around the turn of the first century. It had been about 65 years since Jesus walked on the earth. All the apostles, except John had passed into glory. But at the same time, the New Testament had yet to be formed. Some letters and a couple of the historical accounts of Jesus life had begun circulating, but there was a void.
As a result, two kinds of corruption began to emerge in the church. First, false beliefs about God, about Jesus, and about salvation. Because there was no the New Testament yet to evaluate truth from error, multiple perversions of the truth began to emerge.
The second corruption in the church was about their living. Their words and action were not lining up with true belief.
This must have pained the apostle John so much. He had spent three years with Jesus. He heard and he witnessed the Word made flesh, as he calls Jesus in chapter 1. John had seen Jesus demonstrate what it means to follow him.
John knew that the church needed to be cleansed from the impurities. There were false teachers and false witnesses that needed to be dealt with. But think about it. That’s complicated. John needed to call out false beliefs and practice, while, at the same time, build up the true believers and their desire to practice righteousness.
To do that, John puts the church into the washing machine of sorts. That is this letter. The church needed to be cleansed from false belief and practice. So John needed to be very clear. This is what is true, this is what is false. Evaluate your own life.
We are in the middle of four life tests. We’ve already looked at test #1 - the tests of obedience. Remember that one? The beginning of chapter 2. The call to keep God’s Word and his commandments.
We’ve also considered test #2 – the test of love. That’s verses 7-11. The call to love your brothers and sisters. Remember that test? A true believer who is walking in the light, seeks to love others.
To be sure, John has been really clear that we all still sin. What John is saying is that these tests of true faith is demonstrated by your heart’s desire to pursue these things and demonstrating that desire.
Let me go back to the washing machine. It’s like we’ve been in the agitation stage. You know how that works. Your dirty clothes get immersed in soapy water. And then the washing machine stirs them, agitates them… the goal is loosen up the dirt … that’s how clothes get clean. Imagine being a piece of clothing. John has been stirring you up… in a good way, mind you. He wants to dig deep into your life. He wants you to evaluate your heart and mind. But you may feel a little shaken.
And that’s where verses 12-14 come in. This is the soaking phase. The last thing that the apostle wants to do for a true believer is take away your assurance of faith. No, one of his main points is to assure you if you truly know him. But his straight-forward-ness has been a little jolting. So now, John wants you to soak in the true Gospel. He wants you to embrace God and be reminded of his forgiveness.
Now, John is going to turn the agitator back on. Next week will be the third life test – the test of the world. The week after next will be the fourth life test – the test of doctrine. But before the motor spins back up, John wants to soak you in the soapy water of the Gospel. He wants to assure you, believer in Jesus, of God’s grace. He wants the Gospel to seep deep into the core of your being. He wants you to stand firm on its truth and its grace.
That’s what these verses are about. To build you up and remind you of God’s grace. Isn’t this a great message for New Year’s day?
Ok, let’s focus in on these verses. And let’s consider them from two angles. Two points that summarize John’s message here.
First, Knowing of Your Security - That’s a big emphasis in this book. The assurance of God for those who know the light and walk in the light. Again, number 1 knowing of your security.
And second, Growing in Your Maturity - There’s a progression here in these verses. A spiritual maturity that is presented. It gives us a vision for what God will do in us as we spiritually mature in him. So that’s number two. Growing in your mature.
Again, number one, knowing of your security. And number two, growing in your maturity.
1. Knowing of Your Security
So, let’s jump in to that first point.
One thing that is very apparent in John’s writings, is that he is really pastoral. He loves those to whom he is writing. He calls them beloved many times. They are his spiritual children. Multiple times in this book, he calls them children. God’s children, his children. He’s not saying they are immature; he’s saying they are his beloved spiritual offspring. God’s children. He wants them to know that God loves them. These verses are the epitome of John’s expression of his love and care.
And besides children, he calls them young men and fathers. To be sure, this is not John just writing to the men in the church. Rather, these are terms that are broadly applicable to both men and women. It’s like the word “brothers” which is used in several New Testament letters. Even though it’s a masculine tense, it refers to brother and sister in Christ.
It’s the same idea here. Fathers and mothers in the faith. Young men and young women in the faith. It’s a very personal appeal to the faithful believers. And these are words not just for John’s original audience. No, they are words for you, believer in Jesus. Words for me. Words for us to hold on to, dearly. Words to build us up. To give us the surety of faith in Christ.
Now, look at the verses here. There are six “because” statements here. John is writing because of this reason. And because of that reason. And because of another reason. There is a progression here. We’re going to get into that progression in point number 2. But for now, I want you to notice two general categories, two general reasons why John wrote this letter.
Knowing and receiving.
That word “know” is repeated three times. I write to you because you “know him who is from the beginning.” That is repeated in verses 13 and 14. It’s referring to Jesus. John is pointing back to the very opening verse of his letter! He spoke of Jesus, whom John said was “from the beginning.“ He was saying there that if you know Christ, you know the eternal life that is found in him alone. If you know Jesus, you know the word made flesh who was from the beginning.
But John also adds, “I am writing to you… because you know the Father.” It’s not just the Son of God that you know, you know God the Father. The providential, loving Father who superintends all things for his glory and your good.
I write to you because you truly know God. You know Jesus and you know his heavenly Father.
And the benefits of truly knowing God is what you receive in him. What he has given you. In other words, your status in him. That’s the other general reason why John wrote this letter.
You see it right there in verse 12. I write to you “because your sins are forgiven.” Your status is forgiven. Freed. Redeemed. Restored. Delivered. Rescued. You are no longer under the weight of sin and its consequences. You are forgiven for Jesus’ sake.
Then twice John adds, “I am writing…because you have overcome the evil one.” That is another part of the blessing and benefit of knowing God in Christ. The great enemy of the faith no longer has dominion over you. You are more than conquerors in him.
So, your status is forgiven and you have overcome the evil one… And both of those come through what Jesus has done for you. His atoning sacrificial payment for your sin is how you are forgiven. His conquering of death through his resurrection is how you have overcome the evil one.
What John is saying is that you can rest assured in the finished work of Christ.
Jesus himself put it this way, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Beloved in Christ, you know this Jesus, you know his Father. And because of that, you are his, forever. Forgiven and assured that the great enemy of God, the devil himself, will never overcome you.
And there’s something endearing about the repetition here.
I was thinking about the movie Good Will Hunting. Matt Damon plays a young man named Will. He’s had a rough life. He was physically abused by his father. He’s brilliant, but very rough around the edges and of course, has deep-seated pain and mistrust. Will’s counsellor, Sean, is played by Robin Williams. He’s a father figure but himself was abused as a child. So, he has a level of understanding. Probably the most well-known scene of the movie is when the counsellor Sean tells Will that it is “not his fault.” …what happened to him. Will responds “yeah, I know.” Sean says it again, “it’s not your fault.” Again, Will responds, “yeah, I know” Again, “It’s not your fault” …“I know, stop messing with me” Will starts to get angry. But yet Sean moves closer and closer to him and again says “It’s not your fault.” Over and over. Finally, Will breaks down in tears and they embrace.
You see, Will knew the answer, but he hadn’t fully believed it.
I am writing to you, beloved, because you know Jesus.
I am writing to you, dear ones, because you know the Father.
I am writing to you, my children, because your sins are forgiven.
Hear me. I write to you. Notice the change in verb tense in the middle of verse 13. John is emphasizing his point.
I write to you because you know Jesus, you know the Father, you are forgiven. You have overcome the evil one. Be confident that you know him, and rest in his security forever.
Is your assurance just something you repeat because someone told you that you have assurance? Or do you believe that you are secure in Christ. If you know him, he abides in you and you in him. And he will never let you go.
It’s like John is saying this: “I’m not writing to shake your faith. I’m not writing for you to question your faith. No, rather, I am writing because I want you to have the utmost confidence in God. I know that my words so far have been strongly worded. But beloved in Christ, they needed to be strongly worded. Your fellowship has been infected with beliefs contrary to the truth of God in Christ. And some in your fellowship are not displaying lives that reflect true faith in Christ. But for those of you who know Christ Jesus, who believe in the forgiveness of sins through him. You are his. He is yours. Nothing can take that away!”
You are secure in him.
Knowing of your security.
2. Growing in Your Maturity
And that bring us to point number 2. Growing in your maturity.
There’s something that happens in you the more and more you know that you are secure in Christ. And it’s this: you grow in your spiritual maturity in him.
Let’s take a step back for a minute. The three categories of people that John is addressing are children – little children, it says here, young men, which includes young women, and fathers, which includes mothers.
I do not believe these are referencing someone’s age, or whether they have children. No, rather, I believe these categories are referring to someone’s spiritual maturity. Children in the faith. Young men and young women who are growing in their spiritual maturity. And fathers and mothers of the faith. Not necessarily people who have had children, but spiritual fathers, spiritual mothers.
For children, those young in the faith, John writes two things. “Your sins are forgiven” and “you know the Father.” These are two things that new believers are often overjoyed with. The amazing forgiveness of God and how God is a loving Father. Maybe you are a new believer in Christ. You came to him because of the love with which the Father loved you in giving his son for you, to redeem you. Or maybe you look back and you remember those feelings of joy knowing God’s forgiveness in Christ and the deep sense of the Father’s embrace. These are some of the first things that we experience as new believers. God, our loving Father, and the forgiveness we have in His son.
But as you mature in your faith, God gives you more. Look at the description of young men. First, John writes – “you have overcome the evil one.” He says that twice for young men. It’s also there at the very end of verse 14. You see, the great enemy of faith, the devil, does not want you to mature in your faith. No, he will attack you. He wants you to question your faith. He will tempt you to fall back into patterns of sin. The mark of a maturing believer is overcoming those temptation. Notice how John puts it in verse 14. “You are strong.” In other words, you’ve begun to demonstrate your faith. And he adds, “the Word of God abides in you.” That is where a maturing believer goes… to God’s Word. It is the mark of a maturing faith. A desire to know God’s Word more and more. The Scriptures will direct you in evaluating truth from error, instruct you in how to pursue Godliness in your life, and remind you of God’s grace and assurance over and over. Maturing believers in Christ display a growing strength of faith, overcoming temptations, and display a growing desire to know God’s Word.
So, first children in the faith and second young and maturing believers. And the third category is fathers in the faith. Mature Christians. By the way, kids, you don’t have to be old as dirt to be in this category. It does take time, to be sure. Years… perhaps decades. As you grow and mature in your faith, you will demonstrate your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, you will show your desire to pursue God and his Word, you will display a willingness to be discipled by others in the faith, including your parents. Then over time, you will grow into a father or mother in the faith. You will become one who nurtures others and cares for them in the faith.
Notice there’s just one phrase associated with these fathers in the faith. It’s mentioned twice: “you know him who is from the beginning.” Now, that may seem simple…. but I want to suggest it is rich and deep.
I’ve already mentioned that it refers to the opening of the letter. In those words, John has given us a full description of Christ - the fulness of his deity as God; the amazing testimony of the incarnation – the Word made flesh; John calls Jesus the Word of life because he brings eternal life. It tells us of the fellowship of God within the Trinity, and the breadth of God’s ministry through Christ as light.
Do you see?
•The more and more we mature as believers, the more and more deeply we understand and know God in Christ… in all the wonder and amazement of his person and work, his being and presence; his glory and power.
•The more and more we know his Word the more and more we know him as the Word.
•The more and more we understand the atoning work of the cross, the more and more we are amazed at the undeserved grace we have in him.
•And the more and more we mature in him, the more and more assurance we derive from him, through all of life, in the joys and sorrows, the grief and hope… looking to him, the author and perfector of our faith. Who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despised the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.
What an exciting thing to look forward to as you mature in your faith. To know him more and more. Beloved in Christ, this maturity in him is for you.
You see, the assurance that John is writing to you about is paired with the blessing of maturity that you can have in him.
As you seek him more and more through his Word, living in his grace, he will bless you with a deepening maturity in him.
Know of your security, but also grow in your maturity.
Well, the apostle John is about to turn the dial again… back to the agitator. And pretty soon after that, the spin cycle.
But through it all, his desire is to cleanse the church, to purify her as a bride ready for her savior – the bridegroom, Jesus himself.
So, as we continue to be challenged in our beliefs, in our lives and action…. may we know that it is for our good, and God’s glory. And may we also be assured… believer in Christ, may you rest secure because you know God in Christ and you are forgiven and redeemed in him. Amen?