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(Read 1 John 2:7-14)
John (self-proclaimed in his Gospel as the “disciple whom Jesus loved“, not because he was loved more than the others but because he felt very strongly the love of Jesus during his time with Him) is writing to a very large audience in this letter. Paul’s letters were (mostly) directed at a group of specific people. John’s, aimed at the the much broader audience....anyone who is seeking to know the Truth.
I love this passage because it shows emphasis in what he refers to as the “old“ commandment from Leviticus 19:18 and the “new” Great Commandment spoken by Jesus in Matthew 22.
John starts by saying the readers have already known this commandment but, in some ways, it will be new. The biggest change from old to new is this. He’s saying we have already known we are to love our neighbors (family, community of fellow believers). The newness is in the addition of two MAJOR factors, to love in the way that Jesus Christ loved us and for that love to be shared with everyone. How does that differ from what was already written? Not to jump ahead but John tells us explicitly in the next chapter that we, like Christ, should be willing to give our lives for each other. Do not just be willing to love or be loving to our fellow Christians but love, even to the point of death, as Jesus did for ALL.
Next, he says if we, as believers, live in obedience to this commandment, we are walking in light. If not, we will walk in darkness. Though it seems self-explanatory, I believe it’s necessary to call it out by name.
Walking in the “light” is to live as closely to a sinless lifestyle as possible, based on our measure of faith, as faith provides us with wisdom when we ask for it (James 1:5-8). Walking in the “darkness” is to knowingly live in sin. He says that this darkness causes us to be blind. When we live in sin, there is a very obvious disconnect (most commonly in hindsight) in our relationship with God. We cannot see His Light on our path if we are disobedient to His Lamp, which is His Word (Psalm 119:105). Make sense?
The rest of the passage goes out to 3 groups....children, fathers and young men. I’m not sure why he laid it out in this order but my theory is that the last (young men) is where we should strive to be when considering the substance of his statements per group.
He could be referring to the physical age of a person but I think it makes more sense when put in a “spiritual walk” context.
He states that he’s writing to:
Children - because your sins are forgive for His Name’s sake
Fathers - because you know Him Who is from the beginning
Young men - because you have overcome the evil one
Immediately after, he writes again to the same groups and in the same order. In this second round, however, the children “know the Father”. For the fathers, he reiterates that we “know Him Who is from the beginning“ (this is to show great importance on this topic).
Here’s where I believe the focus is. The young men are dubbed strong this time, noting that the Word of God abides in them, and then repeats that they have “overcome the evil one“.
Are you ready for this?
In John’s Gospel, he starts by saying that Jesus IS the Word of God. As young men, we become strong when we let the Word of God abide in us and THAT is how we overcome the evil one.
Let that sink in....
Where do you reside in this passage? Are you one of the children who know the Father and whose sins are forgiven? Have you yet graduated to the status of strong young men? Or are you a father yourself who may need reminding that you know our Creator? Let’s pray on it.
Thank You for forgiving us of our sins and allowing us to know You. Thank You for sending Your Son, Who has made us His temple in which He dwells and makes us strong to overcome. Thank You for reminding us that You alone are the Creator from the beginning of all that is, was and will ever be. Thank you, Father!
Written by Brian Price
References are from:
The Holy Bible (ESV)
Faithlife Study Bible App