1 John 2:12-17 | Abide in Me - Abide in Maturity
Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 John 2:12–17
Christopher Rich – July 9, 2017
1 John | ABIDE in ME
Wk 4: Abide in Maturity | 1 John 2:12-17
Introduction | ABIDE in ME
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission. Today we continue our series in 1 John, ABIDE in ME. Are you a Christian? How do you know? Is in only in your obedience to Jesus commands? Is it in your grow as a disciple? As Christians, we are to be rooted an grounded in the person and work of Jesus in our place. John in writing a letter to a newer church wants to drill deeply into the next generation of Christians the historic truths of the Gospel of Jesus fully God coming into human history as fully man for the purpose of restoring relationship between the God the Father, Creator of the Universe and His fallen creation, living the perfect sinless life no one has lived because of sin, dying the death all who have sin deserve and rising again so His people can live new life now and forever. The purpose of this mission is complete joy and satisfaction for the people who place their faith and trust in Jesus alone. We have humble confidence because we have the righteous perfect good Savior-King Jesus as our advocate before God the Father We now live a new life as disciples of (followers of) Jesus. John does not want our lives to be continued to be marred by sin. Our life is described by Jesus as Abiding in Him. ABIDE means: To not depart, to be held and kept continually, to endure, to not perish, to remain as one, to survive, to live.
Yet we can know these rich, historic, and eternal truths but we can still have doubt and ambiguity on if this is really us. We can have tension where we How do I know I am a Christian? Obedience matters, yes. The Christian life will be one that is characterized by obedience to Jesus and His commands but does not come from obedience to His commands. Abiding in Obedience is individual but it is also expressed in how you engage with your Gospel Community. Jesus then places us with a new family with new siblings for our ongoing walk in light. Those who don’t love their brothers and sisters in Christ, likely aren’t “In Christ” in the light, they are in darkness and are spiritually blind the fact they’re in darkness. The previous section is rightfully a bit sobering. Be honest with yourself, others, and before God. The point is not to humiliate oneself or fall into despair but to be necessarily humble and be directed to the path you should go. When we have been Saved by Jesus work we will be Changed by Jesus Grace we are called to Abide in Maturity.
PART I | ABIDE as Children | v12-14
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. 13 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. 14 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.
John doesn’t hit the breaks on the practical teaching of what our lives as Christians look like but he does ease off the gas. He doesn’t want us red lining and in a place of constant questioning of our identity, of our eternal state, of always wondering if we’re on the team. John and us should be comfortable with some times of reflection that make us a bit uncomfortable that cause us to search our heart and evaluate our lives. Wrestling is good. But the Christian life is one that also includes some assurance. It is one not based on what have you done for me lately in our own performance but in the performance of Jesus in our place. Last week we talked about what it meant to be on team Jesus and the need to access accurately if you’re on the team but a team metaphor breaks down at a certain point because you can get cut from the team. If you’re performance dips, if you aren’t bringing value you’re done. I think many of us worry we’re gunna get cut as Christians. When John wants us to reflect it is not to drive us to more fear and ambiguity (in/out) but more clarity and assurance. So as John continues, he uses family language because the bond is greater. In the context of a team it is about what you bring to the field. In the context of a family it a people you are always united with a family where you have the ability and call to grow. On a team you have a position, in a Family you have an identity. Christians are to see themselves as Sons and Daughters of God.
Where does our son and daughtership come from? The perfect Sonship of Jesus in our place. Children grow and the growth looks different in various stages. John Eldridge in Fathered by God talks about stages of manhood. Son- sage. We should have lives that are characterized by growth. Paul tells Timothy make your progress evident to all. You have assurance if you or others are able to see you are growing. A great question to ask yourself is “Am I growing? Where have I or others seen me grow?” These verse, talk about Christians in various stages of growth in the family of God.
Little children/Children- I believe this is describing both a specific group of Christians AND All Christians (John says at the beginning of chapter 2 and the end of this letter/sermon “little Children” that you should not sin or be kept from idols) all In Christ are children of God. We should be encouraged because….
Sins are forgiven! This is only good news if you think/know you have sins to be forgiven! That requires humility to acknowledge you have sin. Sin that separates you from a Holy and Just God. Sin leads to death. It kills your joy, it kills your relationships, and ultimately it kills your connection to the source of life. You will not flourish, you will perish under wrath without your sin forgiven. Every person needs this. Christians cannot have pride because we all know we have sin and do sin. Everyone who is a Christian doesn’t need to have debilitating fear of sin because we know God forgives sin in Christ. Every Christian also knows God takes sin seriously because Jesus had to die for it on the cross, so God could still be just. John says earlier he’s writing this so we may not sin. When we know our sins are forgiven (not were, not will be) but present tense, you have sin(s), they need to be forgiven and they ARE forgiven that should cause us a massive spiritual exhale! We aren’t seeking forgiveness or hoping forgiveness might happen, we are forgiven! And it should encourage and empower us to walk in obedience now and moving forward. So, as you evaluate your position before God is it one where you are hoping or are you assured? When you have assurance that God forgives sin, has forgiven, will forgive, sin losses its power.
For His name’s sake! In the name of Jesus being glorified. Jesus is our sacrifice, Jesus is our resurrection, Jesus is our advocate. Jesus is now our king, so our forgiven sins are now a constant reason to bring Jesus glory. You and then empowered to share you failures and your sin with others for teaching, encouragement, etc because you are not the hero of your own story. You get joy in others knowing you’re not the hero because you didn’t receive justice for you sin you received forgiveness. When someone is forgiven, they are not the hero, the forgiver is. God forgives sin (because we need it, yes) primarily for His glory. So even in our forgiveness of sin we see we are not the primary focus, Jesus is. This help reorient our new lives where…
You know the father - What is the result of your sin being forgiven? For Jesus’ name sake? You know God the Father! You are a child of God and know your Father in Heaven! We never stop being children… so this identity of children of God never moves on to a new identity. So this isn’t scientology where you’re moving on and up to different spiritual states (usually based on how much money you’ve spent with them). But this is how our identity of sonship is evident or manifest in our lives. There is spiritual and active development as we walk out our new life with Christ. Maturing is part of discipleship.
Young Men – Newer believers, some physically younger, some spiritually. Many reasons to be encouraged.
You are strong- There is a zeal to new(er) faith and relative youth. There is energy and power the propels boldness. But the strength is not one that comes executively from youth. That would be internal and prideful. No, the actual strength these young believers have is not in themselves but God who has made them His children and is building and shaping them into the people they’re to be. He does in them through His word.
The word of God abides (dwells, is kept continually) in you – “As much as you are consuming, and applying, God’s word is how much you will be changed by it.” You know the babies milk version of the Gospel and are being fed. But you are not consuming God’s word for sustenance only but for success in the spiritual battles that wage in your own heart and seek to derail you. You have God’s word in you, you can see your sin and weaknesses more easily. You begin to see them the way God does. You also have great comfort of the Gospel the God saves sinners in Jesus that should put some steel in your spine to actually start fighting sin, knowing it’s a battle now capable of winning. Where are you seeking strength?
You have overcome the evil one- There are major sins in your life to overcome and you are beginning to overcome them. Praise God for victory! If you are walking in victory in part of your life that was previously enslaving you that is great assurance and encouragement. Do NOT fail to be glad for victory. You are in key stages of your discipleship and there are significant areas of sin in your life that need to be addressed if you’re going to walk in endurance and Gospel effectiveness. Our live in Christ are not simply enjoying forgiveness where each day is better than the day before, but it includes very real and present battles. There is a real enemy seeking devour you and a passive response is not an option. Battle, fighting, is required. It’s time to solider on. What battle right now have you been losing because you aren’t even fighting it? Where do you need evil to be overcome in your life? Satan is a defeated enemy, we can still be weak and feel fragile, (we are) but we can have great hope in the one who is greater than our enemy.
Fathers – More mature believers, still in the family, still in children, who have fought and won battles.
You know him who is from the beginning The gospel is and should be enough. You don’t keep looking back at you’ve accomplished, but you have a deeper sense of what Christ has accomplished in History and what He has done and is doing in your story. John’s keeps the encouragement for these saints short because they’ve ran a lot of miles and should (if viewing the journey rightly) be able to recall years and decades of God’s faithfulness to them should leave them more resolute. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Sense of settledness. Sense of hope. Not resignation that past vitality is gone but great anticipation of Glory, and great urgency to impart and impact the next generation with the Gospel. God’s word abides (Gospel Saturation has happened deep in your heart after years of consuming God’s word.). You have great confidence in God’s word and can have more influence even as specific authority is less.
Chronological maturity is not spiritual maturity. Maturity is not something that happens automatically. Maturity does not come from time served in the world but in time walking with Jesus. I know guys in their early twenties whose maturity is evident and people in their 70’s and 80’s who are some of the least mature people I’ve interacted with. Conversely, there are guys in there 60’s- 70’s who are work horses with great zeal for the Gospel and younger people who should be charging some hills, fighting some battles who are wallowing in apathy and fail to be strengthened by God’s word. Abiding in Maturity will always take you back to your identity in the Gospel. God has worked in your life. This makes what and how we are called to engage the world possible and empowers us to necessarily see the world around us differently.
Part II | ABIDE not in the world | v15-16
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
We are to love God, love people, love our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are NOT to love the world or the things of this world. We are to have our primary love, affection, and devotion be for our Father in Heaven and not the world below. This requires maturity to properly discern what this means and apply what is and isn’t “The world or things of this world”. James 4:4 friendship with the world is hatred towards God. Matthew 6:24 no one can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and money you cannot love God and the world. Like loving our brothers and sisters, these are charges and commands we are now possible of carrying out because of our identity of loved sons and daughters of God the Father.
The world is not… all of creation. God created everything and He created it….. good. So this is not an admonishment to asceticism and disengagement of everything that is material. We as Christians are not to retreat and we are not to think that merely abstaining from good and enjoyable things make you more holy, close to God. So we say there is holy work and then everything else is less holy or pleasing to God. If we just stay in the fortress then we’re ok. Let retreat from everything that is modern (meaning things that were modern once are somehow now holy because they’re old): God’s not happier with you or more pleased with you if you are purposely not enjoying things God has made good for your joy.
The world is… All in the world that is opposed to God or that robs us from having God as our deepest desire. The Bible’s clear teaching of the World in it’s prohibitions and condemnations is all that is organized and aligned that either seeks to diminish, distract, or destroy our primary and overarching allegiance to and affection for God the Creator of everything. When we have this definition, we begin to realize there are numerous and ever changing things that could be considered worldly in our individual and corporate context. We cannot love these things AND God. The reason John can say if you love the world the love of the Father is not in you is because you can’t love something lesser when something greater is clearly known and appreciated. We are seeking fulfillment and affirmation from things that are not capable of providing them the way only the love of the Father can. We all want, affirmation, security, healing, and enjoyment. Those who Abide in Maturity know where these things are ultimately found. Our father is a good and loving Father who gives good gifts to His children, but the greatest gift He gives us is graciously restoring relationship with Him that we broke with our sin. The world will tell you, you will be able to find all the things you’re searching for through pursuing the blessings of this world without giving glory and praise to the gift giver.
We make false distinctions and when we we’re self-righteous so we bemoan drunkenness but never speak of gluttony we’d never gamble or play poker but we’ll rack up consumer debt or hit a payday loan (at least with poker you’ve got a chance of winning) We say there are all these types of people or places we would never frequent because they are unclean, but we forsake the gathering of the saints for the weakest of excuses. or we show up to everything but we’re jerks when we get there. Bottom line is we look at the things in our life that we do well at or don’t struggle with or don’t enjoy and then make them the standard. We make worldliness too small by making it something we can easily avoid. OR something that we can or have succeeded at. It’s not as simply as making lists of things that are “wordly” and then staying away and saying “nailed it” because John goings on to show how comprehensive our lusts and desires are:
Cravings of the flesh – self indulgence This is an inordinate affection or desire where we take some thing that God has made for good, that is neutral or even right on it’s own and pervert and abuse it in ways that lead to destruction. It also is when you are living for the sole purpose of pleasing yourself, your interest your passions. What are your appetites? Are they healthy? Do you feed them? What controls you?
Desires of the eyes – self- deception we view the world through the wrong eyes, having false values. Most sin does not manifest itself physically first but emotionally or intellectually first. This is why Jesus talks about Lust and adultery, hatred and murder because the physical manifestation are always preceded by internal desires. We become obsessed with appearances making sure our outward lives are impressive to all. Or we swing the ditch the other way and believe wrongly that the Creative Creator who made an orderly garden paradise doesn’t care how we maintain the body, home, live, we’ve been given to steward. Both preach a false gospel both are forms or self-deception. What is your world view? What governs you?
Pride of Life - Self- glorification. How do you see yourself? What is your self image? Where do you have prideful ambition? This is status, wealth, education, power, influence. This happens in the church as well when we don’t want honor from the outside but we pride ourselves in our own command of God’s word, or our theology, in our service, or tenure. It all comes from places of entitlement. Maturity doesn’t seek self-glory because it has the self-assurance of position in Christ. Where are you most likely to find others contemptable? So we do not have clear areas where we have seemingly great achievements so we do the opposite of lifting ourselves up we find ways to tear others down. These things are NOT from the Father because he doesn’t give us things to enslave us but for our enjoyment. This is from the world that promises actual joy and lasting happiness will be found in them.
Maturing in Christ requires us to have maturing desires. The answer is not simply to live in opposition of the world to try to pretend the things of the world are not enticing, or that we will not be impacted but to REPLACE the things of this world with the Love of God. That means we have a greater affection and craving that replaces the lesser things of this world. Abiding in Maturity requires not keeping the right small, or ever growing list, but in regularly asking the right types of questions about your lives and how you engage with the created world, that is created good but also has been marred by sin.
What is the first thing you think about when you wake up? What keeps you up at night? Does what you’re engaging with bring God more glory or you more glory? Is this thing drawing you closer to God and His people? What desires are you cultivating or feeding? How do you compare yourselves to others?
PART III | ABIDE in the FUTURE| v17
17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
This call to love God more than the world is not one of eternal self denial but straight up pragmatic this is going to be the best investment for you now and forever. Abiding in faithfulness may never lead to accolades or success in the present but the motivation is not to be unrewarded or unrecognized. We know where the ultimate rewards and recognition will be found. We meet our father who smiles on us and says well done good and faithful servant enter the joy of your master. All your investment investments in this world not from God’s will, will ultimately find themselves as a bust. Aim higher. When you have the love of the Father and understand the trajectory of History then you don’t have to place your hope and affections in the things of this world, the agendas of this world because they are passing away. Christians do not get discouraged when you see what you perceive is a decline our culture that has less affection for or reverence towards God because it doesn’t mean God is losing. He’s already won.
Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn; Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne; Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, ”Thy will be done”; And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”; Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”
CT Studd - Only one life ‘twill soon be past.
Jesus could endure the cross in our places with joy because he knew there would be a future reward so we can live lives engaging with this world because we know we have great hope in the next when we Trust Jesus.