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← Encouragement for God's Little Children - Tim Conway

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Showing Revision 5 created 01/22/2018 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. "I am writing to you, little children,
  2. because your sins are forgiven
  3. for His name's sake.
  4. I am writing to you, fathers,
  5. because you know Him who
    is from the beginning.
  6. I am writing to you, young men,
  7. because you have overcome the evil one.
  8. I write to you, children,
  9. because you know the Father.
  10. I write to you, fathers,
  11. because you know Him who
    is from the beginning."
  12. Him who is from the beginning.
  13. The "He" and the "Him"
  14. throughout this section is Christ.
  15. The Father is called out distinctly
  16. by "Father" or by the
    term "God," the title.
  17. The name.
  18. Him who is from the beginning
  19. throughout 1 John is
  20. the Lord Jesus Christ.
  21. "I write to you, fathers,
    because you know
  22. Him who is from the beginning.
  23. I write to you, young men,
  24. because you are strong
  25. and the Word of God abides in you,
  26. and you have overcome the evil one."
  27. Now, I'm just going to tell you right off,

  28. this might be a little
    bit strong to say this,
  29. but John perplexes me.
  30. And I don't know how else to say it.
  31. His mind does not work
  32. the same way mine does.
  33. He has an inspired mind,
  34. so if there's any fault here,
  35. it's undoubtedly with me.
  36. To me, Paul is systematic.
  37. I like Paul's way of thinking.
  38. I love Paul's letters.
  39. I can follow his logic.
  40. He somewhat goes on a straight line.
  41. John is just so different.
  42. I'm not saying he's not logical,
  43. but he's just different.
  44. John Piper I think hits it on the head.

  45. He likens John's mind to a bee
  46. that's coming up to a flower.
  47. Here you've got the flower
  48. and the bee just kind of
    buzzing around like this.
  49. (buzzing)
  50. That's kind of how his mind works.
  51. He likes to circle.
  52. In other words, he likes to come around
  53. to the same things over and over again,
  54. but he doesn't take exactly the same
  55. trajectory each time.
  56. He's kind of buzzing around the flower.
  57. When you get the feeling Paul -
  58. he's out here and he
    just goes right in there.
  59. And I think that's a good way.
  60. And that's what we see right here.

  61. I mean, we're going to see this
  62. all the way through 1 John.
  63. John is going to repeatedly
  64. come back around to the same ideas
  65. over and over.
  66. He uses a little bit
    different terminology,
  67. it's true but you're going to see,
  68. it's clearly the same thing
  69. all over again, and all
    the way through the book,
  70. he just continuously does this
  71. same kind of thing.
  72. Yes, as he buzzes around that flower
  73. he tends to introduce
    some new information.
  74. He takes us deeper.
  75. He takes us further.
  76. But he just keeps buzzing
    around in these circles.
  77. He's doing it right here.
  78. I mean think about it.
  79. "I'm writing to you, little children..."
  80. "I'm writing to you, fathers..."
  81. "I'm writing to you, young men..."
  82. You get the feeling if that was Paul -
  83. I get this feeling:
  84. if it was Paul, he would have given me
  85. an order that was like,
  86. little children,
  87. young men,
  88. fathers.
  89. I mean, there's descending
  90. or ascending order.
  91. There's order there.
  92. And he would have said it once.
  93. But that's not good for John.
  94. He has to come back around and say it
  95. all over again.
  96. "I write to you, children..."
  97. "I write to you, fathers..."
  98. "I write to you, young men..."
  99. And you know if you look at it,
  100. he says some of the things
  101. exactly the same,
  102. but he changes some things.
  103. And he adds different details.
  104. And that's just John's style.
  105. You can see this.
  106. And I'm not saying that
    there's anything wrong.

  107. John is not illogical.
  108. And repitition can be good, right?
  109. Wise teachers repeat themselves.
  110. It's like, you know, John is buzzing
  111. around this thing,
  112. and if he goes around it
    once and you didn't get it,
  113. well, he's going to buzz around it again
  114. and he's going to say it
    a little bit differently.
  115. So probably, if you
    don't get it the first time
  116. you can get it the second
    or the third or the fourth time.
  117. And each time, he's going to develop it
  118. a little bit more for us.
  119. And like I say, we're going to see
  120. in the months ahead throughout 1 John,
  121. you're going to feel like,
  122. weren't we already here?
  123. Yep, just look back a chapter.
  124. John already had us right here.
  125. So, anyway, we see that circling style
  126. in these three verses before us.
  127. Now, what I want to do here

  128. is give you an observation
  129. and ask a question or two,
  130. and then seek to answer those questions
  131. before we move on.
  132. Here's an observation.
  133. Throughout 1 John -
  134. I just want you to think about this.
  135. I can tell you,
  136. since I've been reading my Bible
  137. as a brand new convert 25 years ago,
  138. every time I'd read this,
  139. I guess I would wonder,
  140. why is it even here?
  141. Why does John have to say it twice?
  142. Why aren't these folks
    apparently in order?
  143. Doesn't he deal with all the Christians
  144. that he's writing to as though
  145. they're little children?
  146. I see that title repeatedly
  147. throughout this letter
  148. when he's addressing everybody.
  149. Why in this one place does he call out
  150. fathers and young men as well?
  151. I just want you to see this.
  152. Throughout 1 John,
  153. notice 1 John 2:1.
  154. "My little children..."
  155. Who's he writing to?
  156. He's writing to everybody.
  157. Everybody that he's
    writing to who's saved.
  158. Let's just say that.
  159. He is making a distinction
    throughout this letter.
  160. He definitely has Christians in mind.
  161. But he calls all the Christians
  162. in 1 John 2:1 "my little children."
  163. "I'm writing these things so that
  164. you may not sin."
  165. Well, he certainly isn't excluding
  166. the older, more mature whatever
  167. and saying I don't care about you guys.
  168. Obviously, he's talking to everybody here.
  169. "If anyone does sin..."
  170. If anyone. He's talking
    to all of them there.
  171. 1 John 2:18
  172. "Children, it is the last hour
  173. and as you've heard that
    antichrist is coming."
  174. Again, he uses two different Greek terms
  175. throughout 1 John for "little children,"
  176. but nevertheless, he uses both of them,
  177. by the way.
  178. The first time in v. 12 he uses one,
  179. and then when he refers to the children
  180. again at the end of
    v. 13, he uses the other.
  181. But he's using both of these titles
  182. throughout the book
  183. to speak to everybody.
  184. 1 John 2:28
  185. "Now little children, abide in Him."
  186. That's everybody.
  187. Everybody needs to abide in Him.
  188. 1 John 3:7, "Little children,
  189. let no one deceive you.
  190. Whoever practices righteousness
    is righteous as He is righteous."
  191. That's everybody.
  192. 1 John 3:18 "Little children,
  193. let us not love in word or talk,
  194. but in deed and truth."
  195. 1 John 4:4 "Little children,
  196. you are from God."
  197. 1 John 5:21 "Little children,
  198. keep yourselves from idols."
  199. That's the observation.
  200. The observation is that
  201. all the way through 1 John,
  202. he deals with all of the Christians
  203. as being little children.
  204. So, here in 1 John 2:12-13 -

  205. (incomplete thought)
  206. actually all three of these verses -
  207. John does something that he does
  208. nowhere else in his writings.
  209. Not just anywhere else in this epistle,
  210. nowhere else in any of his writings
  211. does he ever call out
  212. distinct categories of Christians.
  213. That's my observation.
  214. And the question is: why?
  215. And before we try to answer,
  216. perhaps a second question
    should be asked as well.
  217. Why does he throw these categories at us
  218. in such a seemingly random order?
  219. Little children, then fathers,
  220. then young men.
  221. And you know, who knows, right?
  222. (incomplete thought)
  223. Here's a possible solution.
  224. Why does John address three groups here
  225. and in the order that he does?
  226. I mean here's a possible scenario.
  227. The use of "little children,"
  228. "fathers," "young men,"
  229. and the order that they're in
  230. may have originated something like this.
  231. It's very possible that
    what John's doing here
  232. in v. 12 "I'm writing to
    you, little children..."
  233. is he does what he does everywhere else
  234. in the book.
  235. He is talking to everybody.
  236. But then, what he does,
  237. just this one time
  238. and perhaps for no other reason
  239. than respect,
  240. just to show honor,
  241. he feels led to address
  242. these two specific groups directly
  243. just this one time.
  244. And the reason I say that
  245. is with some biblical validity.
  246. Think with me here.

  247. You don't need to turn to it,
  248. but let me just tell you
  249. how Philippians starts.
  250. Philippians - Paul is addressing
  251. the Philippian believers.
  252. He says, "Paul and Timothy,
  253. servants of Christ Jesus..."
  254. Listen to how he addresses them:
  255. "to all the saints who are at Philippi
  256. with the overseers and deacons."
  257. Now you think about the
    three categories there.
  258. The first one is all-encompassing.
  259. And then the second and third,
  260. he calls out distinct people
  261. in the church.
  262. And he calls out those that are to have
  263. the highest honor first
  264. and then those that are honorable,
  265. but not quite with that
    venerability second.
  266. That seems to be perhaps why we get this.
  267. "Little children" is very endearing.
  268. He calls them all by that.
  269. But John knows he's got these
  270. venerable, grey-haired
  271. warriors of the cross out there
  272. and these vibrant, spiritually strong
  273. young men as well.
  274. And I don't think it necessarily needs
  275. to be gender specific.
  276. He might be encompassing the grey-haired
  277. and those that are young,
  278. but he calls them out.
  279. Like I say, maybe for no other reason
  280. than just to identify them
  281. and show his regard for them
  282. and to show respect.
  283. Anyway, Philippians 1 gives me
  284. kind of a pattern for this same thing.
  285. And so I think it is a
    worthy cross reference.
  286. It is worthy to look at.
  287. Another observation that
    I would make here:

  288. As you read through this,
  289. you never want to say,
  290. ok, well, I'm not in two
    of these categories.
  291. I'm only in the third,
  292. and so only what's in that third category
  293. applies to me.
  294. Listen, I can tell you this.
  295. Every single thing said
  296. in each of these categories
  297. is said of everybody
  298. somewhere else in 1 John.
  299. In other words,
  300. my observation is this.
  301. When John addresses "little children,"
  302. when he addresses "fathers,"
    when he addresses "young men,"
  303. he does not mean that what he says
  304. about the fathers is only applicable
  305. to them and not to you
  306. if you're not one of the fathers.
  307. You follow what I'm saying?
  308. What's true about one here
  309. is true about all.
  310. 1 John will show us clearly
  311. that knowing the father,
  312. knowing Christ, overcoming the evil one,
  313. having the Word of God abiding in you,
  314. these are all realities that are true
  315. of all Christians.
  316. John applies these truths
  317. to specific groups that are real
  318. and true and valid for the whole church.
  319. So you don't want to skip over
    any of these verses as though
  320. they don't apply to you.
  321. What's true in each category is true
  322. of every Christian here.
  323. That's just an observation.
  324. So, now, I think we need
    to really ask ourselves,

  325. why are these verses here?
  326. Now, look, if you're not really acquainted
  327. with 1 John;
  328. if you just read this letter through
  329. over and over and over,
  330. I think it will begin to jump out at you
  331. that these seem to interrupt the flow.
  332. They almost seem misplaced.
  333. I mean, I'm thinking about
  334. if I'm going to write to somebody
  335. and tell them why I'm writing -
  336. "I'm writing to you, little children,
  337. because your sins are forgiven
    for His name's sake."
  338. If I'm going to tell somebody
    why I'm writing to them,
  339. I'm typically going to tell them that
  340. at the beginning of the letter.
  341. Why am I just going to jump in?
  342. And the thing about this,
  343. get a feel for the flow here.
  344. (incomplete thought)
  345. Let's read down through these verses
  346. and omit v. 12, 13, and 14.
  347. We have these tests of true Christianity
  348. coming at us one after another
  349. after another.
  350. I mean, if you just think about 2:3.
  351. "By this we know that
    we've come to know Him
  352. if we keep His commandments."
  353. Bang! You're hit with this.
  354. Do you keep His commandments?
  355. If you keep His commandments,
  356. you can know that you know Him.
  357. This is a test of true Christianity.
  358. "Whoever says 'I know Him,' (v. 4)
  359. but does not keep His commandments
  360. is a liar and the truth is not in him."
  361. Wow! John's being dogmatic about
  362. who is in and who is out.
  363. "Whoever keeps His Word (v. 5),
  364. in Him truly the love
    of God is perfected."
  365. I mean, he's saying,
  366. you need to be those that
  367. keep His commandments.
  368. You need to be those that keep His Word.
  369. "By this we know that we are in Him."
  370. How? "Whoever says he abides in Him
  371. ought to walk in the same way in which
  372. He walked," and if you
    don't, you're not true.
  373. You're not real.
  374. He goes on to talk about
  375. this one commandment.
  376. Love. "I'm writing you no new commandment,
  377. but an old commandment,
    that you had from the beginning.
  378. The old commandment
    is what you have heard.
  379. At the same time, it
    is a new commandment
  380. that I am writing to you,
  381. which is true in Him and in you
  382. because the darkness is passing away;
  383. the true light is already shining."
  384. He says this about that commandment:
  385. "Whoever says he's in the light
  386. and hates his brother is in the dark."
  387. You are not true.
  388. You are not real.
  389. "Whoever loves his brother
    abides in the light,
  390. and in him there is no
    cause for stumbling."
  391. "Whoever hates his brother
    is in the darkness
  392. and walks in the darkness and
    does not know where he's going
  393. because the darkness has
    blinded his eyes."
  394. Now you skip over to v. 15.
  395. "Do not love the world or
    the things in the world.
  396. If anyone loves the world,
  397. the love of the Father is not in him."
  398. Again. He goes right back to the tests.
  399. Bang! Bang! Bang!
  400. You love the world, you don't know God.
  401. The love of the Father is not in you.
  402. That means you're lost.
  403. "All that is in the world,
    the desires of the flesh,
  404. the desire of the eyes..."
    He goes on in v. 18.
  405. "Children, it is the last hour.
    As you have heard that antichrist..."
  406. In v. 19, "they went out from us
    because they were not of us."
  407. I mean, what's a good indication
    that somebody's not real?
  408. They go out from us.
    If they go out from us,
  409. they're not of us.
  410. I mean, he's got these tests -
    one after another.
  411. Why in the world did he just stop in v. 12
  412. and say, "I'm writing
    to you, little children,
  413. because your sins are forgiven."
  414. It's like John, this interrupts the flow
  415. of these tests.
  416. It's like we're getting this barrage,
  417. and then here's all these tests
  418. coming at us;
  419. shaking us with the reality
  420. of true Christianity
  421. and John just sort of unexpectedly
  422. injects v. 12-14.
  423. So what are we supposed to make of this?

  424. Well, I think it's clear.
  425. I think if you have any pastoral bone
  426. in your body,
  427. it's clear why he does.
  428. Just compare 1 John 2:4 and 1 John 2:12.
  429. Compare them.
  430. 1 John 2:4
  431. "Whoever says, 'I know Him,' but does not
  432. keep His commandments is a liar
  433. and the truth is not in Him."
  434. Now, let's do that all over again
  435. with me adding this;
  436. with you thinking about this.
  437. How does this make you feel?
  438. "Whoever says I know Him but does not
  439. keep His commandments is a liar
  440. and the truth is not in Him."
  441. How does that make you feel?
  442. 1 John 2:12
  443. "I'm writing to you, little children,
  444. because your sins are forgiven
  445. for His name's sake."
  446. How does that make you feel?
  447. Now, I recognize I changed my tone.

  448. (incomplete thought)
  449. But that's kind of the feel.
  450. Why does he stick these in here?
  451. I have a feeling he's sticks them in here
  452. just because of the rigors of these tests.
  453. These tests can shake you.
  454. They sift us.
  455. John knows this letter is tough.
  456. And it is, is it not?
  457. I mean, he knows.
  458. He's calling people out.
  459. He's calling people liars.
  460. This is tough stuff.
  461. (incomplete thought)
  462. What happens when you start
  463. telling people, "by this we know
  464. that we've come to know Him,
  465. if we keep His commandments."
  466. I mean, where are your minds going?
  467. Man, what does my life look like?
  468. I mean, am I keeping His commandments?
  469. We just came off
    the one about loving.
  470. I mean, you start thinking,
  471. am I really loving the
    brothers and the sisters?
  472. Am I really loving them?
  473. I mean, any of us that have consciences -
  474. our imperfections, our failures,
  475. they begin to jump up and down
  476. in front of our face
  477. and we're saying, ok, we know
  478. this isn't perfection;
  479. we know that this is a pattern of life,
  480. and we're asking ourselves, I hope,
  481. trying to ask ourselves honestly,
  482. is there an evidence that God has
  483. done something in my life
  484. and produced this kind of person
  485. out of me?
  486. I mean, he knows that he is
  487. describing true Christianity
  488. in terms that are strong.
  489. Isn't John dogmatic?
  490. If you say you know Him,
  491. but this isn't true,
  492. you're a liar!
  493. He doesn't have much grey area.
  494. It's just boom!
  495. This or this!
  496. This is true or this is true!
  497. That's it. Two categories.
  498. There's no in-between.
  499. And you can come out of these things
  500. and feel beat up.
  501. And you can imagine,
  502. John - what's the reputation
    we have of John?
  503. He's the one that Christ loved.
  504. He was also called
    "Boanerges" with his brother.
  505. The sons of thunder.
  506. This feels kind of thunderous here.
  507. But you can imagine John feeling like,
  508. perhaps - think about it -
  509. preachers know this.
  510. You say hard things.
  511. You get a feeling when, you know,
  512. you're hitting people with hard things.
  513. You get that feeling.
  514. And undoubtedly, he's feeling,
  515. wow, I've been really forceful;
  516. I've been intense with people.
  517. (incomplete thought)
  518. What happens?
  519. What happens when you start
  520. laying tests out like this?
  521. You know another thing preachers know
  522. a lot of times is they take out
  523. the spiritual shotgun
  524. and this thing is full of bird shot,
  525. and they aim at a certain person
  526. or they've got certain people in mind
  527. that this is really applicable to
  528. and kaboom!
  529. They blow a person off the front row
  530. that they did not mean to hit.
  531. But that's one of the problems
  532. when you speak like this,
  533. you have people that sit there
  534. who are genuine Christians
  535. with very tender consciences.
  536. And you start talking like this,
  537. and the hardened professing sinner
  538. back there in that back row
  539. who this is every bit meant for -
  540. right over the top of their heads.
  541. You shoot them and they've got
  542. the bulletproof vest on.
  543. It just bounced right off of them.
  544. And you blew away sister so-and-so
  545. in the third row.
  546. And she's feeling crushed,
  547. like going out of there thinking,
  548. I can never be a Christian.
  549. Her failures are there in her face
  550. and she's going out.
  551. She's wounded.
  552. And that's the kind of thing that
  553. he recognizes happens.
  554. This very kind of thing.
  555. As a child of God,
  556. you can begin to feel like
  557. you're made aware of your weaknesses.
  558. You're made aware of your own failures
  559. and your own struggles,
  560. and John knows.
  561. You say hard things like this;
  562. strong statements.
  563. You end up wounding people
  564. and so what he does is
  565. he actually interrupts these hard things
  566. and he sticks something very comforting
  567. and very encouraging right here
  568. in verses 12, 13, and 14.
  569. He's backing off.
  570. He's certainly not backing down
  571. from anything that he said.
  572. But he's backing down from his
  573. rigorous dogmatism
  574. as to who's a liar and who's true.
  575. He seems to turn aside for a moment
  576. of comforting his hearers before he
  577. goes back and he resumes again
  578. the strong and rigid doctrine
  579. that goes back to sifting
    the hearts of men.
  580. Now, I think the thing we need to ask

  581. is well, ok, how are these
    verses encouraging?
  582. Because here's the thing;
  583. here's the thing I'm thinking about.
  584. Let's say I have a revelation from God,
  585. just like he did.
  586. And I know,
  587. there are lost people
  588. who profess to be Christians in this room.
  589. And I come up here
  590. and I'm giving you the test.
  591. And I begin to lay these tests down.
  592. I seek to weed out those who are false.
  593. I stress you have no
    true fellowship with God
  594. if you walk in the darkness.
  595. I stress that you're a liar
    about knowing Christ
  596. unless you keep His commandments.
  597. I mean, I'm hitting you hard.
  598. I have this revelation from God.
  599. I know some of you are not real.
  600. But at the same time,
  601. I know that I'm likely going to wound
  602. some of God's true ones.
  603. I don't want that to happen.
  604. But I know in trying to get to the others,
  605. I've got to speak that strong.
  606. But I also know how true Christians
  607. are going to deal with this.
  608. My question is this,

  609. if I'm speaking really strong
  610. and you've got sister so-and-so there
  611. who is trembling.
  612. She feels like I'm weak.
  613. There's these doubts that are cropping up.
  614. She's questioning.
  615. She's wondering: am I true?
  616. Am I false?
  617. And you know the devil can
    take advantage right there too,
  618. and say, you're not keeping
    His commandments.
  619. Think about this time and this time.
  620. You're not loving so-and-so.
  621. Think about your failures here.
  622. He can come right along.
  623. That standard is so high,
  624. you've never measured up to it.
  625. Just listen to how he's talking.
  626. Just listen to John's words.
  627. And a feeling of
    condemnation can creep in.
  628. You feel like there's no hope.
  629. And here's the thing,
  630. if you're a true Christian
    sitting out there
  631. and you suddenly are flooded
  632. by what are unwarranted doubts,
  633. by these tests,
  634. how is it going to be encouraging to you
  635. for me just to interrupt all these
  636. strong assertions,
  637. and say, "I'm writing
    to you, little children,
  638. because your sins are
    forgiven for His name's sake."
  639. I mean, if you've just been shaken
  640. to even wondering if you're
    truly a child or not,
  641. and I come along and I say
    "I'm writing to you, little children,"
  642. you're saying, yeah, but he
    knows some of us aren't true,
  643. and I think I'm one of those.
  644. So I'm not even in that crowd.
  645. How does that comfort me?
  646. What does that do for me?
  647. How does that help?
  648. If your assurance has been shaken

  649. by these things,
  650. some of you, your assurance
  651. should be shaken by these.
  652. But if you're genuinely a Christian
  653. with a sensitive conscience,
  654. the devil's there throwing
    accusations at you,
  655. if your assurance has been shaken,
  656. how does a verse like this
  657. rescue you from this?
  658. I mean, do you see what I'm saying?
  659. If you're already doubting,
  660. how does this take away your doubts?
  661. Wouldn't you just be minded to say
  662. I don't even think I'm in that group?
  663. He comes along here
  664. and he's really positive
  665. that somebody's sins are forgiven
  666. for Christ's name's sake.
  667. But we can tell by the way he's talking,
  668. he already assumes some of us aren't real.
  669. And I'm thinking I might
    be one of those people.
  670. And so when he goes and he starts talking
  671. just to the little children,
  672. how does that help me?
  673. How does that rescue me
  674. from my assurance being shaken?
  675. Here the Holy Spirit undoubtedly prompts
  676. John to back off for a second
  677. in order to comfort and encourage
  678. the true people of God
  679. lest they become overwhelmed
  680. by a false sense of condemnation.
  681. How does saying this rescue them?
  682. If they come away from
    these tests with doubts
  683. by the highness of the standard,
  684. the dogmatism of John,
  685. then he just shifts gears
  686. and he throws these three verses at us.
  687. "I'm writing to you, little children..."
  688. Isn't this person just going to conclude
  689. that they probably aren't really
  690. one of the little children
    that John's addressing?
  691. And brethren, it happens all the time.

  692. The devil is an accuser.
  693. And you start setting up things like this.
  694. Look, there's not one of us that have
  695. loved the brothers and sisters perfectly.
  696. There's not one of us that have
    kept the commandments perfectly.
  697. There's not one of us that is
  698. imitating Christ, walking like
    Christ walked perfectly.
  699. And as soon as we start looking at this
  700. and examining this in our life -
  701. and these are the tests.
  702. You don't want to ignore them.
  703. These are God-given tests.
  704. These have to be true in your life.
  705. You are in one camp or the other.
  706. We have to take these things seriously.
  707. But as we're sorting through our life,
  708. I think any of us that are honest,
  709. this makes us feel like
  710. this is a high standard.
  711. Who can measure up?
  712. Does anybody feel like that
  713. when you hear these things?
  714. (incomplete thought)
  715. And I know this.
  716. I hear this from Christians.
  717. They struggle.
  718. They just feel like I don't feel like
  719. I'm loving the brethren like I ought to.
  720. I don't feel like my life
  721. is committed to Christ as it ought to be.
  722. I don't feel like there's
    a level of purity there
  723. that I know there ought to be.
  724. Here John, he sees
    the Christian struggling,

  725. and he interrupts things.
  726. Just interrupts by saying,
  727. "I'm writing to you, little children,
    because your sins are forgiven
  728. for His name's sake."
  729. Isn't there a possibility that
  730. that Christian is just going
    to get carried away
  731. with their doubts and assume that
  732. John's probably not talking about them?
  733. You know John knows
  734. that there's imposters among us.
  735. So he doesn't for a second believe
  736. that we're all little children.
  737. How does this really help bolster
  738. the assurance of the true Christian?
  739. That to me is huge,
  740. because I'm looking at this
  741. and I'm recognizing,
  742. we get this.
  743. I know we get people that struggle
  744. with their assurance,
  745. and they need to struggle with it
  746. because they're not measuring up.
  747. But we get people that get shaken
  748. and they ought not to be shaken.
  749. They're not ones that God
    wants us to weed out.
  750. They're His true children.
  751. And so I'm really interested pastorally
  752. to just examine this and say John,
  753. teach me here.
  754. Teach me how to help and to comfort
  755. the little children when they get shaken.
  756. So how does it help?

  757. Well, look, to the best
  758. that I can decipher here,
  759. it helps just this way.
  760. If you think about what's being said here.
  761. John stops.
  762. He looks at the Christian
  763. who is feeling condemned;
  764. who is feeling overwhelmed;
  765. who's seen these tests
  766. and is somewhat unsure,
  767. and he says, look,
  768. walking like Christ walked,
  769. walking in the light,
    confessing your sins
  770. when you sin,
  771. keeping Christ's commandments,
  772. loving the brethren,
  773. are you feeling that
    this is way out there?
  774. Are you feeling like this is
    only for Charles Spurgeon,
  775. Amy Carmichael?
  776. Only they can live this way.
  777. Do you feel like this is just impossible
  778. for the average Christian?
  779. Do you feel the standard is just too high?
  780. And that what he's saying in this letter
  781. is just being too dogmatic
  782. and there's no hope for you to live
  783. up to this standard?
  784. The devil's throwing accusations
  785. of your failure at you
  786. and your own ineptness
  787. at loving the brethren?
  788. He comes and he says,

  789. "I'm writing to you, little children,
  790. because your sins are forgiven
  791. for His name's sake."
  792. You see what he's doing?
  793. He's saying, look, you're thinking
  794. these things are hard.
  795. But he says, I know there's reality
  796. among you.
  797. I see it.
  798. I know it.
  799. He says precious children.
  800. Let's take your eyes off the tests
  801. for a second.
  802. Let's just get your eyes off those
  803. rigorous tests of true Christianity,
  804. and turn your eyes
  805. back to the initial wonders
    of being a Christian.
  806. Just forget your own failures.
  807. You are forgiven for His sake.
  808. Now you just need to dwell there.
  809. It doesn't depend on your performance.
  810. Because that's where
    tests like that take us.
  811. They take us to examining our life.
  812. Rightly so.
  813. But you can't get away from it.
  814. You start looking at your life;
  815. you start looking at your failures;
  816. you start looking at your performance,
  817. and he backs off this for a second.
  818. He says, eyes off performance.
  819. I want to take you back
  820. just to the wonders
  821. that you encountered in Christ
  822. at the beginning.
  823. It does not depend on anything
  824. you have done or are doing
  825. or will ever do.
  826. Forgiveness of sins.
  827. It's all about receiving a gift.
  828. And it is free. And it is by faith.
  829. And you know what?
  830. The enemy of your souls may hound you
  831. and accuse you and condemn you.
  832. That may be true.
  833. For your sins and failures,
  834. and yes, they're there.
  835. But you know what?
  836. You can answer the snake.
  837. But as much as anything,
  838. you can answer your own conscience.
  839. I mean here he is and he's saying,
  840. I wrote to you because your sins
  841. have been forgiven for His sake.
  842. For His sake.
  843. They haven't been forgiven you
  844. for keeping any of these tests.
  845. They've been forgiven for His sake.
  846. You need to remember that.
  847. You need to go back there.
  848. Answer that snake every time
  849. that he brings up accusations.
  850. You bring up the name,
  851. the blood, the righteousness
  852. of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  853. You know what you do not want to do?
  854. You do not want to argue your performance
  855. with the devil.
  856. Don't do it.
  857. Let him back you right into the corner
  858. where your eyes have no place to go
  859. but back on the Lord Jesus
  860. just like in the very beginning.
  861. It's for His name's sake.
  862. You rely absolutely and utterly
  863. upon Jesus Christ and upon Him alone.
  864. He is your only hope.
  865. You can be sure that
    your sins are forgiven.
  866. Why? His name is at stake.
  867. It's for His name's sake.
  868. It must be.
  869. And he goes on to say this -

  870. and I'm going to deal with these in pairs.
  871. If you go down to 1 John 2:13,
  872. to the end there,
  873. "I write to you, children."
  874. This is the second thing he says.
  875. To the children - the little children -
  876. "because you know the Father..."
  877. You know the Father.
  878. Brothers and sisters,
  879. again, this backing away
  880. from these rigorous tests.
  881. And it's saying this:
  882. I know this.
  883. The Spirit is known as
    the Spirit of adoption.
  884. And as the Spirit of adoption,
  885. what does He produce within us?
  886. What comes out?
  887. What comes forth?
  888. What's the cry?
  889. Abba, Father.
  890. Abba, Father.
  891. Again, he backs them off of these tests
  892. just to the glories,
  893. just to the simplicity.
  894. Christian, have you not found
  895. that God is no longer some far off force?
  896. Some distant, out there God
  897. on the horizon?
  898. So often, the lost man just has this idea
  899. of God either as Santa Claus
  900. or is opposed to Him.
  901. But it's not that anymore.
  902. He's not some old man upstairs.
  903. Suddenly, God produces something in you
  904. when He saves you that cries,
  905. not just "Father," - "Abba."
  906. There's an endearment.
  907. And it's true. It's real.
  908. Do you not find a sweetness in that?
  909. It's like he's pulling these Christians
  910. back from "you're a liar,"
  911. if you don't do this.
  912. He's pulling them back in to
  913. just come back to the very wonders
  914. of the foundations upon which
  915. your Christianity is built.
  916. You've been brought into this family.
  917. And then he says this,

  918. 1 John 2:13 "I'm writing to you, fathers,
  919. because you know Him who
    is from the beginning."
  920. In 1 John 2:14 where he
    addresses the fathers
  921. the second time, he says,
  922. "I write to you, fathers,
  923. because you know Him
    who is from the beginning."
  924. He says exactly the same thing
  925. about the fathers both times.
  926. And I don't necessarily think
  927. Scripturally speaking that we need to
  928. think just of fathers in an age -
  929. a physical age sense,
  930. but more so the spiritually mature.
  931. But think about this, "Him
    who was from the beginning"

  932. as I pointed out before,
  933. this is speaking of Christ.
  934. And it's just come back from ideas
  935. about your performance
  936. and just think.
  937. John's saying I know
    this is true about you.
  938. I can see it.
  939. You've been professing to be a Christian
  940. for a long time, and I can see.
  941. There's an intimacy you have with Christ.
  942. I can stand off to the side and watch
  943. as some of these glorious lines
  944. come off these songs.
  945. I'm putting myself in John's position
  946. if he could see.
  947. He's saying, I know.
  948. I can see.
  949. I can see it in your eyes
  950. when the name of Christ comes up.
  951. It's not just some cold, dry,
  952. like you think when you're lost
  953. about the idea of religion.
  954. It was just dry.
  955. But the name Christ comes now,

  956. there is a sweetness.
  957. There is a beauty.
  958. He can look and say, I know.
  959. You guys have been walking with the Lord.
  960. I can see it.
  961. You know His voice
  962. in a way you used to not know it;
  963. His promptings.
  964. I see this.
  965. Not just knowing His voice,
  966. not just knowing His promptings,
  967. but knowing His silence.
  968. Just coming to know His dealings
  969. with His people.
  970. He says, I see it.
  971. I know it's there.
  972. This is spiritual maturity.
  973. John says I know,
  974. some of you might be shaken
  975. by the high standard that I put up.
  976. But I look at many of you,
  977. I look at your lives,
  978. I can see Christ is special to you.
  979. I know you are not serving Him the way
  980. you want to.
  981. I know you're not living the way
  982. you know He's worthy of.
  983. But I can see your eyes
    light up at His name.
  984. I can see the pain that you have
  985. when He's dishonored.
  986. I see that you know Him in a way
  987. that the rest of the world
    just doesn't know Him.
  988. You see, he's bringing these people
  989. to a place where he's going to
  990. some of the basics;
  991. some of the rudimentary realities
  992. about our walk,
  993. and how we view Christ.
  994. How we relate to Christ.
  995. And then he says this,

  996. he's going to talk to the young men
  997. about the devil.
  998. 1 John 2:13 "I'm writing
    to you, young men,
  999. because you've overcome the evil one."
  1000. He says just the same thing,
  1001. but adds more detail
  1002. like that bee that he is,
  1003. he circles back around
  1004. and deals with it the second time.
  1005. 1 John 2:14 "I write to you, young men,
  1006. because you are strong,
  1007. and the Word of God abides in you,
  1008. and you have overcome the evil one."
  1009. It's like can you imagine?
  1010. You get all these tests thrown at you.
  1011. And you're feeling like
  1012. you've not measured up so perfectly.
  1013. You feel weak.
  1014. You feel defeated by
    John's high standards.
  1015. And John says,
  1016. what are you talking about?
  1017. I can see you.
  1018. I know you're not perfect.
  1019. But weak?
  1020. When you sit there and talk about
  1021. your weakness and your failures,
  1022. it's sheer ignorance.
  1023. Really?
  1024. What does he see that we don't see?
  1025. John says I know you fail,
  1026. but as I mentioned,
  1027. the true Christian is going to confess it.
  1028. I'm writing to you that you don't sin,
  1029. but when you do,
  1030. the true Christian is going to find
  1031. an Advocate in Christ.
  1032. Their hope is only going to be there,
  1033. and the propitiatory work of His
  1034. upon that cross in satisfying God.
  1035. He says it's ignorance when you talk about
  1036. weakness like this.
  1037. That's strength.
  1038. We look at it as though,
  1039. well, it's only strength
    if we live perfect.
  1040. He sees strength.
  1041. He sees triumph over the evil one
  1042. when we sin and we go to God
  1043. and we confess it.
  1044. And we look to the healing blood
  1045. of Christ.
  1046. Do you recall what this same John
  1047. tells us in Revelation 12?
  1048. How do they overcome the evil one?
  1049. By the blood of Christ.
  1050. How does the conquering take place?
  1051. So much of the conquering is here
  1052. that when we do fail,
  1053. when we do sin, where do we go?
  1054. We go back to the blood.
  1055. Remember right before that verse,
  1056. it says he's an accuser of the brethren.
  1057. You see, it's in his accusations
  1058. we overcome by the blood.
  1059. How?
  1060. Because you don't want to argue
  1061. performance with the devil
  1062. How do you overcome?
  1063. You know what the way
    to deal with the devil is?
  1064. And even the accusations
    of your own conscience?
  1065. It's true. I failed.
  1066. But let me tell you about the blood.
  1067. Let me tell you what that was shed for.
  1068. Devil, I did just fail.
  1069. I can list lots more failures
    in my life than just that one.
  1070. But let's talk about the blood.
  1071. Let's talk about what that
    accomplishes in my life.
  1072. These realities are found in Scripture.
  1073. He's talking to these young men
  1074. about the fact that this Word of God
  1075. is abiding in them.
  1076. And John's saying, I see you out there.
  1077. I see you that are reading your Bibles.
  1078. I see you that are affected
    by the truths in there.
  1079. I see those of you that
    see the Christ in there.
  1080. And He's your hope.
  1081. I see that.
  1082. I'm writing to you because you're strong;
  1083. you're not weak.
  1084. These things may make you feel like that,
  1085. but you have to recognize,
  1086. the Christianity that God puts forth
  1087. is for the average Christian,
  1088. if we can talk that way.
  1089. It's not just for the Charles Spurgeon's
  1090. and for the Amy Carmichael's.
  1091. This is for us.
  1092. And what these things look like in reality
  1093. is the kind of Christianity
  1094. we're living out in this place
  1095. by and large, most of us.
  1096. Those of us that are true.
  1097. What does it look like?

  1098. Yes, there's going to be failures.
  1099. Yes, that's going to be there.
  1100. Yes, we're going to fall
    on our faces at times.
  1101. We have doubts and things will crop up.
  1102. And we're not perfect.
  1103. And we know it and John knows it
  1104. and the devil knows it.
  1105. But we don't deny those things.
  1106. We confess it.
  1107. We know. We acknowledge we sinned.
  1108. But devil, you tell me,
  1109. how do you answer to the blood?
  1110. Are you going to keep
    on with your accusations?
  1111. It says we conquer him that way.
  1112. The truth is he has no answer to that.
  1113. And you know what
    happens when you do that?
  1114. You just overcame the evil one.
  1115. Really? Wow!
  1116. See, that's what he's saying.
  1117. You're strong!
  1118. You're strong when you do that.
  1119. John is just looking out at many of us
  1120. and he's saying, I know your faith.
  1121. It may be weak,
  1122. but though it's weak, it clings to Christ.
  1123. I see you hesitating; I see you at times
  1124. questioning at the
    forcefulness of these tests.
  1125. Yes, they're forceful.
  1126. They're strong.
  1127. Yes, your obedience is not always perfect.
  1128. Our love is certainly not always perfect.
  1129. But he says, look, there's evidence;
  1130. there's evidence of reality.
  1131. We must not expect this to be easy.

  1132. Because it's not going to be.
  1133. We're told to strive to enter in.
  1134. Many are going to seek to enter in there
  1135. and they're not going to be able.
  1136. We must not expect everything
  1137. in this Christian life to be automatic.
  1138. A lot of Christians, they become unsettled
  1139. because they feel like,
  1140. well, if I truly got saved,
  1141. this shouldn't be so hard.
  1142. They just feel like the switch
  1143. should just get turned off
  1144. on these lusts and desires of the flesh
  1145. that wage war against my soul.
  1146. It's just like, well, if
    I was really saved,
  1147. wouldn't I stop feeling that?
  1148. Wouldn't I stop feeling
    the pull of these things?
  1149. Well, as the Christian,
  1150. you battle this with truth.
  1151. You battle this with the blood.
  1152. Certainly, if you're born again,
  1153. you're a new creation.
  1154. But we know - Peter lets us know,
  1155. it's still a battle.
  1156. You're going to face combat.
  1157. You're going to face conflict,
  1158. fierce warfare.
  1159. It's hard.
  1160. We feel the hardness.
  1161. We watch others fall away.
  1162. It may cause us to tremble all the more,
  1163. but John says I see you there.
  1164. You have foundations in place.
  1165. I see there are those
    of you that struggle,
  1166. but you show promise.
  1167. I write to you because I see those things.
  1168. Take courage. Take heart.
  1169. Be brave. Be courageous.
  1170. Press onward; upward; forward.
  1171. You may feel weak.
  1172. But you've got to remember,
  1173. when you deal with sin by the blood,
  1174. you overcome a mighty fallen angel.
  1175. You're showing strength.
  1176. You show yourself strong.
  1177. Not in yourself, but in Christ.
  1178. This seems to be what these three verses
  1179. are meant to do;
  1180. just to bring us back
  1181. to the wonderful glories
  1182. of being a Christian.
  1183. Some of these things that are just
  1184. they're there, they're realities.
  1185. John can look at them and say,
  1186. "I'm writing to you, little children,"
  1187. because I know these things
    are true about you.
  1188. I see these things are true about you.
  1189. Look, if these things are
    not true about you,
  1190. then Christ bids you -
  1191. He bids you to seek Him
  1192. while He may be found.
  1193. He bids you to cry out to Him.
  1194. He bids you, like He says,
  1195. "Come unto Me, all you that labor
  1196. and are heavy laden."
  1197. He bids you to plead for mercy
  1198. in the name of Jesus Christ.
  1199. He bids you do that.
  1200. We don't want to give the dogs
  1201. the children's food.
  1202. But at the same time,
  1203. He doesn't want the children all shaken
  1204. about these things.