Today you should read: 1 John 2:12-17
In the first section of this passage (verses 12-14) we see that John is clearly writing to believers. He addresses his audience as “little children”, “fathers”, “young men”, and again as “children”, all names referring to those who abide in Christ. In this letter John is writing to doubting believers who have been taught by false teachers to deny the full divinity and humanity of Jesus. Try to imagine the struggle these believers are facing during this time. They did not have the full inherent Bible to turn to for truth that we have today. They heard strange teachings from men that seemed to speak with authority and conviction and yet they were going against what the congregation(s) was previously taught to be true. They loved Christ and sought to follow Him, but were suffering in doubt, confusion and fear. Ever been there? I know I have. First John is one of those books that I cling to for comfort and encouragement in the assurance of my faith. Listen to the absolutes John uses to comfort believers struggling with unbelief:
Your sins are forgiven
You know him who is from the beginning
You have overcome the evil one
You know the Father
You are strong
The word of God abides in you
John is reaffirming that they know the truth and they do not need to doubt themselves for the truth they heard from the beginning has no lie in it and that the liar is indeed the one who denies Jesus as the Christ (2:21-22). They can stand firm on the word of God through the apostles’ teaching because of who God is and what Christ has done for them. We too can stand firm in our faith if we put our full trust in God’s promises and not stumble on the ways of the world or what our culture says to believe.
The opening of chapter two reveals that John is writing these things so we may not sin (2:1). The second half of our passage today (verses 15-17) explains how we can live that out practically. Either you love the world or you love God, but you cannot love both. One way you can know you truly love the Father is through recognizing if you desire to please God over the things the world offers. The love of the Father implants a desire to break away from idolization of the world. We can indeed have assurance of saving faith when our inward change causes a change in our outward life. Genuine faith is a faith that works and exercises good works. The truths that are listed above, that you are forgiven, strong, indwelled with the Spirit, reconciled with God, are to not only be accepted as truth theoretically, but are also to be lived out through practically trusting in them. It is then you have a faith that is complete, for faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Walk confident with the Lord today based solely on trusting in Jesus and resting in his power and righteousness that is given to you because of his great sacrifice on the cross. Believe it and also repent from the desires of the world and turn to pleasing God. Both faith and repentance are necessary and when your life reflects that both are taking place God blesses that with assurance.
Posted by: Kelly Jones, ministry intern- West campus