I was recently strolling through the spam folder of my email inbox. I saw a phishing scam from somebody using Tim Parsons’ name (be warned CPC, it ain’t Tim. He hates email) as well as other emails from legitimate and illegitimate sources. One email, however, caught my eye. It was from a sweet lady who recently lost her husband a few years ago. He squirreled away about 3 million dollars in an offshore bank from a trade he had in the gold market and she has been unable to access it. She needed my help and I would get to keep 30% of 3 million.
In case you’re wondering, I decided not to help for several reasons—mostly because it’s a scam and they would rob me blind if possible. But secondly, and more importantly for our discussion of 1st John, this lady writing to me about potential assets is outside the context of a relationship. In our passage today, however, John is writing to believers to encourage them in their relationship with the Lord and the assets, the power, they have through Him.
John wrote to believers hearing from false teachers. Although the message is a little different, this is no different than today as we are bombarded with false truths. Combating the lie begins with our relationship with God. In verses 12–14 John says three times, “I am writing,” then three times, “I have written.” This repetition should draw us in and force us to focus on the effort that John has exerted to make a point.
John is writing to children, young men, and fathers, but more importantly, notice the verbs—forgiven, know, overcome, etc. In Greek, John is using the perfect tense—have been forgiven, has known, etc. Sorry for getting nerdy, but this is critical: a perfect tense verb describes a completed action. That means the power found in our relationship with God is so complete, it is unchangeable, untouchable, there is nothing left to do… with one exception. In John’s statement to young men in 14, he uses two present active verbs (“you are strong, and the word of God abides in you”). It is this strength found through the abiding Word that believers need to continually fight the false teachers. Yet, this power is so great that, although the battle is ongoing, we are said to have “overcome (perfect tense) the evil one.”
Verses 15–17 get at the heart of the issue. Everything outside of God, His Word, and people is fleeting and passing away. “In 2:15–17 the author moves from emphasizing the assurance that the members of the community have in their relationship with God to exhorting them about how they are to deal with the world that hates them and is opposed to God. He accentuates this change by using the present tense imperative form of agapaō (“love”) to begin verse 15. Once again belief and behavior are linked together in John’s assurances and exhortations.” (New American Commentary)
Like fake emails, the “truth” of this world is a scam. Everything it says brings life, brings death. We see this all over the place, from success to romance. Life is only found in our relationship with the Lord. Therefore, we must examine that which our heart longs for—our loves. Then, we must pursue holy affections. We must love what God loves.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate