1 John: Remember who you are: 09/06/20

Message Title: ‘Remember who you are’

Text: 1 John 2:12-14

Introduction: William Arthur Ward said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.” (Jeffrey Anslemi)

Life, especially in this season, can be very challenging to say the least:

  • There’s the fear of getting COVID-19.
  • There’s the fear of spreading COVID-19.
  • There’s the fear that your place of employment will close… forever, and you’ll be w/o a job.
  • There the craziness of having to help your children with their remote learning, actually getting YOUR work from home under some form of control, keeping up with the regular household chores, watching over who and how your family interacts with others to stay safe and healthy.

And at such a time when we need help from others, COVID has made that more… complicated.

  • All the while, many of us are in desperate need of help… but are afraid to ask.

All of that has a way of wearing us down, doesn’t it? And when we’re discouraged, what usually happens?

  • We start complaining & feeling sorry for ourselves.
  • We may even turn bitter inside.
  • And rather than reach out to others, we tend to withdraw. 

These past 6 months have just drained many of us. And I think what we need is a bit of encouragement.

Background: There is an old story about a preacher leaving a church. At his farewell dinner, he tried to encourage one of the members, “Don’t be so sad. The next preacher might be better than me.” She replied, “That’s what they said last time, but it keeps getting worse.” (John Ortberg).

That’s not the kind of encouragement I’m talking about.

The Apostle John has been warning Christians of the danger of stepping out of the light of Jesus and walking in the darkness of the world.

  • John does not want to give them the impression that he thinks they are walking in darkness, or that he doubts they are even saved.
  • But the truth is, a quick reading of 1 John up to this point could led you to that conclusion.

So, what John writes in chapter 2:12-14 is a kind of, pause… he slows down and goes in a different direction. He realizes that all his warnings to those who were walking away from Jesus, had perhaps an unintended effect on those who were still faithful to Jesus:

  • They could develop a insecurity concerning their own walk and an uncertainty about their own faith in Jesus.

So, the Apostle John puts on the breaks so that he can show some much needed love and compassion to the faithful Christians.

  • He displayed that love and compassion through the act of encouragement.

And because John’s words are inspired by the Holy Spirit they are certainly applicable to us today.

Look, today, as in Johns day,

  • Not every Christian hates all the time.
  • Not ever Christian sins every moment.
  • Not every Christian has a hardened heart.

Many ARE in fact, faithful to God. John is writing here to those who are faithful and wants them to remember who they are in Christ so they won’t lose heart.

So, before we look at the text, one last point of background.

John uses three, actually 4 terms relating to the people he was writing to.

  • Little children, children, young men, fathers.

Scholars are divided on the exact meaning of those words. And I could spend the next 15 minutes exploring their arguments… but I won’t. Here’s the bottom line, at least for me:

  • Young children and children are a term of endearment John uses many times to speak of all Christians.
  • Young men refers to those who have been faithful Christians for some time and are fighting the battle of faith.
  • Fathers are those who have lived their lives for Jesus, they have fought the battles and their faith is strong.

Young men and fathers refer to different levels of Christian maturity.

  • It’s wonderful that John showers all Christians with warm, loving, and much needed encouragement, no matter where we are on our journey of faith.

Oh, sorry, one more thing. I won’t be following the text in order. I’ll be grouping the encouragements to children, young men and then fathers.

Transition: Let’s open our Bibles to 1 John 2:12.

1. 1 John 2:12, 13c  Children

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake. I write to you, children, because you know the Father.

Sidebar: I am writing to you. Do you actually write to people anymore? I’m not talking about email or text, I’m talking about using a pen/pencil and paper?  People today rarely write letters or notes. Why? Some believe it’s an issue with poor penmanship.

ILL: A handwriting study made at a large universities has come up with the discovery that the smarter a person is, the worse their handwriting.

  • It’s thinking faster than you write that makes handwriting messy.
  • The faster you think, naturally, the poorer your penmanship. (Steve Shepherd)

My handwriting is really bad… I’m just saying.

OK… John begins by addressing little children and children… remember I believe he’s just speaking affectionately to all Christians.

So, what does he tell us? When things are difficult, when you are overwhelmed and perhaps even doubt God’s forgiveness or that you’re saved, remember, that through faith in Jesus, your sins are in fact, forgiven.

  • He’s saying don’t be discouraged, don’t doubt your salvation…
  • Your sins have been and will continue to be forgiven. (at least that’s how the Greek structure puts it)

And when you look at life, especially the difference between the new kind of life through faith in Jesus and the life offered by the world… the fact that your sin has been and will continue to be forgiven… is HUGE!

  • So, rejoice, celebrate, be fully assured.
  • This is really good news.

If that wasn’t enough, John adds to the excitement by telling them I write to you, children, because you know the Father.

  • Know here is not intellectual knowledge, although that is certainly a part of it.
  • Know here is personal, experiential knowledge.
  • It’s knowing God as a result of a personal, intimate relationship with Him. 
  • To know God here means to be a part of (as Chris Whalen says) God’s forever family.

John is telling Christians, telling you, that when you doubt, when you begin to drift away, remember that when you became a Christian, you entered into an intimate, eternal relationship with God. And as a result.  

  • Your guilt was lifted.
  • Your eternal home in heaven was secured.
  • You knew you were forgiven by God, accepted by God, loved by God.
  • You no longer feared God’s wrath as a Judge but started to experience His love as Father. 
  • You knew true JOY, PEACE, HOPE, LOVE for the first time in your life.

John is telling all Christians, you and I included, all of that has not changed… and it never will.

  • Isn’t that great to know?

Christian, no matter what you’re facing, no matter how overwhelmed you may be, don’t those words bring a flood of encouragement to your heart and mind?

2. 1 John 2:13b, 14b  Young men

I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. 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.

First, John writhing to those who have been a Christian for a while says: I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.

I see this group containing those who are not new Christians but are not yet ‘senior saints’ either. They are in the middle.

I see them as teenagers, young adults and married couples who have been Christians for a number of years… perhaps saved as children.

Teenage years can be the most difficult time we go through.

  • The raging hormones, challenging authority, developing independent thoughts and ideas, the start of taking on real responsibility.

Young adults have great physical strength, you face the challenges of higher education and then start to discover your place in the business world.

Married couples… wow! Home, kids, school, sports, PTA, while still climbing the corporate ladder… there is A LOT on your plate.

  • And the truth is.. for everyone in that group, all of that can be an enormous distraction.

The good news is that this time for the Christian can also be one of the most rewarding.

  • It’s a time when they can develop great spiritual growth.

And evidently that’s what was happening to this group in John’s day. What was that exactly?

  • Victory over sin.

Remember, the evil one is Satan and his purpose is to lead us to sin against God.

That’s what he did with Jesus in the wilderness.  You can read Matthew 4:1-10.

Teens, young people and married couples have the amazing opportunity to resist temptation and grow stronger through it.

  • They’ve endured some battles along the way and have experienced some victories.
  • They have a passion, a hunger for God and are strong, eager to remain committed to Him.

And John tells us that they have a strong hold on God’s Word, the Bible.

  • I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you,

They have victory over the temptation because they are strong.. but not in themselves or in what they can do. They know they can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

  • Ellen Wilson is a single mom with 2 wonderful young girls. I think this is her favorite verse because she keeps repeating it to me.
  • Ellen, you’re doing good!

This group of followers of Jesus Christ, are strong when the Bible, God’s Word abides; lives, dwells in them.

  • To them the Bible is true and authoritative in all that it says.
  • To them the Bible never gets out of date, or  goes out of style, nor bends to the sinful whims of humanity.

They believe the Psalmist when he wrote:

  • How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word. I have stored up Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:9, 11)

All over the world there are teens, young people and married couples who love Jesus, who trust God’s Word, who live in obedience to God, who desire to live like Jesus.

  • John is saying all of this, to encourage them.
  • To remind them that they’re already doing this and not to give up the fight.

As pastor, I’ve seen many in that group here at CBC remain faithful, stand firm on God’s Word and grow in their love for and in their relationship with Jesus. You are weathering the storm of temptation and finding God’s Word is your safe harbor.

And if you are here in person or are joining us on FacebookLive, let me say thank you, God bless you for your continued faithfulness.

Even though there is A LOT going on in your lives, you don’t get distracted; you give, you serve, you help, you love, you share Jesus. Thank you all, for being a part of our CBC family.

3. 1 John 2:13a, 14a  Fathers

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning.

John is now addressing what we would call ‘senior saints.’ 

  • People who have walked with Jesus for a long time.
  • Who’ve fought and won many battles with temptation.
  • Who are mature in their faith.
  • Who have strong love for and understanding of the Bible.

And it seems they also have some short-term memory loss. Perhaps that’s why John had to say the very same thing twice to them… so they would… what was I talking about? 

Oh yes, so that they would remember.

  • OK, that’s not what’s happening although it’s beginning to happen in my life.

John says you know Him… Jesus. The idea is you’ve had an ongoing intimate relationship with Jesus for many years.

  • One that has seen and experienced God at work in and around you so many times in your life.
  • One where God has proven Himself to you when you doubted and feared.
  • One where He has led you through the valley of the shadow of death, many times, and has always brought you out to the other side, stronger and wiser.
  • One where you have taken advantage of opportunities to follow Jesus’ example of serving other.
  • One where love for God and others has developed, not into a fancy motto, but is one of the foundational attitudes and behaviors of your life. You are known by your love.
  • One where a lifetime of prayer has been your lifeline to God’s grace.

And… it’s a relationship that knows and rests on God’s eternal nature.

  • I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning.

Fathers, our ‘senior saints’ understand that Jesus is eternal.

And because He is eternal, through faith in Him, you too will live eternally with Him in the very real place called…heaven.

John encourages our ‘senior saints’ by telling them, you have known Jesus, you now know Jesus and you will continue to know Jesus…even when you are long gone from this earth.

  • Remember that, for there’s nothing more precious than knowing that Jesus walks with you… forever.

To all of our ‘senior saint’s here at CBC, I want to thank you for your continued faithfulness: Generally

  • You’re the ones who faithfully give of your finances.
  • You’re the ones who faithfully give your time… YOU SHOW UP!
  • You’re the ones who faithfully serve… and it’s not because you’re retired, it’s because it’s your passion.
  • You’re the ones who set the example of Christlikeness for the rest of us to follow.

Let these few verses from God’s Word encourage those who are ‘senior saints.’

  • Even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. (Isaiah 46:4)
  • They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green (Psalm 92:14)

Conclusion: What’s John’s big idea here?

  • No matter what age you are, every single one of you from the fathers right down to the little children can demonstrate something of Christ’s character.

No matter what season of the Christian life you find yourself at today, be encouraged.

  • If you are a Christian, be encouraged that your sins have been forgiven and that you’re in a love relationship with the Father.
  • If you are a teen, young person or married couple, be encouraged just how far the Lord has brought you in overcoming the evil by strengthening you as you abided in the Word.
  • If you are a ‘senior saint’ a mature Christian, be encouraged to be able to see the church continue on in the hands of the spiritual offspring you have helped develop and be encouraged by the abiding relationship with Christ you have and the blessing that He is.

Finally, John says: I write to you children, young men and fathers.

  • Perhaps we can take up the old custom of writing to people. OK, if you have to, use email or a text.
  • But make it a habit to encourage your brothers & sisters in Christ. You don’t know the struggle they may be going through and an encouraging word from you might be just what they need at that moment.