Growing in faith: An ancient truth about forgiveness
Growing in faith as we grow in life:
Children, Young men, and fathers
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 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. 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.
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.
If you like theological discussions, then this passage is full of them.
In fact, if you pick up two or three different commentaries,
you’ll probably find at there are two different views
as to how to properly interpret these 2 verses.
whereas most theological discussions in commentaries focus upon language usage and verb form means,
this particular discussion or disagreement focuses upon several of the WORDS that John uses…
It focuses upon the usage of:
and a repeating.
It seems that the scholars ask the question:
IS John describing the maturing process of the believer
where the ‘little children’ are those new Christians?
And then does his usage of the word "fathers" refer to
Christians who are the older and more mature?
Anyway, while I like academic discussions as much as the next preacher,
at the same time,
I really don’t believe that this discussion is where the meat of what John is talking about happens to be is…
I say that because it seems what he is saying is much
more in the context with
The "WHAT AND HOW"
that John was writing about and
He is using of these terms, children, young men, and fathers,
to actually show us that all Christians,
regardless of their ages,
from younger...represented by the word, children,
to older...as seen by the words, the younger men,
to the older still...as seen in the word 'the fathers,'
he’s writing to tell us that we regardless of our age or our maturity as Christians...and again, don't forget that John is writing this to the church...the Christians...
Regardless of our age or maturity level,
We should really know and appreciate what are the very important truths of the Bible…
The First being,
that sins are forgiven, period;
and by the way, that truth is actually the ONLY one of these truths we’re going to look at today.
The Second truth is that
the evil one is not overcome only by young powerful men, but he can be overcome by all Christians in and through Christ.
You don't need to be a pastor or priest or elder...Christ OVERCOMES the evil one...not us...only Jesus.
And then third, as believers, as Christians, every one of us TRULY does KNOW God...
we truly do KNOW God BECAUSE we KNOW Jesus…
and at the same time,
John is also showing us that at different ages or stages of our lives that we might be in,
there actually might be more emphasis towards either falling prey to sin,
or we might have a greater need to focus on overcoming through Christ,
or walking stronger,
than it might be at other times in our lives.
So, yes, in a way,
these age breaks that John uses here do show us that things change in different periods of our life.
Yet, at the same time,
every Christian is able,
through or In Christ,
to come through situations and events in a Christian's life through God’s strength.
So just maybe rather than trying to differentiate our spiritual well being in different stages of life
John instead is probably more than likely trying to give emphasis of ALWAYS walking close in Jesus regardless of our age or our level of spiritual maturity...
I think that's really what John is trying to get across to us as he uses the writing and speaking tool of repetition here,
because repetition is in fact a well KNOWN method of emphasizing some important fact.
That’s why I believe we should approach this passage in that framework...John is emphasizing important truths that are KEY in a Christian's life.
Therefore, let’s look at what John is emphasizing or teaching us.
First off, we see something that every Christian,
regardless of age,
should understand and know as rock solid truth.
John covers this in verse 12…it’s the whole idea of being forgiven of our sin…the forgiveness of sin.
Stop and think about this for a moment…OK?
Do you really believe that your sins have been forgiven?
I know we all can say that they are…
But, Do you believe deeply down in your heart,
that every last one of your sins has been dealt with by Jesus,
and that He has totally forgiven you of each of them?
You see, IF we don’t believe that GREAT TRUTH of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
and IF we don't believe it with deepest conviction,
then Satan will have a field day with you.
That’s because he will constantly be bringing some of those sins back up
over and over and throwing them in your face.
That’s why you’ll hear him constantly accusing you of something…
saying things to you like,
what do you mean you’re forgiven? HA!
If that were true, why do you keep on sinning?
Apparently you’re not there yet.
Maybe you ought to work a bit harder.
But falling to that lie, puts us somewhere where we're not really supposed to be...
That's because the Christian is NOT someone who is having to constantly be running off to God
and repeatedly begging forgiveness.
Not to mention, think about how easy it is for Satan to get you so wrapped up in your guilt trip over past and forgiven sin that now you're missing out now what God wants you to be doing...
because now you're using the excuse, I have to deal with that sin FIRST before I can do 'such and such,'.
because apparently it wasn't dealt with already...
If you feel like you must,
then please, check it out with Jesus…
ask Him if He’s already forgiven you of that sin that keeps coming to mind…
Now, if you're still committing that sin (whatever it is) over and over, then that's another issue...and you need to repent and turn from it. OK?
Here's another one..
Or are you a person who is forever HOPING that you might be forgiven.
Again, the Christian isn’t someone who must forever be praying and asking for forgiveness over and over,
instead, the Christian is someone who knows
and is convinced deeply in his or her heart that he or she HAS been forgiven!
Why? Because the HOLY SPIRIT bears witness to that forgiveness in us.
Now, at the same time, like I just said before,
when we do sin, and we do,
Then we need to agree with God,
and confess our sin,
repenting, or turning from it,
and receive the blessing of the healing of having been forgiven…
You know, I cannot tell you how many people have said things when asked if their sins have been forgiven,
that show they really aren’t sure…
they’ll say things like,
“Well, Pastor, I sure do HOPE they have been.”
Or “I’m asking God’s forgiveness for this sin (you name it) over and over,
so I hope that one day I get free of it.”
Or they will say, ‘I always pray when I’m praying and ask that God forgives me of all my sins.’ I hope He does.
Apparently John had heard this back in his day also,
because he firmly addresses it here in verse 12 when he says, “ (ESV)
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His Name’s sake.”
And I hope too that you noticed just HOW John tells us that sin is forgiven…
It’s not by something or through something we personally have to do…
We don’t have to go light candles, or sacrifice a sheep or something.
We don’t have to go do a certain number of good works to earn God’s forgiveness of our sins.
Nor do we have to go and do time in a monastery,
although at times that doesn’t sound like too bad an idea,
considering the peace and quiet and getting away from all might be pretty nice…maybe.
Well, at least for a while.
But John is reminding us that We’re forgiven,
As he says,
‘forgiven FOR His Name’s Sake.’
Aren't you thankful that you've been forgiven of all your sins and that you've been set free by Jesus Christ?
Just to refresh all our memories,
that means that Jesus HIMSELF is the sole basis upon which our sins are forgiven…
we’re forgiven of our sins because of what Jesus DID on the cross…
we’re forgiven because what Jesus did on the cross as our perfect sacrifice for our sin
was done completely and perfectly for you and for me…
We are forgiven because Jesus paid the price of our sins and HE did what was REQUIRED by God
in order that JESUS and JESUS alone
would solve our sin problem.
Jesus dealt with MY sin problem…I didn't.
Jesus took MY punishment…
He took the stripes...
He took the Cross...
He shed HIS Blood...
That means I no longer have stand dreading what will come when I and everyone else stand before God on Judgment Day…
Jesus set me free when I believed in Him and trusted Him,
and no one can put the chains back on me…
Jesus freed me…
Jesus took on my sin problem and dealt with it PERFECTLY>
Jesus dealt with YOUR sin problem…
He dealt with the sin problem of the world, just as John said back in verses 1 and 2 even.
So here we are…What about you?
Do you know in your heart that you’re forgiven because of WHAT JESUS did…
that you’re forgiven FOR His Name’s sake?
If you haven't admitted yet that you need a Savior and that Jesus is that Savior Who paid YOUR sin debt and sets you free...then I pray that you would accept Him today...
Trust Him...asking forgiveness and turning from your sins and trust Jesus...and start following Him.
If you've done that, then please, don't forget how big a deal this is for the Christian...remember Jesus.