In 1 John 2:10-17, the Apostle John says this:
“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in the darkness, and walketh in the darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness hath blinded his eyes.
I write unto you, my little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye know him who is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the evil one. I have written unto you, little children, because ye know the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye know him who is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the evil one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vainglory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
The first two verses serve as part of the preceding context of the rest of the passage, and speak of the person who loves his brother or sister in Christ as making his home in the light. The light refers to the Word and truth of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, as is evident from John 1, in which John speaks of Christ as the “. . . Light, which coming into the world, enlightens every man.” Also, Jesus commands His disciples in the Gospel of John to “abide” in Him. This truth that the light refers to Christ will become important later on.
In the rest of the passage, John explains to his audience what it is about them that is the reason for him writing to them, and then explains what their relationship to the world is.
In verses 12-14, John explains to them what about them makes him want to write this letter to them. He begins by speaking to all of them as “little children” because they are weak in and of themselves, and they are his spiritual children since he made disciples out of them, making him their spiritual father. He says that he is writing to them because their sins have been forgiven them for “His name’s sake.” This is where it is important to realize that, two sentences earlier, he was talking about abiding in the light, who is Christ. Therefore, when he refers to “His name,” he is referring to Christ’s name. Thus, he is saying that his audience’s sins have forgiven them for the sake of Christ’s name.
But what does that even mean? Well, the phrase, “for the sake of” means “because of.” What about Christ’s name? What is that? Would it make sense for John to be speaking of Christ’s name, “Jesus,” so that he’d be saying “your sins have been forgiven because of the name, ‘Jesus?'” I don’t think so. Rather, I believe that, by the word, “name,” John is referring to Christ’s identity, that is, who He is and what He has accomplished. That being the case, John is saying, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you because Christ, being the God-man, died for all your sins and came back to life.” God will only forgive people for their sins if the punishment due them for their sins has been endured by Christ.
After speaking to his audience as a whole, John speaks to a specific group in his audience, “fathers,” saying that he is writing to them because they know Him who has existed from the beginning. Because John breaks up his audience into three groups — “fathers,” “young men,” and “children,” — and assigns to them specific spiritual characteristics that are divided by spiritual maturity level, and because it is highly unlikely that his audience was divided by spiritual maturity that coincided with “stage of life,” such as fatherhood, young adulthood, and childhood, I take these designations to refer to spiritual maturity levels, each with their specific characteristics.
In beginning with the “fathers,” who I take to mean spiritual fathers, like John, John says that he is writing to them because they know the One who has existed from the beginning. Now, since he is speaking to the most spiritually mature believers in his audience, when he uses the word, “know,” he must mean a mature knowledge of God, specifically a knowledge of Him as the One who has existed from the beginning, implying that He existed before the beginning. What he is implying is that these fathers know God apart from His creation, that is, they know who He is, not just what He has done, is doing, and will do in relation to His creation.
Next, John addresses the “young men,” and says that he is writing to them because they have overcome the evil one, or Satan. Then, he addresses the “children,” and says that he has written to them because they know the Father. Notice the difference between how he described the “fathers” and the “children”: the fathers know Him who has been from the beginning, but the children simply know the Father. The description of the children speaks of a relatively new knowledge of God as one’s Father, rather than the description of the fathers, who know God, not just as the Father, but as the One who has been from the beginning.
In verse 14, John speaks to the fathers and the young men again, this time emphasizing their spiritual characteristics by saying that he “has written” to them, instead of “is writing” to them. To the fathers, he says again that they know Him who has existed from the beginning. To the young men, he says that he has written to them because they are strong, the Word of God makes its home in them, and they have overcome the evil one. They are strong because the Word of God makes its home in them, and because they are strong, they have overcome the evil one.
In verses 15-17, John explains his audience’s relationship to the world. He begins by commanding them to not love, or have affection or devotion for, the world, nor the things that are in the world. What does he mean by world? He will explain himself further on, but before that, he says that, if anyone loves the world, then the love for the Father is not in him. Why? Because all that is in the world, which are
- the lust, or evil desire, of the flesh, or evil human nature
- the evil desire of the eyes
- the boastful pride of life
are not from the Father, but from the world. So, what is the world? It is the source of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. The Greek word for world is kosmos, and it can refer to the natural, corrupted, order of things. Since Satan is the “god of this world” (see 2 Corinthians), then it is reasonable to see the world as referring to the way things are when they are ruled by him.
John ends this passage with a reason not to love the world: it is passing away, as well as its lusts, but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
So, have your sins been forgiven you?
Do you know the Father?
Does the Word of God make its home in you?
Do you love the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the boastful pride of life, or do you love the Father?
Are you a doer of the will of God?
Do you understand the gospel of Christ’s name?
The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.” – Romans 1:18-32
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13