Sunday, 01 March 2009 00:00

Moving Toward Maturity

I John 2:12-14 (ESV)

I am writing to you, little children, because our 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, becuase 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 over come the evil one

In our text John addresses three groups of believers: those he calls children, young men, and fathers. He is not referring to literal children, for he uses this word through I John as a synonym for everyone who has been born again. He is identifying Christians in their different stages of spiritual growth. It is, in essence, the process of maturing as a believer.

  1. New believers often need the assurance that their sins are forgiven.
    The word that characterizes this stage of spiritual maturity would be "getting." There is the excitement of new faith, new experiences, new truth—and then it happens! We mess up. Now we have to work through all the emotions we feel in relation to God. Spiritual immaturity is revealed through "hiding," "denying," and "covering" sin. The young believer has a difficult time confessing his sin because he doesn't yet get it! I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake (v.12). The young believer needs to be constantly reminded of the basis of his forgiveness.
    1. Forgiveness is tied to Christ's character, not yours.
      His name's sake speaks of the character of Jesus Christ. This is what is meant be "If you shall ask anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:14 and John 16:23). It is by His righteous life, His sinful death, His intercession that you are forgiven.
    2. You move on toward spiritual maturity when you settle this in your mind.
      Most early problems in the believer's life arise from a faulty understanding of the love of God and the gifts that God gives to His children. We go around with our hands reaching out to God in order to obtain the very thing we already have.
  2. Younger believers often need the assurance that their lives really do matter.
    The word that characterizes this stage of spiritual maturity would be "doing." There is nothing morally wrong with doing, just as there is nothing wrong with "getting." This is just the next stage in your spiritual life as you mature in Christ. It's the desire to know that your life counts and is making a difference in this fallen world of ours. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one (v.13).
    1. The greatest things you will ever do in life are the eternal things.
      You may never own a company, never become a professional athlete, never write a book, never make a million, but overcoming the evil one is huge.
    2. Doing things for others spiritually is a step of maturity.
      Whether it is giving, or going, or praying, or teaching, or cooking, or cleaning, or sharing, your focus becomes others and you do what you can for others.
  3. Mature believers just simply enjoy the privilege of knowing Jesus Christ.
    The word that characterizes this stage of spiritual maturity would be "being." There is not the worry over getting, nor the anxiety of doing, but the joy of simply being. There is the freedom of doing or not doing. The joy of receiving and the joy of giving. There is the rest that comes from simply knowing the Father of all graces. Whether we live or die, prosper or fail, find fame or shame, we know who we are!
    "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." (v.14)

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