“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” (1 John 2:12-14)
A person who gains new life after receiving the Holy Spirit should grow in faith and attain to the measure of the fullness of Christ. The growth process of spiritual faith can be illustrated though that of a newborn baby.
- Little Children
1 John 2:12 reads, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.” As it states in Acts 4:12, “¡¦and there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved,” man can be saved only through the name of Jesus Christ and can be forgiven only through the shedding of His precious and sinless blood. Those who have been forgiven of their sins through their faith in the name of Jesus Christ receive the Holy Spirit as the gift of God. Then God calls those believers who have received the Holy Spirit and been born again “little children.”
Though these ‘little children’ of God received the faith to gain salvation, they have little knowledge of the Word of God. They seldom try to live by the truth and have not yet been given the strength to live by the Word. They say they believe in God but have not let go of a few lingering attachments to the world so that they sometimes seem to lead a fervent life of faith, but when faced with trials, they lose heart quickly and stumble. This faith is the first level of faith.
Verse 13 says, “I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.” After childbirth, a newborn baby grows and begins toddling its way into the world. As the infant grows more, she can walk and talk well and has some knowledge. But, she still doesn’t have a capacity for self-reliance and has much knowledge and many ways of living yet to lean step by step. Those young children recognize their parents, but don’t fully understand them.
In spirit, those who are in the stage of faith comparable to ‘children’ are said to have weak faith, which is the 2nd level of faith. Just like children who can recognize their parents, those who spiritually have the faith of ‘children’ gain the fundamental knowledge of faith about God the Creator and the Savior Jesus Christ so that they sometimes obey the Word but some other times they may disobey.
The scripture ‘[to] know the Father’ means they know Jesus Christ is the Son of God. It also means they not only have the knowledge of Jesus Christ, but they also believe in Him from the heart and they are learning to act by the Word of God. As they come to understand God is our Father and live by His Word, they draw themselves closer to God and become more familiar with Him. Then, while praying, they call God ‘God the Father’ or ‘Father God’. Even if they called God just ‘God’ in the beginning of their faith they will eventually call Him just ‘Father.’ God is delighted when His children call Him ‘Father’ and He draws nearer to them to the extent that they obey His Word.
2. Young Men
Verse 13 reads, “I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.” Young men are strong, vigorous, active, and zealous, and overflow with the confidence in which they can do anything. In the same way, those who have the faith of ‘young men’ lead a Christian life in confidence to the extent that they cultivate the heart with the Word of God. They struggle against and throw away sins. They courageously overcome any kinds of trials that come upon them because they have faith and the hope for Heaven.
The faith of young men is the 3rd level of faith. The stage, ‘the rock of faith’, is a more exacting term that is applied to the point of accomplishing 60% of the 3rd level of faith. When they come to have the faith of young men, they stand on the rock of faith and readily obey the Word of God because they understand it in the heart. They don’t rejoice in doing evil, but build up goodness diligently. They also try their best to cast off sinful natures from the heart. As recorded in Verse 14, “you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one,” they can drive away any temptations of the enemy devil with the Word of God and when trials come upon them, they don’t cease praying but capably overcome with rejoicing and giving thanks as God commands.
Verse 13 reads, “¡¦you know Him who has been from the beginning.” As the young men’s days that are full of zeal, vigor and strength pass, they become fully matured adults. Because they are well-experienced in the journey of life, they are very sensible in every affair. They embrace everything in a gentle manner and do not insist on their opinions they think right. And, if necessary, they follow others’ opinions and serve them in humility.
Similarly, the faith of ‘fathers’ is a matured faith and it is the faith that is at and above the 4th level of faith. This matured faith belongs to men of spirit or whole spirit. They know ‘Him who has been from the beginning’. ‘He who has been from the beginning’ refers to God. So, ‘to know Him who has been from the beginning’ means they understand the depths of the origin of God and understand His love from the heart.
Those who have the faith of fathers walk in the truth completely without turning to the left or right. They serve others with humility. They seek peace with everyone. They’ve achieved sanctification and are able to understand and embrace anyone. They love God above all else in the world, so they obey His will always. Those who have attained to the faith of whole spirit do more than they are supposed to do to obey and please God. They not only receive whatever they ask for, but they receive blessing when they go out and when they come in and lead a prosperous and successful life in everything.