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1 John 2:14 by Robert Dean
Series:1st John (2000)
Duration:59 mins 58 secs

Occupation With Christ; Motivation; 1 John 2:14

 

1 John 2:14 NASB "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."

John has nothing to say to the mature believer because the mature believer in the congregation is not having a problem with the false teaching of the early Gnostic type of teaching that was there, they are not having a problem with licentiousness; the mature believers are doctrinally squared away and they apply the doctrine they know. The second category, though, has some problems. These are the young men, the adolescent believers. The summary issue if given in verse 13—"because you have overcome the evil one [Satan]." What that means John is going to explain particularly in terms of the cosmic system, starting in verse 15.

The more we have mastered the basic spiritual skills the more we understand what God has done for us. Grace orientation and doctrinal orientation work together. We understand more of what God has done for us and that motivates us to truly love God. This has to do with a deep and profound understanding of everything that God has done for us in salvation, of the forty things that God has provided for us, all of the spiritual assets that he has given us, and how to use them. We come to know God; we move from just knowing who He is. Once we establish this in our soul, when we really come to understand who and what God is, that motivates us to a consistent love for all mankind based on Christ's love, and our focus in on Christ, then the last stage which is inner happiness begins to fall into place. Inner happiness is the consequence of mastering these other skills. No matter how difficult things around us might be we can have an inner stability, tranquillity and contentment with or without. That is why Paul is able to say in Philippians 4:12, 13 NASB "I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." In context, Paul is talking about the fact that he has gone through poverty tests, prosperity tests, has had opportunities where he has had lots of friends around him, has had times when he was isolated in prison. The "all things" related to good things and bad things, positive or negative. He is saying he can handle any situation this world throws at him because of Christ, because he is so focused on Jesus Christ and what He did for Paul that he can handle anything. That is occupation with Christ.

This is the stage that we are shooting for in the Christian life or Christian maturity. So John starts there. "I have written to you, fathers…" This is an aoristic present tense, he is writing at that particular moment, and he is going to express the purpose for writing to mature believers, "because you know Him." Here he uses a causal hoti [o(ti] to explain his reason for writing; "you know Him," perfect active indicative of ginosko [ginwskw], and there the knowledge has to do with relationship, it is not just academic knowledge. This is a knowledge of believers who have spent years studying doctrine and building a relationship with God, and they know Him and understand Him. It says in the text: "because you know Him," and there we have a third person singular relative pronoun which sets up a relative phrase: "because you have come to know the one who was from the beginning." The question is: is he talking about God the Father or God the Son?

Two things play into our understanding that he is talking about the Lord Jesus Christ. First of all, he in going to mention the Father specifically at the end of the verse.  Secondly, there is an issue facing the congregation that has to do with a false understanding of who Jesus Christ is. We went through that at the beginning of the epistle. There are a couple of verses we need to go to in order to establish eternality in relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 9:6 NASB "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." This is talking about the second person of the Trinity who will become incarnate through virgin conception and birth, and be born in Bethlehem. That is God the Son. We don't call God the Son "Eternal Father." The Son is not the Father, they are not the same person; they are distinct. The emphasis in the Hebrew is "Father of eternity," and that is a Hebrew idiom meaning that He has an attribute of eternality. Here is a child who will have a beginning, yet His essential character is eternal.

The phrase we have in 1 John 2:14 is the preposition apo [a)po] plus the noun arche [a)rxh], "from the beginning." In John 1:1 we have en [e)n] plus arche. If there were to be an article present here then once a preposition is put with it the article automatically drops out. So this means this is still a definite word—"beginning." 1 John 2:13 talks about the Lord Jesus Christ as being or existing from the beginning, indicating eternality. The beginning in John 1:1 is the beginning of creation, the beginning of the space-time universe. God is eternal but the universe is not. At the time God created the universe the Word already existed, He was continually in eternity past to be in existence. That is the thrust of the imperfect tense in the Greek. John 1:1 NASB "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] "He was in the beginning with God." There is no stronger way of stating the eternality of Jesus Christ than in John 1:1, 2.

So John is saying: "I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning." This is the doctrine of occupation with Christ. There are passages we need to keep in mind in understanding this concept.

Hebrews chapter eleven detailed Old Testament heroes who did not give up despite opposition. Hebrews 12:1, 2 NASB "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." The challenge her is to get our priorities straight, to figure out what it is in our life that distracts us from applying doctrine, from learning doctrine, from getting to Bible class. We have to decide on our priorities and then make decisions about what we are going to do in life, and not do, based on that. Ultimately we do this by reaching this stage of occupation with Christ. At this point the writer of Hebrews says we have to put our focus on Jesus Christ, He is the model for how we face adversity. No person ever faced more persecution and adversity than the Lord Jesus Christ and he did it in His humanity through the filling of God the Holy Spirit. He was a model for us and He set the pattern and the precedent for the spiritual life on the church age. So we have to come to understand who He is, what He went through in His life and on the cross, because that is our standard. We are to put our focus on Jesus.

It was for the joy set before Him that Christ endured the cross. He put up with the rejection, the opposition, and went through more torment and pain than any of us will ever go through. He also went through the cultural shame that was associated with the kind of death that He went through. In His humanity Jesus Christ was just as much influenced by His culture as we are and in His humanity it was a shameful way to be treated and to die. He did not consider that to be something to discourage Him from fulfilling God's plan for His life, so He endured the cross, all of the physical suffering, the shame also applied to the degradation that He endured as perfect righteousness bearing our sin in His body on the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB "He made Him who knew no sin {to be} sin on our behalf…" In His perfect righteousness He had all of our sins imputed to Him; that is shame for Him. The point is that what enables us to face the adversity, the problems, the difficulties, the heartaches of life, is to put our focus on what Jesus did. He is the pioneer, the one who blazed the trail, the one who set the precedent, and when we come to understanding all of the dynamics that took place on the cross then we begin to understand what it means to fix our eyes on Jesus. He is the pattern and He is the one we follow.

1 Peter 1:8 NASB "and though you have not seen Him, you love Him…" This is the contrast. Peter learned this in the episode with Thomas right before the ascension of our Lord. At that point Jesus said: "Blessed are they who have believed having not seen me." It is one thing to believe like Thomas did because He saw the historical evidence of Jesus Christ right before his eyes, but Jesus said it is greater to believe on the testimony of others as opposed to having that personal eye-witness empirical data before you at the time. So Peter says "though you have not seen Him, you love Him." It takes more to love someone you don't have empirical contact with. We only come to know that person because we read about him. We know our Lord Jesus Christ only through what the Scriptures tell us. "… and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory." The interesting thing about the first epistle of Peter is that the focus is on how to face adversity and suffering, and one of the first things he focuses his readers on at the beginning of the epistle is Jesus Christ and their love for Him, because they had come to know Him even though they did not have personal appointments with Him. So it takes more to love someone we do not have a relationship with.

John 14:15 NASB "John 14:15 NASB "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." Once again we see an emphasis on maturity here. The one who loves Jesus is the one who consistently keeps the commandments. To keep the commandments you have to know His commandments. We have to be intimately aware of all of the mandates and protocols to the spiritual life in the New Testament, and we have to be consistently applying them. So love is not a feeling, not an emotion; love has an objective measure and has to do with our understanding of divine precepts and our application in our life. That is what it means to have occupation with Christ, it means to make Jesus Christ a role model for out life and to focus on His person and work and character as a model for how we get through any difficulty or hardship in our life. We use the word "occupation," and to occupy means to be completely absorbed with something, to have our thinking completely captured by something, to concentrate and to think. So we are to concentrate on Jesus and he is the focus for our spiritual life.

Then John goes on to talk to the young men in 1 John 2:14, the adolescent believers.