One group finally decides to leave, and the other group is told they are wrong in their belief of salvation by faith alone, by grace alone in Christ. This is similar to what happened in the early church and John. In his first epistle, John is addressing the Christians who were left behind. They are possibly dealing with feelings of rejection and doubt. They need pastoral encouragement and John delivers it with four points in 1 John 2:12-14.
In this section, John reminds them most importantly that their sins are forgiven. By trusting in Christ and His atonement for sins, they need nothing more for salvation. Second, because they have trusted in Christ, they know the uncreated one from the beginning, Who has created the heavens and the earth. Since Jesus is the creator, He is sovereign over His creation. Third, because Jesus defeated death, they have victory over satan. He no longer has hold of them. Finally, their strength is to be found in Christ and in His Word abiding in them. These four truths are to encourage them through the trials they face. And they encourage us also today.
As I speak to those who are believers and non-believers, I find that many believers are feeling a sense of defeat, and non-believers are touting victory over God, declaring Him to be dead. Some believers, with whom I converse, see events unfolding in the world with its seemingly overwhelming might, talk with a sense of doubt, defeat, and frustration.
Marriage is being redefined, attacks on the Christian faith are mounting, businesses are not being allowed to operate on Christian principles. My question in response is this: What do you expect from the world? The essence of human existence is self-centeredness, as humanity does not even acknowledge, thank, or honor God (Romans 1:21). James goes further to state that, when joining with the world, we join with their hostility towards God (James 4:4). The world with its systems and values expresses hostility towards God.
Other believers are facing many challenges in their personal lives whether of health, finances, wayward children, marriage issues, or challenges to their faith. When one’s life situation is crumbling, it is hard to even get out of bed. But again, we live in a fallen world; and Jesus said that in this world we would have many trials. But, He also said to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
What are we to do? In the autumn of 1941, when WWII seemed the darkest for Britain and it looked like the Nazis would be victorious in the war, Winston Churchill gave a speech to lift Britain from her ashes and to push through to victory. In it he said,
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Here is what are we to do: never, never, never give in! Never deny the faith, never call sin acceptable, never accept the system and rationale of the world. Our victory will come down from heaven to lift and vindicate us for our faith in Him. Understand that our Creator has saved us and given us victory over the world. Let us live in our victory and remain strong in Jesus and His never changing Word. Remember that the world, with all its lusts, is passing away; but the one who does God’s will remains forever (1 John 2:17).
Finally, proclaim the gospel as we continue in the work Jesus commanded us to do by going and making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:19-20).