Foundations for Victory

I Jn 2:12-14


12 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake.

13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father.

14 I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is 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 wicked one. (NKJ)

In this passage John seems to stop to confirm them in the things that he has said. He has spoken some very difficult things. This loving of the brethren and not loving the world.

He wants them to understand the basis on which he makes these claims upon their lives. Many think that John was here telling people what they must do in order to get to heaven. But that is not the case at all. These are not instructions on how to get to heaven but are descriptions of those who are going to heaven.

He addresses this to it seems three groups, children, young men and fathers or older men. I do not think that it is important to cull these out individually for that is not John's purpose. Rather he has chosen these three and stated facts about each that are true of all. It is not that the older fathers had not had their sins forgiven, nor that the young men had not known the Father. We will do better just considering the conditions of which he speaks rather than trying to qualify them to a particular group.

What John is doing here is giving them the Christian foundation for the claims that he makes upon their lives. There are certain things that are true of genuine Christians. These doctrines are the basis of all Christian faith and life. Without these axioms as standards of doctrine, we would be adrift upon the sea of human wisdom and human philosophy left to our own understanding concerning God and the Christian life.

John also has three main purposes in this passage concerning his readers. One he is writing to comfort those who are anxious because they feel John has set the standard so high that they will never be able to make it. If they feel this way they may feel like they are condemned sinners. And lose all hope. So he wants to give them comfort.

Secondly John is writing to encourage them. As we have looked at these very strict words of John it is easy to begin to feel weak and inadequate to the life God calls us to live. So John wants to encourage them. "If we are presented with the Christian standard of life and morality and ethics without first of all being shown clearly how this is possible in light of the Christian doctrine, there would be nothing more discouraging in the world than the New Testament". Lloyd-Jones

The third object of this passage is to warn those who use their weakness as a excuse for failure on these issues. He wants them to see that God has made sufficient provision for the Christian so that they can have victory over sin in their lives and can live as God expects.

"So he introduces this parenthesis in that way; comfort for those who feel condemned, encouragement for those who feel this is some exalted task, and before he goes any further, taking away every excuse that we may tend to put forward, and attempt to excuse ourselves from this high calling, this great vocation into which we have been called in the Lord Jesus Christ." Lloyd-Jones


  1. Because your sins are forgiven you - for His name's sake
    1. We must be quite clear on what he is not saying here.
      1. He is not saying that we are praying that our sins might be forgiven.
      2. Nor is he saying that we are hoping that our sins are forgiven.
      3. Many people spend their time jumping through spiritual hoops hoping that they have jumped high enough and often enough that God will overlook their sin.
      4. Many, like the Muslim faith believe that forgiveness is based on confession of sin and a lot of good works.
      5. A pastor I know had a Mormon in his office and asked him the question about the basis of him going to heaven, to which the man replied that it depended a little on Jesus and a whole lot on himself.
      6. Those who live such lives are never assured that their sins are forgiven.
      7. They can only hope and pray, but never be sure.
    2. He is telling them here that it is beyond question that their sins have been removed from their account.
      1. If the forgiveness of our sins is based on what we have done then there will always be doubt and fear, questions and uncertainty.
      2. But if it is based on what Jesus Christ has done then it is as sure as God is sure.
      3. The foundation of their victory is that their sins have been forgiven.
    3. For His Name's Sake
      1. John tells us that we know our sins are forgiven because it was for His sake that God has forgiven us.
      2. The merit by which our sins are take away is found only in the work of Jesus Christ.
        1. Matt 1:21 "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." (NKJ)
        2. Matt 26:28 "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (NKJ)
        3. Acts 10:43 "To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins." (NKJ)
        4. Acts 13:38-39 "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. (NKJ)
        5. Col 2:13-14 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (NKJ)
        6. I Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (NKJ)
        7. I Jn 2:1-2 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (NKJ)
        8. Rev 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, (NKJ)
    4. Because we know our sins are forgiven we have assurance that we have the victory already in Jesus Christ.
      1. Christ has overcome sin, death and the grave.
      2. In Him we also have been given the victory over those things that would destroy us.
      3. He is saying take comfort, your sins, all your sins have been forgiven for Jesus sake.
  2. Because you have known Him who is from the beginning - the Son
    1. This is eternal life to know Jesus Christ.
      1. John 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (NKJ)
      2. As you have often heard it is not what you know but who you know that counts.
      3. If you know Jesus in the sense that he has saved yo and set you on the narrow way then these difficult things that John is talking of are no longer difficult.
  3. Because you have overcome the wicked one
    1. It does not say you are overcoming the wicked one.
      1. That would be the idea if it was up to us and our power.
      2. Jesus has overcome.
      3. Now as we live, we have the one who overcame the wicked one at our side to get us through even the greatest temptation or trial.
      4. When we first believed there was a sense of victory.
      5. At that point in time we knew we had the victory because Jesus had won it at calvary.
    2. Jesus had defeated the wicked one and given us the victory for the taking if we will have it.
  4. Because you have known the Father
    1. Now to many people this is all they know, so they think
    2. Many people claim to believe in God but that is not enough.
    3. Believing in God does nothing for you, James said that even the demons believe and tremble.
    4. But of course we know the Father fully because it is through Jesus Christ.
      1. In light of the special emphasis on Islam we need to remember that the only way to the true God is through Jesus Christ.
  5. Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you and you have overcome the wicked one
    1. I think John ties these three together and puts the word of God in the center because it the means that God uses to strengthen us.
    2. We must never forget the work and power of the Holy Spirit but the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. Eph 6:17
    3. 1 Pet 1:23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, (NKJ)
    4. James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (NKJ)

"There, then are the three basic things which every Christian must know: sins forgiven for His name's sake, power to overcome the sin, and to know God the Father and God the Son through God the Holy Spirit." Lloyd-Jones

Do you possess these things today. If you do not you will always find it impossible to live up to the standards that John sets down for us here. It is only when you have these things and know it that you can have victory.


This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at