I write to you little children… I write to you young men… I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I John 2:12-14
It’s been said there are four stages in the typical life of a person (childhood, youth, adulthood, and ‘My, you’re looking wonderful’), John tells us there are three stages of spiritual life: little children, young men, and mature fathers.
If one reads the above verses in entirety, it will be noted that the little children are characterized in awareness of the forgiveness of their sins, and also in knowing their Father. This is a great starting point towards maturation.
As the spiritual child matures towards a young man, he adds to the awareness of his forgiveness of sin and knowing his Father a need and victory in overcoming the very real wicked one and the flesh. This victory is attained by the Word of God. Jesus used the Word of God in His very real battle of temptation in the wilderness. But be aware it was not simply that He quoted the Word, but it was His submission to the Word (see Matthew 4:4-10). I find great value in my brother Jon’s commentary on these verses from John—
“Believers who think power lies in merely quoting Scripture are mistaken. It’s not the quoting of the verse, but rather submission to the Father that overcomes the Enemy. The wicked one flees when he hears a man or woman say, ‘I don’t care what my fleshly tendencies are, here is what God’s Word says– and with His help and by His grace, His Word is what I choose to follow.’
The third category of spiritual life is that of fathers, or mature ones. Like little children fathers know their sins are forgiven and understand the nature of their Father. Like young men, they overcome the wicked one by submitting to the Word. And as a result, they have a simple and singular passion: To know Him that is ‘from the beginning’– to know Jesus.
As you walk with Jesus, spiritual life gets simpler and simpler because the longer you walk with Him, the fewer principles there are. I used to have notebooks full of principles concerning success in ministry, theology, and family, But the more time passes, the more I say, ‘ Jesus, You’re my life– not ministry, not theology, not success as a family, but just You. I love being with You; I love talking with You; I just love You.’
That’s when you know you’re reaching the state of spiritual fatherhood. And the interesting thing about fathers is that there is reproduction. In the office, on the campus, around the neighborhood, others sense the Lord in you and are interested and inspired to follow in your footsteps.
Children, young men, spiritual fathers– John commends them all.”
Maranatha! And please remember to pray for the Kenya team departing early Saturday!