Please read: I John 2:12-29
John has a reason for writing this short letter, and he states it in the second chapter. John writes the letter to encourage the readers because their sins have been forgiven, and they knew Him (Jesus) from the beginning. John addresses the young men because they were tempted and overcame that temptation. John addresses them as dear children because they know God the Father, and again he emphasizes that the fathers, older men, have known him from the beginning. This does not refer to the beginning of time but when Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. John addresses the young men again because they are strong in their faith, and the word of God lives in them, and they have already overcome the evil one. So this letter is meant to encourage because they are in Christ and have known Him. It is a warning against false teaching, the Secessionists, because of the same reasons that John is encouraging them. They have known Jesus from the beginning of his earthly ministry. They have become obedient to the words that Jesus taught to the point that John says, “the word of God lives in you.” The Apostle John’s words beg them not to forget what they know and what they have overcome.
In verses 15 through 17, John instructs believers not to love the world. It seems like a simple enough command, but it is more complex than you think when breaking it down. John contrasts loving the world with loving the Father and states that you cannot do both. “If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you” (I John 2:15-16). So what does loving the world really mean? John tells us. The lust of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life. The passion of the flesh and the eyes are sinful cravings triggered by things that people see. For men, it can be an attractive woman. It can be a new outfit that a woman sees in a magazine ad or store. Companies market their products to appeal to the lust of our flesh and eyes. They have found out that sex sells, and they use it to their advantage and our disadvantage. Wanting and craving the newest thing leads us down a rabbit hole of discontentment. The pride of life involves being puffed up because of material possessions. People get all caught up in keeping up with the Jones, so to speak. What we need to focus on is knowing more and more about God. Because knowing God is life-giving, desiring and accumulating possessions is life draining. You cannot do both.
Verse eighteen that John refers to is also referred to as “the last days.” It is the period that begins with the first coming of Jesus and ends with His second coming. John warns them that the antichrist is coming, and he says that many have come. I know we are all looking for the great antichrist that will come toward the end of the age, but in reality, anyone who denies Christ or his teachings is the antichrist. Both the antichrist and the lesser ones that preceded him will have an agenda of deception. John is the only one that describes the former members of a Christian community as antichrists; others in the New Testament describe them as attacking from outside the church. John explains that these false teachers were never really part of them, and their departing from the faith that they know proves it. These Secessionists claimed that they had a special anointing that revealed to them a different truth. John assures the readers that they do not need to adopt the Secessionist’s teaching because they have their own anointing from the Holy Spirit and that anointing leads them into all truth. John readers received the Holy Spirit when they first believed. As a result, they already know the truth.
How about you? Do you struggle with desiring material things enticed by the lust of the flesh and eyes? If you have obtained these things, do you struggle with the pride of life? Matthew tells us to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy” (6:19-21).