1 John 2:12-17: The World and Its Desires

Devotionals > New Testament > 1 John > 1 John 2:12-17: The World and Its Desires

1 John 2:12-17: The World and Its Desires

November 10, 2023


Ezekiel 27-28, Job 9:21-35, John 9:26-41, 1 John 2:12-17

1 John 2:12-17:

John now steps back to tell his readers why he is writing to them. Each grouping is repeated to emphasize his particular focus for each age range. Here, we may say, is evidence in the Bible that suiting our teaching to the intellectual and developmental capacities of the age of the audience is wise – as well as that every age grouping, even the young “dear children,” can hear and understand the gospel.

For the youngest to whom he is writing, the “dear children,” John is emphasizing that he is writing because their sins have been forgiven (v. 12) and because they know the Father (v. 14). When we are starting out in our Christian life, we need to be reminded often that our sins have been forgiven and that we really truly do know – have a personal relationship with – God the Father.

To the “fathers,” he emphasizes, by repeating the exact same phrase in v. 13 and v. 14, that he is writing “because you know him who is from the beginning.” As we grow in our Christian lives, it is important to be reminded that the God we worship and serve is before time and eternal and that our service to him is long lasting and a sure reward. We have known him who is from the beginning. This is no passing phase or fad. We are worshiping the very creator of the universe.

And then to the young men, he emphasizes by repetition that he is writing “because you have overcome the evil one.” A young person can be blown around by youthful passions and temptations. But in Christ you can overcome the evil one. He also tells them that he is writing because “you are strong, and the word of God lives in you.” He is underlining what is true, and what he hopes to be true, about them. They are strong in the Word. Young people should aim to be strong in God’s Word and use their energy to become proficient in and mighty in the Scriptures.

But then John switches focus – in his spiral staircase technique of writing, he has just turned the corner and is looking down at his main theme again from a different angle. He is calling us to not love the world. By the “world” is meant the world in rebellion against God. He is not talking about sunsets and sunrises and nature, or cosmology. He is talking about the human world system which is in rebellion against God. John’s warning is stark: we cannot love both the world and the Father. Flee then everything in the world – lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life. Why? John summarizes in a verse that deserves to be memorized by all, young and old alike:

“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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