I 1 John 2:12-14 John addresses 3 groups of people in the church. Much is made of the literary nature of the 3 designations and perhaps it is only a literary tool. My hunch is that John is addressing all who have remained faithful in the fellowship with the designation “little children”, the household leaders with “fathers” and the future household leaders with “young men”.
I believe this is vital for the life of the fellowship(s) John is addressing and for us today. Of course all people, women, children and men need to be addressed, and the reason is that they are a fellowship. They are one body with many members and therefore, John addresses them all. But then John gets specific in addressing the heads of homes and the future heads of homes in “fathers” and “young men”.
Why is this important? This addressing these men directly is important because it is their job to be the primary teachers of the truths they have been taught and advocates for the command to love God and each other and, and according to verses 15-17, lead the charge in avoiding the “world” system that will fight against the truths they have been taught and the command they have received from the Lord Jesus.
These church leaders were facing the onslaught of the world system that is ruled by Satan (1 John 5:19) that includes “desires of the flesh”, “desires of the eyes”, and “pride in possessions”. This war against image bearers in this fellowship was not new and is not today. In Genesis 3:6 Eve was hit with the same three temptations (read Genesis 3:6 and compare). The fellowship was being bombarded with the same temptations that brought about the fall and brings about the ruin of many fellowships and individuals in the fellowship today. Satan’s strategy of lies is not new. This strategy just uses different images to lure us away. For Eve it was food, it looked good and for knowledge. For us it is (fill in the blank) ___________________. But the strategy is the same (appeal to the flesh, eyes and pride in what one has).
The desires of our flesh, the desires of our eyes and our pride in possessions will cause us to cast off truth and run after our own little idols (this is why John reminds them of the truths they know before he tells them about the world system). By the way, John ends this letter by telling them to keep themselves from idols. I wonder if the pursuit of ourselves is the most destructive and subtle form of idolatry? When we pursue us apart from the fellowship we have denied the nature of God in Trinity and ignored the others in loving them as they need to be loved thus casing off the truth of the Gospel and embracing the world system.
This struggle against the world system of lies (desires of the flesh, eyes and pride in possessions) is real and will devour the fellowship if we do not fight against it with truth and with discipline in the life of fellowship in life together under the word, and it must be led by the men who are household leaders and future household leaders.
So, men, how are we doing in holding onto truth and jettisoning the lies of the world system? Let’s make sure we are setting the pace for the body. Do this by 1. evaluating your intake of truth and application of that truth to your daily practice 2. evaluating your denial of your flesh (that is your nature of being flesh and bone and its being broken from the fall and that fact that it wants all kinds of crazy things that are not good for it whether porn or excessive food or excessive exercise or whatever competes for truth) 3. evaluating what you set your eyes on to desire and whether its good for the soul to desire those things and 4. evaluating if you find your boasting in what you gain and possess and even want to gain and possess whether trucks or guns or homes or friends or acceptance or security or physically peak performance or whatever may consume your apart of being consumed by following Jesus.
If we lead the way in this then we can be assured that our families will follow us following Jesus and a bunch of folks following Jesus together is called a fellowship, a church. That is what we are here to do….build the church both local and global. Let’s go men and lets enjoy our role in setting the pace.