This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.
I am writing to you, little children, since your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know the one who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the evil one. ~ 1 John 2:12-13
Like in physical life, where we are born, grow, and mature, in spiritual life we are born again through faith in Jesus, then meant to grow and mature. The book of Hebrews speaks about feasting on spiritual milk, like a child, versus spiritual meat, like an adult. In his first letter, John also speaks of this growth as he gives his purpose for writing.
John saw his audience in terms of three main stages of spiritual development: Little children, young men (young person), and fathers (parents). These speak to the three main stages of our spiritual growth.
Little children are those who have new life in Jesus. They have experienced the grace of God, know God as their Father (2:14), and have their sins forgiven. They are God’s precious sons and daughters, but they are just starting out in their faith (or have a faith that is undernourished and not yet very mature). They have much growth to experience in the years to come.
Young men (young persons) are those who have been faithfully following Jesus into a spiritual adolescence or young adulthood. Physically, adolescence and young adulthood is the stage where are most full of energy and experience the most change. Spiritually, this stage is similar. This is the stage of a spiritual warrior, a person who is growing strong in their faith and understanding of God’s word. A person who has “conquered the evil one” as they learn to rely more on Jesus and scripture (2:14). They are learning to put sin to death and are becoming more faithful to Jesus.
Fathers (parents) are those who have stepped into maturity. They have a deep relationship with God and a mature understanding of his nature and work in the world. More than this the term fathers indicates they have had a hand in producing a new generation of believers. They share their faith and the gospel with others and have taken responsibility to help others grow and mature in Jesus.
John’s descriptions give us a general picture of the spectrum of spiritual growth and maturity. Where do you see yourself in terms of your spiritual growth? Commit yourself to continue to grow and mature and to become spiritual parents to others to help them grow and mature in Christ.
Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.