1 John 2:12-17 – The Christian Self Diagnostic system


Have you ever known someone who was so right that they were wrong? You know the type, they cannot hear of their own errors, they cannot acknowledge to you when they make a mistake, or when they are wrong. Have you ever been that person?

Over the last two weeks we have been building up our understanding of 1 John. 1 John is the Christian’s self diagnostic check up system. John is trying to help us learn how to assess our standing before God. Giving us tools to test, if we are that person.

Let me emphasize the self assessment aspect of that. If we do not reflect seriously about ourselves then we will always struggle to grow. If we are vain being filled with hubris we will think we haven’t anything to improve upon.

As it says in Proverbs 12:15
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.”

So John gives us counsel that we may be wise.


John has covered a lot of ground in these few verses we have covered:

  • If we love God and Christ
    • Then we obey their commands.
  • If we love God and Christ
    • Then we love our brethren not hating them.

In this next section John reassures his readers as to their current state.

1 John 2:12-14

Here little children represents all of John’s Christian readers. He writes as a an apostle; a spiritual father; in that he has brought the life giving gospel to so many. Just as Paul said of himself in 1 Cor 4:14-15

To the little children

John writes to these little children to assures them that he thinks they can pass the tests he has laid out. The tests of their love for God, in that they obey God and they love their brethren having honest hearts to assess these things.

They have known the Father through the Son and have thus had their sins forgiven for the sake of the name of Christ.

To the fathers

Some of the readers are older and so John calls them “fathers” They have known Jesus Christ who is from the beginning. With this, John asserts the eternal nature of Jesus, while at the same time assuring his older readers of their knowledge of Him. Recall that it is the knowing of God and Christ that John puts to the test in the first 11 verses of this chapter. So John is assuring them, that he thinks they pass the tests of:

      obedience to the commands of God
      and love for the brethren.

Wouldn’t it be great to get a note of confidence from the apostle John like this. Especially as we enter the later phases of life, to know we are doing ok. Well brethren, that is what this book is all about. This is John writing to Christians telling us that He knows we can do it. And showing us how we can check ourselves to be sure we are walking in the light of God.

To the young Christians

John tells them, that they have over come the evil one, that is Satan. He tells them that the word of God abides in them, pointing to the source of their strength. Not in their own power, but in their faithfulness in passing the tests he has laid out.

With all of John’s certainty, about these brethren truly persisting in knowing God, and overcoming through Him; These too could profit from a warning about the seductive power of the world. So too today do we profit from this warning, but before we do let’s look at this diagnostic system John has given us.

The Christian’s Self Diagnostic system

So here is the self diagnostic checkup John has given us.

Are we walking in the darkness of sin? (1:6)
Or are we walking in the light as Jesus Christ is in the light? (1:7)
Are we humble in the face of the forgiveness we have in Jesus Christ? (1:8-2:2)
Are we hard hearted to our own sin but sensitive to anothers?
Do we demand quick forgiveness from others but we’re slow to give it ourselves?
Do we deny that we have sinned at all puffing up under the presumption that we are strong?
Are we keeping His commandments? (2:3&4)
Do we hate our brother? (2:9&11)
Do we love as Christ would have us love? (2:10&1 Corinthians 13)
Do we love the world and its things? (2:15-17)

Let’s give that some serious thought. Could John write to us as confident in our passing these tests as he did to the original recipients of this letter? I’ll leave that up there for your further consideration

1 John 2:15-17

These brethren who John is so confident are passing this diagnostic check, These are the ones that can rightly be warned and reminded not to love the world, for they have been called out of the world to abide in God. We too should be these ones. So let’s add another thing to our diagnostic check up.

Do we love the world and its things?

The World

So what is “the world” in this instance? Satan is identified in the gospel of John in 14:30 & 16:11 as the ruler of this world. In John 12:31 Jesus tells us that the world was being judged and that the ruler of the world was to be cast out. This judgement took place at the cross. Jesus’s Kingdom was not of this world John 18:36 tells us. And John 7:7 says that the world hated Jesus because He exposed its works of evil. Likewise the disciples where separated from the world because of the revelation of the Father and the world hated them just as it hated the Christ. So the phrase “the world” refers to the old regime, that is, the kingdom of sin, ruled by Satan.

In the destruction of that kingdom we find the foundation of the eternal kingdom of God. Likewise we each individually act in destroying this worldly kingdom of sin when we turn away from sin and abide in Christ. The love of the world is incompatible with the love of the Father. Like water and oil, the two simply do not mix. We cannot on the one hand love sin and on the other love God. All that is in the world is not of the Father but is of the world. John points to 4 things to help us understand what is this world of which he speaks.

The first is “The lust of the flesh.”

This refers to a misuse of human appetites. It is after all natural to be hungry for food on a daily basis but it is another matter altogether to be a glutton. The marriage bed undefiled is an honorable thing but to crave such affections beyond this godly arrangement is to live for the world and not God. Legitimate desire can be twisted and corrupted into something that serves the will of Satan rather, than the will of God.

The lust of the eyes

The second thing John tells us is that the lust of the eyes is of the world. This is desire that arises from sight, seeing a thing and desiring it.

  • Eve saw the that tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes. (Gen 3:6.)
  • Potiphar’s wife “cast her eyes upon Joseph” and wanted him. (Gen 39:7)
  • David saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon; from which much sin abounded. (2 Sam 11:2)
  • Peter teaches us that false teachers have eyes full of adultery against God. (2 Peter 2:14)
  • Achan “saw” the wealth of Jericho, and then “coveted” and “took” for which he then died. (Joshua 7:20–21)

This lust of the eyes shows itself in a variety of ways all of which we must not love.

The pride of life

The pride of life is the third point to look out for. In this there is a failure to recognize that all of our bounty here is from God on high. This is to think more of ourselves and our style of living than is good and prudent.

As it says in Proverbs 11:28: “He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like foliage.”

We are called, after all, as Christians to a life of gladness, godly sincerity, and simplicity of heart. (Acts 2:46 & 2 Cor 1:12) So we should want no part of boasting in a future course of work as exemplified in James 4:13-17

The dying world

This brings us neatly to John’s last point – the world is passing away and the lust of it; But God abides forever, and so does the one who does God’s will. We should always think to do God’s will saying inwardly and even out loud, If the Lord wills, Lord willing, and thy will be done. For the darkness is passing away and the true light is shinning. and that true light is Christ Jesus and His Kingdom. It is thus imperative that we seek to do only the will of God.

His will is that all men would be saved and He has given us an easy path to salvation. We don’t have to spend our lives beating ourselves up over our sins. And we don’t have to pay the price for sin, which is death. Christ paid that price for us once And that was all that was needed, because He was the perfect sinless sacrifice.

All that God asks is that we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, That we turn away from our sin, desiring in our hearts to no longer walk in that darkness confessing this belief we have; Then to be immersed in water representing the burial of Christ and our old sinful man. Where at which time God removes our sins from our souls leaving them behind, freeing us from the slavery of this world. Then, coming out of those waters we are to walk in new life, born again, as children of God being holy as He is holy, Resurrected spiritually as Christ is resurrected bodily.

If you have not done these things then you must consider what God has asked of you. It is a gift of grace He extends you you just have to come pick it up.

If you are a child of God who has fallen into sin, having sinned publicly perhaps even against someone here. Repent and confess so that you may be reconciled to your God and your brothers and sisters in the faith.

We ask anyone who is subject to these invitations to please come forward, having a seat up here, you and I will chat about it while we stand and sing the appointed song.