Keeping God’s Commands
Open Your Bible
1 John 2:1-14, Matthew 11:25-30, Ephesians 6:10-20, 1 Timothy 2:5-6
I have a habit of romanticizing the morning.
In my mind, the perfect morning looks like this: Rising before the sun and the dogs and the kids. Drinking a fresh cup of French-pressed coffee by lamplight while the house is still and dark. Enjoying uninterrupted quiet while the sun inches over the horizon, my Bible open and my knees bent in prayer. Feeling filled up and ready by the time the light streams bright through the windows and four sets of little feet tromp down the stairs.
In reality, I’m so immune to my alarm that I have to change the tune weekly just so I won’t ignore it. Quiet time rarely happens in the quiet, and my coffee almost always grows cold during the mildly organized chaos of our current morning routine. That early light that streams into the dining room is my favorite of the day in theory, but actually sitting down at the table first thing in the morning can nearly blind a girl.
In my imagination, mornings are smooth and peaceful. In reality, they are a battle. I think this is, in part, what John wants his readers to see: the Christian life is beautiful, but it is also a battle. Light and darkness are always at odds, and we can expect to be involved in the clash.
But John’s message is not one of despair. On the contrary, it is one of confidence and bold encouragement. The light of Christ is already shining, and the darkness has no choice but to retreat in its wake. The presence of darkness in our world, and even in our hearts, is not something we have to muster up the strength to fix. It isn’t fodder for resolutions or self-help, like my lackluster morning routine. The darkness is both already conquered (2Timothy 1:10), and constantly being conquered by our light-bearing Savior (1John 2:8). Our battle is ultimately a matter of faith in Jesus, the conquering one. And so John reminds the Church of what they already know of their salvation.
To the “little children” of the faith, he reminds them: “Your sins have been forgiven” and “you have come to know the Father” (1John 2:12,14). Their salvation is secure, their reconciliation to the Father is complete (v.5).
To the “fathers,” the elders in the faith, he says (twice): “You have come to know the one who is from the beginning” (vv.13,14). God is the same God they’ve known, and known to be faithful, from the first day they believed.
To the “young men,” or those growing in the faith, he assures: “You are strong, God’s word remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one” (v.14). This is not “you can be” or “maybe one day you will be.” This is “you have” and “you are.”
Notice a pattern here?
This battle is not a matter of mustering. This is a matter of trusting. The true light does not need me to flip the switch. He is already shining. My part is to stay close to Him, to walk with Him, to heed John’s warning not to sin or flirt with the darkness—not for lack of grace but out of a longing for the light of Christ to shine through (1John 2:1). With Christ in us, we are already equipped to battle the darkness. He has given us His strength and His armor (Ephesians 6:10–11). He has even conquered the foe. The darkness is not going down without a fight (1Peter 5:8), but the battle has already been won.