1 John 2:12. I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake. 13. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. 14. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.
Recently I was thinking about some of the different lessons the Lord has taught me and how he brought me up step by step. This section of Scripture in 1 John 2, kept coming up in my spirit. Over and over I would hear these words. What an awesome God we serve.
Growth is part of everyday life. We can’t avoid it or run from it if we want to mature in the things of God. Sustained growth is the plan of God for each one of us. I would like to say that anything less than this is outside of the plan that God has for us and can lead to stagnation. I don’t think any one would consciously say I want stagnation for my life.
James said that our life is like a vapor. We are just passing though.
James 4:14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
Compared to eternity we have such a short time here in this life that we have been given. At the same time God is so wonderfully awesome that we will spend the rest of eternity learning about Him and growing in His ways. Then how is it that we think we know so much when we learn a little bit about our wonderful Creator. I know this, the more I know about Him and grow in Him, the more I realize how much I don’t know. Realizing this can help keep you humble. Humility will allow you to receive more grace from God. We don’t always have the answers but must simply trust in Him. None of us have all the answers, we are all in some stage of growth and development. Thank God for His grace. I know I could not get by without it. James also said this very thing earlier in the same chapter.
James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.''
Humility puts us in God’s greater grace. We might ask just what’s the purpose of greater grace. As we read on in James we see the purpose of greater grace,
7. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Greater grace enables us to walk in victory. When we are submitted to God, God’s greater grace will be given, and we are then commanded to resist the devil and are told exactly what will happen. He will flee. Glory to God! I’ve heard Christians say things like, I’ve tried that and it didn’t work. If we are submitted to Him we will be recipients of God’s greater grace, then when we resist the devil, he will flee. If he is not then we need to find out the area or areas in our life that have not been submitted to Him. Many little children in the faith fail for lack of understanding and want to blame God, when in truth they haven’t learned or grown to the point of walking in this victory. Many times especially with baby Christians, they haven’t yet developed to that stage. It is the responsibility of those with more maturity in Christ to help the young ones grow.
As we look at our opening Scripture we see this very thing. John was writing about and to three different maturity levels in the Christian faith, little children, young men, and fathers.
We can not expect little children to function at the same maturity level as young men or even much less, fathers in the faith. They know their sins are forgiven for His names sake. They haven’t however yet learned to walk in victory over the enemy. John went on to say… I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. We have to be honest with ourselves if we want to grow up in the things of God and evaluate where we are in our growth in Christ. The number of years we have been a Christian doesn’t always reflect our maturity level. If we know our sins are forgiven yet have not come to the place where we can say we’ve overcome the wicked one, then we need to realize we haven’t grown to that point yet. That doesn’t mean we won’t get to that point, only that we have some growing to do. There are no shortcuts in this process, we have to grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. Growth is a process and sometimes there are growing pains involved. Growth should be an exciting time as you realize you are definitely not stagnant, and you can watch as God takes you from faith to faith and glory to glory. Each step taking you into a deeper walk with Him and a revelation of His righteousness. With each God ordained step you will see victory after victory over the wicked one.
Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith.''
John talking about young men says… I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one. As we learn the Word of God, and it begins to abide in us in a greater measure, we become stronger in the Lord and walk as an overcomer walks. This is God’s will. The alternative would be just the opposite wouldn’t it? If we are not walking as overcomes then we are being overcome. That’s not the pattern for God’s growth that we see here is it? If we are going to fulfill God’s will in the Earth then we have to grow up in the things of God and that means we have to learn to overcome the wicked one. We are the salt of the world, we have been placed here for a purpose. Salt is a preservative, what good is a preservative if it can not preserve. We are the ones who are supposed to preserve. In order to do that we have to know how to stand up to the wiles of the devil and make him back down. It shouldn’t be the other way around. He is the destroyer and as Christians we are supposed to walk over all the power of the enemy.
Jesus said in Luke’s Gospel… Luke 10:19 "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. If we are not walking in the authority that Jesus has given us then we need to do some growing so that we will get to that place.
As I was thinking about some of the trials I went through as a young Christian I can now look back and see this process taking place, although at the time I didn’t fully realize what was going on. I just knew I was a young Christian who was very hungry for the things of God and wanted to know Him and fulfill His will in my life. I felt very frustrated and at times and felt defeated in my young Christian walk. I went to the Lord about this in prayer and in all sincerity asked Him to teach me. I meant it with all my heart. I soon found out that being taught meant that I would have to go through some things. You can't learn to overcome the evil one if you never do battle. That seems like such a simple statement but many in the body of Christ are crying out for deliverance from the very things that God has placed us here to overcome. Wow. We are called to conquer, not be conquered.
I was wanting so desperately to know His ways and gain understanding and knowledge. A short time after I began to seek God in this way things began to happen. The first thing that happened was that the Lord put me around people who could help me grow. I began to hear the Word of God. I would spend a lot of time thinking and meditating on the things I was hearing. Everything was new to me. I was so excited to be hearing God’s Word. Understanding of the things of God was starting to take root in my spirit. This was a time of schooling and preparing me for the tests to come. The whole purpose of a test is to see what you know isn't it? God is very fair and just, and He only tests us when we are ready. He’s not going to allow us to be tested above what we are able to complete.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
This is not saying God is the author of these things but He is allowing these things so that we can learn to walk in victory over them. The process starts with us taking baby steps. As we walk we get stronger we are able to walk without falling all the time. I remember very clearly spending months thinking about divine healing. I already believed God could heal, but it had not yet become real to me that I am healed by the stripes of Jesus Christ. I don’t know exactly when it happened as it was very gradually, but healing became a reality in my spirit and mind. I believe like all things of God, growth doesn’t happen instantly it happens gradually. As this revelation became a sure thing in my spirit, the test started. Remember Satan is the destroyer not God, and he can not defeat a child of God who knows His Word and refused to back down from it. I began to get severe migraine headaches. They would last for 3 to 4 days sometimes. I couldn’t stand noise or light and about all I could do was curl up in bed with the sheets pulled over my head. I had not exercised my spiritual muscles yet. I was still a young child in Christ. This went on for a while the headaches would come about every 2 weeks or so and last at least several days. One day as I felt another headache coming on the Holy Spirit rose up on the inside of me. Thank God for His precious Holy Spirit. I realized I didn’t have to have these headaches, the Word of God declares in 1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed. I opened up my Bible to this verse of Scripture and held my Bible up in the air and read it to God and declared, Father your word says that by the stripes of Jesus Christ I was healed, and if I was healed then I am healed. I then demanded that Satan take His hands off of me and leave in the name of Jesus. I had never done anything like this before. I really didn’t totally know what I was doing and thought God might even get mad with me. God didn’t get mad with me I found out later He takes great pleasure in His children partaking of His exceedingly great and precious promises. Within a couple of hours or so I realized that the headache had disappeared. I’m not even sure when it happened it just did. Weeks went by headache free when I again felt one of these headaches coming on again. This time I simply said, no Satan I refuse your lies, I was healed by the stripes of Jesus Christ therefor I am healed, now go in Jesus name. This time the headache went away much quicker. I can honestly say I have never suffered another migraine headache in the 35 years that have come and gone since that time. Glory to God! I could share many more such stories if time permitted but each time I learned and grew and conquered as God gave me the grace to do so. This is not bragging on me, but I’m here to glorify Him. What he has done and will continue to do for and through me, He will do for you as well as He is no respecter of persons. You can have great confidence in this, growth is ordained of God, and what He has ordained He will sustain. He will never leave us or forsake us, and as the Apostle Paul said in the book of Romans 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Amen
The Olive Branch