Maturing in the Light


PrayerI pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Our Lord and Our God give us this inner strength that can only come from Your Spirit.  Give us the faith and trust in You that will build the deep love for others that will keep us strong.  Provide us with a much deeper understand of Your plan and purpose for our lives.  We trust in you to help us to grow spiritually.  Amen.

Main Scripture:

I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.  I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.  I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.  I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.  I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one (1John 2:12- 14).

Associated Scriptures:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:14-16).

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully (Colossians 1:9-12).

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14)

Correlative Quotes:

Beloved children, those who were probably the apostle’s own converts, and members of the Church over which he presided. But it may be applied to young converts in general; those who can call God Abba, Father, by the Holy Spirit: therefore, he says of them, that their sins were forgiven for his name’s sake; on account of Jesus, the Savior, who had died for them, and was now their Mediator at the right hand of God.[1] – Adam Clarke

The two additional circumstances which he here mentions as reasons for writing to young men are, that they are strong, and that the word of God abides in them. The first of these reasons is, that they were strong; that is, that they were qualified for active and useful service in the cause of the Redeemer. … The other additional ground of appeal is, that the word of God abode in them; that is, that those of this class to whom he wrote had showed, perhaps in time of temptation, that they adhered firmly to the principles of religion. They had not flinched from an open defense of the truths of religion when assailed; they had not been seduced by the plausible arts of the advocates of error, but they had had strength to overcome the wicked one.[2] – Albert Barnes

I have written to you, fathers - As if he had said, Observe well what I but now wrote. He speaks very briefly and modestly to these, who needed not much to be said to them, as having that deep acquaintance with God which comprises all necessary knowledge. Young men, ye are strong - In faith. And the word of God abides in you - Deeply rooted in your hearts, whereby ye have often foiled your great adversary. To you all, whether fathers, young men, or little children, I say, Love not the world – Pursue your victory by overcoming the world.[3] – John Wesley


God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.”[4] – Jonathan Edwards

Spiritual growth should be the Christian’s number one passion.  It should be a passion so deep that it determines and controls our subconscious thoughts and our conscious actions continually.  The ultimate goal of those seeking spiritual growth will be continual communion with God.  We reach this goal from learning more about God.  To learn more about God, we must be walking or living in His light.  The light of God is the agent of spiritual maturity.  God’s light is His truth.  It is only by learning God’s truth and incorporating it into our lives so that we can grow.  God has given us His truth in His word the Bible.

As we grow spiritually by bathing ourselves in God’s word, we pass through several stages of spiritual maturity.  Those stages are the main point of our text in 1 John 2:12-14.  John identifies these steps as “children,” “young men,” and “fathers.”

  1. Children: (Digesting the Basics) “I write to you, dear children” (vs. 12a). 1Peter 2:3 describes this fundamental level of growth in this way, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” As new babies are ready to learn and can’t get enough, so should new believers be; ready and eager to learn, lapping up the pure milk of the word of God and searching for its interpretation for their lives. 

Paul describes this phenomenon in 1 Corinthians 3:2-3 when he writes these words, “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.”  The writer of Hebrews takes Paul’s and John’s thought a step further by actually describing why the Hebrew church still needed the milk of the word.  In their case the Hebrews had not studied the scriptures related to the righteousness of God and as a result were not yet able to “distinguish good from evil” (5:14). 

2: Young Men: (Growing in the Knowledge of the Truth) “because you have overcome the evil one” (vs. 13b).  The characteristics of the young men are found in verse 14b.  John describes them as strong, and “because the word of God lives in you, you have overcome the evil one.”  They are spiritually strong; having learned to walk in the light of the word.  We know that they are walking in the word because John says that they abide in it.  They are not only able to eat the “meat” of the word, and understand the word in depth, but also the young men can digest it.  In this way they are adding strength to the spiritual lives.

  1. Fathers: (Spiritually Able to Mentor Others) “you have known him who is from the beginning.” These are the wise sages of the faith; the teachers and mentors of the babies and young men. They teach the fundamentals to the children and give the meat of the word to the young men.  However, they continue to learn and grow since spiritual maturity is a goal not attainable in this life.

Colossians 1:28-29 describes the father’s responsibility when it says, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”  The fathers have one goal, preparing spiritually younger Christians to be presentable to God.  They not only meat and digest the meat, but they also teach others how to do it.

By fathers it is very likely that the apostle means persons who had embraced Christianity on its first promulgation in Judea and in Lesser Asia, some of them had probably seen Christ in the flesh; for this appears to be what is meant by, Ye have known him from the beginning. These were the elders and eyewitnesses, who were of the longest standing in the Church, and well established in the truths of the Gospel, and in Christian experience.[5] – Adam Clarke

Summary Statement:

We usually associate that idea somewhat with age, but we must take care that we do not make a mistake here, because age in grace, albeit that it may run parallel with age in nature in many cases, does not always do so. In the church of God, there are children who are seventy years old. Yes, little children displaying all the infirmities of declining years. …On the other hand, there are fathers in the church of God, wise, stable, instructed, who, are comparatively young men. The Lord can cause His people to grow rapidly and far outstrip their years. David as a lad was more of a father in God than Eli in his old age. Growth in grace is not a time growth. In eternal matters, years count for little. Each of these three types of Christians describes a level of spiritual growth.[6] – Charles Spurgeon

Children” refer to new Christians or to those who accepted Christ as Lord at some point in their lives but have not grown spiritually.  The term “young men” pictures those who have moved beyond being children needing the milk of the Word (2 Peter 2:2) to the solid food of the Word of God (Hebrews 5:12-14).  In their spiritual development, the young men are still seeking to find and apply the wisdom of God to their lives.

The “fathers” portray more mature Christians who have become elders in the church (Titus 1:5-9).  They become teachers, mentors, and preachers.  Responsibility and calling require that they help others in the spiritual growth process.

Lesson within the Lesson:

How is spiritual growth related to our reaction to God?  Read Proverbs 3:3-16.

What spiritual growth stage are you in, children, a young adult, or adult?  Explain.

Why should spiritual growth be our passion?  Read Ephesians 4:15, 1 Thessalonians 4:10, and Hebrews 6:1.

How do we obtain spiritual wisdom?  Read James 1:5, Proverbs 1:7, and Ecclesiastes 2:26.

[1] Adam Clark, The Adam Clarke Commentary on Revelation, Ibid, p. 869.

[2] Albert Barnes, Notes Explanatory and Practical, Ibid, P. 4820.

[3] John Wesley, John Wesley’s Notes of the Bible, Ibid, P. 488.

[4] Jonathan Edwards,

[5] Adam Clark, The Adam Clarke Commentary on Revelation, Ibid, p. 869.

[6] Charles Spurgeon, Fathers in Christ, Sermon #1751, Public Domain,, Pages 2-3.