The Hopefulness of Youthful Strength
1 John 2:13
I write to you, fathers, because you have known him that is from the beginning. I write to you, young men…

We have here three reasons why John deems it a fitting thing that young men should be exhorted on the necessity of leading a life of love and light and unworldliness.

1. But why, to take the first reason, does John deem it a fitting thing to exhort young men to lead the life of love and light and unworldliness because they are strong? Wherein lies the fitness? Our answer is, because for one thing youthful strength gives boundless hope. Youth has endless faith in itself. Its ambitions are all, as yet, realisable. Its aspirations have not yet had their wings sullied or torn by rude world collisions in their ascent. Hope rules the life. Principle strong and vigorous, supported right and left by courage and hope and aspiration, can meet in something like equal battle the temptations of the world and of the inner life. The strength which is thus peculiar to young life gives good hope of victory in the spiritual battle. But this truth has clearly another side, and a very important one. The strength of youth may go forth in the lines of evil as well as of good. For in youth passion is wild and strong. Conscious strength is very ready to tempt to unprincipled action. And whether that youthful strength shall have an upward or downward tendency will depend very much, or rather altogether, on the guiding, controlling power at the centre of life. The same powder which, under powerful guidance, will split the rock and make its granite blocks accessible to man and available for his works of ornament and use, will, beyond that control, shatter in a moment, into wreck and ruin, ever the most enduring results of his toil. And even so the strength of the young man, which may well be rejoiced in, and from which so much may reasonably be expected, must, for safety and for fulfilment of promise, be under the control of a principle which works for righteousness.

2. John's second reason for exhorting young men to live the Christian life is that "the Word of God abideth in them." This being the case, then, the young man's powers, if he is to be really strong, must be under the controlling influence of the will of God, as that has been revealed in His law and specially in Christ's life. Further, for real strength, this Word of God must abide in him. The Divine will must not simply alternate as a guiding power, with other and natural forces that are within him. For this would be tantamount to making the control useless or impossible. The engine driver must be an abiding presence in the front of the train from beginning to end of the journey — let passengers come and go as they list at the intermediate stations — if there is to be safety and final reaching of the desired goal. Do you still say, "But how do I know what God's will is?" I answer, you know the commandments. Whatever makes for righteousness is in harmony with God's will. Whatever is in the lines of love, and light, and truth, is also. The good, the beautiful, and the true, are of God. But, further, you have Christ's life. Make it your study. Imitate it. It is a human life, with God's Word abiding at its centre. Live His life and you will do God's will.

3. The third reason why John exhorts young men to lead the life of love and light is that they "have overcome the wicked one." This is really the reason to which the two preceding reasons lead up. This is really the result of the young strength put forth under Divine guidance. Human struggle can have no grander issue. And in order to victory here both things are needed — both the natural strength and enthusiasm of youth and the abiding Divine Word. It is in youth, in the fulness of manhood's young powers, that Satan ever makes the most determined assaults. And he also knows that if he can only then, as life's work is being entered on, break down the power of the better nature, he has the defeated man almost to a certainty at his feet for the rest of his life. Of course with every man the contest with evil is, in a most important sense, life long. But the issues even of the end are often settled at the beginning. Hence the infinite importance of victory over the enemy in the dawn of life. Depend upon it, your safety is in fighting it out now.

(Andrew Doak, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

WEB: I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, little children, because you know the Father.

The Guileless Spirit Abiding in the Light in its Threefold Aspect of Childhood
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