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…
"What am I going to be?" is the question that presses upon young people. But, unfortunately, the question is generally supposed to be answered when they have fixed upon a trade or profession. It means, rightly taken, a great deal more than that. "What ideal have I before me, towards which I constantly press?"
I. THE STRENGTH WHICH YOU YOUNG PEOPLE OUGHT TO AIM AT. It is not merely the physical strength, nor the mere unworn buoyancy and vigour which sorrow and care and responsibilities have not weakened. These are great and precious gifts, to be preserved as long as may be, by purity and moderation, and to be used for high purposes. It is not your body that is to be strong, but yourselves. Now the foundation of all true strength lies here, in a good, strong will. Two words contain the secret of noble life: "Resist!" and "Persist!" And the true strength of manhood lies in this mainly, that, in spite of all antagonisms, hindrances, you, having greatly resolved, you do greatly do what you have resolved. But then the strength that I would have you cultivate must be a strength of will, founded upon strong reason. Unintelligent obstinacy is folly. But that is not all. A strong will, illuminated by a strong beam of light from the understanding, must be guided and governed by a strong conscience. "I should like" is the weakling's motto. "I will" may be an obstinate fool's motto. "I ought, therefore, God helping me, and, though the devil hinders me, I will," is a man's. Conscience is king. To obey it is to be free; to neglect it is to be a slave.
II. HOW TO GET IT. "Ye are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you." If you want to be strong, let Scripture truth occupy your mind. There are powers to rule and to direct all conduct, motive powers of the strongest character in these great truths of God's revelation. They are meant to influence a man in all his doings, and it is for us to bring the greatest of them to bear on the smallest things of our daily life. Whosoever lives with the thoughts that God has given us in His Word, familiar to His mind, and within easy reach of His hand, has therein an armlet against all possible temptation, a test that will unveil the hidden corruption in the sweetest seductions, and calming power that will keep his heart still and collected in the midst of agitations. I remember going through the Red Sea, at the mouth of it, where the entrance is narrow and the currents run strong, when the ship approaches the dangerous place, the men take their stations at appointed places, and the ponderous anchors are loosened and ready to be dropped in an instant, if the swirl of the current sweeps the ship into dangerous proximity to the reef. It is no time to cut the lashings of the anchors when the keel is grating on the coral rocks. And it is no time to have to look about for our weapons when the sudden temptation leaps upon us like a strong man armed. You must have them: familiar to you by devout meditation, by frequent reflection, prayer, study of God's Word, if they are to be of any use to you at all. And then if we take the other view, which at bottom is not another, of the meaning of this phrase, and apply it rather to the personal Word, Jesus Christ Himself, that will yield us another exhortation, and that is, let Jesus Christ into your hearts and keep Him there, and He will make you strong. Others can help you from without, as you put an iron band round some overweighted crumbling brick pillar in order to prevent it from collapsing, but He will pass into us, as you may drive an iron rod up through the centre of the column, and make it strong inside, and we shall be strong if Jesus Christ dwells within us.
III. THE FIELD ON WHICH THE STRENGTH IS TO BE EXERCISED, AND THE VICTORY WHICH IT SECURES. "Ye have overcome the wicked one." What does that mean? It means this, that if you will take service in Christ's army, and by His grace resolve to be His faithful soldier till your life's end, that act of faith, which enrols you as His, is itself the victory which guarantees, if it be continued, the whole conquest in time.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.