The elderly John refers to his spiritual children in 2:1 as “My little children.” He
then identifies the goal for which he writes, “so that they won’t sin.” Let’s not
misunderstand what sin is. John is not merely desiring to produce nice, good
spiritual children. Instead, he is wants them to depend wholly on Christ.
The heart of sin is deeper than being a mean, immoral person. The heart of sin is
being one’s own master. Neil Anderson said that “the essence of temptation is the invitation to live independently of God.” So, teaching our teens not to sin is the same as teaching them to submit to the rule of Christ in every aspect of their lives and to walk by the Spirit’s leading. How then does John teach his spiritual children not to sin?
First, John warns his children by reminding them that one cannot walk in sin and claim to have fellowship with Christ (vs. 6-7). John establishes sin as the opposite of walking with Christ. Do we teach our teens how Christ walks? We must show our teens how to think, want, and walk in Christ’s footsteps by word and action.
Second, our teens must recognize that they are innately sinful (v. 8). Denial of our twisted nature denies the reason that Christ came, died, and was resurrected. Steve Jobs’ (the brain behind the iMac, iPhone, iPod, etc.) denied that his cancer would be fatal. As a result, his cancer took over his body and he died. The denial of sin prevents its healing by Christ. As parents, do we clearly show that we are dead in sin apart from Christ living in us? If we constantly tell our teens how good they are, will they have any sense of need for Christ’s help and healing? The cure only helps those who know they are sick. Teach your teen to be desperate for the healing of the Righteous One, our Advocate.