Welcome back to our study of 1 John! 1 John is jam-packed with real meat for real men of God to digest, learn, and grow in their walk with God. Last month, we learned the Gospel message in the “Just the facts” message, where John, in a straightforward and to the point manner, laid out the truths of the Gospel.
This month we are going to continue our study of 1 John and look at 1 John 2:1-2 to see what meat John has for God’s men today.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.
John starts this passage by saying, “I write this so that you will not sin…” What is the “this” he refers too? Basically, he means the teaching we learned last month. If you missed that article, he taught us that
1. Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to save us from our sins.
2. We have to see our sin and be willing to repent of them.
3. We need to ask God to forgive us of our sins.
4. God forgives us for our sins and gives us a new life.
5. Out of gratitude to God, we change our course and live according to His ways and principles, allowing Him to make us more like His Son.
That was John’s Gospel in a nutshell. Now John is telling us in chapter 2 that he shared all of this with to encourage us to leave our lives of sin and to live holier, sin-free lives. Now, everything John wrote is true. We need to daily pursue a sanctified life and become less like the world and become more like Jesus. We daily should be conquering areas of sin. However, it is tough to live every day of our lives sin free. Is that even possible? If it isn’t possible, how do go forward? These are the questions John is going to answer in this month’s passage.
Let’s face it. No matter how pure your motives and how much we long to serve God, things will arise inside of us all and we will realize we have sinned. For instance, recently I was driving somewhere and I was talking to God as I drove when a deer leaped out right in front of me. As I slammed on the breaks, I heard a mild explitive “Oh $@^#!” came flying out of my mouth. I didn’t intend to sin, but in the heat of the moment, I said something I knew I shouldn’t have said. Does that mean I blew my entire walk with God and have to start over and say a sinners pray, ask Jesus into my heart, etc. The answer is simple…of course not! So what was I suppose to do? I did what John teaches us to do in 1 John 2:1-2.
…But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
John wasn’t an idiot. While he isn’t saying we should accept or embrace sin, he knew that, amid the evil and temptations we face in a corrupt world, a believer could commit sin in their lives. He didn’t want to leave us feeling hopeless or lost. John knew we daily wrestle with our sinful nature and would daily encounter new areas we need to conquer. In reality, this is what sanctification really is all about, finding a new area of our lives where sin reigns and overcome it through the blood of Jesus. So when we sin or discover unholy areas of our lives, we do what John says to do. We turn to our advocate, Jesus, and praying in His name, we ask for forgiveness.
Basically what John is saying is that real men repent when they commit a sin. They turn to their Heavenly Father, and ask for forgiveness of the sin. They do this because they know that they have an advocate, Jesus, pleading their case before God.
When I hear the term advocate, I think of a lawyer. Images of Matlock dressed in his all white suit defending his client fly into my head (yes, I just dated myself with that reference lol). However, unlike a defence attorney who defends his client and says his client is innocent of all charges, Jesus defends us by saying we are guilty as charged, but we should be let go anyways. What do I mean?
Barnes states what this means quite well in his NT Commentary:
“(1) Jesus admits the guilt of those for whom He becomes the advocate, to the full extent charged on them by the law of God, and by their own consciences. He does not attempt to hide or conceal it. He makes no apology for it. He neither attempts to deny the fact, nor to show that they had a right to do as they have done. He could not do this, for it would not be true; and any plea before the throne of God which should be based on a denial of our guilt would be fatal to our cause.
(2) As our advocate, He undertakes to be security that no wrong shall be done to the universe if we are not punished as we deserve; that is, if we are pardoned, and treated as if we had not sinned. This He does by pleading what He has done in behalf of people; His sufferings and death in behalf of sinners have done as much to honor the law, and to maintain the truth and justice of God
(3) as our advocate, He becomes a surety for our good behavior; gives a pledge to justice that we will obey the laws of God, and that He will keep us in the paths of obedience and truth; that, if pardoned, we will not continue to rebel. This pledge or surety can be given in no human court of justice. No man, advocate or friend can give security when one is pardoned who has been convicted of stealing a horse, that he will not steal a horse again; when one who has been guilty of murder is pardoned, that he will never be guilty of it again; when one who has been guilty of forgery is pardoned, that he will not be guilty of it again. If he could do this, the subject of pardon would be attended with much fewer difficulties than it is now. But the Lord Jesus becomes such a pledge or surety for us, and hence He becomes such an advocate with the Father as we need.”
So what John is saying is that Jesus tells the Father that, while the person is guilty of the sin, He payed the price for that sin, and since the repentant person is confessing the sin, they should be forgiven because of what He did on Calvary. What a great hope and a promise!
Now, all of this does not mean that a believer can take the attitude that it is ok to sin. Remember, John starts this whole discussion of saying He wants to encourage us all NOT to sin. I cannot sit at my computer, look at porn, ask God to forgive me, and then 30 minutes later go back and look at more porn. Why? Isn’t God’s grace still there and aren’t sins still forgiven? Yes, grace is there, but if you are willing to return to the sin, it means you are not really repentant. Real repentance means sorrow for the sin and a desire to never do it again. It means you change your direction and stop the sin. Forgiveness of sins only goes to truly repentant people.
The flip side is, truly repentant people receive forgiveness! That is the meat we need to get from these verses of 1 John.
1. We should strive to live holy and sinless lives.
2. However, if we do commit a sin, we can repent of the sin and change course and overcome the sin.
3. When we repent, Jesus intercedes on our behalf, reminding the father that, while we are guilty, He payed the price for our sin.
4. God listens to Jesus intercession and forgives us of our sins.
5. We then continue on our Christian journey, becoming more like Jesus and less like the world, rejecting the sin we repented of and not committing it again.
That is the real meat John lays out for us in these two verses. It is good, nutritious theology that, while encouraging us not to sin, gives us hope that all is not lost if we do give into sin or temptation. Sin can be forgiven if we act like real men and repent. This is real meat for real men!