My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 2:1-2 (NIV)
Read: 1 John 1:5 – 2:2
Consider: In today’s reading from John’s first letter he deals with sin and its effect on a person’s life. John says: If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth (1 John 1:6). Notice John’s use of the words ‘If we claim …’ and ‘… we do not live …’. John is wanting those who claim to be Christians to live out the Christian life day-by-day; in other words to ‘walk the talk’.
Next John deals with the problem of sin and the need for us to acknowledge our sinfulness before God. John repeats the phrase ‘If we claim …’ (1:8) with regard to a person claiming that they are without sin. There are two things we need to think about here:
- If we see our coming to Christ, accepting forgiveness through his atoning sacrifice, as something that makes us sinless (If we claim to be without sin), we would not see our need for future forgiveness and cleansing. The apostle Paul was painfully aware of his own sin when he said: For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it (Romans 7:19-20);
- A person who has no perception of their own sin will not see the need to seek God’s forgiveness (If we claim we have not sinned). This reminded me of the rich young man mentioned in Mark 10, who believed he had kept the commandments without fault, but yet could not see that his love of wealth kept him away from God.
Pressing on to 1 John 2 the subject of sin is still in John’s mind. He states his purpose for writing as: I write this to you so that you will not sin (1 John 2:1). However, we have already seen that although we have had our sins forgiven, the sinful nature still lurks in our hearts. This is why John says: But if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One (2:1). An Advocate is someone who puts a case on someone else’s behalf. The Greek word used by John is παράκλητος (paraclete) and is often used in the NT when referring to the work of the Holy Spirit. For example, in John’s gospel chapters 14, 15 and 16 the word is used of the Holy Spirit being an advocate, helper or comforter. This gives us the wider meaning of someone who not only defends us and speaks up on our behalf when we do sin, it also indicates someone who comforts us when we sin. This does not mean that we will not feel grief when we sin, but that the grief can be tempered by the knowledge that we have someone comforting us.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Pray: Father, we praise and thank you that although sin still causes us to fall, your Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are advocates before you. May we not try to hide our sin from you, but be willing to openly confess it and seek your forgiveness . Amen
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