When we think about the love that Christ has for us we are summoned to the cross. Here we see our Savior nailed, beaten, and bruised. The precious blood spilled on our behalf. This love so perfectly exemplified by our Savior becomes the focal point of the Apostle John in the second chapter of 1 John.
As I read the passage and studied it during my devotional time today, I was reminded of the communion that we took today at church. I am so greatful that because of His cross I could be partaker of His communion. I have laid my sins at the feet of my Advocate and have been forgiven and cleansed. There is no greater place to be than in Him. So as you study the passages below, focus on what the LORD would speak to you through His Word. My little musings are simply thoughts that I have while devoting my time to the LORD reading His Word. As I study, I write and then I pray about the things that the LORD reveals to me through the study of His Word. Perhaps these thoughts will make their way to a sermon at some point, but as they stand, they are just thoughts.
[1Jo 2:1 NKJV]
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
The endearing way in which John addresses his audiences is like that of a loving father. To think that this example had been so perfectly illustrated by our LORD and Savior to John and the other disciples and now John carries this lovingly and affectionate demeanor through in his letter to his audience and to us as Christians today. He refers to his readers as little children. Obviously he is not speaking of literal little children although they would certainly be included in this message. But here John gives us the purpose of his letter. He is writing to the reader to exhort the reader not to sin. We understand that sin is anything that is done outside of the will of God and therefore puts enmity between us and God. John is trusting that his letter might provide insight to keep those that he loves out of sin. Still, John is aware that sinfulness is in the hearts of all men, and we have the proclivity to sin, and so he adds this caveat, “And if anyone sins.” The fact is that God has made a way for us to be sinless. It requires that we be obedient to the LORD completely. We know that temptations are not sins, it is the fulfilling of the temptation that is the sin. God is faithful and when we are tempted He gives us a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). Â And so John points out that “if” anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
The fact is that when we sin, we are to keep a short account with LORD. We need to be sorrowful for our sin and then go further to repentence. It is not good enough that we are sorry. All this means is that we are sorrowful that we did something, but repentence means that the sorrow brings us to the point of surrender and change. God is the One that does the changing in us, and so it is important that we go to the Advocate, the One who presents us as righteous before the One who is Judge. The idea behind an advocate is One who pleads a case before an authority. In this case Jesus is the our advocate, and there is none more righteous than He.
[1Jo 2:2 NKJV]
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
This verse speaks to the fullness of the sacrifice that Jesus made for the sins of humanity. His sacrifice was complete. Notice here too that His sacrifice was not made just for us, but also for the whole world. Some will argue that God has created some for the purpose of destruction, but that does not line up with the whole of Scripture. Case in point, this verse speaks to the fact that Jesus died for all. Now the question is whether man will accept this free gift or choose to deny His work. Even the denial of Christs perfect atoning work does not make it insufficient. Christs perfect sacrifice is sufficient and complete and we know that God wills that none would perish but that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). This word “propitiation” is a really neat word in the original language. The Greek word is “hilasmos” and it means to appease. When you consider that the sacrifice that Jesus made was propitiation or appeasment this begs the question, “What has His sacrifice appeased?” Simply put, the sacrifice that Jesus made for the world has appeased the wrath of God. Â We picture God to be a loving and graceful God, and He is, yet, He is also a just God and cannot tolerate sin. He requires a sacrifice for sin. In the temple times, the high priest would make a sacrifice for the people. This was merely a temporary appeasement. Every year the sacrifice would have to be made again and again. The sacrifice that Jesus made was once and for all. This was sufficient to satiate the wrath of a just God, and as our advocate Jesus intercedes on our behalf.
[1Jo 2:3 NKJV]
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
In order for us to have the propitiation credited to our account we must be one of His children. Jesus has given us a free will to choose whether or not we will accept and abide in Him and be a partaker of His sacrifice. The way that we can be sure if we are in a right relationship with Him is by keeping His commandments.
[1Jo 2:4 NKJV]
He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
There are many who claim to be Christians that wear the name like a badge of honor, they have the t-shirts, the cross necklaces, the bumper sticker and dusty old Bible with pages still stuck together on their bookshelves to prove it. But the proof is a life lived out in obedience, not merely the outward trappings. There will come a time when people will say they knew the LORD and that they did all these things for Him and Jesus will tell them that He never knew them (Matthew 7:21-23).
[1Jo 2:5 NKJV]
But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
It is not enough to know Him or know of Him. We must be in Him and He in us. We can believe in Jesus, but that does not amount to anything more than a knowledge of Him. James 2:19 tells us that even the demons believe in Jesus. We can look at secular writings from Josephus, and even modern secular historians who do not deny the existence of a historical Jesus. Simply knowing of Him does not equate to a relationship with Him. By keeping His Word, God perfects His love in us and this is evidenced by the fruits of the Spirit in the life of a believer (Galatians 5:22-23).
[1Jo 2:6 NKJV]
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
John calls us and every believer to emulate the life that Jesus lived. We are to daily strive to live in the perfection that our LORD exemplified for us while He was on the earth. This requires that we be obedient to His commandments. John has already addressed what we should do if we sin. And on that note, the best way to keep from sinning is to take our eyes off of our selves and focus on Jesus. Sin ultimately comes from one or any combination of the following: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). But we can avoid sin alltogether and live righteously when we surrender our will to Jesus and follow Him completely.
[1Jo 2:7 NKJV]
Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.
John is addressing believers here and he is telling them they have not heard anything new here. This is the same instruction that Christ gave when He walked the earth during His earthly ministry. Christ gave the command that we love one another. Love is the common thread that runs through every commandment of God. His love for us should be lived out amongst one another and thus we fulfill the royal commandment.
[1Jo 2:8 NKJV]
Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
While the Christians that John was writing to understood that they should obey the commandments of God in loving one another, John points out the completion of that love. Here we see perfect love presented by the LORD on the cross. Because of the perfect work performed by Jesus on the cross the darkness has been defeated and the light of Christ is now the beacon of hope for a world that was once shrouded in darkness. We are in the light because we have a true relationship with the Father.
[1Jo 2:9 NKJV]
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
Just claiming to be a Christian does not make you a Christian any more than claiming you are a Big Mac makes you a hamburger. The point here is that if you harbor hate towards your brother, you are not fulfiilling the law of love and you remain in darkness. We are required by Christ to love one another. Our refusal to love with the love that Jesus freely loved us with is what keeps us out of the light. We must set aside any hate that we have for others and love them with the love of Christ. By doing so, we are free to walk with Christ and be partakers of the salvation brought to us by His sacrifice.
[1Jo 2:10 NKJV]
He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
Love is the cure for darkness. When we walk in the light we see clearly the path before us. When we walk in darkness we stumble and fall and hurt ourselves. When we love our brother we are walking the way the LORD would have us walk and the path to His kingdom becomes clear and lit before us.
[1Jo 2:11 NKJV]
But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
If you have ever been at home during a storm and the power goes out, there is this sensation that overtakes you. Your first instinct is to find a light. Spiritually speaking, when we harbor hate in our hearts towards others it is like walking in the dark. The Word of God gives the believer direction, and when we fail to love our brothers and sisters in Christ we lose focus on our relationship with the LORD, we soon become disoriented in our own walks and spiritually discerned, incapable of understanding the Word and hopelessly lost.
[1Jo 2:12 NKJV]
I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
John gently reminds us as believers that our sins have already been forgiven. We do not have to work for our salvation, nor could we gain our salvation through any kind of works. Jesus took our sins for His glory and His honor. The works we perform are purely righteous expectations for a believer who is grateful for the salvation he or she has been awarded. We cannot glory or boast in our salvation as if we had anything to do with it. We can only glory or boast in Him, the author of our salvation and offer up praise to His name for the perfect work that He performed on our behalf at Calvary.
[1Jo 2:13 NKJV]
I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him [who is] from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father.
John is writing to believers at all stages of their walks with the LORD. To the fathers who are spiritually mature, to the young men who are at the forefront of spiritual warfare, and to the little children who are new in their faith and need of guidance and direction. No matter where you are in your spiritual walk with the LORD, Jesus has a plan for you and His desire for you is holiness. This is why it is so important that we stay in the Word of God daily and learn how to live according ot His Word. Â The children, who are new in their faith, have an awesome journey before them Â knowing that the rest of their lives can be dedicated to the Father. To know the LORD from ones youth is a wonderful thing. I think of the time in my own life that was seemingly wasted chasing after the cares of the world. If I could buy back the time I would sell all that I own to have one more day with Jesus, walking in His light. But I see before me as does every believer, an eternity in His presence and I am content knowing that though my days are numbered my eternity is not.
[1Jo 2:14 NKJV]
I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him [who is] from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.
The seasoned saint has a lifetime of experience, he has weathered the trials of life and has fought battle after battle using the Word of God as his compass for direction in life. Not that the seasoned saint has arrived. Our walks are not complete until we reach the finish line. The young men are taking on the challenges that the sage old Christian has already conquered. To the young man, the path he finds before him is long and full of exciting challenges. By living the life the LORD has called the young man to, he can experience complete victory over the adversary and have a rich, full, and complete life in Jesus.
[1Jo 2:15 NKJV]
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Again, the cares of this world and things of it are fleeting. They offer no lasting value and fall from your hand like sand when a wave crashes over it. John is telling us here that our love should be focused on the things that eternal, and not the worldly or mundane things. In fact, he states, that if we love the world the love of the Father is not in us. This is a stark warning. We do not want be excluded from the love of the Father. Our desire should be always to please Him. When we put the things of the world above the LORD we become idolators and God has commanded us that we have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3). I don’t even think I need to address the fact that it is okay to possess stuff so long as your stuff does not possess you, but since I just did, there you have it. Jesus needs to preeminent in our lives. He should always be first.
[1Jo 2:16 NKJV]
For all that [is] in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world.
Now, I alluded to this earlier. These three things are at the core of all sinfulness. When we seek after our own selves instead of seeking after the Father, we are not of the father, but of the world. And as the previous verse noted, if we are seeking after the world then the love of the Father is not in us.
[1Jo 2:17 NKJV]
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Listen, the world and the things of the world are temporary. We are merely pilgrims passing through. Our permanent abode is in Heaven with Jesus for eternity. When we leave this earth the things or possessions we have here are like dust on our feet. We should hold these things in a right perspective. Now this does mean that we should be careless with the things that we acquire on the earth, no we should be good stewards of all that we own, but again, the temporal things are of no lasting value. The eternal things, the permanent things are the relationships that we build for Jesus in this life. All else is passing away. This verse also points out that he who does the will of God abides forever. Our job on this earth is to do the will of God. That is our sole purpose and should be our soul purpose as well. We should always be about the business of serving the LORD.
So how do we apply this to our lives as a part of our discipleship to the LORD? Well, what I have gleaned from this time of devotion is that as a believer, I must walk according the commandment of love that was exemplified by my Savior. My focus as a believer should be to please the Father by seeking to hold fast to His Word and hold loosley to the things of this world. If I call myself a believer, then this should be evidenced in my love for others. So my take-away from my time with the LORD is that I need to be focusing on ways that I can exhibit love towards others through practice. What this looks like for me specifically is that I will step outside of myself and ask those who I meet how I can serve them. I know it may seem akward to do, but my desire is to please Him who sent me. I need to be about the business of the Father who has called me to love my brother. Now this does not mean that I am going to walk up to a total stranger and say “Hey, how can I serve you.” I would probably hear, “Um…who are you and get out my face.” But through the course of the day, I will look for opportunities to share the love of Jesus by serving others.