Well, being that Phil just finished up a long series on the book of John, going from beginning to end, and going through the book of Revelation in Sunday school; I fully intended to preach on something different than another work by the Apostle John. But after spending a lot of time on the matter, I chose, or perhaps God chose for me rather, to preach this morning from the book of 1 John. Also referred to as the First Letter of John, and the First Epistle of John.
So who is John that we should spend so much time in his Biblical works? This may be obvious to a lot of you, but I do want to spend just a few minutes on this question. I am going to put this very simply because I do not intend to spend a lot of time on it. Let’s turn to 1 John in our Bibles and see why John says that he should be taken seriously. 1 John 1:1-5 says this, “1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. 5This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”
That’s a good enough answer for me. Look at what he says over and over again… Verse 1, “we have heard”, “we have seen with our eyes”, “we have looked at”, “and touched with our hands”. Verse 2, “we have seen”, “was manifested to us”. Verse 3, “we have seen and heard”. Verse 5, “This is the message we have heard from Him”! It seems that John may have been writing this letter to some people who had the same question in their mind… “Why should we listen to him?!” Because he was there! He knew Jesus! He saw Jesus with his own eyes! He listened to Jesus! He touched Jesus with his own hands! In John’s gospel account, John 13:23, he states that Jesus loved him and he reclined against Jesus bosom. Later, in John 19:25-27, when Jesus is up on the cross, about to die, he looks down and sees his mother, Mary, and John. Jesus, being the firstborn, but close to death, gives His mother to the care of, not His brothers, but to his beloved disciple, John. One chapter later, 20, verse 4, John is the first of the disciples to witness the empty tomb after our savior has defeated death and had raised from the dead. And finally, later in chapter 20, in verse 22, John received the Holy Spirit from Jesus Himself when He breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit”.
So there it is. John was there... he walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, touched Jesus, cared for Jesus mother, watched Jesus be crucified, witnessed Jesus resurrection body, felt Jesus breath, and received the Holy Spirit from Jesus. For these reasons, and for the reason that we believe every word written in the Bible is the inspired word of God, we are going to see what else John has to say in his first letter. Let’s pray and then get started.
So let’s keep going in 1 John where we left off, chapter 1, verse 5 and we’ll go through chapter 2, verse 6, and we’re kind of just going to walk through the text as I may go off on bunny trails along the way.
“5This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
This is one of those times where having chapters in the Bible can be a hindrance. There are times when the break between chapters seems quite natural and that maybe the author intended to put a break there. When this happens, it is easy to forget that chapters were created and put in the Bible 1200 years after Jesus walked the earth and the verses over 300 years after that in 1551. But not this time, the break between 1 John chapters 1 and 2 seems to be breaking up a thought process that John is walking through. In fact, to state the obvious, 1 John is a letter... The whole thing is one complete thought. So let’s not think of the different chapters as being different thoughts as we begin at the beginning of Chapter 2. We’ll do some jumping around so I apologize. 2:1 starts with, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin”... Well... the immediate question, is what are ‘these things’ that he mentions. To answer that question, we’ll need to look at what he just got done saying, as it appears to be referencing the things that he was just writing about in chapter 1, verses 5-10.
John was writing this to “put the record straight” you could say. There were heretics teaching and preaching lies and bad doctrine. We can tell what kinds of bad doctrine they were teaching by looking at the text… “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth…”. This verse, this statement, could very well be the synopsis of John’s first letter. You see, true believers have certain characteristics, and although it is true that only God knows a person’s heart, and only He knows whether or not someone is saved, He wants us to be able to have an assurance of our salvation and to be able to discern true believers. Scripture teaches us over and over again to examine ourselves, test ourselves, see if we are in the faith. And this goes for more than ourselves. We should always be examining and testing things. Like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, we should be examining the Scriptures daily, to see if what we are hearing or reading matches what the Bible says. You should be holding the very words that I am preaching to Scripture to see if it is truth or not. Before reading a “Christian” book, or listening to a “Christian” preacher or teacher, we should be examining them to see if they should listened to. I thought of two reasons that is seems that people do not do this. The first is simple… We’re lazy. We have the world at our fingertips with smart phones and the internet. Everyone either has the internet or has access to the internet, but they would rather use it for things like Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, than to actually do research on a specific book or teacher. We read and listen to false teachers spreading heresy and false doctrine which lead us astray from God’s Word, because we would rather just choose to believe that if someone says they are a Christian, then they must be telling the truth. This is dangerous and not Biblical. The second reason is less of a reason than it is just a bunch of excuses that it seems people use, “Don't judge them”. “You don’t know their heart!”, “They say some good things.”, “I get a lot out of their messages.” “There wasn’t anything that bad in the part that I read or heard.” These are are things that I hear people say while they continue to allow themselves to be taught by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We need to remember to be discerning at all times, even a wolf will say things that sounds good from time to time.
So how do we realize that it is a wolf? By their fruit. This is what we are to examine. We are to be fruit evaluators. Look at Jesus in Matthew 7:15-20:
“15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.19“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits.”
“EVERY. GOOD. TREE. BEARS. GOOD. FRUIT.” He says. When we are looking up a certain teacher or preacher, what kind of company do they keep? Are they seen frequently with known false teachers? What kind of preachers are they allowing into their church? What Gospel are they teaching? Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”
But that goes for more than just teachers and prophets. That goes for you and me as well, going back to the text in 1 John… “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” John takes it even a step further in the next verse, “but if we walk in the Light as he Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” So, step one… if we are walking in the darkness, EVEN THOUGH we are proclaiming that we have fellowship with God, then we are liars and fooling ourselves. Step two, if we really are walking in the Light, then we will what…? “...have fellowship with one another”! Or let’s put it another way… There is no such thing as having real fellowship with God without having fellowship with other believers as well.
Well, “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian!” Anyone ever heard that before?! I can guarantee that almost everyone here has either heard it said or said it yourself. But is it true? Well, you certainly don’t have to go to church to repent of your sins and believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. However, once you do that, it does not appear that you can can call your salvation authentic if you do not have fellowship with other believers. These are not my words. I’m just reading what’s there. Here, I’ll read it again, “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another”. If you say that you love your family but do everything you can to avoid them, they are going to begin to not believe you. Likewise if you say that you walk in the Light, if you say that you are saved, and you have been adopted into God’s family, but yet you refuse to have fellowship with your brothers and sisters… well, that’s not a good sign of authentic faith.
But let’s keep moving, what’s step three? “...if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin”. Verse 7 has two parts to it, “If we walk in the Light... 1. “we have fellowship with one another” and 2. “the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin”. I want to quickly point out the tense of the verbs that are used here. Note that John did not say that if we walk in the Light then we are cleansed from sins or that we will be cleansed from our sins. John purposely uses the present tense of the verbs, ‘walk’ and ‘cleanses’. This represents both walking and cleansing as ongoing activities. As we continue to walk in the Light, we will continually be cleansed from our sins. This is to say that we will be continually removing sin from our lives and if we say that we walk in the Light but we are not actively being cleansed from our sins, well that is just not a possibility.
So let’s take a self evaluation… I am going to use the word “we”, as I throw myself in the evaluation as well. We claim to be in fellowship with God… are we walking in the Light? Or are we walking in darkness? Are we practicing truth or lying to ourselves? We claim to be walking in the Light… Are we in fellowship one another? Do we love our Christian brothers and sisters? Do we look forward to seeing them, helping them, loving on them? Do we long to have fellowship with them every week or do we come to church every week out of a duty, because that’s how we were raised... that we are supposed to go to church. And as soon as church is out, we are out of here and don't care to see anyone else from church again until the next Sunday. Are we being cleansed from our sins as we walk in the Light or are we continually walking in ignorance and sin? What kind of fruit are we seeing when we look at our own tree? What kind of fruit do others see when they evaluate our fruit? The fruit doesn’t lie.
Of course, it appears to be human nature to take things too far. We always have and always will. The irony of this is plain in the rest of John’s first chapter as he points to the idea that some believe that they have no sin.
“8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
It is believed that the Greek language used here did not imply that some believe they have never sinned or were by nature free from sin, but that they believed that they had not sinned since they came to know God. If we walk in the Light, we should be sinning less and less every day as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us and we are being cleansed from all sins. But to say that we no longer sin at all while we are still here on earth… we are lying to ourselves.
There are many illustrations that I would like to share with you that sum all of this up quite well. None of them are my own, so I just want to make it known that I stole this illustration from several pastors. I believe I have heard David Platt tell this before and probably one or two others as well.
Let’s imagine that I was late getting to church today and that after worship, announcements, and prayer, just before you were about to announce that I was scheduled to preach today and I never showed up so you weren’t quite sure what to do, I burst through the door and run up on stage looking just as I do now. I then stand in front of all of you and go on to say that I am sorry for being late but on my way to Cascade this morning my car was hit when the semi next to me blew a tire and I rolled the car into the ditch which was full of water. I nearly drowned, broke a leg and got a concussion. But on the bright side, I wasn’t more than a mile from the Cascade exit, so I jumped out of the car, ran like a madman and well… here I am… I made it!
What would your response be? “OK, sure! If you say so!” Does that sound right? No! You wouldn’t believe me! You would say something like, “You’re clothes are clean, you have no blood on you, no scratches, you aren’t hobbling around, and we can see your car in the parking lot!”
The point is this… If I was really in a car accident and all that stuff really happened to me, then where’s my evidence?! EVEN MORE SO, if you claim that you have repented of your sins, that you put your faith in Jesus Christ, if He has indeed replaced your heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh that beats for Him, and the same God which created the universe and brought Jesus back to life, is dwelling inside of you… where is the evidence? Believe me, there is going to be evidence one way or the other. Either the evidence is going to show that you’re lying to yourself and you’re just like the world. Or the evidence will validate your claim. There are so many people that call themselves Christians, but live like the rest of the world. They talk the same, dress the same, spend their money on the same things, treat people the same way, read the Bible the same amount, and on and on. Is it enough to simply say that we know Jesus? Or do we have to put it into practice?
Now, before we move on, I just want to clarify something that I hope is evident, but I want to make absolutely sure… I am NOT saying that we must practice certain things to be saved. That would imply a works based salvation that the Bible certainly does not teach, and nor do I. I am saying that what you do practice, whatever your works are, whatever your fruit is… is the evidence or proof of your faith. Growing up, you do not know that your parents love you because they tell you. You know they love you before you can even understand words. You know they love you because of their actions. You aren’t loved because of their actions, but their actions are the evidence of their love.
Now, with that out of the way, let's return to verse one of chapter 2. With the question of what are “these things” that John is referring to when he says, “I am writing these things to you” answered, let’s look at the next question that he answers. Why does John say he is writing “these things”...? “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” He did not write these things in a letter so that you will become more spiritual, not so you can memorize it and recite it, not so that you will look at it every now and again and think to yourself “that’s a good verse”, highlight it and then forget about it. But the reason that he wrote these words in this letter is because he desperately wants us to stop sinning. One of the reasons earlier that I gave for why we should care about the writings for John was regarding the fact that while Jesus was dying on the cross, He looked down, saw John and His mother, among others as well, and He told John to care for His mother. However, another thing this tells us is that John was a witness to the crucifixion and death of his beloved friend and Lord. John knows that the death he watched take place right in front of him is because of sin. His sin and everybody else that would read his letter. Your sin. My sin. Everyone’s sin is the cause of the gruesome murder that he watched take place.
When you think about it like that, it is pretty easy to understand why John hates sin as much as he does. It makes sense why he is writing letters to other believers with the message of ‘don’t sin’. “Your sin is why our God was tortured and murdered! And yet you act like it never even happened!” he seems to be saying. Think of it this way… Imagine that someone you love very much has just saved you from a dangerous situation and brings you to safety. In the process of doing so, this person you love gets severely hurt. It wouldn’t make sense if we dusted ourselves off and marched right past that loved one, right back into the dangerous situation. That loved one would yell “Did you not just see what I did for you?! Why are you going back?! Do I mean nothing to you?!”
But John knows that we are weak. He knows that although he writes things things so that we will not sin, we are going to sin. He continues in verse 1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”. Here is our hope, as Christians. “If anyone sins”, when we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father. Who is this Advocate? “Jesus Christ the righteous”! Isn’t that good news?!
Now the original Greek word for advocate that John used when he wrote this letter is ‘paraklēton’. Paraklēton, and the similar word paraklētos are found in the new testament 5 times, all of which by John. Four of them in the Gospel of John and the fifth is the one we see here in 1 John. However, the other four times that paraklēton or paraklētos are used, they are translated to Helper and are referring to the Holy Spirit. This instance is 1 John is the only time that it’s translated to ‘advocate’. But this is not a bad translation. In fact, advocate, helper, and comforter would all be good translations. While spending time looking into this word in preparation for today, I found that paraklēton is not just a Bible word, but it was actually regularly used in New Testament times to refer to an attorney or someone giving evidence in court.
So let’s use that definition, Christ is our advocate and attorney, and take a moment to take a step back and picture something. You are on trial. Each one of us are on trial. You are being accused of every sin that you’ve ever committed. The accuser is, of course, Satan himself, which I want to touch on for a second as well. In preparation for this sermon, I was listening to some John MacArthur sermons and he made a point that I want to share and elaborate on with you. You see, it seems that a lot of times, Christians, and non-Christians for that matter, seem to have a misconception about Satan. Satan is not an equal of God. He’s in not what the Mormons believe, to be Jesus brother having equal power. He is not omnipresent like God is, meaning that he cannot be everywhere at once. I think a lot of people are under the impression that Satan is tempting them or whispering in their ear to put bad thoughts in their mind all the time. But unlike God, Satan is not omnipresent. He’s very fast, and I wouldn’t challenge him to a race, but he’s not everywhere at the same time. So to say that he is always tempting you and that he’s on one shoulder and God is on the other shoulder, is to say that he is neglecting 7 billion other people while he’s concentrating on just you. But anyway, I didn’t decide on Satan being the accuser in this illustration of you being on trial because I thought it would be a good touch, I pulled it from Scripture, which shows Satan in standing before God, accusing us!
Verses like Revelation 12:10, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.”
Zechariah 3:1, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.”
Now this is not a jury trial, thank the Lord! If this was a jury trial, where our fate is determined by other sinful peers, I don’t think it would end well for anybody. This is a bench trial. Our fate is determined by a judge - the Judge. Psalm 75:7 says “But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.” And Psalm 98:8-9 says “Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for joy Before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness And the peoples with equity.”
So there you are, standing in front of God the Father, the Judge, sitting up on his throne, with His robe filling the room, and Satan won’t stop pointing his finger at you while the only thing coming out of his mouth are accusations. “He lies! He steals! He’s an adulterer! He takes your name in vain!” he’s saying to God as he pointing to you! And he’s right... he’s not even wrong when he’s saying these things! He’s right about everyone that he says these things about. And this is where is starts getting even more incredible… Through all of this, some of you have the best defense attorney that the world has ever seen. Some of you have Jesus Christ, the righteous, sitting next to you. You see, Jesus IS the best defense attorney in the world, in fact, He never loses a case, but He won’t take every case. He’ll only take your case if you admit that you’re guilty. That’s hard to even wrap your head around isn’t it?! Jesus, will only take your case if humbly go to Him and say “Jesus, it’s all true. I did all those things, and I’m sorry. I don’t want to do them any more… I want you.”
Unfortunately there will be more people in the world that don’t accept Jesus’ free counsel than those who do. The majority of people will deny Jesus’ free gift and will try to argue their case on their own. Others will claim that they believe Jesus can be the Advocate for them, but they’re pridefulness gets in the way and they would still like to get some of the credit. You know, “Jesus, I know you’re good at this sort of thing and I would like you to be my defense attorney, but can you also make sure you tell the Judge all the good things that I’ve done. Maybe that’ll help. I’ve never killed anybody, I try not to swear, I feed the poor sometimes, and I go to church almost every Sunday. Can you make sure you point those things out? That should help my chances.” Do you think Jesus will take their case?! I mean He telling them that He did all the work, and there is nothing that they can do to increase their righteousness. But yet they refuse to trust Him, and they try adding their own works to their defense. He’ll say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
And in this courtroom, every sin that has ever taken place in this world will be judged and eventually paid for. And do you know what the sentence is? Do you know what is at risk during this trial? We have already established that God is the Judge, but He is also the executioner, so to speak. The punishment is God’s wrath. Look at Romans 5:9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” There are only two possibilities… either you will receive God’s just wrath, or Jesus will stand up and say that the wrath He endured, that the blood He shed, was for you. And the very thing that makes this possible is what we see in verse 2, as we keep moving, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
Jesus is the propitiation for our sins. Now, propitiation is one of those words that, as a Christian we hear every now and again, and lot of us may not even know what it means exactly. Some of you may even start zoning out when you hear words like that that you don’t recognize or when I start talking about the original Greek words. But this word is so important, and I think it is so interesting!
The Greek word used here by John, that most of our Bible’s translate to ‘propitiation’ is ‘hilasmos’. Hilasmos is found only 2 times in the entire New Testament, both of which are in the 1 John, the other being chapter 4, verse 10, and 6 times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint. This is in places like Numbers 5:8, when referring to the Day of Atonement, and Leviticus 25:9, when referring to the ram which will be used to make atonement. So you can see that the majority of the time hilasmos is used, it seems to be relating to the removal of guilt through an atoning sacrifice. However, there are other similar words that are found in the Greek texts that suggest that it could mean something else as well. Related to the word hilasmos, we see the noun hilasterion, the verb hilaskomai, and another verb exilaskesthai. These words we find a combined 149 times in the Greek texts. 27 of which refer to the mercy seat in the tabernacle, 12 referring to forgiving people of their sins, others refer to atonement that cleanses a sinner, and then, we find many others that refer to the removal of God’s wrath. It doesn’t look like we can have one without the other, hilasmos, propitiation refers to an atoning sacrifice that removes guilt and sin, AND removing God’s anger towards sinners. In fact, probably the best definition to remember for propitiation is this, an atoning sacrifice to appease God’s wrath.
Some people don’t like the idea of an angry or wrathful God that requires a sacrifice. Maybe it sounds too much like other false gods that are always angry and require sacrifices maybe… If you say that you don’t like the idea of a wrathful God, then I say you don’t like the God of the Bible. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. The word wrath appears 212 in the ESV Bible. The exact phrase “anger of the Lord”, 35 times. There’s no denying it, so to say that our God is not a wrathful God would be a lie... BUT… a very big but… there are huge differences between our heavenly Father and other wrathful false gods.
First of all, our God, the God of the Bible, is the one true God. 1 Corinthians 8:6 says, “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”
Second, yes God is wrathful, but He is also love. Later in 1 John 4:8, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” and again in verse 16, it says “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” There is something that I want to add here and it is something that I have been saying for years, so I am sure that some of you have heard it before. I don’t know where I first heard it, so I can’t even give credit to where credit is due, but anyway…. God is love. Love is not God. I am going to repeat that. God is love. Love is not God. One of the biggest problems in America, and for that matter the whole westernized world is the fact that they have made love their God. Or at least what they think is love. They have decided what they think love is, and then they worship THAT. And if what the Bible says about who God is, and what God has declared doesn’t match their definition of love, they reject it. The problem is that outside of the Bible, outside of God, they don’t know what true love actually is, because God is love.
But back to the point, I was talking about why God is different than other false gods. First was the fact that God is the one true God. Second is the fact that God is love. Now third, which is closely connected to reason two, our God is different than other false gods that require sacrifices because He provides the sacrifice for us. I mentioned earlier that God is the Judge and that we are being saved from God, but we are also being saved by God. It is not as though God the Father is an mean and angry God from the Old Testament and then thankfully there is loving Jesus in the New Testament, like I’ve heard people say. Jesus didn’t sneak out of heaven to be our propitiation, and the Father was like, ‘Alright, I’ll allow it’. No, Jesus was doing the will of the Father. It’s the one Bible verse that everybody knows, and rightly so, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” God didn’t just stick us here on earth with no hope as His wrath is kindled against us. He gave us His only Son! And He doesn’t make us jump through hoops and do additional tasks to be saved, He tells us to repent of your sins and believe in His Son Jesus! That’s it! We worship a wrathful God, a just God, a merciful God, and a loving God.
Wrathful because His own creation rebels against Him and betrays Him at any chance we get. Just because there has to be a penalty for breaking His law, and a just judge would never knowingly send innocent people to jail, nor guilty people free. Merciful because even though we are all guilty and deserve death and His wrath, He chose to save some. Loving because He not only chose to save some, but actually saved them by sending His son to die for them. The propitiation for their sins. So that, for those who have repented and believe, our Father, the Judge will look at us and say not guilty.
At this point, we must look at back at the text and make sure that it matches what I am proclaiming to you today, because at first glance it could seem to say something different. Again, verse 2 in chapter 2 says, “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” There are two possibilities to what this verse means. The first possibility, if you want to call it that, it that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of everyone in the whole world. That His blood was shed for and thereby saved everyone on earth. But this cannot be. We know, by holding this verse up to other places in Scripture, that not everyone will be saved. Hell will not be left empty. Jesus himself said in Matthew, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
So what is the other possibility, or rather the only possibility? When John says “those of the whole world”, He is not saying “for all of those in the world”, he is saying for that Christ died for those around the world. He did not die for just the Jews, He did not die for just those in America... He did not die for just whites or blacks or Asians or Romans or Egyptians, but for people from all nations and tribes around the world. Perhaps another way of saying that verse would be, “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for Jews only, but also for the gentiles.”
Now... let us finish by returning to the selected text, verses 3-6 in chapter 2, “3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
It almost sounds like John is on repeat. He just finished saying in chapter one what it should look like if we are walking in the Light, and now, here in chapter 2 he is at it again… This time testing our faith by looking at our obedience. You say that you have come to know Jesus... Well, are you keeping His commandments? Not just the commands to not kill, not steal, and not commit adultery, but are you obeying His command to repent and believe? Are you obeying His command to go and make disciple of all the nations? You say that you abide in Jesus… Are you walking in the same manner that Jesus walked? John doesn’t mince his words here. He says that this is how we know what we are in Jesus. So who is Jesus to you? Was He just a good teacher that taught good morals that you are willing to give an hour of your Sunday mornings to and that’s it? Or is He the propitiation for your sins, your Lord, your Savior, whom you desire to imitate in every aspect of your life?