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1 John 1:1-4 New England Series
1 John 1:5-7 New England series
1 John 1:8-10 New England series
1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:3-6
1 John 2:7-11
1 John 2:12-17
1 John 2:18-27
1 John 3:1-9 1John 3: 10-23
1 John 3:24 to 4:6
1 John 4:7-16
1st John 4:17-21
1st John 5:4-13 1st John 5:14-15
  1 John 5:16-17   1 John 5:18-21  
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 1st John 2:1-2

 

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.  And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1st John 2:1-2). 

 

“Here in this church and as part of this denomination, we teach expository through the Word of God.  That is verse by verse through a book of the Bible, and if you’ve been here a little bit of time you certainly know that, that we teach verse by verse through an entire book of the Bible, and there’s reasons why we do that, and there’s reasons on Sunday mornings why we don’t have too many topical studies—a topical study being where you just take a different text every week and on Sunday morning you don’t know where we’re going to be…bouncing around in the Bible.  That is fine, but for certain reasons we do [connective] expository.  And one of the great advantages I believe, one of the great reasons for teaching expository through the Word of God is that it helps keep us balanced in our understanding of the Word, it keeps us balanced.  We’re not just jumping around, but we’re going through books of the Bible.  And that keeps me balanced, it keeps me balanced in my doctrine, keeps you balanced in your doctrine, keeps us from going to extremes in our beliefs, extremes in our doctrine, because the Word of God is very balanced in its teaching.  So it’s a hedge from getting too far out on one doctrine and not balanced with the other teaching of the Scripture.  Certainly what you and I believe is important.  What I believe has an impact upon the way that I live.  What I believe certainly has an impact in the decisions that I make daily in the way I view myself, and more importantly the way I view God.  So as we continue here now in verse 1 of chapter 2 of 1st John we’re going to notice as we go through this that John is also very balanced in his doctrine, very balanced in his understanding of the Word of course.  And he wants you and I to be balanced.  We’ll see that as we go through [1st John].  He purposely steps through what he intends for us to learn, he purposely steps through principle upon principle with the intention of increasing our understanding—but also in keeping us balanced, away from an extreme position in our understanding or in our doctrine.  So in doing this he employs certain styles.  One such technique, I’ve called it the command and counsel technique, in which he gives a very clear exhortation, we’ve seen him do that, very clear and concise exhortations, but then he follows it with a word of comfort, a word of consolation.  So he gives a command, and then he follows it with a word of comfort.  So he keeps his balance.  Sometimes when you hear a command you can start to condemn yourself or start to struggle, but he comes right back with just a word of consolation to encourage us, keeps us very balanced in our position.  So we’ll see that as we continue here in chapter 2 of 1st John.  It’s quite evident that he desires to build us up, not to beat us up.  So if you’ve felt a little beat up the last couple weeks as he’s made some very strong points, you’ll see now that he comes back with some real encouraging words too just to remind us, this is all for our edification, this is all for our encouragement, and to just move our hearts into a closer walk with Jesus Christ. 

          Now just a simple outline as we go through the first two verses of 1st John.  You maybe notice, this book we’re taking real slow.  It’s just a book packed with truths and principles, and you can’t help but take your time going through it.  So this is our fourth study and we’re only going to do two verses this week.  But a simple outline for the first two verses of chapter 2, I have for my first point the phrase “the aim”, then “the attitude”, that second point.  Third point “the advocate” and then our fourth point “the acceptance.”    So may the Lord just open our eyes more to just how much God loves us and how much he just wants to work in our lives.  Again with verse 1 of chapter 2, “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.  For he himself is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.”  So here you get a sense of John’s age when he uses this term “My little children”.  So you get a sense he’s a bit older.  Many commentators have noted this when we got started in this in 1st John.  Many commentators believe he’s pretty old, in fact he may be as old as 90 years of age.  He lived, we believe, to be about 94 according to early church historians.  So he’s potentially about 90 years of age, so of course he starts with this term “my little children.”  Now the Greek words he chooses to use there are Greek words like a grandfather would say to his grandchildren, they’re very tender words.  When he says “my little children”, he’s being very tender in his speech, it’s essentially, we don’t really have an equivalent English term, but it’s essentially saying this, “my lovely little child”, or “my beautiful little child”.  So that’s kind of neat, as he addresses us.  He’s really got a heart of love towards us, a real heart of compassion as he writes this letter.  I mean, the ink and the pen here, as we’re reading, are coming from a heart that really desires what’s best for you and I.  Keep that in mind as we study this epistle this week and the weeks ahead, because with love there must also be truth.  So there’s a heart of concern.  He shares the truth, but he’s concerned for us, he wants what’s best for us.  He wants us to learn what God has for us, and learn the standard that God wants us to live by.  But he does it with a concern like a loving father, just trying to help us along in our faith. 

 

The Aim

 

          Well, he gives his purpose again, his purpose as he writes this letter.  Verse 1, “My little children, these things I write to you so

that you may not sin.”  Now if you remember back in chapter 1, verse 4, I know the NIV renders it a little bit different, but I think the New King James has it closer.  But he says he writes back in verse 4 of chapter 1 “that our joy may be full”, that we might experience the fullness of joy.  And now he says that he writes that we would not sin.  And no doubt there’s a direct correlation between the two of those, between the absence of sin in my life and between the presence of joy.  The less the sin, the more the absence of sin in my life, the more the presence of joy.  The less the sin the more the joy.  I think that’s a true correlation.  [And don’t forget how John defines what sin is in 1 John 3:4, “Sin is the transgression of the law.”]   On the other hand, the more the sinful living, the less the presence or experience of joy in my life.  So I think those are both consistent purposes, and they’re kind of directly correlated one to another.  To say that his aim, his purpose is that we would not sin, is also to relate or experience to the fullness of joy.  Certainly the world would say otherwise, I think the world would say that, you know, ‘the world has what we need to have a lot of fun, the world has what we need to have a good time and lots of happiness.’  So if we get playing along with that world and playing the world’s game, initially it might seem like a lot of fun, but as we continue we’ll find though, and the Scripture teaches this, it might seem fun at first, but in the end we’re going to find that it’s very empty, and we will especially be void of joy, especially void of joy.  So I think there is a correlation to the absence of sin in my life and the experience of the fullness of joy.  We remember from our last study, ‘in God’s presence is the fullness of joy.’  In his presence is the fullness of joy.  So John is motivating us, seeking through his writing to remind us that that is where we want to be, in the presence of the Lord, near to Jesus, living a life full of joy, a life that is far from empty. 

          Now, I guess we could pose the question.  He says “I write to you that you may not sin.”  How can John’s letter, studying John’s letter, keep me from sinning?  He says “I write to you so that you would not sin.”  How can his letter have that type of effect upon me?  Well, it has been said, being forewarned is being forearmed.  I think that’s true.  That is what the Psalmist declared in Psalm 119 verse 11, “Your word I have hidden in my heart that I may not sin against you.”  So having the knowledge, being forewarned certainly has an effect upon my life later.  It’s being forearmed.  To read John’s letter is being forewarned about certain things, and therefore forearmed later in my life.  These truths as they’re entering my mind and prayerfully into my heart, they should in the future then help keep me, be a hedge against me sinning.  It should keep me from sin in my life.  Maybe you’re a new believer, and you’ve been part of these studies so far these last few weeks, and you through the studies we’ve been going through, you’ve learned that you can’t live a sinful lifestyle and expect to be close to God.  You remember what John said in verse 5 and verse 6 and 7 [in 1st John 1], that God is light and in him is no darkness at all.  And if we walk in darkness, how can we expect to be near to God?  So you’re a new believer and you’ve been learning that.  And it’s your hearts’ desire to be close to Jesus Christ, to be near to him in close fellowship.  So this last week there’s just an example, this last week, of an old friend calls you up, and you’re thinking, yeah, I want to be near Jesus.  Old friend calls you up and invites you to a party on Friday night, and you’re thinking ‘I know at this party, I know this individual, there’s probably going to be drugs and alcohol.’  And you know, that’s a temptation for you.  But because of hearing what John has been sharing with you in these studies as we’ve been going through them, you now find this added conviction in your heart.  This friend invites you to go to this party and your thinking ‘Man, I don’t want anything to get in-between me and God.’  So you tell him, ‘You know, I’m not going to be part of the party.  I’m not interested.  Thank you very much.’  So you were forewarned, and in being forewarned you’re forearmed.  Just an example of how that works.  You hear the truths, it works in your heart, and now it helps you later in a battle that we face day-to-day in our lives. 

          But also, hearing the truth of what John has to say here, reading his letter that he has written helps me from being misled or misguided or deceived by the enemy, or deceived by my own heart, my own lusts, my own desires.  Maybe you have thought ‘I can live pretty much as I want to, as long I’m not hurting anybody I have nothing to fear, I can do whatever I want to do, as long as I’m just being nice to people, I can be sure I’m not doing anything wrong in the eyes of God.’  [And a lot of people who consider themselves born-again Christians follow this philosophy.]  But then you read what we read last week, and in the last two weeks, and say, ‘But wait a minute, that’s not true.  That’s not true.  I was misguided, or misled, deceived by my own heart.’  Or maybe you were taught growing up that basically, as you were born, you were born a good person, therefore God is happy with you and always near to you.  And you were just taught that, and there are a lot of churches teaching that, as we even talked about last week.  But then again, you read chapter 1 with us, verses 5 to 10, and you learned that that really isn’t true, that isn’t true.  So John’s letter, in reading his letter, in learning these truths, it helps me not to be misled or misguided.  And therefore it will help me not to sin.  Furthermore, hearing the truth of what he shares here brings conviction to our hearts and therefore change to our lives.  As I read John’s letter, the Holy Spirit comes and reveals things to my heart, certain things, and shows me at times I’m living contrary to what God desires, what is best for me.  So I have this sense of the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  And prayerfully, I have a humble and honest heart before the Lord, and when I have that conviction of the Holy Spirit, there is then this desire to make the changes that are necessary to be consistent with the Word of God and the will of the Lord.  You know, that’s like how counsel will work, an admonishment from a brother, same type of thing, he’s [John] admonishing us as a brother or a sister in Christ.  Somebody comes to you, and here’s an example.  Maybe you get a call at home one day, you know, you’ve been away from church for awhile, you’ve been out of fellowship, and somebody calls you, a brother or sister from the church calls you up just to see how you’re doing, they’re concerned for you, and you tell them ‘I’ve been real busy, been real busy, all kinds of things going on, illnesses and sicknesses…’ but you know the reason you’ve been home is you’ve been watching the Patriots or whatever, you’ve been to the season, so you can’t come to church, and they’re calling you up, and as the conversation continues, then the Holy Spirit starts to convict your heart, and you’re like, ‘All right, I gotta tell this person, here’s the real deal, I’ve been watching football, that’s why I’ve been home every week.’  So then this person very lovingly just starts to encourage you and admonish you about the dangers of staying out of fellowship.  And before you know it, by the end of the phone call you’re praying with the person and saying, ‘Lord forgive me, I’ve gotten distracted, I’ve gotten my focus off, help me to get back on track.’  It’s that kind of thing, as he writes, as we hear these truths, it should bring conviction at times to my life.  [Very sadly, in very large Calvary Chapels and Horizon Christian Fellowships, where these sermons are preached, sometimes there will be people who attend that tend to be marginalized by those who attend and even by the pastor, not necessarily on purpose, but due to the size of the congregation, and so this never happens.  In a Sabbatarian Church of God I was spiritually ‘brought up’ in, this would happen, and often helped a person who was straying or struggling with something, so that they would be helped in such a loving and gentle manner.  Jesus referred to believers as his sheep.  A good shepherd is always counting his sheep to see if any are missing.  That may be a hard thing to do in such large congregations, and so some do fall between the cracks, as the saying goes.  I know in the Sabbatarian Church of God I was spiritually raised in, they would quietly and unobtrusively take an attendance of those attending each Sabbath for just such purposes.  It wasn’t done in the fashion of “Big Brother” watching over you, but out of sincere love and concern for the “sheep” the Lord had entrusted to their care.  Anyone who cares to argue that point has a problem with me, as I attended such a Sabbatarian Church of God for over 25 years.]  If there’s something that isn’t right at times.  And hopefully there’s a humble enough heart, a humble attitude and a desire to make the changes.  So that’s why he can say “I have written this to you so that you may not sin.”  Being forewarned is being forearmed.  This will keep us from being misled or misguided, and it should bring conviction and change to my life [our lives].  So, indeed, studying 1st John, the aim of his letter, it certainly should have that effect upon me, prayerfully, that I would not sin.  John has written with that aim, and this brings us to our second point, the attitude.

 

The attitude

 

          We have the aim, now we have the attitude.  John writes, so when it comes to sin, our attitude should clearly not be one of complacency or compromise.  But neither, as we’ll see in the second part of verse 1, but also in verse 2, he writes that our attitude won’t be one of complacency or compromise, but neither will it be one of condemnation.  There’s a balance, you’ll see.  It’s possible after studying chapter 1, dependent on how we were tuning in, maybe we just grabbed onto the truth of verse 9 [of chapter 1], which is a great truth.  But sometimes folks will take a verse like 9 of chapter 1 and start to think that they can be slack with the sin in their lives.  Why not, they think, ‘If I sin, I can come to God and confess my sin, he forgives me and cleanses me as if the sin never existed, so what do I have to worry about?  That sounds like a license to sin to me.  If I can go and just confess and he forgives me, man, I can pretty much do what I want.  I got a license here, I can just kind of be casual and be complacent about the issues of sin in my life.’  But just in case, as we get now to chapter 2, verse 1, somebody has gotten confused about understanding the grace of God, John now writes as a loving father to remind us of the great need for a holy life.  And he’s made that point too before, such as the truth already shared in the previous chapter, where it should certainly motivate us as readers to sin less, especially when we understand the God that we worship, this God is a God of light, and in him is not darkness at all.  So John has told us, if you want to be close to God, in close communion with him, walk in the Light and do not sin.  So that certainly should move me not to sin.  But sometimes we miss these points and we’re thinking ‘Well, I can confess, and get right.’  And no doubt there are a lot of Christians with that attitude [of complacency].   Sometimes all of us struggle with that a little bit.  You know, there’s a temptation that comes our way, and the thought ‘I can get away with it, then I can confess and get right with the Lord.’  Well John is writing, his aim is to effect my attitude, my attitude toward the sin in my life, that I would understand that God’s standard for me is one of holiness—that his desire for me is that I would live a sinless life—that I would be perfect, as the Bible says—that I would be perfect as God is perfect [cf. Matthew 5:48].  That is the standard.  Now, it’s important to John that I understand that I cannot be complacent about my sin, I cannot compromise when it comes to how I live, just thinking that I can let things slide in my life.  And therefore I think this Epistle is a great Epistle for the church in America, no doubt about it.  Look at the Church in America.  And you know, I was even watching TV a little bit yesterday, thinking ‘Man, what an influence TV has’, and just thinking about ‘Lord, how can we more effectively even minister in this society that we’re in.  And there’s so many pressures against the people, so many pressures against the Church.  But this is a great Epistle, this is a great Epistle for the Church in America.  Where it seems so often for American Christians, we think we can have one foot in the Church and one foot in the world, and then we’re still OK—[thinking] ‘’You know, that’s just our society, and that’s the way the rest of the Church is, so I can live one foot in the world and one foot in the Church and still be OK.’  So there is this sense in the Church in America of complacency towards sin, of compromising with sin, of a casualness with sin.  I mean, we can just look at the statistics collected by people like George Barna, you know, you’ve heard the statistics.  I’m sure, many times on the radio station, where he just says, you know, here’s the world, this is what the world thinks, and this is what the Church in America thinks, man it’s almost no difference.  You look at all the statistics about certain lifestyles, and in a sad way, there’s the world, and the Church in America isn’t far from that.  So that says there’s a complacent Church in America, complacent with sin, casual with sin, compromising with sin.  But John says “I write that you may not sin”, meaning the standard is holiness, “Be ye perfect as God is perfect.”  I think this is a great letter for the Church in America.  Because when you’re complacent about sin, there’s a lack of passion for God.  The two go together, a lack of passion for the presence of God [and a complacency for sin].  And when I think of that I think of Jesus’ words to the Church, that latter-day Church in Revelation chapter 3, the Church of Laodocia.  He says “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot, I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then because you are luke-warm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.  Because you say ‘I am rich, I have become wealthy and have need of nothing’ and do not know you are wretched, miserable and poor, blind and naked…”  He says this to the Church.  “…I counsel you to buy for me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich, and white garments that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness be not revealed, and anoint your eyes with eye-salve that you may see.  As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.  Therefore be zealous and repent.”  [This “era” of the Christian Church goes into the tribulation “to buy for me gold refined in the fire” and to put on “garments of white”.  It is thought that many if most of these luke-warm Christians will die in the tribulation as the price they pay for “this gold refined in the fire.”    This is serious stuff and applies to us all, for this attitude can be found in every single Christian Church congregation, although some denominations and congregations may have more of this attitude as an overall trait than others.  That’s why it behooves us to find and dwell in congregations that are more spiritually alive, like the early Separatists did whilst they lived in the Midlands of England, searching out for those congregations.]  So it’s saying, you know, ‘Get a heart of passion, no more complacent attitude and compromising attitude with sin in your life.’  So, John here, as we start chapter 2, he’s reminding us that, yes, we have this incredibly gracious God, but at the same time, his standard is holiness for our great good. 

          So how about you personally?  What is the attitude that you have toward sin in your life?  The question is, do you fear God?  Or have you had a misunderstanding of the grace of God, thinking that you can have a casual attitude about the sin in your life?  If so, I hope our studies in 1st John show you otherwise.  And the net result for all of us is that we would be less complacent, less luke-warm, and have a greater passion for the presence of the Lord.  That’s why John is writing.  So, we get the blessing of studying it together.  But remember—now you’re thinking, ‘I feel condemned’—but he’s balanced, man.  His point isn’t to beat me up, it’s to build me up.  You’ll see what I mean, he brings you right back the other way.  He wants us to have a balanced perspective, yes, we shouldn’t have a complacent and compromising attitude, but neither should we have one of condemnation.  He is seeking certainly to build us up, to motivate us to live in such a way that we live the good life.  So John follows his exhortation with consolation.  The standard yes indeed is a perfect life, a holy life, that should be our aim, that should be our hearts desire.  But if and when we do fall short, may we not fall into despair either. 

 

The Advocate

 

Whereas John writes, this is our third point, the advocate, and this is just a tremendous truth, reality, he writes “If anyone sins,”—if any brother or sister stumbles, remember too, that we as born-again believers—“have an advocate with the Father”—that’s what he says.  “I write to you that you may not sin, but, and if anyone sins,”—the balance is he brings it right back—don’t get condemning yourself either—our great advocate as we are believers in Jesus Christ, we have a great advocate, and he’s Jesus Christ the righteous.  That is the way he describes him here.  Interesting, the word for advocate here is the Greek word parocletos.  You may remember that term from our study in the gospel of John.  It means one who comes alongside of you to help you, one who stands up for you.  So Jesus, as you remember in the gospel of John, said he was sending the Holy Spirit after he ascended to the Father, he would come as our Parocletos, he would come as our Comforter to come alongside of us.  And the Holy Spirit certainly has now come and indwells the Church, and he’s working in our hearts, he’s helping us, he’s come alongside us, he’s helping us in this world.  But also as Romans chapter 8 tells us, the Holy Spirit also intercedes within us, moving our hearts and leading us in prayer.  So he is our Parocletos.    But now John says Jesus is our Parocletos, meaning he’s our Parocletos in heaven.  [Which fits John chapter 14 where Jesus said through the indwelling Holy Spirit, Parocletos, both he and the Father would come into believers, followers of him, and “make our abode” within them.  So this fits perfectly with Scripture and Jesus’ words in John 14.]  We have the Holy Spirit within us on earth, but we have Jesus right now present at this very moment in the throne room in heaven as our Parocletos, as our Advocate, interceding for us before the Father.  Now there is a wonderful picture of this in the Old Testament.  If you get some time, you may want to study it.  Zechariah 3, verses 1 to 7 displays it so wonderfully.  There we read that God has a concern with the nation of Israel, they have sin.  As you read the book of Zechariah you learn it’s God’s intention, even as he has spoken through other prophets, they would, as they’ve come back from Babylon, God has brought them back as a nation, that they would rebuild the temple.  But they haven’t been faithful in that.  So God is concerned with the nation of Israel, they’re in sin.  So, you begin chapter 3 with this picture of what that means before a perfectly holy but yet a loving God.  There, as you start chapter 3, is the throne room of heaven.  And interestingly, there is Joshua the high priest standing before the throne of God.  But what is also interesting, as you get this glimpse into the throne room, is that Joshua this high priest is standing there, but he is also dressed in filthy rags, standing before the throne.  And we’re told in this chapter that at his right hand is Satan the accuser of the brethren.  And it says specifically that Satan is there to oppose him.  So you have God, the throne room, you have the Judge, basically, you have Joshua, representing the nation of Israel, in rags, in sin, then you got the accuser of the brethren, Satan there to oppose him.  And isn’t that the reality.  Right?  But then, wonderfully, as you read these few verses, the Lord turns to Satan and firmly rebukes him, just rebukes him, and then orders that the clothes be taken off Joshua, that these filthy rags be taken off, and that they be replaced with rich robes.  And then the Lord says to Joshua, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you.”  Beautiful picture.  Beautiful picture.  Man represented there in the throne room of God, Satan the accuser, I mean it’s like a judicial thing going on there, it’s like a court room, a Judge, the prosecuting attorney, then the Defense Attorney, and Jesus the Defense Attorney, he’s got a lot of weight with God, the Judge, and he says to the prosecuting attorney, “the Lord rebuke you.”  And he says to Joshua, and there’s reasons for that, and we’ll go on “You’re not even guilty.  In fact, take those clothes off, God has forgiven you, you’re cleansed, let’s put some rich robes on you.”  That is a great picture.  And that is what John is saying here, that Jesus, you know, he says ‘Do not sin, I write to you so that you will not sin, but if you do, don’t condemn yourself either.  Don’t be complacent, but don’t condemn yourself, because you have an Advocate right now, standing in the throne room before God, Jesus Christ the righteous, standing there before God the Father.’  That’s our Parocletos, defending us, and working in such a way.  He is our great Advocate, and he is perfectly effective.  We see there in Zechariah chapter 3, he is perfectly effective in what he does.  And let’s just look at three reasons as to why.  He is perfectly effective as our Advocate (1) because of his position, we see there John says “We have an Advocate with the Father.”  Now the Greek word there literally when it says with means we have an Advocate with the Father who’s face to face with the Father.  That is what that Greek word means literally, with.  It means to be face to face with.  It means that Jesus is always looking into the face of the Father, always looking into his eyes, in absolute intimacy with God.  So it isn’t like Jesus is going in and out of the ‘court room’, it isn’t like that he’s far removed and he’s got to send messages.  He is always looking right into the eyes, complete contact, complete intimacy with the Father.  Now that’s where I need my Advocate to be, I don’t know about you.  But when I get in trouble, man, I want to make sure that Guy can come through.  And he’s right there.  He’s got such a position with the Father, that’s what it says when it says ‘He’s with the Father’—eye to eye, looking at him.  And that’s great to know, that tells me he’s effective at what he does.  Also (2) he’s effective because of his very person.  Again, John refers to him as “Jesus Christ the righteous.”  This is a reference to the person of Christ.  First to his character, Jesus Christ the righteous.  That says, that declares that yes, he became a man, but as the New Testament tells us, he never sinned.  Jesus the Son of God came to this earth, became a man, but he never, ever sinned.  There was never, ever any fault found in him.  As the writer of Hebrews tells us, he was absolutely perfect.  So Jesus Christ the righteous, meaning he’s perfect, he’s perfectly righteous, and he’s standing before the Father who is perfectly holy and perfectly righteous.  That encourages me, because that’s the kind of representative I need too.  You and I need somebody to plead our case who is worthy.  Somebody who is unworthy cannot plead for us.  But Jesus Christ the righteous is worthy.  He can stand in heaven, he can stand with the Father, as God the Son.  He is perfect, he is righteous, and therefore I can be sure, I can be confident that as my Advocate he’s accepted before the Father, he can stand in his presence, and he can also plead my case effectively to the Father.

          So, we have the Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous.  He’s effective because of his position, because of his person, but (3) as we see here also, he’s effective because of his propitiation.  He’s effective because of his propitiation.  This word propitiation is a difficult work for our culture.  It says in verse 2 “He himself is the propitiation for our sins.”   And this is a difficult word for our culture, although it’s one that is very familiar with a Hebrew…and that is, in the Hebrew culture, when somebody sinned, they understood what this means, and that is, it is necessary every time I sinned, there was a sin committed, that an offering be brought before God, and that offering was then given before the Lord, and that offering allowed fellowship with God to be restored.  [And a sin offering was a blood offering, usually a bull or lamb had to be slain and burned completely on the altar.]  And that is what propitiation, that is the sense of that word.  It means to satisfy God’s righteousness through a sacrifice in order that I might live again in fellowship with God.  So he is effective because of his position, because of his person, but also because of his propitiation, meaning, of course, he came and he died on a cross, and he shed his blood for my sin.  But now, this word, you may get the sense as we’re going through this, that you get the sense it’s God the Father, maybe he’s an angry God, and we need this Advocate that can kind of say ‘Hey man, go easy on this guy, come on, you know, just cool down Dad, remember I died on the cross.’  You may get that sense.  But that’s not the sense at all as you study, you’ll see this as we go on.  This word means to satisfy God’s holy law, God is light, and he cannot ignore sin.  He cannot close his eyes to sin.  But the Bible teaches, as John will make very clear, that God is also love, he is light, but he is love.  And later in chapter 4, verse 10 he will say this “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  So it’s not that God is mad at me, but God is perfectly righteous.  And in order for him to forgive me, there needs to be propitiation.  There needs to be a sacrifice for my sin, and Jesus is that sacrifice.  So, this word though means even more than that.  How exactly is Jesus our propitiation?  Well it’s partly, it has a lot to do with the fact that he was the sacrifice for our sin.  But the word means even more than that.  It’s not just his shed blood on the cross, be he in his very person and his very ministry is our propitiation, meaning that he is the High Priest and he’s the sacrifice.  Remember in the Old Testament the high priest had do this work of propitiation in bringing the sacrifice to God [and the big one would be on the Day of Atonement], and that was that whole process of the high priest bringing it and offering it to the Lord that provided the means for the people of Israel to be forgiven of their sin [cf. Leviticus 16, whole chapter].  Well Jesus is in every sense the propitiation, he is the High Priest, he is the priest and he is the sacrifice.  It’s all in Jesus.  So, John is telling me and telling you, that we have all we need in Jesus as our Advocate, because of his position, because of his person, but also because of what he is, he is my Priest, he is my offering, and he stares at the Father eye to eye.  So I can have complete confidence when I come and say “Lord, forgive me of my sin.”  Just as we read in 1st John chapter 1, verse 9, he is always faithful to forgive me and cleanse me of my sin.  Quoting to you Martin Lloyd Jones “So everything that is necessary to reconcile this sinner with God is in Jesus Christ, we need nothing else, we need no one else, because it is the Son of God who is the propitiation we have no fear about our sin.  We can say with John that he is enough [to] sufficiently cover the sins of the whole world.”  So our Advocate, perfectly effective, in his position, his person, his propitiation.  I’d like to quote to you again Dr. Lloyd Jones from a sermon he preached in 1949.  “As the result of Jesus Christ”—this is interesting—“and his standing in the presence of God on my behalf I say this, I say it with trembling, but yet I say it with confidence, God would be unjust if he did not forgive my sins.  Christ has died for me, it is righteous and just for God to forgive the sins of all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ the righteous.”  Man, I could see how you could say that trembling.  But yet it is true.  I believe it.  God would be unjust if he did not forgive my sins, because Jesus Christ the righteous, his person, his position, his propitiation, he stands there with the Father—and because of all that he has done, it’s only right that he say that Bill, Joe, whoever that is a believer is forgiven of his sins.  He’ll take those rags off, put on those robes.  That is cool, man.  That is awesome.  That is the privilege that we have as believers in Jesus Christ.  And not only that, you remember the other teachings in the New Testament too.  I mean, Jesus as our High Priest also fully identifies with us.  So we have in Jesus someone who identifies with us.  When I come and I pray, Jesus goes, “I understand.”  “I know the battle in the world.”  He was perfect, but tempted in every point that I was tempted, but yet he was perfect, he never sinned.  But he understands the battle that we’re in.  He’s sympathetic, the Scripture says.  The writer of Hebrews says he’s sympathetic towards me.  So I have this Advocate, so effective because of who he is, in the place he’s in, but also he’s got a heart towards me.  He says “I understand, oh man.”  And he just lays it before the Father.  And he rebukes Satan the accuser of the brethren.  So, look at the balance, you see the balance here.  It shouldn’t be complacency with sin, it shouldn’t be a casualness or a compromising with sin in my life.  But neither should there be condemnation.  I should open my heart and seek with all my heart to live purely and to please the Lord, but when I struggle, when I stumble, I come to the Father and I realize I’ve got Jesus right now at his right hand, ‘Father, forgive me.’  He may not say anything, he may just show him his hands and his body, you know, just his very person.  His very nature has provided the means for me to be forgiven.  Wow, that’s encouraging to me, I know that.  So, may we not be complacent, but may we not feel condemnation either, may we instead have hearts filled with wonder and praise and worship of such a wonderful, loving, marvelous God that we have.

 

The acceptance

 

          Finally, we look at this phrase, he says “he is himself the propitiation for our sins, but not for ours only but for the whole world.”  Amazing.  That brings us to this last point.  That is the point of “acceptance”, the acceptance.  Jesus is the propitiation and in this propitiation, it is so powerful, it says it right here, it is sufficient to cover the sins of the whole world.  That’s what it says, “he’s the propitiation for our sins, but not for ours only, but for the whole world.”   What he did is sufficient to cover the entire sins of all the world.  I mean, just think about that for a moment.  You think about the Holocaust, you think about these guys flying planes into the World Trade Center, you think about all these horrendous things people have done.  [Comment:  I’m a history buff, and facing me to my left right now as I transcribe this sermon are three shelves of bookcases 6 feet long, one foot deep, filled with world history books from ancient Egypt to the very present, American, British, and world history from ancient to modern.  Most of those books are about war, the rise and fall of kingdoms and nations.  Most of the world’s population lived and died in horrible wars, and most died without Christ, considering that Jesus only came a short 2,000 years ago, and man’s recorded, sordid history goes back about 6,000 years.  When Adam and Eve were placed on this planet, created out of the elements of the earth, they were placed on a planet that already had Satan and the one third of the angels that had rebelled with him residing on it—a planet filled with unseen demonic spirit-beings.  Now why on earth would God allow almost the entirety of mankind throughout recorded history to live and die on a planet full of horrible wars and societies run unseen by demonic forces, all right up to now and further, to the 2nd coming, when Satan and his demons are locked up for 1,000 years (cf. Revelation 20:1-3)?  This is the age old question that has plagued the Christian Church throughout the ages.  There is something missing to the Plan of Salvation, the Plan of God for man’s redemption, something we either are not seeing in Scripture, or something Jesus and the Father have not yet revealed to us as believers.  Right now, with an honest reading of all these history books to my left, a vast majority of the dead are “unsaved dead”, they have died without Christ.  This pastor preaching this, via the doctrine he’s been used to seeing in the Word, thinks they’re all going to hell, or as the popular teaching is, to “eternal separation” from God, what I call a fancy way of ducking the bullet of having to explain what hell really is.  It’s easier to say “I don’t know” than use this fancy worded footwork.  Is there some further plan of redemption for the whole of mankind that has existed that we have not yet seen or understood?  Seems nobody within the body of Christ can agree on this one.  This question is looked at by a past writer of the Plain Truth Magazine, Mr. Keith Stump, in his fine article “Battle Over Hell.”  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm to read more about this interesting topic.]  You think about all these horrendous things people have done, you start stacking them up throughout history,  people who have taken advantage of the fatherless, people who have abused people, all the wickedness that has taken place for thousands of years, and what Jesus has done on the cross is so powerful, it’s sufficient to cover all the sins of the world.  That is amazing.  That is absolutely amazing.  Sufficient to deal with all of it.  However, it’s very clear here as he writes, it is sufficient for them, but it’s only sufficient to those who believe.  He’s not teaching that everybody’s forgiven, and when we get to heaven we find out that everybody’s been saved.  That’s not what he’s teaching.  Neither is he teaching on the other extreme the theology of limited atonement, that he only died for the believers.  It’s clear he died for the sins of the world.  His death is sufficient to cover all the sins of the world, but yet, he is only the Advocate of those who believe.  So it’s only efficient for those of us that have Jesus Christ in our hearts today, as Lord and Savior.  So, then we can close with this question—Do you believe?  Do you believe?  Do you believe that you are a sinner?  The Bible says that we are all sinners, and the result of that sin for a holy God is separation from God.  He is light, and in him there is no darkness.  Darkness can’t be with him.  I am a sinner, and the wages of sin is death.  But then the Bible says the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (cf. Romans 6:23).  He demonstrated his love for us in this, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  He provided for me the means to be forgiven of my sin, and now to have a relationship with him.  And that’s all the sin, that’s every sin you ever committed, anybody in this room.  You might be thinking, ‘Man, I’ve done the worst of the worst.’  But you can know that his work on the cross is sufficient, and will be sufficient for you if you turn to him and receive him as your Lord and Savior.  His work on the cross will indeed, does indeed provide the means for you to be forgiven and to be cleansed and have a relationship with God.  So, the Bible also says, salvation is not by works, but is through faith, which is by grace through faith…so all of us have to make a decision one day to put our faith in Jesus Christ [Yeshua haMeshiach for our Jewish believers], to open our heart to him, to ask him to come in to be the Lord of our life, and to forgive us of our sin, and to tell him that we’re going to follow him from this day forward.  So, the question, do you believe?  Do you believe in Jesus Christ?  Is he in your heart as Lord and Savior.  If he is, you have an Advocate with the Father.  If he isn’t, God is holy, perfectly holy, God is Light, there can be no darkness in his presence.  Well, do you believe?  Do you want to believe?—is the last question.”  [transcript of an expository sermon given somewhere in New England.]

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