Verse 1 reads,
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
John addressed the readers of his letter with affection as his “little children.” He also addressed them that way understanding that many of them were not as mature in Christ as he was. He was someone they looked up to, followed, and listened to.
He exhorted them not to sin. In verse 10 the last verse of the previous chapter and the sentence directly preceding the one above John said, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” So he had just said that everyone sins and anyone saying they don’t is sinning in the most grievous of ways, blasphemy by calling God a liar. So John followed up his appeal not to sin with the encouragement that if we do, we have an advocate (supporter, intermediary, intercessor, and mediator). And not just any advocate but Jesus Christ who unlike us is righteous. Moreover Jesus is with the Father. He is right there beside the Father. But Jesus doesn’t have to plead our case with the Father. He doesn’t have to beg Him to forgive our sins. Jesus and the Father are one, they have the same nature and their wills and desires are aligned. Jesus is our mediator because He paid for our sins and made His righteousness, ours. Verse 2 reads,
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
We should absolutely not sin intentionally. We should strive to live virtuously but when we do sin, we don’t have to be racked with guilt, unable to continue walking with Christ. Jesus is the propitiation, the appeasement for our sin. He paid the price. He is with the Father as the reconciliation and peace between us. His righteousness is ours. So God isn’t looking down us with condemnation and disappointment. (Romans 8:1). He is looking at us with the love of our Father, our devoted doting Daddy.
But that doesn’t mean we should go around sinning as much as we like claiming grace over everything and assuming there will be no consequences. John says that if we know God, our lives will prove it by our commitment to obey His commands. Knowing God is having a personal relationship with Him, gaining firsthand experience of who He is. If we know God in such an intimate way, we agree with Him because our nature is being conformed to His. Verses 3-5 read,
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:”
Once again, John accuses people of being liars, but this time it is people who claim to know God, but don’t keep His commandments. People who say, “I’m a Christian” but live their lives looking just like the world, purposely sinning and declaring grace do not really know God. They do not walk in the light of truth. Walking in the light of truth means walking transparently, not attempting to hide our sins but at the same time diligently obeying God. The truth is Jesus came to earth lived perfectly, died horribly, and rose triumphantly to pay the price for our sin and bring us peace with the Father. Living in that truth opposes continual willful sinning.
What are the commandments we ought to be keeping? There are more than 600 commandments. But Jesus said that the crux of all the commandments, the Law, and every word the prophets spoke were these two in Matthew 22:36-40.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus said we are to love God with everything we have our entire being, everything we think, do, and want. He also said we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, to consider other people just as important as we consider ourselves. Their needs and hopes are just as much as priority as our own.
Later Jesus gave a new commandment. John 13:34-35 says,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus was about to give His life for us, He made us more important than Himself. Loving others as we love ourselves makes us consider others equally with us, loving others as Jesus loved us means we put the needs of others ahead of our own needs, we sacrifice for them, we love others with all our being and in every we do, think, and want.
Jesus said that by obeying that command, people would know we were His disciples. John said that when we obey, we ourselves will know that we know God. It is important for people to see Jesus in us, to understand there is something peculiar about us. It is just as important for us to realize it of ourselves, loving others like that, obeying God’s commandments takes faith impossible without God.
In verse 6 John says,
“whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
John says that if we abide in Jesus, we ought to do what He did and love as He loved. That is the commandment that Jesus gave us. “love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
Believer, walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Do not fool yourself by claiming grace so that you can keep looking like the world. Walk in God’s light and by His supernatural might obey His commandments. You won’t have to question your salvation when you know that you are doing something impossible in the world as you love others the way Jesus loved you.