Wednesday

15 January 2020

1 John 2:1-11

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; (v. 1)

Psalm: Psalm 119:33-48

Background

The context for John’s writing continues to be The Light. The Light in Chapter 2 will have a determining influence on the Christian people – an influence of transformation. As the apostle John writes to his friends – whom here he calls “My little children” and in other versions “My dear children” – we find him offering the sage advice of a parent to their children. He is continuing to address the teachings that were leading Christians away from the reality of Jesus being fully human and fully God, which he personally knew through his own interactions with Jesus. There is genuine affection for the Christians and he extends a desire for them to remain close to God through Jesus in their actions and lifestyle as well as in their profession of faith.

‘Not sinning’ may not sit well with our cultural sensibilities today. We turn to the life of Jesus to see what this could mean. Jesus was obedient to the will of his Heavenly Father – seeking this through prayer and time out with God. Today, we have substituted this for ‘me time’ – recognising the need for re-focussing our priorities and to gain clarity for direction for the day or week. For John, the refocus should be through the lens of Jesus and his atoning sacrifice for our sins. That we sin is a ‘given’ for John. He does not try to cover up a Christian’s falling short of God’s perfection with platitudes. He knows that our pull away from God to please ourselves will often be too great to resist, but he does not allow us to lose hope …

The perfection that we seek is the place in which we find our peace. This peace is a gift from God and nothing of human manufacture. We might find rest for our minds in our hobbies and the busying of our hands, or in the completing of a crossword or number puzzle that allows our focus to come away from the heaviness of life and the weight of our decision-making. This is a respite but it is not the way that John has experienced to be the answer. The Christian life is a series of returning to Christ in his atoning sacrifice who, as our advocate, brings together the human and the divine. Now, we recognise that we are not perfect and neither are we hopeless.

Our behaviour, attitude and understanding of God and consequently our response to the world around us is determined by our closeness to the cross of Jesus. The greater our understanding of our need for salvation and our need of a divine nudge toward holiness; the better we live a holy and gracious life. It is in this way that we show the love of God in Christ to the world. Are we still sinners? Yes. Do we sin in ways that we have rationalised as ‘this is OK actually’? More than likely. Are we therefore not Christian? John says not. Our Saviour continues to work his salvation within us as our advocate, citing his atoning sacrifice for our sins and with great hope, for the sins of all the world.

 

To Ponder:

  • What is your gut reaction to the term ‘sin’?  Is ‘sin’ a relevant term for Christians to be using in today’s world?
  • Do you prefer platitudes or a wake-up call?
  • What does Jesus being ‘an atoning sacrifice for our sins’ mean for you?

Bible notes author

Catherine Hutton

Catherine is currently Superintendent of the Norwich Circuit where she enjoys preaching and teaching to her lively and opinionated congregation in Sprowston. She is an innovator for the gospel, developing ways of sharing the Good News with the local community through local discipleship and intentional evangelism.

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