“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins – and not only our sins but the sins of all the world” (1 John 1:1-2, NLT).
Apostle John here begins with his familiar greeting, “My dear children.” Now that you’re not a child anymore, I know, you probably don’t like to be referred to as a child. If your name is Richard (as mine is), you may prefer to be called Rich or Chard, rather than Richie, if that was your childhood name (mine is Pan). Most of us want to be called by names that show we are no longer children. But John doesn’t mean to put us down but because he was quite old when he wrote this letter and because of his special affection for us since we are part of God’s family, he called us his children. We’re part of John’s family and we – all true Christians – are God’s family as well. Brothers and sisters in Christ.
I want to highlight this: “I am writing this to you so that you will not sin” because it create some confusion to some people and some have interpreted this to mean that it is possible in this life not to sin. Wrong. But let’s put this thought in perspective. Remember, in chapter 1, John said that the person who claimed to be without sin was really not telling the truth; sin marks our lives from beginning to end. We must not conclude that we might as well sin as much as we want because God is always there to forgive us. This is error. John reminds us that such a lax or casual attitude toward sinning is not what God wants for us. When I look at this verse in the original language (Greek), I found that what John is actually saying is that we should stop – habitually sinning or the habit of sinning again and again. In other words, we should stop making sin a habit.
But Apostle John knew that as human beings we often fail. Even though we should aim to stop making sin a habit, we know that when we do sin we have a way to deal with it. Jesus Christ is like a bridge that will bring us back to God. John here is talking in a legal terms. Here Jesus is refers to as our “advocate” (Some versions translates as “intercessor”). In other words, Jesus, in this sense, become like a lawyer, “pleads our case before the Father.” Even when we sin, Jesus does not lose interest in us. He does not condemn is and walk away; instead, He keeps on serving as our “intercessor” or “defence” before God (see Hebrews 7:25).
John also explains in a little more detail what he is saying. Back in the Old Testament times, the Jewish people had to offer special sacrifices in order to be forgiven and restored to God. But with Jesus’ death (and resurrection) he became “the sacrifice that atones for our sins”. Through the laying down of His life we can be brought back into a relationship with God. And it’s a free gift – God’s grace – no strings attached. Only true Christians will understand this, and they will not play around with God’s grace. All we have to do is to repent, confess and accept it (see also John 3:16). So, Jesus brings us into a full, joy, and exciting life in which we know we are loved by God. No other religions are as sure as the salvation and forgiveness of sin in Christ alone.
Jesus is also the great “habit breaker” when it comes to the habit of sinning again and again. Some of us may find that there are certain sins which we keep committing again and again. But with the encouragement and help of God, we can work to break these bad habits. Assurance seals in the blood of Jesus. Amen.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.