The First Letter of the Apostle John : Study No.4

Study No.4 (1 John 2:1-6)

Review (1 John 1:5-10)

God is light and there is no darkness in Him. He is completely pure and clean and perfect in every way. His eyes are too pure even to behold evil and holiness adorns His dwelling place in heaven and in His temple on earth being the universal Body of the Messiah, the faithful Church. We cannot be having unbroken and continuous fellowship with Him while walking in habitual, persistent and wilful sin.

The idea of walking implies a continuous action and attitude affecting the whole course of a person’s life. If we are in a right relationship with God then we will be making a practice of the truth as revealed in his Word the Bible. When we live according to the light of his Word and practice what it says every day, we not only have unbroken fellowship with Him but also with our fellow brothers and sisters in the Messiah.

Walking in the light of God’s Word and obeying it is the basis for real and genuine fellowship in the Spirit. Transparency is vital in fellowship but if we harbour unconfessed sin either in word or deed or in our deep mind then we will not be empowered or capable of having fellowship in the Holy Spirit with our fellow believers in the Messiah. When we walk in fellowship with those who also walk in the light, the blood of the Lord Jesus continuously keeps us clean from all sin and all spiritual filthiness and defilement of flesh and spirit and consequently perfects in us holiness out of reverence for God.

Some will deny that they have sinned or have inbred sin and call it by another name and all who do this clearly show that they are not only under spiritual deception but do not have the truth abiding continuously in them, either in their minds, in their hearts or reflected in their daily living.

Sometimes through a sudden temptation we do sin unintentionally because we still have the desires of the old nature at war with the desires of the new nature with us (Galatians 5:16-18). At such times if we confess the sin and call it for what it is without any excuse then the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from it and then continue to keep us clean as we walk in the Holy Spirit and under His control moment by moment by faith. Some will vehemently stand their ground on the issue of sin and say they have never sinned in the way God describes it in His Word and make God out to be a liar clearly showing that His Word is neither in their mind nor in their heart.

Exposition  (1 John 2:1-6)

(Vs.2) “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.”

The apostle John was an old man when he wrote this letter to the believers over whom the Holy Spirit had made him an overseer and an apostle. He writes as a father who has a tender love for his children. He writes to them so that they will have a written record of what is the right way for them to live before God. Our faith is based and nourished and strengthened and grows by the written Word of God (Romans 10:17).

Our feelings and circumstances are changeable but God’s Word remains the same and will say the same thing tomorrow as it does today because Like God His Word does not change like shifting shadows on a sundial. As it is written; “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). Our faith is based on the Word of God, not on our feelings or even our circumstances which may be or may be not favourable. If we walk in the light of God’s revealed Word then that same Word will keep us from sin when temptation presents itself. If we know what is right from wrong according to God’s Word then we will be able to choose that which is pleasing to Him. If we love Him we will not want to sin against Him. Did not the Lord Jesus say; “If you really love Me, keep My commandments!” (John 14:15). The emphasis is on the action of the will, not the emotions!

John was aware of the Gnostics who had once been a part of the fellowship but had left because of their denial of the Lord Jesus’ Divinity and because they could not accept God’s definition of sin. They said all flesh was inherently evil and that spiritual experience had nothing to do with the way one lived because the flesh was sinful anyway. This was also why they could not accept that God could manifest Himself in a human flesh and blood body as He did in the Lord Jesus. How could any man be without sin they thought, but the Lord Jesus being God in the flesh was without any sin or spiritual defilement whatsoever as scripture clearly shows (2 Corinthians 5:21a) And so John continues…

“And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

In the gospel of John the Holy Spirit is referred to as “the paraclete” or “one called alongside another to strengthen them.” We know that the blessed Holy Spirit constantly intercedes for the saints according to God’s will and this is a wonderfully comforting thing to know as a believer (Romans 8:26-27). Here in John’s letter he uses the same word “Paraclete” but with a much stronger emphasis. The word he uses here is “Paracleton” meaning “one who advocates on behalf of another in a court of law.” It is one who pleads the cause of another before a judge in court. This is what the Lord Jesus is doing right now for us as believers. While upholding all things by His powerful Word He, as our great and perfect High Priest, is constantly pleading for us before the throne of God His Father. God accepts His plea because the Lord Jesus is perfectly righteous, being of one nature and substance with God His Father and equal with Him. If in a moment of weakness we do succumb to temptation and commit a sin then we have the right and privilege of bringing it before the throne of God and confessing it with the full knowledge and certainty that He will forgive us and cleanse us because the advocacy of His dear Son with whom He is well pleased and who receives and accepts us in the beloved, namely the Lord Jesus.

Our Messiah ever lives to intercede for us as our Great High Priest before the throne of God as He sits at the Father’s right hand. As it is written; “But because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25).  If He upholds all things by His powerful word then by that same powerful word He most certainly can uphold us!

This is He whom God has made to be for us our wisdom from God, our righteousness, holiness and redemption, and the one who empowers us to boast only in the Lord and what He has done for us, and in us, and not by any virtue within ourselves. If we become conscious that we have sinned then we need to fly to Him and to that fountain opened up for uncleanliness and sin and avail ourselves of that cleansing blood which washes us clean for all sin and spiritual defilement, and enables us to perfect holiness in the reverence for God.

(Vs.2) “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

In the book of Hebrews we are told that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sin. As it is written; “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). God does forgive sin but only on the basis of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus. John tell us that the Lord Jesus was “the propitiation” or “atoning sacrifice” for our sin and that God’s wrath upon sin was poured out on His Son consequently turning aside His wrath upon us as sinners once we have repented and turned back to Him. We are not only put into right standing with God when we repent and put our faith in the Lord Jesus to save us and in his blood to cleanse us, but also in the fact that His blood will save us from the wrath to come upon a Christ hating, Christ rejecting world as it came upon Egypt in the time of Moses.

Only those Israelites, who by faith were sheltering under the blood of the animal splashed on the doorposts of their houses, were spared when God’s wrath hit the unbelieving Egyptians. Likewise only those by faith sheltering under the total and complete efficacy of the blood of Jesus will be spared the wrath of God that is soon coming upon this world because of its sin and rebellion and violation of God’s laws and commandments.

To all who are availing themselves of the atoning blood of Jesus God says to them; “When I see the blood I will pass over you!” As it is written; “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus the Messiah for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in the Messiah Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:24-25a).

And again God’s Word says; “Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him!” (Romans 5:9). And yet again it is written; “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7-8). The atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was for the sins of the whole world not just for a chosen few as some teach. He has tasted death for every man. As it is written; “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).

Indeed the Lord Jesus is “the saviour of all men especially of those who believe!” and “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Timothy 4:10) (1Timothy 2:4). To teach that the Lord Jesus only died for the elect and not for the whole world in realty cancels out John 3:16 and all the other scriptures that say “Whosever believes.” While all things are foreknown to God and He knows who ultimately will be saved and who will be lost. He still gives men the choice.

In His convicting and converting work in relation to the unsaved, the blessed Holy Spirit always gives a sinner just enough light to enable them to respond and to repent and believe and to call upon God for salvation, but He will not do the responding for them. So then the atoning work of the blood of the Lord Jesus is available to all men and women and not just for an exclusive company who had no choice in the process of their salvation.

(Vs.3) “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.”

God’s Word is His commandments and the Lord Jesus fulfilled all of the requirements and ceremonial laws and practices under the Law of Moses including the moral requirements of God’s law. When we receive the Holy Spirit we are given the capacity to keep the moral requirements of the law as revealed in the Ten Commandments as we put to death the deeds of the flesh through the power supplied to us by the blessed Holy Spirit. As we walk in the Spirit continuously He will keep us from committing wilful sin. Those who say they know God by an inward revelation will keep His commandments. As the Lord Jesus Himself said; “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. The word that you hear is not My own, but it is from the Father who sent Me” (John 14:23-24).

As John later writes in this first letter; “By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, because everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith” (1 John 5:2-4). If we have real faith then we will obey the Word of God. Our faith is “the faith of obedience” or “the obedience of faith” or that obedience to the Son that is produced by faith (Romans 1:5b; 16:26) (John 3:36).

The Gnostics claimed an inner mystical revelation of God but it was a spiritual deception. It needs to be said that any spiritual experience, revelation, doctrine or teaching or prophecy uttered must be endorsed by the Word of God as we are “to test all things.” So if we say we love God but do not keep the moral requirements of the law which include the moral laws stated in the Ten Commandments then we do not know God.

The real test is whether we really love the Triune God because if we love Him first then we will not be led into sin. We are only led into sin when we yield to the temptations that can spring from the old nature within us. God does not lead us to sin or tempt us with sin. When we drop our guard and start to yield to any old habit or fleshly desire the devil takes advantage and we are led into sin (James 1:13).

King David fell for this trap when he committed adultery and murder. It began with his eyes wandering where they should not have been wandering and then entered into the imagination and ultimately brought about the deed. He allowed himself to be drawn out from his strong refuge in God. It was a time when the kings went out to war but he was home at ease in the palace and as they say “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.”

It is also written; “Give no place for the devil.” Satan set David up and he fell for the trap and had to live the rest of his life with the consequences. Yes, God forgave him and cleansed him when he repented but the ramifications of what he had done affected his whole family.

(Vs.4) “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

The danger every believer faces is that we can know doctrine and even know what God asks us to do in His Word but not obey it.  If this is a continuous and persistent practice then we need to ask ourselves do we in fact know (Ginosko) God at all deep down on the inside? Do we have the witness of the Spirit that we are a child of God and proving it by walking in faith and trust and seeking to obey the desires off the Spirit rather than the desires of our fallen sinful and fleshly nature?

Does His Spirit dwell in our own human spirit? Do we daily exhibit an obedience that results from faith? We are not saved by works and by trying to keep God’s laws and commandments, which we cannot keep anyway by the power of our own human will. We are saved by a faith that produces works along the line of that faith we profess to have. It has been said, “Unless there is within us that which is above us we will soon yield to that which is below us” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

(Vs.5-6) “’But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

God has predestined those of us who are walking by faith in the Lord Jesus to be increasingly conformed to the image of His Son the anointed Messiah (Romans 8:29). This is how we know we belong to God’s elect people. Are we being daily conformed to the likeness of the Lord Jesus in the things we think, say and do? When we keep His Word, though the empowering work of the Holy Spirit, then God’s love shed abroad in our hearts by the same Spirit will flow out from us to all men and women everywhere (Romans 5:5).

People will know we are followers of the Lord Jesus because they will see the real and genuine love being practiced among the local assembly of believers (John 13:35). This is only possible if we have God’s Word hidden in our hearts and by “not just living on bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God… for the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 4:4) (Romans 14:17).

Without righteousness in the heart the joy and peace of God that transcends all human understanding are illusive. The secret is abiding, remaining and walking in fellowship with the Lord and that by faith, and by His Holy Spirit’s power and enabling, and by giving due diligence to all that the Lord Jesus has commanded us to do in His Word. If we stay connected to the true vine, being the Lord Jesus, we will be continuously supplied with the nutritious sap of the Holy Spirit and produce works for God that are acceptable to Him. If we say we know God and remain connected to Him through a faith that is seeking to obey Him and to mimic Him in all we say and do, and giving all of the glory and praise to God, then we will most certainly remain in Him and produce the fruit of this spiritual union!

Go to Study 5