1 John 1:10-2:2 | Confession of Sin – Part II


John’s brief letter on fellowship has now moved to the second benefit of our fellowship with God 2:1Freedom from sin.I believe that the context of this section was to counter act the gnostic heresy of the Nicolaitans, but it also reveals our primary enemy to fellowship with God as Paul uses the word sin used 8 times in this section.

Vs 10 The danger of denial

Vs. 10 Once again John uses the words “if we say” but this time at issue is the denial of the action of committing sins and NOT the denial of a sin nature. This reveals yet another hindrance to fellowship with God due to our sin and that is the denial of the specific acts that have caused separation in fellowship. Here the issue is that the person has committed sin then lies about them saying that they didn’t. The outcome is even worse than just the sins we committed as our denial of sin is equivalent of calling God a liar. Doing this is an argument with God and His word as He says sins separate us from His fellowship and we are saying that it doesn’t. The primary reason for this is a disregard to God’s Word as John writes, “and His word is not in us”. The contradiction to the truth of the word of God is calling Him a liar so we can say we aren’t a sinner. This person doesn’t have the Word of God in them and is a nonbeliever no matter what their profession is.                      

Vs. 1a Appeal

Vs. 1a Notice the sudden change in tone in John’s appeal as it becomes very tender as he address them as “My little children”. This is also seen in John switches from the formal to the personal as he had addressed them by the formal word “WE”, now he address them in the personal word “I”. I wonder if John is remembering the words of Jesus to His disciples 70 years earlier when He addressed them so personally and tenderly. The use of that phrase sets the tone of this warning as to make it easier to them to respond towards.

Second notice John’s “Appeal” as it defines what will next be his “Assurance” as John says that the purpose of his writing this was that they, “may not sin”. It seems as though John foresees the possibility of a twofold perversion of His teaching of the character and nature of God in verse 5 that in the Godhead there is only light and not ever even a little darkness.

  1. The peril of presumption: Here the “peril” is since the escape from sin in the form of forgiveness is so easy, why fear falling into sin? We have an insurance plan in Jesus according to verse 9 that offers to both cleanse us and in 2:1 to be our advocate.     
  2. The danger of despair: This would affect the believer by saying, “If we can never in this life be done with sin why strive for holiness?” Why bother? It’s useless, sin is just an abiding reality…an illness that we just have to learn to live with!   

John’s counter to this is to let them know what his purpose was, “That they may NOT sin”. He was not encouraging them “to sin” but rather to “NOT SIN”. Even if they someone was to view John’s truth about Jesus in 2:1 as an insurance policy; such a view isn’t so we can have no regards to driving safety or a disregard to personal driving habits and go out to deliberately crash our car. Instead, it assumes that the driver is fully aware of the danger of driving and is applying every safety precaution and exhibiting every good habit they can to ensure safety. But just in case of an unexpected accident that we know we are covered. John wasn’t writing to discourage personal pursuit of holiness and to encourage a reckless life in pursuit of the things that will destroy your fellowship, personal relationships with others and life. Paul addressed a similar question as this in Rom 6:1-4 when he wrote, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” It is a reckless person who thinks that there is any certain security if our life is lived to practice sin! That is NOT the behavior of a believer to be careless and live with a flippant disregard to the obedience of Christ. Instead, it ought to cause the true believer to live in more watchfulness with diligence to live in holiness. The first provision God has granted the person who has trusted in the finished work of Christ is the possibility of no longer being a slave to sin that had removed us from fellowship. Why would anyone who has truly tasted the goodness of God choose to go back and dine on the slop of the world? A person who chooses to continue to dine on the slop of the world indicates by their diet that they never truly tasted the “Goodness of God”! The Christian is NOT expected to continue to practice sin, the plan of the gospel alleviates the possibility of being a slave to sin any longer. Jesus has transformed the believer as old things have passed away and all things are maid new. There is a difference in “Sin nature” and sins!

  • God has changed our root and this ought to be visible in our fruit.
  • God has changed our character and this ought to be visible in our conduct.
  • God has changed us in principle so that it ought to be visible in practice.

If the ROOT does exist then we will be abiding in Him and there will be fruit and in this we need not fear!

Vs. 1b-2 Assurance

Vs. 1b-2 Now we examine John’s twofold assurance “Assurance” in the words “And IF anyone sins…” As already established John’s “Assurance” is not speaking of the person who is “habitually practicing sin” in verse 6 but instead is aimed at the believer who has an “infrequent act”!

1. We have an advocate with the Father Jesus Christ the righteous: There are three things to understand about this aspect of our assurance with Jesus:

  • “We have”: These words provide us the insight that the provision is personal! Jesus is not a formula or a ritual instead Jesus is an abiding person! This speaks to me as we don’t need to look to find the “insurance policy” as our assurance is not on some forgotten paperwork but in the person of Jesus.  
  • “An advocate with the Father”: The word in the Greek is the same word used of the Holy Spirit “Parakletos” and means “one called alongside to help”. The word “WITH” in the Greek is very descriptive as it means “facing”. Our Advocate is always “facing” the Father, always in fellowship with the Father. If the believer sins and separates fellowship Jesus is already facing the Father on our behalf to bring us back into fellowship Him. It is also very convicting for the believer to realize that every time we chose to fall into sin Jesus must “face the father” on our behalf! Yes, Jesus has access and our appeal but the thought of Him having to continue to do so on my behalf because I’ve chosen to disregard the power Jesus has given me to say no to ungodliness causes me to want to avoid choosing sin.    
  • “Jesus Christ the righteous”: Here John identifies why this is true assurance as it is based Jesus Christ the righteous. Here we understand that Jesus as our advocate before the Father is not proclaiming our innocence. The basis of His appeal before the Father is NOT our innocence instead it is that our quilt has been covered by His blood. This is important as it means that there can never be any fear that our innocence could ever be overturned on further evidence as our forgiveness has never been granted based upon evidence of our innocence; instead, it is based upon the truth of our guilt and Jesus’ innocence. Jesus faces the Father having been innocent and  has covered our guilt in His innocent blood. We are guilty as charged but are forgiven based upon Jesus Christ the righteous. Notice how John uses three names to identify our Advocate: 

a. Jesus: This speaks of His humanity, His identification with fallen humanity and all our weakness and our temptation yet without sin.

b. Christ: This speaks of His Devine position He is the only one qualified for this position. Our defense attorney will only be one of two people ourselves in our own goodness or Jesus who comes before the father in His.  

c. Righteous: This reminds us of His character who alone has the power to deal with all and every sin. What better advocate could the believer who slips into sin have then this?        

2. And He himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not just ours but also for the whole world. This verse deals with the reason why Jesus is the only “Advocate”. As John makes three statements with regards to the affective nature of His sacrifice:

  • And He Himself: It was the priest that would offer the sacrifice to satisfy the penalty for sin that separated fellowship but here we are told that Jesus didn’t JUST offer a sacrifice to appease the just demands instead He Himself became our sacrifice. We could be the worse sinner and have committed the worst sins and as great as those may have been the Sacrifice of Jesus will always be greater. Furthermore, we understand by the use of these words the heart of Jesus towards to offender as we know His willingness to be the sacrifice for every person no matter who you are and what you have done.   
  • Is the propitiation for our sin: God’s righteous judgment against sin demands a sacrifice and Jesus the Son of God is the Father’s willing gift to reconcile fallen people back to Himself! In Jesus the Father has removed the barrier to fellowship namely our sin! 
  • And not for ours only but also for the whole world: Finally, we see the affective nature of Jesus sacrifice as it not only was strong enough to cover our personal sin throughout our lifetime but every person who has ever been through their lifetime. The sacrifice of Jesus is “Inexhaustible”. Because of Jesus all fallen humanity has had their sins paid for by Jesus the vaccine of His blood is the only cure for their terminal condition but that doesn’t mean that they are saved, all it means is that they are redeemed they must receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior to be saved! John emphasis that Jesus’ sacrifice is “sufficient” for the whole world, but it is only “efficient” for those who are spiritual united to Him.