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. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. (1 John 2:1-3 ESV)
1 John 2:3-6 is a frequently quoted New Testament passage. But integral to understanding and correctly applying its truth are the preceding verses and the foundation for Christian living that they lay. Firstly, the Apostle John’s purpose in writing this general letter to the churches across Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) was twofold: firstly, that he and his fellows’ “joy may be complete” (1 John 1:4), and secondly, that the letter’s recipients would not fall to sin in the face of grace (1 John 2:1).
What is so amazing about this message is that it came from Jesus himself (1 John 1:5) because John actually lived and walked with Jesus (1 John 1:1)! A prime component to our joy as Christians is found in relating Jesus to others from a place of relationship with him. Just as it is a joy to introduce two close friends to one another, it is even more so to fulfill your calling in revealing Jesus from a place of relationship with him. This remains crucial to our joy even today.
John wrote that “[Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins”. Propitiation is a loaded and weighty term that means Jesus diverted God’s wrath toward sin away from us and satisfied it for all time. Jesus’ righteousness is then given to us at salvation in exchange for our sin and guarantees that our sin will not be counted against us. In Jesus, our righteousness does not stem from our good works, rather, our good works stem from our righteousness gifted by Jesus.
John wrote so that the Church wouldn’t sin in the face of this grace and use it as a license for unholy living. In the coming devotions we will consider 1 John 2:3-6 in light of John’s intent to increase holy living in the Church while remembering the source of our righteousness.
Do you introduce Jesus to others as you would introduce another to a close friend? If not, where is your intimacy lacking with him that your joy also “may be complete”?