1 John 2:1-2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
The aged Apostle John is writing this passionate pastoral letter to Christians who might be struggling with the whole question of ongoing sin in their lives. He wants to reassure them that if they fail in their efforts in this struggle they need only to look to the One who has already dealt adequately with their guilt and condemnation by his death on the cross, and who now pleads FOR THEM before God their Father at the throne of grace. As he has just said to them, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we CONFESS our sins, he is FAITHFUL and JUST and WILL FORGIVE us our sins and PURIFY us from ALL unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1:8-10).
But, he also wants to warn them against falling into the error of thinking that because of what Jesus HAS DONE, and IS DOING, for us, we don’t have to struggle against sin – it’s all covered! It’s the same erroneous thinking that Paul had to address in Romans 6:1-2 – “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? BY NO MEANS! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” The true sense of the Greek John is using is, “I AM WRITING this to you so that you might not KEEP ON SINNING.” The main burden of his letter is that when we have realised our desperate NEED as sinFUL people before a Holy God, and therefore have accepted Jesus as our SAVIOUR, we have a responsibility to strive to be LIKE HIM in every way … and he was sinLESS! “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (3:2).
So, in today’s verses he is urging us to take the problem of our sin seriously and to cease from it in every part of our lives, including, and especially, those common, everyday sins that we try to pretend are ‘acceptable’ because they don’t seem to us to be all that bad, and which we ‘excuse’ as just part of human nature. But, lest we somehow think that in this way we will ‘earn’ God’s favour, in the same breath he reminds us about God’s GRACE and that we can be sure of God’s forgiveness because of what Jesus HAS DONE for us. He is really saying. “Don’t keep on sinning, but remember that when you DO SIN (as you no doubt will), Jesus is at the Father’s side in heaven acting victoriously as your Advocate, once you have come to him as your Saviour, no matter what your background, or what part of the world you come from.”
“Before the throne of God above I have a strong, a perfect plea: a Great High Priest, whose name is ‘Love’, who ever lives and pleads for me. … Because the sinless Saviour died, my sinful soul is counted free, for God, the Just, is satisfied to look on him, and pardon me. … One with my Lord, I cannot die, my soul is purchased by his blood, my life is safe with Christ on high, with Christ, my Saviour and my God.” (Charitie Lees de Chenez). And we might add from John, “ONE with my [SINLESS] Lord, I don’t want there to be ANY sin in my life at all!”