This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday Sept. 29th, 2019.
Love God, Not the World
1 John 2:12 - 17
We are continuing our series through John’s first Epistle. Last week I talked about the importance of obedient love. I challenged you to ask yourself a core question regarding your relationship with God and it was, “What is the motivating factor in your relationship with God?”
Outline of the text
This week we will continue in 1 John 2 as I will talk about verses 12 – 17. These seven verses are divided into two sections.
Now, if you went ahead and read these passages and you are a bit confused, don’t worry because even theologians are a but mystified by verses 12, 13, and 14. One commentator writes, “If we have been following John’s argument thus far, the present text, particularly verses 12 – 14, seems to fuel the observation of many interpreters that portions of the letter lack logical coherence.” What he is saying is that up to this point John seems to have a logical train of thought in writing this letter, but now his thought process seems to take a slight diversion… but he continues, “However, these verses are a parenthesis, a pause, designed to reassure, John’s readers about their own relationship to God and, as (John) Stott says,’ to rob counterfeit Christians of their false assurance’.”
What makes these verses difficult to interpret is that uncertainty of who John is speaking to (children, fathers, young men… I will speak to this in a moment) and the repetition in his writing (He repeats himself in these verses).
However, in verses 15 – 17 John resumes his thought process as he issues a warning about being mindful that we do not allow our affections for the world exceed our love for the Father.
(Read 1 John 2:12 – 17)
Little Children, Fathers, and Young Men
Verses 12 - 14
As I mention before, the first problem in interpreting this passage is determining who John is writing to. Some take the literal approach where they say that John is talking to the children, fathers, and young men of the church. On the other hand, some say that John is talking to people at various stages of their spiritual walk or development (i.e. children = new converts… your sins are forgiven, fathers = established in faith… you have known God from the beginning, and young men = those still growing in faith… you have conquered the evil one). The third is similar to the second one and shows that John is speaking to the church as a whole (little children: If you recall at the beginning of the chapter John refers to the people of this church he is writing as “My little children”). And then he addresses the fathers as those who are the spiritual leaders of the church (i.e. church officers…elders, presbyters). The young men refer to those who are more hands on in ministry (i.e. deacons or servants).
Regardless, John is writing to these individuals to let them know their sins are forgiven, they know the Father intimately and they have overcome evil because of Jesus Christ. This is true for us today. The body of Christ, the Church, those who have believed on the name of Jesus and have received him as Lord and Savior have been forgiven (Romans 10:9 - 10). Those of you who are mature or maturing in your faith belong to Jesus you now know the Father (1 Corinthians 8:3), you love the Father (1 John 4:19), and you obey the Father (1 John 2:3). Thus, we can know for certain that we have overcome the evil one (Romans 12:21).
Do Not Love the World
Everyone (whether we know it or not) has a choice to make in life. Will you live your life for the glory of God the Father (obedience), or will you invest your life in the world? In the second half of chapter two in John’s he pleads with this hurting group of believers to keep their affections for God.
John begins by saying “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” He implores them to not devote their lives serving and seeking approval from the godless world system.
The word love in verse fifteen in the Greek is Agapeo which means affection, to love dearly, to welcome and be fond of. The world he speaks of is translated as the order, government, whole mass of men that is alienated from God, or World affairs. It speaks of the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc., which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce people from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ.
John tells his readers “Do not welcome or have fond affection towards the world system (which is godless) that stirs up ungodly desires in our hearts. These desires may be fulfilling for a moment, but they are short lived, insubstantial, and ultimately they seduce people from following God. This world system does not promote or line up with the foundation for living a life that Jesus has established through his teaching, his death and resurrection.
This is a portion of scripture we need to take to heart. The pleasures of this world are passing and momentary. Anything or anyone that becomes a substitute for God in your lifes, or anyone who has a deeper love for earthly or material pleasures and possessions has, indeed, a greater love for the world and the love of the God is not present in them.
At this point we can ask some questions pertaining to our separation from the world. Is John talking about not loving the physical world or earth? Is he talking about not loving the ungodly or unbelievers? Is he telling us to have nothing to do with governments or world affairs? Should we just put up our Christian bubbles around us and live in them without having anything to do with the world outside? We will see in verse 16 what this world looks like.
John gives us the answer to these questions in verse 16. He writes that all that is in the world are the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions. In a nutshell this is what the godless world is at its core. It is a promotion of self and selfish gratification. The world John talks about has NOTHING to do with God and promoting His agenda.
Lust of the flesh – This is a craving, longing or lusting after the sensuous nature of man. The flesh represents the animal nature of humanity which leads to cravings to sin. It is our mere human nature, apart from divine nature (God); therefore, it inclined to sin and to oppose God. The lust or desire of the flesh is the craving or longing to allow the animal or human nature (the nature opposed to God) to be fulfilled. It is a shortsighted and selfish desire to fulfill our base and animalistic needs. William Barclay writes, “It is to live a life which is dominated by the senses. It is to be gluttonous in food; effeminate in luxury; slavish in pleasure; lustful and lax in morals; selfish in the use of possessions; regardless of all spiritual values; extravagant in the gratification of worldly, earthly and material desires. The flesh’s desire is forgetful of, blind to, or regardless of the commandments of God.” When people allow the lust of the flesh to rule their bodies and lives, they live a life that is contrary to God’s divine call. The lives they live are selfish, self-indulgent lives that goes against God’s Word.
Lust of the eyes – The eye(s) are a metaphor for sinful passions which lead to corruption. This refers to the act of coveting or desiring something that is not yours or for you. It is longing for or lustful looking at someone or something that stirs up sinful desires. Jesus addressed this in the Gospels when he said the act of immorality is not always committed in the physical act itself. He said that if you look upon someone with lust then you are just as guilty of committing the act of immorality. The lust of the eyes can also refer a delight in being seen in a grand and magnificent way. The lust of the eyes was/is still something people (Christian and non) struggle with. We live in a hyper-sexualized culture and lust has become a product that people capitalize from. One needs to watch any television show, read many magazines or books, and see commercials to see what I mean. Sex is a multi-billion-dollar business, and many are profiting from this ungodly means of income. However, lust of the eyes (sexual desires, adultery, etc.) is not just a modern day problem (it is just more accessible) but even Job admitted to his weakness in this area as he wrote in Job 31:1, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how could I gaze at a virgin?”
Pride of one’s lifestyle – This is boastful braggart talking. It means to trust in one’s self, and self-dependence. Many times, it is someone who is pretentious or as I call them “big talkers” or narcissists. These people love to tell stories that are modified to make themselves look better than they really are. They are the tall tale tellers who want all the attention focused on them. I have often found with these individuals they always have to one up you or have a more extreme story to tell or a possession that is better than anyone else. It is a self-reliance that makes one think he/she has no need for God or others.
The world and its lusts/or passions are not from God. It doesn’t take much to see how the world outside of Christ has a deep love and fondness for sexual gratification, an obsession with making something look so attractive that you “have to have it” , and it preys on the false teaching that the more you have and the excess indulges you partake in the better your life will be. Worldly thinking goes against God, thus as followers of Him we must not have any fondness or affection for a system that pushes us away from Him.
All that is associated with the world and its system (what we just looked at) are momentary and passing away. I have yet to meet someone who has lived a self-centered life full of indulging in the pleasures of the world without boundaries that is truly and completely satisfied and happy for an extended time. Investing in this world and its godless ways are futile and empty. However, when you invest in doing what God wants you to do (Having a Kingdom perspective) you will be continually walking in his ways and you will ultimately know true joy happiness and satisfaction that is grounded in Him.
So, what is our takeaway for today? Children of God, those who believe and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, know that your sins are forgiven. You know God and He knows you. You are loved, you are blessed, and you have overcome evil. Sin does not need to run rampant in your life. Since this is the case you should not love the world and all that it has to offer. The world will try to pull you into it’s talons and push you away from God. But know and understand this… The world has nothing for you that is of eternal value. The world may offer what falsely looks to be a promise of fun, excitement, and freedom but the end results in shackles. Shackles of evil, emptiness, and estrangement from God. My friends, do not love the world, or the things of the world because a life dedicated to the world is a life separated from God.
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 110
Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G2889). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.
Obedient love: 1 John 2:3 - 11
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday Sept. 22nd, 2019.
Last week we began our series in the epistle I John entitled “Love Letter”. Throughout the next couple of months, we will go through this short epistle and look closely at the purpose of John in writing this letter. In the introduction last week, I gave some background as to why John had written this letter. He was writing to a church that had recently split as a result of bad doctrine and false teaching. Apparently, some influential leaders were teaching a false Gospel and refuting John’s Gospel he preached. These false teachings were an early form of what became popularized in the second century as Gnosticism. Gnosticism is a system of false teachings that existed during the early centuries of Christianity. Its name came from gnosis, the Greek word for knowledge. The Gnostics believed that knowledge was the way to salvation. For this reason, Gnosticism was condemned as false and heretical by several writers of the New Testament. These leaders arose and introduced doctrines that were unbiblical and went against the true teachings of Jesus Christ. According to the Gnostics, the aim of salvation is for the spirit to be awakened by knowledge so the inner person can be released from the earthly dungeon and return to the realm of light where the soul becomes reunited with God. As the soul ascends, however, it needs to penetrate the cosmic spheres that separate it from its heavenly destiny. This is accomplished by knowledge. One must understand certain formulas that are revealed only to the initiated. In a nutshell, Gnostic teachings are based on knowledge. They believe that salvation is attained by acquiring knowledge of God. They often taught that actions or outward words didn’t matter because a true relationship with Jesus is attained by knowledge.
Today, we will continue to look at chapter 2, starting with verse 3. Most of this chapter talks about the Christian walk and how obedience is reflective of the Christian life. He writes concerning the lifestyle a believer in Christ will live if he is truly a believer.
This chapter is a great introduction to how a believer should conduct his/her life for the glory of God. This passage gets to the core question we must all ask ourselves, “What is the motivating factor in your relationship with God?”
1 JOHN 2:3 - 11
In chapter 1 John spends a lot of time establishing the fact that all humans have the common denominator of sin. However, since Jesus Christ came as the manifested Word of God and willingly laid his life down for you and me, we can be cleansed from our sins and made right with God, if only we confess our sins and believe in faith. This does not mean we are no longer subject to sin, it simply means we now have the power and the will to say “no” to sin and it no longer has dominion in our lives.
Verse 3 – So how does one know if they are truly a believer? How does one have assurance that he/she has a relationship with God? Simple, the fruit (or life) we bear.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:15 – 20: “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.
If you keep his commandments (or we are obedient to him), then you will know you are known by Him. This becomes a little sticky for some people because they can take this to mean that all one must do is follow the rules and this will reserve a spot in heaven for them. This isn’t what John is writing at all. He is writing that the life you live will be the evidence of your relationship with Jesus. I know of some people who are Christians, but they model their lives based upon “doing what is right” so they don’t get punished in the end. This is a fear-based relationship. Now I believe a little healthy fear is needed in the presence of a holy God; but your relationship cannot be based on fear. Fear-based Christians remind me of the kid in school who was always good and pleasant to be around when the teacher was in the room, but as soon as the teacher turned their back or left the room… WATCH OUT! All pandemonium breaks out. These people aren’t model students, nor do they respect the teacher, they just don’t want to get in trouble because if they do then they will be punished, and they don’t like punishment.
John is not talking about having this kind of relationship with God. He is talking about keeping the commandments of the Father because you love, respect, and honor the Father. Your obedience is motivated by love for Him, not consequences.
Verse 4 – 5 - Your actions need to match your profession of faith. If you call yourself a believer in Jesus Christ, but do not live your life in obedience to the Father, then there really is no relationship and you are living a lie. You are living a life of hypocrisy.
But if we live our lives fully committed and obedient to the teachings of Jesus Christ, then God’s love is complete in us. Ultimately, our knowledge (not just intellectual) of God and who He is should lead us to a life of obedience.
Jesus says in John 13:34 – 35, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”
Verse 6 – 8 - If you say you are a believer in Jesus Christ then you must walk in the ways He walked. According to Gary Burge, “To (abide) in him’ goes beyond merely imitating Christ in lifestyle or ‘living as Jesus lived.’ The verb generally describes the indwelling of the Christian in God. It may even depict God dwelling in us.”
Verse 9 -11 – This new/old commandment John speaks of in verse 7 deals with Jesus’ great commandment to love God and to love others. Anyone who calls himself a believer should be clothed in love. If one claims Christ and harbors hatred toward anyone then this person is still walking in the darkness. When we love one another, we are fulfilling God’s commandment by shining the light of Jesus’ love for all to see. When we love we do not give others permission to call us hypocrites or cause others to stumble. Love and hatred cannot co-exist. We cannot truly love if we harbor hatred, bitterness and darkness in our hearts.
One of the number one problems people have with Christians is that we promote love, but we do not necessarily practice it. Unfortunately, there are many who profess Christ yet when they are away from their place of worship or other Christian friends their life and conduct is no different from the rest of the worlds. One of the key indicators of being a Christian is shown in how we love one another and how we love those who are unlovely. Burge writes, “Love becomes a genuine value only when it is tested, only when we must reach beyond ourselves and love someone we do not wish to love. This is the caliber of love John has in mind.”
What does this kind of love look like? Goes against Gnostic teaching (it is more than intellectual… It is spiritual and physical.
3.Does not envy
4.Is not boastful
5.Is not arrogant
6.Is not rude
8.Is not irritable
9.Does not keep records of wrong doings
10.Rejoices in truth
11.Bears all things, believes all things, hopes in all things, endures in all things.
So, in these 8 verses we see the characteristics or qualities of a Christian life. The evidence of our faith is rooted our obedience to commands of the Father. Our obedience does not save us, tour obedience reflects our commitment to Jesus Christ. We are introduced the three claims found in verses 4, 6, 9.
We can sum up Verse 4, 6, 9 as follows.
The whole idea of Christian love verses the worlds love is amazing to me. I feel bad for people who have not experienced true love in the way God intended. So many of us think of love as this feeling we get when we have this overwhelming emotion that overtakes us. Yet the love Jesus displays, and shows is far greater than a feeling. Love is truly an action. This action is the evidence of affection we have towards something or someone (in this case it is God). When we truly love God, we will want to live our lives in obedience and not in fear. Our obedience is not our salvation. Obedience and love are the end result of our salvation. Take some time today and this week and reflect on the love God has shown to humanity. I leave you with a question this morning…, “What is the motivation behind your relationship with God?” Is it fear or is it love? Are you obedient only because you do not want to spend an eternity is torment, hellfire and brimstone? Or, are you obedient because you love Jesus, and His Word and you want to live your life for Him because He is your everything? Stephen Smalley writes, “To obey God necessarily involves Christlikeness and also love, which is the summation of God’ moral law.”
 Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
 Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 99
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 101
 Smalley, Stephen S. WORD BIBLICAL COMMENTARY: Volume 5 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco, Texas. 1984. Page 46
Love Letter: 1 John 1:1 - 2:2
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday Sept. 15th, 2019.
Today we are beginning an 11-week series that will take us through the book of first John. This is the first of three Epistles written by the Apostle John (He is also the author of the Gospel of John, and Revelation). If you were to read through this first epistle, you would find that love is the central theme, so naturally love will be the theme of this series, hence the title “Love Letter”. Throughout the next couple of months we will look at God’s love shown to us through Jesus Christ; at ways we can love God; how we are called to love one another; loving the truth; Gods love; and having confidence that we are loved because God has given us assurance of eternal life. My prayer for this series is for you is grasp and understand the importance of love in the Christian community (which is local church and the body of Christ at large). I pray that we can all know that when we show love to one another not only are we building community, but we are fulfilling Jesus’ great command to love.
BACKGROUND TO 1 JOHN
Before we get into our message for today, I would like to give some background information for this letter and why it was written. Since the overall picture of John is love, we can better understand how this letter can be applied to our lives today.
After the ascension of Jesus Christ and the disciples disbanded to go their way to fulfill the Great Commission, the Apostle John planted churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). This letter is probably directed to these churches or a specific church in general. We are not sure what happened with the church He is writing, but it is assumed that this once very healthy church (or Churches) were experiencing some troubling times. It is believed this church(es) he is writing to recently had a significant split and eventually divided. It is commonly believed that they were divided over bad doctrine. Some theologians believe a very early form of Gnosticism had begun to take root in this church and was the cause of this great uproar.
Gnosticism was a religious movement in early church history that plagiarized Christian themes by spreading false ideas of salvation. Gnostics taught salvation was attained through acquiring knowledge and not through faith in Jesus Christ. They also taught that salvation was attained through acknowledging or affirming the divine light that is already present in the human soul. (If you are interested in learning a little more about Gnosticism you can Google the topic and there are scores of articles written about the Gnostics.). The Gnostic movement was not popularized until the late second century (well after the Apostles were gone) but John was probably facing an early form of Gnosticism that was beginning to surface and take root.
John’s purpose in writing this letter was to set his readers/the church straight on the basics of Christianity, Christian love and unity. According to the notes in the ESV Study Bible, “(1 John) is not a letter of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’. It is rather a manifesto of ‘DONE’… (It) highlights what God the Father has ‘done’ in sending Christ the Son.”
John was an eyewitness to the accounts, words and works of Jesus Christ. He was present with Jesus when he was alive and after his death and resurrection thus this establishes him as an authority of the Gospel which had been so badly misinterpreted or changed. One of the churched John planted in Ephesus was made up of men and women who lived alongside Greeks and knew little to nothing about the O.T. or the ways of Judaism. They were not a group of believers who were caught up in rules and regulations, but instead had a firm dedication to Jesus Christ first and foremost. The church(es) had experienced great fellowship and community in its early stages. In the latter years they began to experience divisions and were being torn apart. Dissenters or rebellious individuals began to emerge in leadership who were very familiar with John’s Gospel account; however, they claimed to have a greater knowledge of God. They claimed to be inspired by God and challenged John’s Gospel message. A modern-day example would be synonymous to someone claiming, “The Gospel is no longer relevant for today. The message of sin, hell, crucifixion, and redemption is archaic. We are living in 2019 and nobody wants to hear this message anymore. People want to be encouraged, lifted up and assured eternal life because they are ultimately good at the core and do good things for in society.” Whenever the Gospel message is changed or perverted, we start seeing heretical teachings or bad theology proclaimed. These leaders in Asia Minor were basically saying, regardless of John’s eyewitness account and life spent with Jesus, his message is not really the message God wanted proclaimed or is not relevant for today. The leaders said, “regardless of what John said God spoke to us and told us that His message is wrong, irrelevant and outdated. What we have to say is actually the truth.” These people caused a great raucous in the church. People began to listen to these leaders while others declared them heretics and thus the fellowship was broken.
In response to this division John writes a letter in hopes of setting the church straight (doctrinally), and promoting love, unity and fellowship. His letter places great emphasis on Christian community and fellowship. The essential message is… “If you understand God’s love (through the teaching of Christ) then you will love God, you will love your brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, and you will love the truth.” Love originates from God and we can love the way He loves because He has given us His Spirit. Gary M. Burge writes in his commentary on the Letters of John, “God loves us, we love Him, and this love spills over to those near us.”
1 JOHN 1:1 – 10
John begins with a very complex and sometimes confusing opening paragraph. According to many commentaries this opening paragraph is a grammatical mess. It appears John had a lot on his mind that he wanted to say, and he just poured everything out on the paper in this first paragraph. He puts everything out there and decides to work out what he has just written throughout the letter. So basically, there is no outline, structure or organization to his letter.
Verse 1: This first verse refers to Jesus. The Word of Life = Jesus Christ. Since the beginning of His ministry John has been with Jesus. He was an eyewitness to all Jesus had said and done. He heard Jesus’ words with his own ears. He saw Jesus with his own eyes. He physically touched Jesus, ate with him, walked with him and he even rested on the chest of Jesus.
Verse 2 & 3: All John saw and heard from Jesus (his teachings) was for the distinct purpose of fellowship. He had fellowship with the Father, with the Apostles and the Apostles with the Father. The purpose of God’s incarnation through Jesus Christ was to reveal Himself to humanity. The revelation of himself to humanity was intended so we could have true fellowship with Him. We can have a relationship with God ONLY because He made himself available to us through Jesus Christ.
Verse 4: The purpose of this letter is intended for encouragement so the readers could experience the full joy of Christ.
Verse 5: The central message of Jesus was to proclaim God is essence of all that is good. He is perfect, pure and complete in all ways. His power, wisdom, mercy, judgment, love, grace & etc. are all perfect and complete. He is lacking nothing in any of these areas. God is the only one who is perfect and without sin. He has nothing to do with darkness or sin whatsoever.
Verse 6: Since we are followers of Jesus Christ, we have fellowship with God. Our lives should be modeled around our commitment to Him. If we have fellowship with God, then we should not pursue or walk in sin/darkness. Christian living = The pursuit holiness through the empowering of the Spirit. We determine to live a life that is distanced from sin. Sin should repulse us, and we should desire to cling to all that is good (God). In a Christians life light and darkness cannot coexist.
Verse 7: When we walk in the light of Jesus Christ, we can then truly experience fellowship with other believers. True Christian fellowship can be attained by walking in the light of Christ. When we walk in Jesus, we experience the ongoing joy of forgiveness of sin. When you have a relationship with Jesus Christ you have been washed in the blood of Jesus. The shed blood of Jesus is what cleanses us from sin and puts us in a right relationship with God.
(What is sin?) Verse 8 & 9: However, for you to become cleansed from sin, you must confess your sins and God is faithful to forgive you of your sins. The first step to living in the light of Christ is coming to terms with the fact that you are a sinner. It is imperative for all of us to know and accept that we are sinners. Since we are sinful, we are out of relation with God, so we must confess and repent from this state of being and seek the forgiveness of God. Without Jesus we cannot be cleansed and without being cleansed we cannot walk in the light.
If one believes he has no sin in his life and is at the core of his being a good person, then he is being fooled and is fed a lie. This lie is where the Gnostic teachings are taken head on. The Gnostic tell an individual she is a good person and has a divine aspect to them thus the issue of sin need not be acknowledged. I know some people are tired of hearing they are sinful and wish to only hear about the good things of Christianity. My friends, there are no good things to Christianity if you are unwilling to admit you are a sinner, we need to come to terms with this reality and seek the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ.
Verse 1 – John affectionately refers to his readers as “My little children” and this reference exemplifies the deep love he has for the people of this church. This love and affection is equivalent a father’s love shown to his own children and it is a term generally used by teachers as they address their disciples. So, John is lovingly writing this letter to his disciples (who are like children to him) so they do not sin.
The word sin means to miss the mark, to be led astray or wander from the path of truth and go the wrong direction. It means to violate God’s law. John knew the impact these heretical leaders had on some of the reader’s faith and he was encouraging them to remain faithful to the true Gospel. He is writing so they would keep themselves from being led astray or wandering down the path of destruction. John was also reminding them that contrary to the false teachings of these leaders God still desires the believer to live a holy life.
He gives assurance to them that if they have already sinned or if they do sin that they do an advocate with God, who is Jesus Christ. The word “advocate” means one who pleads another’s cause with a judge. One who is a legal assistant. Interestingly this is the same word used to translate the word Jesus used when he talked about God sending another “Helper” when He was gone. We come to know this “helper” to be the Holy Spirit. We see this advocate is also Jesus Christ (this can show that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one in the same) who is perfect, upright, faultless, guiltless, approved of God and acceptable by God.
Verse 2 – Not only is Jesus our advocate but he is also the propitiation for our sins. This means Jesus is the appeasement, the source of our forgiveness before God; thus, His life and sacrifice is the new covenant. God’s anger with humanity has been appeased through Jesus giving his life for all humanity. Now some read this end verse to mean that Jesus’ sacrifice was universal and that everybody regardless of the life they live will have eternal life. I think it certainly means eternal life is available to all who accept it or who have “confessed their sins”. However, in chapter one John clearly notes that not everyone in the world will have eternal life. Salvation is only available to those who confess their sins and believe in their heart.
Some of you may have heard or even said yourself that you don’t really care about theology or doctrine; you only care about serving and loving Jesus. I say amen to that. However, I do think right or proper theology (the study of God) and good doctrine are important to the Christian faith. I do not think it is imperative to have a deep intellectual understanding of God we just need a proper understanding of God. As Christians we need to hold firmly to the truth of the Gospel, and we need to hold on to good theology. God loves us. We know this is true because He sent Jesus to die on the cross for you and me. Why did he do this? Because we are all sinful and at one time were separate from God. We can be made right with God when we believe in Jesus, confess our sins and devote our lives to living for His glory and honor.
As we see in the case of John and the church(es) of Asia Minor humans have the tendency to change and pervert the truth of God. In the remainder of this series I pray we can know, grasp and understand the true Gospel message (which I briefly shared with you a moment ago) and gain a better understanding of God through Jesus Christ. May we be on guard to preserve the Gospel message and hold it in our hearts so that we do not become like many who have chosen to believe a false message of Jesus Christ and ultimately miss out on the truth of Jesus Christ.
 The Holy Bible: ESV Study Bible. 2008. Wheaton: Crossway Bibles p. 2426
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 37
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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