Summary: 1 John: Chapter Two 2:1 Warning - Do Not Sin
1 John: Chapter Two
2:1 Warning - Do Not Sin
John starts a new section, 2:1-17, with a term of endearment, ‘my little children.’ His next purpose in writing is that they ‘not sin.’ 'These things' he writes refers back to vs. 8-10. Sin is defined by John as lawlessness (3:4), a refusal to submit to God’s law. These are serious statements; sin insults the cross and points to their source, the devil (3:8). Nature produces after its own kind; fruit flows from source of tree (3:5-10; i.e. my Characteristics in Daniel). Sin is a serious threat to the Christian, it must be hated, assaulted, conquered. It is not our friend, it is our enemy. If you love sin, you must look to your hearts. Word breaks power of sin, he writes that they may not sin (2:14b).
Consolation – Don’t Despair when you do sin
John is realistic about the reality of the depth and power of sin. But when we do sin, we have an advocate. He is not giving a license for sin but says there is grace when we fail. Grace is not an excuse; it is God’s empowering presence (1 Cor 15:10, 2 Cor 12:9, 1 Tim 1:14).
Here we have the past and present work of Christ. Presently Christ is our advocate. An advocate is one who goes before us to represent us or intercedes on our behalf. This is the same word used in John 14:16. Jesus says he will send another on like him, a paraclete. Jesus was a paraclete to the apostles during his earthly ministry; now the Spirit is that advocate. But Jesus is still an advocate when one sins. His prior work is on the cross when he was a propitiation for our sin. Propitiation is a turning away of Gods wrath away from us for our sin but now he is one who goes before the Father on our behalf to intercede for us.
Necessary connection between knowing and obeying Christ (3-6)
He tells us that we gain assurance from obedience to God. Keeping his commandments is a way of life (verb is present active). What are the commandments (3:23)? In this section there are another series of claims by the false teachers found in v. 4, 6, 9, and 11. In contrast if we claim to know Christ but do not live a life of obedience, then we lie and the truth is not in us. It is in obedience that the love of God is perfected. This can mean God’s love for us or our love for God. Probably our love for God is perfected as it flows from us towards others in love. Then another note of assurance is that we know him if we model him: walk as he walked. How did Jesus walk?
Another common word is abide or remain (24 times in John). It means a position in Christ, or to persevere in Christ. It is not relational as much as it is positional, ontological. It is the nature of reality.
Command of God (7-11)
The command he is writing is not a new command (John 13:44-45; 2Jn 5). It is old in the sense that they have known it from beginning of Christian life (2:24). But it is also new but in what sense (v. 8)? It is new in the sense that in the coming of Jesus, light was coming into the world, there is the passing of the old age taken up in the new (already; not yet).
So whoever says he is in the light yet does not fulfill the love command, hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Hate from the context does not mean an emotional attitude toward others but a disregard for them (3:15-18, 4:20; John 12:25; Mat 6:24).
The one who loves others is the one who abides in the light and as a result there is no cause for stumbling with others. Assurance in the Christian life is not in what people say but how they live. In contrast the one in darkness is blinded (John 9:39-41). The whole of the Christian life, saving faith can be summed up as loving God and loving others (5:3-4).
He moves to consoling those who are questioning themselves because of the false teaching and maybe even his hard teaching as litmus tests for genuine believers. He uses polemical language and as such his draws strong and hard contrasts. He uses term of endearment and affirms that their sins are forgiven. Notice the ground or basis of forgiveness is not them but God’s name. God is radically committed to his own name above all else. His name reflects his character. Remember that basis for forgiveness was God’s justice and faithfulness (1:9). He assures older believers that they do indeed know him. Then encourages the young men because they have overcome the evil one (3:8). Understanding of our forgiveness and freedom from guilt leads to vigilance and power over sin and temptation. Satan’s greatest target in the life of genuine followers of Christ is to attack our faith so that we do not trust him, unbelief. They are strong (emphatic) because the word abides in them and they have overcome Satan (14c). He repeats himself to reinforce what he is saying.