1 John 2:1,2: Christians are not sinless, but they should sin less!

August 24, 2017


 “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2 NKJV).

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world” (1 John 2:1,2 NLT).

Verse 1a: “My little (dear) children.”

There’s an element of tenderness here. John is the about ninety years old, speaking to his children in the Lord. He cares about them like a loving father. This is very personal and fatherly, from who dearly loves his “little children.” Although Paul had planted the church in Ephesus, John spent about the last 30 years of his life in the area and my well have been like a spiritual father to them.

The Greek word for “little Children” is teknion, literally “born ones.” This is a very affectionate term, perhaps accounting for some of the translations as “my dear children.”  Teknion designates a little child, and is used by John to address those who are true followers of Jesus. “Little children” refers to all the members of the family of God. So this is written to us!

“The first thing to note in this passage is the sheer affection in it. John begins with the address, ‘My little children.’ Both in Latin and in Greek diminutives carry a special affection. They are words which are used, as it were, with a caress. John is a very old man; he must be, in fact, the last survivor of his generation, maybe the last man alive who had walked and talked with Jesus in the days of his flesh. So often age gets out of sympathy with youth and acquires even an impatient irritableness with the new and laxer ways of the younger generation. But not John, in his old age he has nothing but tenderness for those who are his little children in the faith. He is writing to tell them that they must not sin but he does not scold. There is no cutting edge in his voice; he seeks to love them into goodness. In this opening address there is the yearning, affectionate tenderness of a pastor for people whom he has known for long in all their wayward foolishness and still loves.” –Barclay

Verse 1b:  “These things I write to you, so that you may not sin.”

John is not implying that his readers were living in sin, it indicates that they must not condone even one single act of sin. John wanted them to realize that sin is so heinous in the sight of God that it may not be indulged in even once.

It has always amazed me that the Great God of the Universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all life can be grieved by my sin. Is it not incredible that mere man can grieve the heart of God?

Genesis 6:5,6. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”

Isaiah 63:9,10, “In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit…”

Hosea 11:8, “My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, None at all exalt Him. How can I give you up?…My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man.”

Ephesians 4:30,  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

“Although a Christian must continually acknowledge and confess sin, 1 John 1:9, he is not powerless against it. Fulfilling the duty of confession does not give license to sin. Sin can and should be conquered through the power of the Holy Spirit.” ­John MacArthur


Verse 1c: “And if anyone sins…” If man can live completely above sin, then why does John say, “I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin. But if anyone does sin…”(MSG).  It could very well read, “if anyone sins, and it will happen.” Sin is a reality in a believer’s life? It’s very obvious that John knows that because we live in bodies of flesh, we will still sin. But he has a stern message for all of us as believers: and introduces us to One who will plead our case, our “Advocate.”

“Sin” in Greek is hamartia, “missing the mark.” Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

As it is possible, even probable that a believer will sin, because we still love in a fallen flesh body of sin, (Romans 7:24) even though it is no longer our master. Paul writes in Romans 6:12-14, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

“John writes with the purpose that his readers will have a safeguard against sinning. If we practice sin, we will become more proficient in it. That is how we were before we received Jesus as our Savior. Now, it is altogether different; we have Someone to live for. John’s desire is that his readers will not sin at the point of temptation. Although believers are not free from sin they can overcome sin. Temptation never becomes a sin until we allow our negative volition to yield to sin. There is no sin in being tempted but it is a sin to yield to temptation. Once the temptation becomes a sin, there is a danger of entering into carnality and dominance of sin unless we confess the sin.” –Grant Richison


Verse 1d: “We have an Advocate with the Father…”

“We have” is in the present tense, indicating that Jesus is our continual possession. Hebrews 7:25, “He always lives to make intercession for them.” Galatians 2:20, “Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God…”

How sad that we possess all of Him, Colossians 2:10, “You are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power,” but because we contend with our body of flesh, we resist God's attempts to possess all of us. Our old body of sin is stubborn and resists all attempts by God to “conform us to His image” (Romans 8:29). Therefore, we need an Advocate to defend us from sin and aid in our recovery when we do sin.

“Advocate: in Greek is, parakletos, meaning, “alongside, or beside.” It describes one who stands by to help or render aid (especially in a court of law) or one who is summoned to the side of another to help, comfort, encourage, counsel, or intercede for, depending on the need.

In ancient Greece parakletos was often used of a defense attorney called in to defend someone under accusation. Today we are accused of a crime, an unspeakable crime spiritually speaking, because it is against our Holy God! We need an attorney (an Advocate, a go-between) to come and plead our case before the Judge, God the Father. And so John reminds us that Jesus pleads our case with His Father. The sinless Son stands in for sinning sons! Jesus our Advocate approaches the Father for us defending us from Satan our accuser!

“If, however, we fall into sin, let us not lose heart, for we have an Advocate with the Father, One called to our side. So in a forensic sense, One who undertakes and champions your cause, an Advocate… Our Advocate does not plead that we are innocent or adduce extenuating circumstances. He acknowledges our guilt and presents His vicarious work as the ground of our acquittal. He stands in the Court of Heaven, a Lamb as it had been slain (Revelation 5:6) and the (Ed: His scars, His covenant marks of His sore passion are a mute but eloquent appeal: ‘I suffered all this for sinners, and shall it go for naught?’” –David Smith, The Expositor's Greek Testament

Verse 1e: “Jesus Christ…”

Let’s take a little side trip here to explore the names of our Savior:

Adonai: Lord; Yeshua: Jesus; Hamashia: Christ; Lord Jesus Christ. He is also known as: Emmanuel, God with us, Logos (the Word), Master, the Light of the world, the Bread of Life, the Living Water, The Way, The Truth, The Life, The Resurrection, the Good Shepherd, the Branch, the Bright and Morning Star, the Lamb of God, the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley, the Door, then Advocate, the Alpha and Omega, the Aleph and Tau, the Beginning and the End, the Ancient of Days, the Amen, the Author and finisher of our Faith, the Beloved of God, the Bridegroom, the Chief Cornerstone,  Salvation…and many others.

He is Lord, he is Lord,

he is risen from the dead, and he is Lord!

Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord.

–Marvin Frey–


Verse 1f: “The Righteous.”

“Righteous” is descriptive of His character. The Greek word dikaios, means,  that which is in right relation to another and one who is morally and ethically right, upright or just. The one who habitually does what is right is righteous. A righteous character expresses itself in righteous conduct. If a man knows God, he will obey God. Jesus, being personally conformed to all the righteous demands of God’s law, pleads the believers’ case in keeping with the requirements of a holy law.

“John’s thought here (in line with Paul) is that you need to realize that God graciously has forgiven you completely in Jesus Christ. He is at the right hand of the Father, pleading your case, even when you sin. Your standing before God does not depend on your performance, but rather on Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Properly understanding that truth will not lead you to sin more, but rather, to sin less. The key to holiness is to understand God’s grace that was lavished upon you when Jesus Christ died for your sins.” –Steven Cole

When we do sin and Satan would accuse us before the Father, there is no way he can reach us because we stand before God in the righteousness of Christ, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.” (Romans 3:22). So Jesus has become our righteousness, and He stands in the presence of God on our behalf. Romans 8:34, “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

Man of Sorrows! what a name for the Son of God, who came

Ruined sinners to reclaim. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood;

Sealed my pardon with His blood. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we; spotless Lamb of God was He;

“Full atonement!” can it be? Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die; “It is finished!” was His cry;

Now in Heav’n exalted high. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King, all His ransomed home to bring,

Then anew His song we’ll sing: Hallelujah! What a Savior!

–Philip P. Bliss–

Verse 2a: “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins…”

“Propitiation” in Greek is hilasmos: A suitable English translation for this word is a difficult and even controversial problem…“expiation,” “propitiation,” and “atonement” have all been suggested, basically, hilasmos refers to a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God and thereby makes God propitious (favorably inclined or disposed to be gracious and/or merciful, ready to forgive) toward us.

“Propitiation” appears four times in the New Testament:

1) Here in 1 John 2:2.

2) Romans 3:25, “Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, `through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.”

3) 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He

loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

4) Hebrews 2:17, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

It is also translated “Mercy seat” in Hebrews 9:5, “And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat (Propitiation). Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.” The “Mercy seat” according to Exodus 25:17-22, this was a covering over the ark of the Covenant, made of hammered gold, with two angelic beings known as cherubim with wings outstretched. It was not to be a literal seat, but a covering for the ark.

Christ is the “Propitiation.” Is is in the present tense signifying that Jesus is continually the propitiation. This is good news for all of us sinners who are daily in need of an Advocate Who is qualified. Indeed, He sits in His glorified body even now at the right hand of the Father and not only pleads for mercy for us but also intercedes for us. “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34). “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).  Hallelujah what a Savior! By his becoming our substitute, our Mercy seat He assuming our obligations and expiated our guilt, covered it, by the vicarious punishment which he endured.

2:2b: “For our sins…”

Psalm 32:1, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

Psalm 85:2, “You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah.”

The mercy seat was the lid or cover of the ark, situated between the divine Shekinah glory cloud above the ark and law tablets inside the ark. On the day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the High Priest would take the blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle it upon the Mercy seat to atone for the sins of the past year. This act would be an act of sprinkling blood would forgive the sins of the people for the next year. Jesus sacrifice provides forgiveness of our sins, forever,

Hebrews 10:12-14, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”

Hebrews 7:26,27, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.”

Jesus sacrifice is, once for all sin; once for all men; and once for all time.

Verse 2c: “and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

John 1:29, “The next day John (the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

When Christ died on the cross, did he pay for the sins of the entire human race or only for the sins of those who he knew would ultimately be saved? This is what is called “limited atonement.” The gospel offer in Scripture is repeatedly made to all people, and for this offer to be genuine, the payment for sins must have already been made and must be actually available for all people. They also say that if the people whose sins Christ paid for are limited, then the free offer of the gospel also is limited, and the offer of the gospel cannot be made to all mankind without exception.

“While the Doctrine of the Atonement (limited or unlimited) will likely continue to be disputed among Biblically sound believers (and especially theologians) on both sides until Jesus returns, Grudem does us a service by emphasizing the points regarding the Atonement on which we can all agree...

1. Not all will be saved.

2. A free offer of the Gospel can rightly be made to every person ever born. It is completely true that “whoever will” may come to Christ for salvation, and no one who comes to Him will be turned away. This free offer of the Gospel is extended in good faith to every person.

3. All agree that Christ’s death in itself, because He is the infinite Son of God, has infinite merit and is in itself sufficient to pay the penalty of the sins of as many or as few as the Father and the Son decreed. The question is not about the intrinsic merits of Christ’s sufferings and death, but about the number of people for whom the Father and the Son thought Christ’s death to be sufficient payment at the time Christ died.” – Wayne Grudem

My conclusion is that Jesus shed blood is sufficient for all mankind, but it is efficient only for those who believe. Regardless of your belief in limited or unlimited atonement, or even if you do not know for sure, one thing is certain, Christ’s blood will cover your sin if you as for forgiveness. Romans 10:13, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV) and The Living Bible (TLB).

Marlena and I support this ministry with our Social Security plus donations from a few of our friends. We need more friends! Will you be a friend to us and Everlasting Arms? Your financial support of this ministry is much appreciated. You may give on-line to John & Marlena’s Ministry. Mailing address: 25413 Alpha Street, Moreno Valley, CA 92557. Thank you and God bless you!

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

You Might Also Like:

Thought for the  New Year…Time Flies!

December 29, 2018


December 29, 2018

Please reload