Exploring 1 John Session 4 1 John 2:1-2

Exploring 1 John Session 4 1 John 2:1-2

This is our fourth session in our exploration of a letter written by the Apostle John to a congregation that was experiencing a disruption of their fellowship because of false teaching. History has identified the erroneous teachings with Gnosticism.  At the time of this writing these ideas that the material existence is flawed and evil and that spiritual existence is perfect and good, flourished.  The Gnostic teachers taught that with the proper insider spiritual knowledge the divine spark would set your soul free from your body.  You would still inhabit your body, but it didn’t matter what you did in the body.  This idea of the body as the evil house of the soul invited extreme licentiousness or extreme asceticism.  The anything-goes argument of indulgence is the one John seeks to correct.

We’ve organized the writing of the Bible into chapters and verses to make it easy to study.  In the first chapter John stressed the spiritual expectation of fellowship.  As followers of Christ we have entered a shared life, we are in this together, and together “the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin”  (1 John 1:7 (NCV).  Sin is the topic we will again explore today.

John placed sin into two categories, disobedience to God’s commands and mistreating others in the fellowship.  Sin is a failure to love God and love others. The closer we come together to each other the closer we come to God.  The closer we come to God the closer we come together. Sin is anything that would hinder, deter, damage, or destroy our relationships with God and or one another.  If you know the will of God but refuse to obey you are sinning.  If you decide to forsake the congregation you are sinning.  If you disrespect another and can meet a need but refuse, you are sinning. These types of behaviors are an indication that a person does not know God.  The Gnostic teachers claimed special knowledge of God, but John is telling his readers that there is self-deception and lies if claiming to know God we disobey God’s commands or separate from the fellowship by failing to love one another.

In Chapter 1 John has illuminated three false teachings about sin.  If a disciple says that they are following Jesus but are not obeying God’s commands and or they refuse the fellowship either by excusing themselves from meeting the needs of another or forsaking the congregation (Hebrews 10:25), they are lying, they have no knowledge of God and they are living in darkness.  Sin: missing the mark.  Sin: anything that breaks fellowship with God and others, is serious business.  Through chapter 1 verse 9 John has revealed how a follower of Jesus is to deal with sin.

1 John 1:9 (MSG)
“…if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.”

In our teaching today we are going to discover how forgiveness and cleansing are possible. We are going to discover that Jesus is our atonement.

1 John 2:1-2 (MSG)
I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin. But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus. When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world's.

Notice the affection, “dear children” is an endearing term.  John is in his old age at the time of this writing. He is well advanced in years and ministry.  The folks he is writing to are ones that he has pastored, most likely introduced Christ to them, nurtured their faith, encouraged them to become more like Jesus.

Has anyone ever introduced you to Jesus? If I jump into the pool and report to you that the water is warm, that it feels great, you are not going to know if I am telling the truth or lying to you unless you jump in and discover what the reality is.  To be introduced to Jesus you have to hear the gospel then decide to commit to Jesus, the person which the gospel is all about. Listen, hear the gospel, humanity is estranged from God, the Eden relationship is broken, the result manifests as our inability to love God and love others. That failure to love we call sin.  Sin has caused every evil, every mess in our lives.  We are all at fault. To begin to make things right we have to become right with God.  The gospel is that Jesus died in an atoning sacrifice making it possible for you to be reconciled to God.  To be reconciled to God you must acknowledge your need for reconciliation.  You must believe that Jesus makes reconciliation a possibility. You must commit to a lifestyle of reconciliation, learning how to live like Jesus.  Finally, you ask God to accept your faith, that’s the gospel. 

John is writing to people who have acknowledged, believed, committed, asked, and are now dealing with some of the difficulties in living out their faith.  We all need help in this journey of becoming like Jesus, living the reconciled life. Today John can be writing to you, you can become part of the congregation.  If that is your decision let me know, I want to help you in your spiritual journey.

In chapter 1 John is correcting errant thoughts about sin.  Sin is universal, we all are sinners. I know I have and am prone to ethical failure. Sin is also forgivable. Our behavior matters.  We have learned that if we fail to love God or love others we are to confess our sin to restore fellowship.  Here in chapter 2 John tells us why we can be forgiven.

The reason we can be forgiven of our sins, our failure to live ethically, to love God, to love others is because Jesus sacrificed Himself to make atonement for our offense.  This amazing truth is revealed throughout the New Testament.

Hebrews 10:12-14 (MSG)
As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process

Jesus sacrificed himself by His death upon a cross (John 10:18).  Some folks teach that the wrath of God the Father was appeased by the death of God the Son.  Some folks teach that a price was paid, that a ransom was made, that Jesus became our substitute.  It may be best to think of Jesus' death on the cross as the time and place of atonement, the place of reconciliation, and let our theories about the spiritual transaction go.  It may be best not to come up with a theory of the atonement and just simply accept it.

Romans 3:24-25 (MSG)
God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it through Jesus Christ. God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear.

God the Father sacrifices God the Son.  But recall what John has revealed to us about Jesus.  Jesus is fully God and fully human.  This is a very difficult idea to wrap your head around.  The scripture reveals to us that Jesus is the Word. 

John 1:1 & 14 (NIV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

1 John 1:2 (NIV)
The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

Colossians 1:15 & 19 (NIV)
[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things

Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.

Love motivates God to reconcile the estrangement that Adam created through humanity’s first act of sin.  God makes redemption a possibility taking His creation’s sin into Himself, which makes the offer of forgiveness for your sin possible. The Atonement is why we can be forgiven and enter into a right relationship with God.

Think of it this way.  You build your dream home.  Everything is just like you want it.  It has every luxury, it's magnificent. It is a place of beauty, there is tranquility there is perfection.  You invite your children to come live with you. They trash the place.  They ruin what you created.  What’s worse they are going to live with you forever and no matter how hard you try they will continue to wreck everything you rebuild and repair.  What are you going to go about them? God’s answer is to evict them from the home but then make it possible for them to change and to come back and live responsibly.  Not only does God allow us to return God also pays for all the ongoing renovation work so that you can live in paradise with Him.

It is expected that after entering into that right relationship with God that you will not fail to love God nor fail to love others. It is expected that you will live responsibly. It is expected that you will not sin.

1 John 2:1 (MSG)
I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin.

John calls Jesus our priest-friend.  “we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus”  (1 John 2:1 (MSG).  The title Priest-Friend is a translation of the word Parakletos, which has as one of its meanings, one who comes alongside to help you.  It’s the same word Jesus used when he told his disciples that the Father would send one like himself to be with them.

John 14:15-17 (MSG)
"If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you. I will talk to the Father, and he'll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth.

On the church calendar, today is Pentecost Sunday, the day that commemorates the coming of the Friend. We’ve come to know this Spirit of Truth by the name the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:1-4 (MSG)
When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

The Holy Spirit makes it possible for you to love God and love others so that you will not sin. 

Galatians 5:16-17 (MSG)
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated, and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.

This idea that we may be led by the Spirit and therefore out of sin seems to contradict what John has told us concerning the universal problem of sin. That exploration will have to wait till next time as we will continue exploring these first two verses of chapter 2 in session 5.

We conclude with this thought. Your estrangement from God can be reconciled and you can be forgiven of all your sins because of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice.  You have been allowed to live in the Light. It’s time to enter.


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