I wish I could say that I never sin, but that would not be true. The apostle John wrote in 1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Sin is literally a “missing of the mark.” If the mark is what pleases God, sin would be what displeases God. Examples of sin might be lying, hatred, adultery, lust, and laziness. The apostle John said that all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17). To me, sin falls into several categories. There is the sin of commission where you violate a command of God. There is the sin of omission where you know to do good but don’t do it – James 4:17 “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Then, whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23); in other words, if you question if something is wrong and you do it anyway, it is sin for you. There are many ways you can sin and displease God.
The apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:1a “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” My encouragement to you is similar to John’s; I write to you so that you may not sin. But then John continues in the second half of this first verse: “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” An advocate is one who pleads our case for us. Our Advocate is Jesus Christ the righteous. He pleads our case before the Father in heaven. Jesus Christ is our High Priest. Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” How wonderful that we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses and can plead our case before the Father!
The apostle John continues writing about Jesus Christ in 1 John 2:2 “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” A propitiation is an atoning sacrifice. He is the means by which our sins are forgiven. Jesus took our place and received the punishment that we deserved. Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.” Jesus took your sins upon Himself. Not only did He take your sins and mine, but He took the sins of the whole world.
What love God has for us that He sent Jesus to die for us! Romans 5:6-8 “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This demonstrates the wonderful grace of God. This grace should teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; in other words, it should convince us to stop sinning. Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” When we fully appreciate what God has done for us, we should love Him and want to do what He asks us to do in this life. 1 John 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us.”
Do you know Jesus? Are you truly a Christian? John continues in 1 John 2:3-4 “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” If you say that you know Him and claim to be a Christian but you do not keep His commandments, if you continue to be a sinner, if you continue to practice sin, then you are a liar. I understand that this is not talking about you and I who, through weakness, say and do the wrong thing but soon thereafter are sorry for what we have done and we confess to God our sin. I understand that this is talking about the one who does not keep Jesus’ commandments and practices sin. Such a one is a liar if he says he is a Christian.
John continues in 1 John 2:5 “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.” If you keep His word, His commandments, then your love for God is demonstrated in your life. When you keep His word, then you know that you are in Christ – that you are a true Christian. John concludes by saying in 1 John 2:6 “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” If you say that you are a Christian, you ought to follow the example of Jesus and seek to live as He lived. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell us what Jesus taught and how He lived, so we can study them and follow His example.
My encouragement to you is that you may not sin. But if you do, you have Jesus pleading for you before the Father. He is the atoning sacrifice in that He bore your sins upon the Cross. Because of God’s grace, demonstrate your love for Him by keeping His commandments.