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I John 2:1-7

I John 2:1-7

We are in the beginning stages of a series of messages on the New Testament letters written by John, who had been an apostle of Jesus. A very beloved follower of our Lord. A man who cared deeply for his fellow Christians, including that at the time he wrote his first letter, somewhere around 50 to 60 years after the resurrection of Jesus, they were being threatened with many false teachings about the Lord.

The series of messages began last Sunday. Let me quickly remind us that the first part of I John - chapter 1 - has John reminding those to whom he wrote that God is light. That when they accepted Jesus, they had spiritual light. When we accept, we have spiritual light. Light that includes forgiveness of sins, which follows confession of our sins. It also includes the wonder of being cleansed, which means we will receive from God not only forgiveness, but also the desire and the ability to stay away from whatever sins have been committed.

Today we will be in the first part of chapter 2 of I John.

As mentioned, John, in chapter 1, encouraged his fellow Christians to join him in walking in the light of God - the light that comes from accepting Jesus as Savior. It is such walking that makes it possible to stay away from sin. That same point is made again in verse 1 of I John 2. “My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin.”

What a loving phrase John used. “My little children.” In one way John was repeating the claim he had made in chapter 1 that, having been an apostle of Jesus - having heard, seen, and touched the Lord during and after Jesus’ earthy ministry - he had the spiritual authority to teach and challenge fellow Christians. That is what “child” refers to. But, as stated last week, he did not try to act superior. That is evident again in the phrase “my little children.” I hear the tone of his writing those words as being gentle.

Remember the point there were a lot of false teachings making the rounds? John did not write, “How stupid can you be in even listening to false teachings? Where are your minds?” John did not scold. He very lovingly wrote, “My little children.” He was willing to be like a father to his fellow Christians, helping them to understand and learn.

“My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin.” That was John’s purpose. Sinning including falling to false teachings about Jesus.

John’s purpose was to encourage those to whom he wrote to not sin in any way, shape, or form. However - this is the last part of verse 1 - “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

Jesus is the advocate for any and all who are Christians. What does it mean to be an advocate? It seems “advocate” has a number of meanings.

One is being a helper. Another is being a counselor. Both those meanings are special in a spiritual sense. If we sin, it is Jesus, our advocate, who will help us out of a sinful situation. It is Jesus who will counsel us how to avoid returning to sinning. What wonderful gifts those two things are.

A third meaning relates to a court of law. It  is the advocate who acts as the defense of the one accused.

One of the lessons that is part of our Pastor’s Class for our third, fourth, and fifth graders each spring has a courtroom scene as its theme.

The lesson has God acting as the judge. Next, I usually use myself as the example, but this applies to each student - it applies to all of us - using myself as the example, the lesson has Satan as the prosecutor, whose purpose it is to present to God the judge the case against me.

The case against me begins with a list of any and all sins I have committed. Remember the Biblical point that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, so when I admit there at least have been sins in my life, I am not picking on myself. But they will be presented to God by the devil. Sins like the time I stole crayons from my sister, and maybe some attitudes I have even now that could be improved. There are many more I could mention, but you get the idea.

After presenting to God any and all my sins, the case against me will continue with the Biblical point that because of my sins, I deserve death. That is the penalty for sin. 

The case for the prosecution will end with the call for punishment in Hell, which again in Biblical.

The teaching lesson in Pastor’s Class - the teaching point for everyone - is that God is the judge. He will one day judge each one of us. If that time will happen to be like a courtroom and only Satan is with God, we - I in the example - would be doomed because if there is only the prosecutor, the only side God will hear will be the case against me.

That is the way it is for whoever does not accept Jesus as Savior, which should be and is a very scary thing. However, for all who have accepted Jesus, there is hope because, as verse 1 has it, Jesus, for those who accept Him as the Savior He is, will be the advocate. The defender.

Still using myself as the example, Jesus, on judgment day, will say to God, “Yes, George stole his sister’s crayons 65 years ago. Yes, there are some attitudes George has that I want to change. There are some other ways he has sinned that need to be taken care of. However, George has repented of his sins. He has asked for forgiveness and for the strength to do better. God, the Bible promises that those who ask will be forgiven. With forgiveness comes eternal life. Eternal life in Heaven rather than in Hell. All those are Bible points as well.”

Yes, the devil has much to say against any of us, but for those of us who accept Jesus, He will be - not might be or should be or could be - He will be - He is - we have - an advocate - our advocate - pleading our case before God.

Listen. With Jesus with us, the devil will be defeated. We know that because of what John continued to write. “He [Jesus Christ] is the expiation for our sins.”

Some translations use the word “propitiation.” Together, the teaching is that Jesus is the pacifier, the forgiver, the repairer, the disinfector. All wrapped up together, Jesus is the one through whom guilt for past sins and defilement from present sins are removed. With that happening, our relationship with God is restored and can be maintained.

The key word - the main requirement to have Jesus as our advocate and expiation in our lives - is in verse 3. It is the word “know.” We must know Him. Not know about Him, but know Him.

There is a difference. For instance, when Tiger Woods was doing so well in so many golf tournaments, he received so much coverage, it got to the point it seemed I knew Tiger.

I like Alex Gordon who plays for the Kansas City Royals. He is from Lincoln. He played for the university baseball team. He has been with the Royals for many years. I have seen him play so often. It feels like I know Alex.

In neither case is that true. I do not really know Tiger. He most certainly does not know and most certainly does not care who I am. The same is true with Alex Gordon.

I know about Tiger. I know about Alex, but I do not know them, as in know them.

It is different with Jesus. We can move beyond knowing about Him. We can indeed know Him. What a privilege that is. 

And, in addition to accepting Jesus as Savior, which is of course the first and most basic step and how we know Him as in know Him, there is a way to prove our close, personal knowledge. It is the second part of verse 3. “And by this we may be sure that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.”

When we began this series of messages last week, it was mentioned John’s fellow Christians were being presented with some false teachings. One of the false teachings had to do the Christian faith simply being an intellectual exercise. That it was enough to just know Jesus, as in being confident He exists.

In verses 3 through 6, John taught that knowing Jesus exists - which is critical - but that just knowing Him is not enough. That knowledge is to be translated to knowing and obeying His commandments. There is an obligation to know and do what Jesus taught.

The Bible is filled with Jesus’ teachings - His commandments. No doubt the greatest summary are the challenges to love the Lord our God with all we are, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to go into all the world and lead others to have such love in their lives.

We are to know Jesus. We can know Him. We prove we know the Lord by obeying Him. Attaching that to the first part of chapter 2, obeying Jesus will result in Him being our advocate, which has eternal benefits.

The challenge is to know Jesus and obey Him. Listen to the warning. Verse 4. “He who says ‘I know Jesus’ but disobeys His commandments, is a liar. The truth is not in such a person.” 

Instead, keep Jesus’ word. Whoever does so, in that person “love for God is perfected.” The same point again. “By this [by keeping Jesus’ word] we may be sure we are in Him.” That is how we are to live.

Verse 7 is interesting. “Beloved.” Remember a point made last week and toward the beginning of this message. The concept of gentleness in John’s spirit. Here is another expression of that. “Beloved.” John was not scolding the people to whom he wrote. He was not hoping to feel them or hear of them grimacing under his attack. No. He lovingly wanted to encourage the people to do what they had been taught by him and other valid teachers to do in knowing and obeying Jesus.

“Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning.”

Remember that one of the attractions of the false teachings making the rounds was that such teachings were new things to think about. John taught that new ideas are dangerous if they are different from what the true teachings of and about Jesus are. Those people had been taught by John. Follow what he had taught. That was the challenge for the original readers of I John - and the challenge for us.

*       *       *       *       *

I John 2. Written by the apostle John. Written to announce to people - to remind them - that those who follow Jesus have an advocate in Him. Someone to help, counsel, repair, and defend us. The one and only one able to restore us to a good relationship with God. All of that possible by knowing and obeying Jesus.

How to apply all that is for each of us to determine, done with and through prayer. I hope each of us will do that. I challenge each of us to do that. With that in mind, let me close with a devotional relating to obeying the Lord.

A Christian counselor remembers an occasion when he was counseling a woman about a physical problem that really had a spiritual cause in her experience. The counselor discovered the woman hated another person and had done so for years. Hate had turned into bitterness that had poisoned all the woman’s thoughts.

The counselor said to the woman, “You must find it in your heart to forgive this person, as God has forgiven you.”

The woman looked at the counselor and said, “I cannot forgive her! I never will forgive her!”

The counselor responded, “But God says you must. If you cannot, then you need to face the fact that you are not a Christian, because if you cannot forgive, then you have never been born again.”

The woman looked at the counselor and said, “I guess you are right. I know I am a Christian, and I see I have just been deceiving myself. I need to forgive.”

She did forgive the woman and, according to the report, there came a change in that woman's life that was like night turning to day.

Today’s closing song is the same one we sang last week. It is Truly Wonderful. It fits today’s message as it did last week’s sermon, this time reminding us of the wonder of Jesus being everything we need, including an advocate.

He pardoned my transgression,

He sanctified my soul;

He honor my confessions,

Since by His blood I’m whole.

It is truly wonderful 

what the Lord has done,

It is truly wonderful, It is truly wonderful;

It is truly wonderful what the Lord has done.

Glory to His name!

He brings me through affliction,

He leaves me not alone;

He’s with me in temptation,

He keeps me for His own.

It is truly wonderful 

what the Lord has done,

It is truly wonderful, It is truly wonderful;

It is truly wonderful what the Lord has done.

Glory to His name!

He keeps me firm and faithful,

His love I do enjoy;

For this I shall be grateful

And live in His employ.

It is truly wonderful 

what the Lord has done,

It is truly wonderful, It is truly wonderful;

It is truly wonderful what the Lord has done.

Glory to His name!

Lord, thank You offering to be our advocate. A position You are for all who know You, proved by obeying You. Help us to put into practice what You had John teach us. Amen.

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