“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
Christians will not live sinless lives, but they will progress in holiness and be assured of salvation as they are distressed by and repent of their remaining sins.
In today’s passage, John refers to this tension when he tells us his purpose in writing is that we may not sin (2:1a). Though we must be ever aware of our struggle with sin, we must never think that sin is a good thing. God is never pleased when we sin. We cannot let the forgiveness offered through Jesus be an excuse for ungodliness; rather, we must endeavor not to sin out of gratitude for His work. We must never sin that grace may abound, instead we must avoid temptation precisely because grace has already abounded to us (Rom. 6:1–4). Believers will not use grace as an excuse to sin.
However, John knows we still struggle with sin, and he reminds us that there is forgiveness, for we have a righteous Advocate with the Father — the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1b). In 1:9 we read that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and with Christ as our Advocate we can see how this is true. In promising the new covenant, God pledges to forgive our sins (Jer. 31:34b), and God is always faithful to His covenant. But He will only remain so if He provides a way for our sin to be punished. By imputing our sins to Christ on the cross, God satisfied His just need to punish sin so that He could be faithful to His pledge to forgive us.
Two thousand years ago, the death of Christ purchased forgiveness for His people. Today, He continues to apply this finished work to us as He is our Advocate with the Father, interceding on our behalf before the One who loved us so much that He sent His Son to save us. John Calvin comments, Christ “appears before God for this end, that he may exercise towards us the power and efficacy of his sacrifice.”
Everyone who is reading this devotional today has not walked in the light as he should. Each of us has fallen short of the glory of God and will fall short of it again in the future. But those of us who have embraced Christ should not let failures lead us away from the Savior. He is our Advocate, and there is nothing we have done that cannot be forgiven — provided we repent of our sins and turn to Christ alone for salvation. Come before the Lord today in repentance.
Passages for Further Study
- Ps. 110
- Isa. 47:4
- Luke 15:11–32
- Heb. 7:23–25
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