“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the righteous one.” (1 John 2:1)
I believe this verse from our daily readings really sums up the main purpose of every epistle. They all encourage us towards holiness and at the same time, remind us that our salvation is through faith in Christ alone.
In this verse, John says he writes this so we would not sin. As you read through these chapters, he is constantly encouraging us to live godly lives. He tells us not to love the world but to do the will of the Father (vs. 17). He warns us to beware of false teachers (Antichrists) who try to lead us astray. Finally (vs. 28), we are encouraged to continue in him.
The second part of the verse reminds us of His grace. As long as we are in this fleshly body, we will never be completely sinless. The reason is that when we are reborn, we receive a new heart (Ezek. 36:26). Our minds are transformed and renewed. (Romans 12:2). But our bodies are still the same with all of their fleshly desires. So, at the time of conversion, a titanic battle begins between this new heart and the old flesh. Paul describes this battle in Romans 7: 14-25. Verse 24 sums it up: “What a wretched man that I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Some years ago, I had to go to traffic court because someone had stolen my license plate from my car. As we sat in the courtroom waiting for our name to be called, I noticed a gentleman in the back wearing a suit. Every so often, when a name was called, he would raise his hand and say, “Counsel.” Because he was an attorney, he was standing in as his client’s advocate. Therefore, his clients did not need to appear. This is the picture 1 John 2:1. Jesus is our advocate who appears on our behalf. When our name is called at the judgment, we will not have to appear. Instead, Jesus will raise his hand and say, “Counsel.”
So, as we read these chapters in 1 John, let’s take to heart John’s admonition and exhortation. Let’s live holy lives characterized by surrendered obedience and strive to follow him wholeheartedly. But let’s also rest in the assurance that our sins have been atoned for and He already has declared us righteous!