walk in the word
8If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 2:1My 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 1:8 – 2:1
At this point in his letter, John wants to make sure we know what salvation is. He begins chapter 2 with, “My little children. I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” The Greek word for little children is only used a couple of times in the New Testament. It means like a little two or three-year-old. Someone small whom you speak to on your knees, face to face: “Honey. . . ” And you pull them really close. He’s talking to us like we’re very young children that need God so much.
He says, “My little children, I am writing these. . . ” Actually, the letter repeats similar phrases about nine times. He really wants us to know why he’s writing.
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” This is an “on the other hand” statement. He just gave us the “on the one hand” which is, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us” (v.9). When you assure people strongly of God’s forgiveness, you also feel compelled to add, “But I don’t want you to think that I’m encouraging you to sin.” You see this all the time in the Bible. Someone will lift up God’s grace on the one hand and then lift up the fear of God on the other. As Romans 6:1 says, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!”
I feel that tension sometimes when I’m preaching and I’m celebrating God’s grace. So I add, “But don’t use that as an excuse to sin. There’s a balance there.” That’s why John says, “He is faithful and just to forgive us” (v.9), but then he adds, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” Forgiveness is good; but victory is great! And yet he comes back to the grace again at the end of verse 1: “But if anyone does sin.” He is really saying, “When you sin.” We’re not going to be perfect until we get to heaven. So we need the assurance of forgiveness and the encouragement to pursue victory.
Prayer – Father, You demonstrate Your faithfulness in so many ways, but chiefly in the way that You respond to our repentance with forgiveness. You urge and energize our efforts to resist sin but You offer a ready comfort when we fail miserably. You don’t give up. You fully demonstrate love beyond our capacity to measure as You work to grow us into the people You always intend us to be. We praise You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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