Have you ever read a passage of scripture and had a truth that seemed to hit you up-side the head with a 2×4?
Perhaps, you knew a truth, as in, you were aware of that truth, partly because you had heard it said or seen it written in slightly different ways dozens of times, but suddenly it really came to life for you with more clarity and personal conviction than before.
The latter comes close to describing how I felt recently when reading 1 John 2:1-3, as well as Andrew Wommack‘s commentary supporting those verses.
We All Sin and Will Continue to Sin
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” – 1 John 3:1a (NKJV)
John is writing to believers (that’s you if you’ve accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior), and yet he says that he’s writing so that you may not sin. That blows out of the water the idea that once we are believers we don’t sin.
Our spirits are made righteous by the blood of Christ, but in our flesh, which we’re stuck with as long as we’re here on earth, we sin and will continue to sin.
We should not let that fact depress us, but rather set us up for the wonderful news described in the next verse.
We have an Advocate in Jesus Christ
“And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” – 1 John 3:1b (NKJV)
God is perfect, without sin. Sin is abhorant to a Holy God. Yet we have the ultimate advocate, speaking on our behalf in Jesus Christ.
I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy a movie with a powerful trial scene, where the lawyer makes a compelling case to the jury on behalf of their client.
As a side note, one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in that regard is God’s Not Dead 2. I highly recommend it.
I love the image of Jesus speaking to His Father on our behalf, and presenting His own sacrifice as payment for every one of our sins.
Jesus Didn’t Just Die for You
“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” – 1 John 3:2 (NKJV)
Jesus died for you and for me. He also died for Hitler, for the rapist, for the child molester, for the gay activist, and for your co-worker you really don’t like.
He didn’t just die for those who would accept Him. He also died for those who haven’t accepted Him and even for those who will not accept Him in the future.
The next time any of us judge non-believers who don’t act and talk like us, we should try and remember that like us they were made in the image of God and that Jesus was thinking of them when he hung on that cross and gave up everything.
We should also remember that we don’t deserve that unconditional gift and act of love any more than the person we’re judging.
The fact that the person hasn’t yet chosen to receive that gift doesn’t change any of that.
Knowing Jesus Is Different Than Being Saved by Jesus
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” – 1 John 3:3 (NKJV)
The previous two verses and their implications are incredibly powerful, though the average Christian and even some non-Christians are probably already familiar with the essense of their message.
This third verse, though is different, and at first glance, it may seem to be in conflict with what you already believe.
If you stop to think, dig a little bit, and start to look at all the other verses in the Bible which support this one, there’s a chance it may open up a whole new world for you as a believer.
You may have heard Christians say things like “don’t treat God as your fire insurance agent”, “It’s all about the relationship”, or “Eternal life begins here on earth”.
You may have heard these and similar phrases and blown them off and gone back to your compartmentalized Chrisitan life where you check off the box on Sunday morning but forget about God the other 6-1/2 days of the week.
The Relationship is the Root
Deep inside us we all know that if there truly is a God then we should keep His commandments. But we’re also taught as Christians that we’re saved by grace and not our works, therefore keeping God’s commandments doesn’t earn us salvation.
But here’s this verse saying that if we keep God’s commandments then we know that we know Him.
This isn’t saying that if we keep His commandments, we’ll be saved. I also don’t believe that it’s saying that if we keep His commandments, then we’ll know Him, meaning we’ll have a close and personal relationship with Him.
I believe this is saying that if we know Him, then we’ll keep His commandments.
Our good works are the fruit and not the root. The root in terms of sanctification and living out a victorious Christian life, is abiding in Him, in seeking God daily and treasuring your personal relationship with Him.
That subtle distinction makes all the difference, and I believe that until we truly get that difference, we’ll be tempted to fall back into a works mentality, a check-the-box compartmentalized Christian life, or both.