1 John (2): The Truth of Holiness (1:5-2:2)
Last week I addressed the initial point in my outline of 1 John:
A 1:1–4 — Prologue — Eternal Life Manifested
B 1:5–2:2 —The Truth Proclaimed
C 2:3–17 — The Love Commandment
D 2:18–27 — Antichrists Deny Jesus is the Christ
E 2:28–3:10 — Confidence as Children of God
F 3:11–18 — The Message: Sacrificial Love for One Another
E’ 3:19–24 — Confidence in God’s Presence
D’ 4:1–6 — Antichrists Deny Christ Came in the Flesh
C’ 4:7–5:5 — The Love Example
B’ 5:6–12 — The Testimony Received
A’ 5:13–21 — Conclusion — Eternal Life Assured
adapted from J. C. Thomas (cited in the NAC)
I urged that - 1) You can be transformed by knowing Jesus (vv1-2). 2) You can be transformed by life in the Father and Son (v3). 3) You can have transcending joy by living in relationship with the Lord (v4).
This week, in Part 2, I will address: The Truth Proclaimed (1 John 1:5–2:2)
1John 1:5–2:2 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2:2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
You must believe that God is holy (v5). This section (in parallel with 5:6-12) calls for fidelity to the Truth, the “message” received. the apostles “heard from Him” (v5). John confronts (as a transformed “son of thunder”) an error about God. The prerequisite to the glory of salvation is to see the holiness of God and our condition with Christ. God is light and there is no darkness in Him. He is Absolute Truth and Absolute Righteousness. God is not a being like the “force” with both darkness and light. There is no emanation like a fountain that exudes which starts pure but then finally excretes some kind of darkish matter. This was the kind of philosophy behind the heresies John addresses. Do you believe God is fully and finally righteous so that He would be absolutely righteous in sending every sinful person to hell?
You must see that you are not holy (v6-10). Several “if” clauses (vv6-10) show what the false teachers were spewing. They claimed to be in the right with God (koinonia) despite heresy and sinfulness. (v6). John counters that fellowship in the community (“with one another”) only results from living according to the light (e.g., the gospel truth). Then Jesus keeps on cleansing us from all sin (pres. tense v7). The false teachers denied both they had ongoing sin (v8) and that they had not “sinned” (probably since embracing their heresy). But a prerequisite to grace is to see that you are not holy and need forgiveness/restoration. John provides beautiful pastoral counsel to the sheep in contrast to the soul-destroying error or “perfectionism.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (v9). Do you walk in the light by keeping “short accounts,” confessing your sin to the Lord?
You must know that only Christ makes you holy (vv2:1-2). The source of our assurance is that “we have an Advocate with the Father” and that Jesus is our “propitiation.” Embracing this “message” gives comfort to the “little children” who believe because as we see the holiness of God and our own sinfulness we seek forgiveness from Christ. Christ is our “Parakletos,” a word only used by John (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7) which means both Advocate in the legal sense and Comforter/Strengthe
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more