Bible Study Notes “The Advocate” (07-12-09)



1 Jn 2:1-6

Last week we spoke of heavy things, and it was for the most part, dark. Our main focus as guided by the section of 1 John we looked at was facing the reality of sin and how walking in sin is proof that one is not a Christian and anyone who does walk in sin while wearing the label “Christian” is deeply deceived. This week we look at the other side of the coin. We will review John’s reasons for writing to “us” and look at one of works of the resurrected Christ, that of advocate. Further we will examine what “propitiation” is and to what human extent that work of Christ applies. Next we will look at the positive side of what we discussed last week in regards to how we “keep his commandments.” Briefly we will discuss what it means to have “perfected love” and then understand what it means to walk as Jesus walked. I hope this message will be an encouragement and joy to you all.

V1 a) Another purpose of John’s writing

1… Joy complete (1:4)

2… So that you may not sin (2:1)

I’ve wondered if an English professor were to look at John’s writings if he would receive a low or failing grade. The thesis of 1 John seems to be buried at the end with little bread crumbs pointing to it. I can see in red pen, “John. Stay on topic! Set-up your thesis!!!” written across the front of this letter. Perhaps that’s why I like John. He does not conform to the APA or MLA. In 1:4 John says, “We are writing these things so that our [your] joy may be complete.” This is the first reason John gives us. He writes so that his joy and the joy of the readers may be full. We aren’t to have the joy of the maid-of-honor at her best girlfriend’s wedding. We are to have the joy of the bride herself!

The next reason John gives for writing is that so we may not sin. That’s a high goal to have and one, if he knew it at the time or not, that it is effective at doing. As we said last week all of Scripture can be and is to be used as our defense against sin, temptation, and Satan’s wiles. This book in particular is a great help against the idea of any form pseudo-Christianity that says people may sin with abandon and call themselves children of God. I doubt there could be any sin as grievous to God and his people as this one.

b) Follow-through with last week/set up Christ is Advocate

What of God’s people then? Those John lovingly calls “my little children.” John recognizes that we wind up sinning. This is not to be discouragement to have us think that if we sin our salvation has been lost. How could we lose what wasn’t ours to merit? Our lives as Christians are marked by growing in holiness and constant repentance. Let’s look at Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter 7 verses 14 through 24:

14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Paul wrote this as a Christian from the perspective of a Christian. This is an important thing to note. We are made new creations, spiritually. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” But we are not made all new. We still have the same old flesh we had from before we were spiritually born again. We are still hungry, we are still thirsty, we still “have hormones”, we still need sleep, we still get sick. Our bodies and flesh have not yet been made new. We struggle and fight against it and the old habits to which our flesh has become accustomed. But what hope is there? Is there any? The next verse Paul writes tells us, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!…” Yes, Christ has redeemed us and continues to work on our behalf in the presence of God the Father as our primary advocate. Just as the priests of the Old Testament spent day and night before God to intercede for the people of Israel, so Jesus the Christ intercedes for us: “23The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb 7:23-25) and we read in Romans 8:34 “34Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Jesus is there, in the presence of God the Father bringing to the Father our prayers, though they are tainted with sin, Jesus makes the clean and beautiful as a fragrance pleasing to the Lord. Jesus also is before the Father praying for us perfectly and in complete conformity to God’s Will. Louis Berkhof puts it this way:

It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that He is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that He prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it.  He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end.

When we sin, Christ is there before the throne of God above pleading with the Father, “That one is your child! I have purchased him! I have redeemed her! See these scars! The punishment for sin was given to me. His fine has been paid. Her trespass is not counted against her.”

V2 a) Propitiation (explain w/ OT context/parallels)

But how is this so? How can our sins not be counted against us? It is only through the propitiatory work of Jesus Christ. Propitiation means “a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to the end and in so doing changes God’s wrath toward us into favor.” (Grudem, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY p. 575). Where did this idea come from? Well…. God, actually. The Old Testament (primarily the books of Exodus and Leviticus) speak of animal sacrifices meant to be propitiatory. Let’s look at a rather large chunk of Scripture, Leviticus 16:11-22 to see how this plays out. God ordains there to be a Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and prescribes several sacrifices to be made on that day. Note the foreshadowing of Christ in these. We read:

11“Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself. 12And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil 13 and put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die. 14And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

15 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. 16Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. 17 No one may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the Holy Place until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel. 18Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. 19And he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and consecrate it from the uncleannesses of the people of Israel.

20“And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. 21And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. 22The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.

All this and the other bloody and gruesome sacrifices point toward Jesus’ work on the cross. Hebrews 9:11-14 says this:

11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

b) ours (our culture our nation) c) the world (other cultures and other nations)

As we read in Leviticus 16 the propitiatory sacrifice was for one nation, one people; the Israelites. Yet the work of Jesus Christ is not just for them. John says he is the propitiation “for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Paul puts it this way in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Jesus Christ died for the Jew and the Gentile, for all those who would repent and believe in Him. Truly, Christianity is a universal faith that is valid and relevant across social, national, and cultural boundaries. It makes Christianity a unifying religion where “[t]here is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28). Go anywhere in the world and if you are with another Christian you will know despite any cultural or linguistic barrier that you are with family. Go to any gathering of Christians whom you have never met, and you will in minutes find yourself a brother or sister. Indeed, salvation is available for all mankind.

V3-5a Keeping the Commands a) what commands b) xref with gospel of John et. al.

So how do we know who belong to Christ? How do we know if someone else shares in the saving work of Christ?  John tells us, by keeping Christ’s commandments. John says this too in his gospel Jesus says it himself in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” And again in verse 21, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” This is one of the “self-diagnostics” we can do to make sure we are in the faith. The first we saw was in 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” So far we know these two litmus tests. We walk in the light and we keep his commandments. But let’s be clear, this is not an outside-in reaction. We do not do good works in hope that they will sanctify us or make us more holy. This is the great error of Rome which says that good works makes one a saint. No! The bible calls all who are God’s people “hagion” holy ones. God made you holy and nothing you can do will make you more holy. God makes you more holy. What we have is an inside-out reaction. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us which works with our new nature and regenerate will can now operate freely to do truly good works because we are already holy! We do these things out of the holiness in us, not into the holiness out of us. Spurgeon said this, “Practical godliness is absolutely necessary to a true Christian character – and a man is not righteous unless he does that which is righteous.” As it turns out keeping what Jesus has commanded of us makes proof positive that we are loved perfectly, completely and wholly by God. It is proof to us to give us comfort, proof to others that they may enjoy fellowship with us, and proof to the world that we do not belong to them, but belong to God.

V5b-6 Walk as Jesus Walked? (explain)

Lastly, John exhorts us on walk as Jesus walked. This means that our lifestyle is to echo that of Christ. Paul gives the same exhortation in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” So what attributes of Christ are we to imitate?

First, love. The whole reason of Jesus becoming flesh was to show the love of God to lost and dead sinners. Everything said and done by Jesus is marked by love. His healings, his preaching, even his rants against the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes are done out of love for those who are being thrown into hell by the false teachings they spewed.

Second, humility. This is a striking aspect of Jesus which shows to what extremes we must be willing to humble ourselves and be humbled. In Philippians 2:3-8, “3Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Third, total submission to God. Jesus did not live his life for himself and for his own glory. Rather he did it for the glory of God the Father as we read in the next few verses from Philippians 2, “9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” He lived a life marked by holiness in total conformity to the Law of God while bucking the Tradition of Man. The famous words from the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus prepared to face the full wrath of the Father show this willful submission, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt 26:39).

And the last one I shall bring to mention, the proclaiming of the gospel. The first word Jesus preached wasn’t “Blessed” in Matthew 5 but “REPENT!” in Matthew 4. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 4:17). We too must preach the gospel to ourselves to give us comfort and to others so that they may be saved. The total holiness of God, the total sinfulness of man, the perfect sacrifice in Jesus validated by the resurrection, the need to repent of sins and trust in Jesus, this is the gospel. Do you know it? Or more aptly, does God know you? Have you obeyed the command to repent and trust?


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