1 John 2:1-6

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

January 21, 1998


John, the aging apostle has written a letter to the church at large.

One of the issues he’s dealing with is the teachings of the Gnostics, this group who claimed to have special "knowledge". They believed that they had the only real, but secret keys to knowing God. They believed that anything physical was evil, and only non-physical things could be good. There were two groups that came from these teachings –

One believed that since anything physical was sinful, and since that means our physical bodies are sinful and beyond help, why not just go ahead and "party hearty"?

The other group believed they had the ability to alienate themselves far enough from sinful physical things that they could become "sinless" themselves.

:2:1-2 Dealing with sin

:1 My little children,

There’s an element of tenderness here. John is the aged apostle, speaking to those he’s raised in the Lord. He cares about them like a loving father.

:1 these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.

You could almost get the impression from last week’s study that as long as a person confesses their sins, everything is okay, and they don’t have to worry about dealing with stopping their sin.

But John’s whole goal is to move God’s people away from sin.


Move away from sin.

For some of you, there are certain sins that have held you captive for a long time.

And the concept of not sinning instantly brings up that certain sin in your mind.

And the idea of not sinning seems absolutely impossible.

As one who has been in the grip of a habitual sin, I’m here to tell you that God can take you away from the sin.

It’s like an uphill bike ride, up a steep, steep hill. The kind where your legs begin to ache and burn from pedaling, and the hill just gets steeper and steeper. What’s worse is there seems to be a fog covering the hill, so you can’t tell how far you are from the top.

We get to certain places with our sins where it just seems easier to quit trying than to keep fighting. We just turn the bike around and coast downhill. But what we don’t realize is that often those places where we struggle most are near the top of the hill.

If we’d just pedal a little longer, we can get to the place where the hill begins to plateau out, and the pedaling begins to get easier. After the first long climb, you get to a place where the farther you get from the last occurrence of your sin, the easier it is to pedal. But you have to get up to the plateau first.

I know what it’s like to have been in such despair that I thought I’d never make it. I’ve failed so many times. But now that I’ve gotten far enough from that sin, that though I still tremble in fear of going back to it, I know I can keep riding away from it. It can happen.

:1 And if any man sin

The reality of life is that God wants us to move away from sin.

But because we’re still in our human bodies and still attached to our wicked sin nature, we are still going to sin from time to time.

We’re going to talk a lot tonight about walking in obedience and not sinning.

But we need to keep in mind that there are going to be times when we sin.

Nobody is going to be able to reach a state of never sinning, at least not in these bodies.

And when we sin ...

:1 we have an advocate with the Father

advocate - parakletos – one who is "called alongside to help".

We’ve seen this term used by Jesus to describe the Holy Spirit, as "another Comforter", Jesus being the first Comforter.

This term also has another use, that of a defense attorney, one who pleads your case before a judge.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He left us the Holy Spirit to be our "Comforter" or advocate here on earth with us.

But Jesus never stopped being our advocate either. Now He’s in heaven, as our defense attorney, pleading our cause before God the father.

The picture is that of a courtroom in heaven.

God the Father is sitting up in the place of the judge.

Our defense attorney, Jesus, is sitting by our side.

The prosecuting attorney, who accuses us before the judge, is Satan himself.

(Rev 12:10b KJV) ... for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Satan accuses us before God’s throne, but Jesus stands up to defend us.

Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

And He does more than just argue a good argument, He also steps up to pay our fine in full.


Jesus is on your side.

We can get the paranoid idea that God is always out to "get us".

Yet that’s just the opposite of what is true.

Rom 8:31-34 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? {32} He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? {33} Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. {34} Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

:1 Jesus Christ the righteous:

Jesus is qualified to present our case before the Father because He Himself is righteous, without sin.

:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins

propitiationhilasmos – an appeasing, propitiating

A "propitiatory" was a place where wrath was satisfied, where the price was paid. The mercy seat on the ark of the covenant was a "propitiatory", where blood was sprinkled, and the sins of the people were taken care of.

The idea is that Jesus’ death was what paid the price of God’s righteous wrath for our sins.


Bible teacher G. Campbell Morgan told of a coal miner who came to him and said, "I would give anything to believe that God would forgive my sins, but I cannot believe that He will forgive them if I just ask Him. It is too cheap." Morgan said, "My dear friend, have you been working today?" "Yes, I was down in the mine." "How did you get out of the pit? Did you pay?" "Of course not. I just got into to cage and was pulled to the top." "Were you not afraid to entrust yourself to that cage? Was it not too cheap?" Morgan asked. "Oh no," said the miner, "it was cheap for me, but it cost the company a lot of money to sink the shaft." Suddenly the truth struck him. What had not cost him anything -- salvation -- had not come cheap to God. This miner had never thought of the great price God paid to send His Son so He could rescue fallen humanity. Now he realized that all anyone had to do was to "get into the cage" by faith.

:2 and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Jesus didn’t just die for some, but for the whole world.

2 Cor 5:19-21 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. {20} Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. {21} For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

God made provision for the whole world to be made right with Him, and we now have been entrusted with getting that message out to people, that if they are willing to receive it, God has the free gift of salvation to offer to them.

2:3-6 What it means to really know God

:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Tenses of "know" – 1st is present tense, 2nd is perfect tense.

"And by this we are knowing that we have known and continue to know Him ..."

Again, addressing the Gnostics and their high ideas of "knowledge".

John is saying that the real way to know that you have come into any kind of knowledge of God is when you keep His commandments.

keeptereo – to attend to carefully, take care of; to guard; to observe

It’s not just that we obey, but the idea that we are carefully studying God’s ways, carefully looking at what is pleasing to Him, that we are careful to do all that God desires of us.

:4 He that saith ...

As we began to see last week, one of John’s points is to show the difference between what people say, and what they do.

Look at the verses we saw last week –

(1 John 1:6-10 KJV) If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: {7} But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. {8} If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. {9} If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. {10} If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

To see the contrast between "saying" and "doing" makes me think that perhaps the idea of "confess" means more than just words, but the idea of bringing your life into agreement with God, and not just with your words.


Don’t just believe words, look at actions.

It’s not words that count, it’s actions.

Even Jesus made the distinction between what people say and what they do.

(Mat 7:21 KJV) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.


It is not what we eat, but what we digest that makes us strong;

not what we gain but what we save that make us rich;

not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned;

and not what we profess but what we practice that makes us Christians.

-- Author unknown

I know that for myself, I can get swayed pretty easily by peoples’ words. It’s important for me to step back every once in a while and look at their actions as well.

A person who says they’re not a jealous person, yet who very obviously exhibits jealousy from time to time is not being honest with themselves.

We can do this with a lot of different sins. Pay attention to actions, not just words.

:4 I know him and keepeth not his commandments

The Greek tenses make this phrase read like this –

He who is saying "I have known and continue to know Him", and is continually not keeping His commandments ..."

A person can not claim to have come to know God, and not be presently living a life of obedience to God.

:4 is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

liarpseustes – a liar; one who breaks faith; a false and faithless man

They are lying to you, and possibly lying to themselves as well.

I believe that there are people who talk themselves into thinking they know God, but because of the evidence of their lives, I question if they do.

:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected

verilyalethos – truly, of a truth, in reality

Back in verse 4, the person who says they know God, but does not obey him does not have the truth in them. In contrast, the one who does obey has the love of God perfected in them "true-ly".

perfectedteleioo – to make perfect, complete; to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end; to complete (perfect), add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full

A.T. Robertson – the idea is that our love for God is completed when we walk in obedience.

But I think there’s also a sense in which God’s love for us overflows when we walk in obedience, we see both when Jesus said –

(John 14:21 KJV) He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

I think that walking in obedience is kind of like turning a bottle right side up. It’s hard to fill an upside-down bottle unless it’s turned up. It’s not that God necessarily loves us any less when we’re disobedient, but we have a much harder time receiving it when our lives are turned the wrong way.

:5 hereby know we that we are in him.

If we obey His commandments, then we can know that we are in Him.

:6 He that saith he abideth in him

abidethmeno – to remain, abide

This is one of those words we can get kind of "hyper-spiritual" about, mostly due to what Jesus said,

(John 15:4-5 KJV) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. {5} I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

We can kind of get the idea that "abiding" is some kind of thing we conjure up inside ourselves, or some level of spirituality that we have to attain to.

It simply means to "remain in Jesus".

In verse 5, John said how we could know that we are "in" Him, and now he’s talking about "staying in" Him.

:6 ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

so to walk – a continuous walk (present infinitive).

Robertson – "a continuous performance, not a spasmodic spurt"

If we say that we’re still connected to Jesus, then we ought to be acting more and more like Him.