A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Easter. Do you remember that?
It was a beautiful Sunday morning, there were gorgeous, sweet smelling flowers decorating the sanctuary, everyone was all dressed up…It was a great day!
But, wouldn’t Easter be a nicer holiday if it didn’t involve death? Follow me here.
Christmas is great, right. It’s all about God’s love come to earth, we’re giving gifts and everyone is merry. But Easter comes and there’s torture and death, sadness and grieving. Wouldn’t it be great if we just remembered the life of Jesus, then celebrated his glorious ascension into heaven.
Be like, Palm Sunday, “Whoahoo!!”, parades and parties, Hosanna, “Hosanna to God in the highest.” Then Jerusalem is kicking it all week, like when the Pens won the Stanley Cup last year. Then comes Sunday and we’re all like, [ looking upward ] “Yeah, alright Jesus, you’re the man! You killed it here! Thanks for coming! Gosh, I can’t wait till the sequel.”
But that’s not how it goes, right?
You see, with our sin comes death, our death.
Paul writes in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death…”
That means, the punishment for our disobedience towards God is that we must die.
It’s the reality of the disobedience in the Garden when God said, Don’t eat the fruit or you will die. What did we do? We ate the fruit. And we’ve been dying ever since.
But Easter isn’t about a good man, doing good things. It’s about the Son of God dying as the obedient, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for my sin. And you’re sin. In fact, John says, that Jesus was the Propitiation, not just for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world.
You see, Jesus is our PROPITIATION, that means he is “[THE] offering that turns away the wrath of God directed against sin. (According to the NT,)[What we believe is that] God has provided the offering that removes the divine wrath, [because] (for) in love the Father sent the Son to be the propitiation (or atoning sacrifice) for human sin (1 Jn 4:10).”
Grenz, S., Guretzki, D., & Nordling, C. F. (1999). In Pocket dictionary of theological terms (p. 96). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
In other words...
We celebrate the SACRIFICE of Jesus, because it’s the SACRIFICE that frees us from sin.
We celebrate the RESURRECTION of Jesus, because it’s the RESURRECTION that
frees us from the death that comes with it.
We celebrate the ASCENSION of Jesus, because it’s the ASCENSION that
puts Jesus at the right hand of God the Father to serve as our advocate.
So what does this all mean for us?
Well, I think all of this leads to what John says in verse 6.
6. Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
That is, we are to live as Jesus lived. How did Jesus live? He was OBEDIENT. He did what God desired of him to do. He kept the commands of God. He loved as God loved. He did all of the things that we were suppose to, but didn’t.
So how does one know that they are getting it right? THEY KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS.
Look at verses 3, 4 and 5.
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.
So, let’s get a little uncomfortable.
Too often, when we think about sin, we down play sin.
We think of phrases like…
But here’s the truth. Sin is SIN, and ALL sin leads to death, and the eternal separation of God and man.
And as believers, Christian’s who profess a relationship with Jesus Christ, who claim God’s Grace and His gift of forgiveness and life as there own, we, YOU and I, we are called to live our lives—rejecting sin, striving for obedient lives, keeping his word, as God’s love is perfected in us.
John is calling us to clean up our acts. To stop going through the motions, looking away, and living a lackluster life. Instead, live as God is calling you to live, passionate, obedient, loving, and loved.
John knows that on this side of heaven, there is sin. Guys, we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to say the wrong things, we’re going to do the wrong things. Sin is going to be a something we struggle with till the day we die. But what John is reminding us is that we are called to live our lives differently. That when temptations come, we turn away from them.
Do you know that you can do that? That when we’re tempted, we can say no?
It’s crazy, but there’s this obscure little verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says, “13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV)
Think about that, in the midst of our temptations, God provides an opportunity for escape. We don’t have to give into the lure of sin. We can ask God to help us. And if Paul’s words are true, he will provide a way out!
You see, that us, learning how to walk in the light.
2 Corinthians 5:17…
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)
We no longer live as those who don’t know Christ; we live as disciples, being made new because of what Jesus has done.
But, when we do sin, it doesn’t mean that all is lost. No, we have the atoning sacrifice, the PROPITIATION, who’s death pays our debt. On the cross, Jesus carried all of our sin, taking upon him all the guilt and shame. He bore the wrath of God towards sin, and extends to us God’s grace and forgiveness.
How would you evaluate your journey with Jesus? Where would you place yourself in the diagram?
Are you moving inward in belief? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to make you more and more like Jesus?
Are you moving upward in obedience? Are doing the things that bring honor and glory to God as you keep his commandments?
Or are you still stuck in yourself, fighting with God to do what you want, when you want, how you want?
By this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
Alright friends, I need you to do me a favor…I need you to get comfortable. Go ahead, rearrange yourself so that you are comfortable. Sit back, relax…Okay? We good?
Good. Here’s why. I want to talk about something that’s generally, uncomfortable. So my hope is, if I can get you sitting comfortable, then maybe we won’t be so uncomfortable as we talk. What are we talking about? We’re going to talk about sin.
Yeah, I know. Sin. The only subjects more uncomfortable to talk about are MONEY, POLITICS, and SEX,
( which I actually love talking about. Sex that is. Not money and politics. ).
You see, no one likes to talk about sin, because we don’t like the idea of anyone else telling us that we have sin. Even worse, we fear that someone might discover our sin, and so the guilt and shame of what we’ve done drives us to avoid any and every discussion that includes the topic of sin.
But, here is my hope. If we can endure the discomfort of our discussion on sin, we will discover the greater comfort that comes in knowing that our sins have been forgiven.
So, I want to ask that you take out your Bibles, or the insert in the bulletin, and let’s turn to 1 John. All summer long, we will be walking through John’s letter to the church, looking for the answer to the question, What does it look like to live a Christian life?
Let’s look at what John is writing to us.
We started our journey talking about epic movie openings, and said that John begins his letter with a couple EPIC statements about who God is and how we are called to live. I have another epic statement for us to consider.
If God is light, and if he desires the worshipful fellowship of humans, then those humans must somehow be delivered from darkness—that is, from sin, whether conceived of as so-called sin nature or as particular wrongful acts.
The author is saying, that if God is pure and holy, the description of LIGHT, and if he desires a relationship of love and obedience, that is our worship, then we, the humans, must be rescued from the darkness we live in, or rescued from our sin. Because darkness and light don’t mix.
Let me continue.
To this end, their privilege is to embrace a saving knowledge of God, who is LIGHT.
Sin. John says, in verse 8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Brothers and sisters, let me remind us of something that I think most of us already know. But if you didn’t know, here it is.
We are all sinners.
Back in the late 70’s, Dr. Pepper ran an ad campaign with a little jingle that went like this...
The chorus goes like this...
Oh I'm a pepper
He's a pepper
She's a pepper
We're a pepper
Wouldn't you like to be a pepper too!
Anyone remember that little ditty? We could rewrite it…
Oh, I’m a sinner
He’s a sinner
She’s a sinner
We’re ALL sinners
Sinning is just something that we do!
It’s true, we’re all sinners. Every single one of us.
But, John continues, in verse 9.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So, we have sin. Great. Awesome.
But, we also have forgiveness. And, that's awesomer!
John begins this next part of his letter...
1. My 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. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
So, he says, Hey, my hope is, now that you know that Jesus died on the cross for you and that you are called to live as Jesus lived, you will embrace this new life and live it as you ought, sin-free.
We could look at it like this. In John’s mind, if you profess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you are moving away from unbelief and closer to belief.
At the same time, John’s theology also leads us from disobedience and the lack of good works to obedience and the presence of good works.
In other words, if you say you are a Christian, then your life must reflect a lifestyle that is growing inward in belief and upward in obedience. Thus, friends, live a life that is in the LIGHT.
Good thing we’re killing it, right?
No. John knows that this life is a journey with ups and downs. And sometimes we get it right, but in many cases, we get it wrong. That’s why he gives us the hope.
We have an advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous. He is the Propitiation for our sins.
Now, if you’re reading the NIV, your translation of John’s words are a little different. The NIV has it…
“…we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (NIV)
But I like ESV because I like to say PROPITIATION. It’s fun to say. PROPITIATION. Come on, try it. PROPITIATION. PROPITIATION.
Plus it makes me feel smart when I use big theological words like PROPITIATION and THEOLOGICAL.
We have an advocate; paraklētos, referring to a “helper,” such as an attorney in a legal matter.
Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2269). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
John says that Jesus acts as our defense lawyer. There is the prosecution, launching accusations of wrong doing against us, and there’s the defense, arguing on our behalf, defending us, and in the court of God, that’s Jesus.
So the question is, how does Jesus become our advocate?
That's the question we will answer tomorrow!
Jay Higham is a veteran youth worker of over 28 years; having worked with students in the local church and Christian camping settings. Jay is currently serving as the student ministry director at a church, located in Western PA. Jay has been married to Amy for over 23 years. Together, they are raising 5 kids, (4 boys and 1 girl). Jay is an aspiring author, blogger, speaker, vlogger, and social media junkie. He is passionate about student ministry, family ministry, and training youth workers to love and serve their students with passion and excellence.