Many of us have experienced, one way or another, some sort of abandonment in our lives. We have been in situations, been around people and things just take a surprising turn. It is like that surprising scene in a movie, we don’t want to live out.
From those experiences we can get apprehensive and we can get guarded. We don’t open up all our gates, because we have been hurt before. For many of us, the wounds are deep. We have created walls and motes to keep the others out, regardless of their intentions; we can’t take any chances.
Many times this is the same approach people take with their relationship with God. Other ideas for a better life have come and fizzled out. They had good hopes at first, but things just seemed to happen and we ended up looking for another option. For many of us, that is how we bumped into Jesus. Things weren’t working in our life and someone introduced us to another life option, and here we are.
The good thing about a relationship with God, is that he is all truthful, and his promises are everlasting. One of His greatest promises and commitments to us
“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” – Hebrews 13:5 NLT
As we journey into the next chapter of the Epistles of John, we hit chapter 2 and find an announcement that we have an “Advocate”.
Christ Our Advocate
1My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. – 1 John 2:1-2 NLT
Many times the term “advocate” is referenced as a lawyer. More generally the word denotes one who acts in another’s behalf as a mediator, an intercessor, or a comforter. In this chapter Christ is called a “Paraclete”, as he represents people to God. This function is similar to his ministry as high priest, as outlined in Hebrews chapter 7.
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. 26For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. – Hebrews 7:25-26 ESV
It is clear that Jesus is interceding for us, after what he has done for us, but be must also remember, in the end, Jesus is the one that Judges. He is sort of like a bail bonds man. He had covered our costs and freed us. He pleads with the authority, God, on our behalf, representing us, as well has declaring He will be with us and work with us. He does not have to pay any more for our debt. It has been paid once and for all.
Do you sometimes forget that Jesus is interceding for you? What gets your thinking off track? What gets you back into clear understanding? What can and do you do to stay rooted in this truth?
For all the world
One of the things that is sometimes difficult is seeing, believing and treating others with the grace that has been given to us. We know most of the sins we have committed, and we can relate to how much it cost for Jesus to forgive us of our wrongs; the hard times are when someone else is just acting heinous. Either towards us, or others. We get defensive; we get judgmental. It almost does not seem right when we see someone else doing evil and we are reminded that Jesus died for that person and their sins.
Even though they might not even believe or confess Jesus as their Lord. Jesus has died for what they have done, and will do. Even before they confess. Just like us.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8 NIV
Do you find it difficult to remember that others may not be saved yet? Or that proclaiming individuals may not be right with the Lord? Or that one may be at risk at falling away?
What are some of the things you look for in people’s behavior or character that leads you to believe that they are Christians? Or what are some things that make you question or believe that one is not a follower of Christ?
3And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. 4If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. 5But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. 6Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.– 1 John 2:1-6 NLT
Why do people disobey orders?
Most of the time people quickly measure the ability to follow orders. There is a quick cost evaluated and people make the decision to obey based on a couple quick judgements.
Is the effort required reasonable for the benefit expected. Or put another way, can we spend our effort in better ways for our own good? We all weigh the consequences when we are faced with challenges (temptations). Our flesh wants to quickly evaluate with ideas of what will make us happier. In our sinful nature, we believe that we love ourself better than God does. The whole concept of “we deserve it”, is just an inpatient response to not getting what we want in a timely fashion.
Can you recall a time when you were impatient in receiving love?
A truthful reality is that we can’t be happier by disobeying God, because He is for us. When we reject his guidance, no, not yet, we are saying that He is really not for us. He is holding out on us.
Some times we even get the concept that God does not understand what we really want, or that He does not know what we need. Like He is out of touch with us. Like we need to show Him or inform Him what would please us; as if He does not know our heart, or our motivations.
A New Commandment
7Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. 8Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.
9If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. 10Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. 11But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.
12I am writing to you who are God’s children
because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.
13I am writing to you who are mature in the faith
because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
I am writing to you who are young in the faith
because you have won your battle with the evil one.
14I have written to you who are God’s children
because you know the Father.
I have written to you who are mature in the faith
because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
I have written to you who are young in the faith
because you are strong.
God’s word lives in your hearts,
and you have won your battle with the evil one.
John is getting back to the point of the interactions with this group of individuals. There is some contention going on with their group. It is clear in the first epistle that there are some divisions happening in the local church. There are many, many direct references:
If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. – 1 John 1:6 NIV
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. – 1 John 1:8 NIV
If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:10 ESV
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, – 1 John 2:4 ESV
whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked – 1 John 2:6 ESV
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. – 1 John 2:9 ESV
If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? – 1 John 4:20 NLT
Hypocrites, claiming to have fellowship with Christ (1J1:6); claiming to be perfect, without sin (1J1:8); claiming we have not sinned (1J1:10); claiming to know Christ, but not following Him (1J2:4); claiming to abides in Christ, but does not walk in the same way as Christ did (1J2:6); actually hates another Christian (1J2:9 & 1J4:20);
Do you find any of these Christian “expectations” new or surprising? Are their any that can be easily overlooked or forgotten?
Do you struggle in any of these areas? Do you have any reasoning or ideas why these are more difficult than others?
Do Not Love This World
15Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
How can loving God’s creation actually indicate that we do not have the His love in us?
John continues on in this next section identifying the problem that needs some attention. He assures his audience that the apostolic view of Christ which they inherited is correct while the deceptive view of the secessionists is false (v.26). This section is what he uses a a true test of “fellowship”.
Warning about Antichrists
18Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come. 19These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.
20But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth. 21So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies. 22And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist. 23Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father, either. But anyone who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. 25And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.
26I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. 27But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.
The antichrist that John is referring to in this section are the ones that have withdrawn from community. He identifies them as antichrist because they are spreading false teaching; not of Christ. Also known as anyone opposed to Jesus.
If we know the truth and we abide in the teachings of Jesus, we have fellowship with Jesus and with God, as well as the Holy Spirit. When we abide we have the fellowship to enjoy eternal life that God promised. (v25).
What would be the motivation of someone wanting to lead you astray? Or away from Jesus teaching? Has this happened? Or have you been engaged with such people?
Living as Children of God
28And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.
29Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.
One of the biggest challenges we have in this life is living out what is truthful. We can be in the truth and walking out the truth, but the lies come chiming in and we get inundated with the talk of the opposition. We begin to doubt, question and despair can ease in. We can be like the little adopted child that is sad, even through they are rescued into a wonderful home and family, yet expecting the worst. We can be prisoners to our own self-talk. Let be wise and know that we are free, and no longer prisoners.
We know the truth, and the truth has set us free. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!
This week walk through life knowing who you are, whose you are and that there has been a change in your life, in your destiny and that it is precious and that we must be alert and aware of the antichrist and realize that our choices have consequences, but we do have a Paraclete that we can turn to at any time.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.