1 John 2:1-11
The Cleansing and Healing Power of the Gospel
I want to go back to yesterday’s reading – the last few verses – because they really go with the first few verses of chapter two. In these verses, John speaks of forgiveness. Indeed, it is the blessing of forgiveness that our Lord made real on the cross by taking our sins upon himself. God made a wonderful exchange: His Son’s righteousness for our sinfulness. The Son bore God’s wrath, which was rightfully deserved by us. So the Father is now “propitious” towards us, because of His Son’s sacrifice. We do not have to beg God to love us or be well disposed towards us. This has been settled once and for all on the cross by the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf, and to doubt that is to doubt the saving effect of the Son’s work.
But John would have us also know that there is no such thing as cheap grace. For starters, we must confess our sins. They will be forgiven, but they must be confessed. If we say we have no sin, then the truth is not in us. John speaks of walking in the light, by which he means two things: keeping God’s commandments and loving one another. Indeed, “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” (1:7). In other words, walking in the light with Jesus blesses our fellowship and is thereby rendered a cleansing experience in its own right.
It is this walking in the light that is the proof of our profession: “We know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” If we will truly know the forgiveness of sins and the peace of conscience that such forgiveness affords, we must walk with him. And it is walking with him that further grants us this peace, for the closer we are to him, the more he cleanses us. And of course, the farther away we are from him, the dirtier we are, and the more turmoil we experience in our souls.
John goes on to tell us that this commandment is really the old commandment – that we should love one another. But it is really a new commandment, too – a new commandment in Christ Jesus. Why? Because the darkness is passing away, just as Paul said: “This world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31). And as we love one another, we abide in the light and do not stumble. Which leads me to ask, if we are having trouble in our walk with God – stumbling, that is – are we loving our brothers as we should?