1 John 2:2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Not only is Jesus our Advocate in Heaven who works on our behalf, He is also the sacrifice that cleanses us and satisfies God’s just wrath, making possible a relationship with Him in the first place.
Because God is a holy God, His anger and justice burns against sin. People destroy other people’s lives and their own lives by sin. God is right to be angry about that! He has sworn that sin will be punished. The soul who sins will die. Ezekiel 18:4b, and Romans 6:23a The wages of sin is death.
But God knows that if He gave man justice, then all mankind would die and go to hell. On the other hand, if God didn’t punish man for his sin, His justice wouldn’t be satisfied. The solution: He Himself is the atoning sacrifice, the substitute for the death that we owed. He would take the sin of mankind upon Himself. Jesus is not just “the propitiator”, the one who makes the atoning sacrifice, but also the “propitiation.” Jesus Himself, as the sacrifice is what satisfies the justice of God.
Is The Propitiation For Our Sins
So, what does it mean that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins? Propitiation means “averting the wrath of God by the offering of a gift.” Or an offering to appease or satisfy an offended person. In the Bible, propitiation is not something that we provide to God to get right with him again; it is something that God provides to us that we may be justly and mercifully forgiven and accepted, and he does this at his own expense through the loving gift of his Son, Jesus Christ. Christ’s death is the means for his saving purposes to be the propitiation we need in order to be reconciled to God. In other words, what God requires, God himself provides in Christ.
We see all of this foreshadowed in the Old Testament covenant ceremonies and in the sacrificial system. God explains: “I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life” (Lev 17:11). That is, God—knowing that his people would sin and break his law—in love and grace provided blood sacrifice in order to turn away his just judgment from falling on them, assure his continued fellowship with them, and cover their sin in his sight. The Hebrew term “kapporet” (Greek: “hilastērion”) has been translated as “mercy seat;” and it describes the “means of propitiation” or “place of propitiation”. The “place of propitiation” was the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, a slab of pure gold. This was a picture of the throne of God, and it’s where God was present when He communicated with Moses. Jesus’ sacrifice was symbolically seen to have elements of the Day of Atonement in the process of restoring a relationship with God. Just like the blood of the sacrificed unblemished goat was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, Jesus provided the blood for the place of propitiation (Rom 3:25; Heb 9:12-14). Just like the Mercy Seat received the blood to appease God, Jesus was the place of propitiation (1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). Just like the High Priest who alone enters the Holy of Holies and the presence of God with the blood of the goat he sacrificed, Jesus became the High Priest and mediator of the New Covenant (Heb 9:15, 24-26). Jesus is the High Priest who provides His own blood for the expiation of sins of human beings. In Jesus Christ the Mosaic Law was truly fulfilled.
1 John 4:10–“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation (hilasmon) for our sins.” Here John, makes it clear that God in love provides his Son as the propitiation we need. God takes the initiative toward us in love—even though we have betrayed him and rebelled against him—and provides for us precisely the propitiation we need. God’s love for us is supremely manifested in the cross Christ as Jesus provides propitiation. In response, we ought to love one another in in this kind of costly, self-giving way.
And Not for Our Sins Only, Bur for the Sins of the Whole World
And not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” John wants us to understand that it’s our personal sin that Jesus has made propitiation for. But he also wants us to know that all believers have this in common. Believers have this shared experience of forgiveness together. And he also wants us to know that Jesus’ propitiatory work is not limited just to believers. When Jesus gave His perfectly sinless life to satisfy the just wrath of our righteous and holy God, it was sufficient to provide forgiveness for the whole world John 3:16 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. There is enough effect in the Blood of Jesus that all of humanity could be saved, if they would only come to God through faith in Jesus. But, Jesus’ dying for their sins does not remove them from the unrepentant heart—they must choose to do this themselves—God will not force them, because they have free will.
What Does Christ’s Atonement Mean to My Daily Life?
Saved to Walk in the Spirit in Newness of Life
So, how does God’s atonement help me in my daily life? Our sins have been paid for, that we are justified in Christ, and that we stand before Him guiltless. We don’t have to live our Christian life as though God’s acceptance of us is based on performance. We don’t have to live under the weight of the guilt of sin on a daily basis because my guilt has been taken away because of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross! We live a life where we are continually pursuing obedience, and when we sin, repenting confessing to God. But it’s not to get re-saved, or to keep God’s wrath from me. It’s obedience as a joyful response, an expression of love for what God has done by sending Jesus to die for us on the cross.
Saved to Heal and Forgive
Our relationships are changed too. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to rightly relate to one another. In the Lord’s Prayer, we are told to petition God for the forgiveness of our sins and to forgive others who have sinned against us (Matt. 6:12). We can’t possibly forgive everyone in the way that God wants us to without help from the Holy Spirit. And this is made possible by Christ’s atoning work on the cross. There’s this relationship between God’s forgiveness of our sin and our forgiveness of others.
Saved to Serve
And lastly, we must remember that we are saved to Serve God. 9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was granted to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 2 Timothy 1:9) You were saved to serve God. God redeemed you so you could do his “holy work.” You’re not saved by service, but you are saved for service. In God’s Kingdom, you have a place, a purpose, a role, and a function to fulfill. This gives your life great significance and value. It cost Jesus his own life to purchase your salvation. The Bible reminds us, 20 For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:20. We don’t serve God out of guilt or fear or even duty but out of joy and deep gratitude for what he’s done for us. Rom 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, [a]acceptable to God, which is your [b]spiritual service of worship.
2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you
In this verse, John reveals another of his purposes in writing this epistle. He doesn’t want us to sin. Even though he has already reminded them that they are sinful and do continue to sin, and have sin that is in need of confession, he hasn’t said these things so that Christians should just dismiss sin as normal, and o.k. and ignore the issue, but instead to make sure that they are aware of it’s evil effect on their Christian life, their walk with Christ, so that they will be on their guard against sin.
John emphasizes his own personal relationship with them as their spiritual father. The Greek here is Teknia, the diminutive of Teknion, which is why John’s using it here. It’s a term of endearment, saying “my little children”.
you so that you may not sin
He’s letting us know that he’s writing “these things” that he’s just finished telling us in Chapter 1, and especially in verses 8-10, because he does not want us to deceive ourselves about what he has written. He wants to make sure that we understand that what he has said about confessing sin instead of denying it was to encourage us to avoid sin, and does not justify a careless, passive, or inattentive attitude toward our walk with Christ. Sin is serious, and he’s making sure that we understand this before he discusses our forgiveness and cleansing in Christ. See also Paul addressing the issue in Romans (6:1-5, etc.)
However, if anyone does sin
When John says “if anyone sins,” he’s not giving permission to sin, or saying that sinning is o.k., or to be taken lightly. What he’s saying is that, although we have the power through the indwelling Holy Spirit not to sin, if we sin, although it is serious, we’re not just written off! In the eventual event that a person does happen to sin there is provision.
we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
John includes himself among those who benefit from this wonderful ministry of Jesus Christ. We have an advocate in the presence of the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. The term “Advocate” describes the intercessory work of Jesus on our behalf. An advocate is a person who comes to our aid or pleads our case to a judge. Advocates offer support, strength, and counsel and intercede for us when necessary. The Bible says that Jesus is an Advocate for those who’ve put their trust in Him. As believers we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”.
The Holy Spirit, our Indwelling Advocate
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our Advocate (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). In John 14:16-17 we read John 14:16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; 17 the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. So, we see that the Holy Spirit is given by God to indwell us, and in order to us understand the Word of God, help the apostles understand His word, and to not sin. Jesus has requested that God the Father send the Holy Spirit as an advocate on our end of the anchor line of our life, tied to Jesus in heaven. Jesus arranged for us to have a “counsellor” within us all the time. And the Holy Spirit works within us, even assisting our prayers, so that we pray for what we ought to. on the other hand, does assist our prayers Romans 8:26 26 Now in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; So, the Holy Spirit makes sure that communications are clear and appropriate on our end, helping us to express prayers that are in line with God’s Will, so that Jesus can advocate for us.
Jesus’ role on the other end of that line, in heaven is our advocate, we could say lawyer. God’s righteous law pronounces us guilty on all counts. We have violated God’s standards, rejected His right to rule our lives, and continued to sin even after coming to a knowledge of the truth. The only just punishment for such wickedness is an eternity in hell. But Jesus stands as the Advocate between our repentant hearts and the law, if His blood has been applied to our lives through faith and confession of Him as Lord and savior. He pleads our case with the Righteous Judge. Our Advocate stands before the Judge, and together they agree that, because we are “in Christ,” no further punishment is necessary. Jesus has already made sufficient payment to redeem us. That’s why Hebrews 9:28 says 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
Another aspect that makes Jesus our compassionate Advocate is the fact that He has experienced life in this world, too. He has been tempted, rejected, overlooked, misunderstood, and abused. Heb 4:15 says For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. (see also John 8:29).
Example of Peter’s Sin in Denying Christ
Where do we see Jesus actually doing this? Luke 22:32 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to sift you men like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail; and you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Notice that Jesus didn’t save Simon Peter from the testing. Satan did indeed sift him like wheat, on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, causing him to deny Jesus three times, just as Jesus had prophesied would happen. Jesus’ advocacy for Peter was that his faith would not fail completely, that he would not become an apostate, but that he would return.
John 21:15-19 : Just as Peter had denied Him three times, Jesus asks Peter to confirm his Love for Him three times. Just has Peter had betrayed his call to tend to baby Christians, helping them grow in faith, to pastor and guide believers into a correct understanding of Jesus, and to shepherd them along the way, Jesus reaffirms this call in Peters life three times. This is restoration after repentance.
We must trust in Jesus. He is the One pleading our case on the basis of His accomplished work on the cross, just like He prayed for Peter in Luke 22 and just as Hebrews describes Him, as our High Priest intercessor.
John is warning us against an attitude toward sin that any believer, including him, could fall into and thereby do harm to their fellowship with God. This is the kind of claim that might be made by one who admits to a sin nature, but sees it as no longer affecting them. This person claims that there remains nothing to confess.
we make Him a liar
When we come to Christ by faith and trust Him to forgive and cleanse us of all our sin, we are in that moment born again, according to John 3:3, and this new birth of the spirit results in a new creation according to 2 Corinthians 5:17. But, we still live in the flesh, and the flesh cannot be regenerated, only put to death, crucified, because all it does is wants what it wants (Romans 7:21–25). Battles with temptation are won or lost based upon how fully we are surrendered to the control of the Holy Spirit Galatians 5:16–17 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the desire of the flesh is against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, in order to keep you from doing whatever you want.
The book of 1 John was written to Christians. Since 1 John 1:8-9 says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Then it’s clear that even those who have been born again, and redeemed by the blood of Jesus will still sin.
But a sinful lifestyle is an indicator of self-deception regarding salvation. Later in 1st John 3:6, we’re going to read “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” Verse 9 says that those who have been “born of God” will not continue to live sinfully. A sinful lifestyle is incompatible with the New Life in Christ. Overcoming sin is not a matter of trying harder, but rather surrendering more to the Holy Spirit, and letting Him lead, and overcome through us!
If we were to claim that we are now sinless in the sense that we’ve reached perfection, have no struggle with the flesh, and are incapable of committing sin, then we would be calling God a liar. It’s one thing to be self-deceived, but it’s another thing to say that God, who cannot be deceived, is dishonest about our spiritual condition, falsely accusing us of sin. That’s a big deal. That is unbelief. Remember that faith is all about believing that God is who He says that He is, and that He can be trusted, and taken at His Word. We see many examples of the swift consequences of disbelief that God is Who He says that He is. In John 5:18 when the Jewish leadership are accusing him of sin because He healed the man who had been ill for 38 years at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath. Look at the result of unbelief in the hearts of the Pharisees in verse 18: 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. So, although the Truth was revealed to them, their unbelief caused Truth to produce hatred in their hearts toward God. We see this in John 8:45-47 45 But because I say the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 The one who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” The self-righteous, who tend to think that they already have the inside track. The religious leaders of Jesus time are so blind to the truth, that they continually accuse Jesus: see John 8:48-59, Look at the judgement of unbelief: Jesus often meets unbelief with an even harder truth to accept about Himself. (see John 8:51-53, etc.). And He just kept giving them hard teachings, filled with greater Truth, saying in verse 56: 56 Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day, and he saw it and rejoiced.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” With that statement, saying not only that he was before Abraham, but that He is the I AM. Why is this so significant to our study today? Because the same Jesus who these Jewish leaders are making all these false accusations of is letting them know in no uncertain terms that He is God. So we can see the effect of this self-righteous delusion, and this desire to glorify ourselves, and lead ourselves to destruction. They had come to the point that they wouldn’t recognize God when He was standing before them, but instead chose to fully commit themselves to their religious self-righteousness, then Jesus left them in their sins. It’s not a place that anyone should want to be. This denial of the character of God is serious. When a person gets to the point of completely impugning the Character of God, and rejecting His Goodness and Righteousness in favor of their own, they are on much more dangerous ground.
and His word is not in us.
God’s Word is not impacting the person’s life. They are ignoring God’s Word, and refusing to let it influence them in their conduct of life. John literally says that God’s Word is not in us. So, he’s saying that God’s Word is not abiding in the person who denies sin. But the necessity of abiding, was taught by Jesus said in John 15:4 4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself but must remain in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. Abiding in Jesus means that we have a desire to know Him better and to get closer to Him in relationship, and to allow His presence and His Word to influence us. The believer who denies a need to confess sins is not thinking truthfully, and is drifting farther form the truth in their self-deception, and missing out on the cleansing power of God’s Word. Ephesians 5:26 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, This puts them in danger of drifting so far that they begin to doubt God’s character.
When we come to God and admit to our guilt for specific sins, He promises to forgive them. We know they are forgiven on the basis of Jesus’ shed blood—His finished work on the cross. And by agreeing with God that sin is sin, and that we have sinned, there is a change made in our heart. And it’s this repentance of sin, based on a desire to remain in close relationship with Him, and get closer to him that conforms us more into His image, and this cooperation with the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in us that makes all the difference in our hearts. So, agree with God that your sins are sins. Then repent of the sin, turning away from it, and turning toward God to follow Him in the light, just as He is in the light. Then confess to God, asking for forgiveness, knowing that you already have it in Christ, and can trust God to forgive you, and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. And by continuing to do this, you won’t have to worry about coming to the place where you are beginning to doubt God’s Word, or lose faith in His Character. You will stay in good relationship with Him, and enjoy all of the Joy and Peace Love that living in God’s Truth brings us.