Knowing God is Keeping His Commandments
August 21st, 2022

1 John 2:3-4 3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

3 By this we know

A healthy relationship with God depends on obedience to His commands and imitation of Christ.  We’re going to see that one of the greatest proofs that we have of our relationship with God is that we have a desire, and ability to keep His Word in obedience.  Now that we are not under the law, but under grace, so we can look at those commandments and laws and realize that we want to please God.  We want to know Him out of love, out of gratitude for what He has done for us.  Seeking after God and wanting to know Him more means that we want to obey so that nothing comes between us and our closer relationship with Him.  We seek after eternal life with Him and in Him. 

So John describes a test by which we can be assured of fellowship with God, described here as “knowing” Him. Anyone can say that they know God, but how do we know for sure?  This is a practical test of our profession of faith in God, a proof to ourselves that we are saved.  We can by sure!  It’s a claim on salvation, a claim on God, our Heavenly Father through Jesus’ work on the cross validated by the fruit of good works. 

that we have come to know Him

What about this kind of knowing God produces obedience?  Knowing facts about Jesus is not enough.  Just hanging around the right people, or going to church isn’t enough.  This difference is highlighted in John 14:9, responding to Philip’s request to be shown the Father, Jesus says, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?”  Jesus was marveling at Philip’s the lack of understanding.  Since He and Philip had been in relationship as Master and Disciple, Jesus expected Philip to have greater insight.  One of Jesus’ missions was to show who God is through His life—Jesus had come to explain the Father.  In John 1:18  18 No one has seen God at any time; God the only Son, who is in the arms of the Father, He has explained Him.  Jesus had “manifested” Him to His disciples.  Jesus said in John 12:45 45 And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. In  John 17:6 6 “I have revealed Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have followed Your word.”  And so, Jesus expected that Philip would understand that he had no need to see some great revelation of the Father in might and power and glory, since he had enjoyed the experience of knowing God in the flesh personally, by experience.  Jesus was encouraging Philip to live in deeper relationship with God through Him.

In His High priestly Prayer for the Apostles and for the Church, Jesus professes the completion of His mission of allowing them to know God saying in John 17:6-7 6 “I have revealed Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have followed Your word. 7 Now they have come to know that everything which You have given Me is from You;  Jesus prays for them on the basis of their relationship with Him, and their relationship with God!  He doesn’t pray that God will clean up their lives, or get rid of their sin, He prays that they will Know God! 

This word for “knowing” God egnōkamen implies a knowledge gained through experience in the past that had better well be influencing the present!  This is what Jesus had accused Philip of lacking at that time.  Knowing Jesus will necessarily result in a relationship with God.  We have come to know God through relationship with Him, and this experience with God can’t help but change our lives for the better. 

if we keep His commandments.

And so John is letting us know that we can’t know God and keep sinning. (see also Jer 9:6; Hosea 4:1–2)

The disobedient person does not know God. He may know about God, but the true experience of a relationship with God has not sunken in.  See also 1st John 3:9 9 No one who has been born of God practices sin, because His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin continually, because he has been born of God.

John includes himself in the group that must evaluate whether it is in fellowship with God, whether its “knowledge” of God is personal and experiential, or only imagined.  Our relationship with God is affected by obedience to Him. 

Obedience out of Love for God and Trust in Him

So how does this knowledge guarantee obedience? 1 John 4:16 says, “So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love.” Notice how he puts the two words together: We know and trust the love of God. To know the love God has for you is to trust in God Himself.  So when God commands you to do something and you ignore it or go against it, John can only conclude one thing: You don’t believe that God is love. And therefore you don’t know Him. Because if you believed that God is love, then you would believe that all His commandments and instructions were the very best possible thing for you, and you would follow them closely.  As 1 John 5:3 says, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments and his commandments are not burdensome.” If we know and believe the love that God has for us, his commandments will not be burdensome. If you turn away from the commandments of God because you think you will find more happiness in disobedience, then you do not believe that God is love, and you don’t really know Him.

Parable of the Ten Minas in Luke 19:11-27 13 And he called ten of his own slaves and gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business with this money until I come back.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ Notice that these are His citizens, people who claim to know Him that are saying this.  These are the people that He has trusted to do the business of the Kingdom while He is away.  But most of them, in their hearts, don’t want Him as Lord of their lives.  We read 20 And then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept tucked away in a handkerchief; Now, the first thing that we need to know about verse 20 is that when it says “and then another came”, it uses the word heteros, which means “another of a different kind” than the first two servants.  What caused this?  We read in verse 21: 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.’  This man did not operate out of the true knowledge of God!  His relationship with Jesus is based on fear.  How can He really know a God of love, and yet have His relationship with Him be based primarily on fear?  This man disobeyed the direct commandment of God to, as Matthew 5:16 says Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Instead he hid his supposed light, so that not even he realized that something was wrong with his relationship with God, and then, it was only in the judgement that he understood that he didn’t have a real relationship with God. 

4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

And the other side of the coin is that We come to know Him more and more by keeping His Commandments.   We know God through His Word.  A wise person has said of the Bible that The Word will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from The Word.  Disobedience to God habitually, produces liars who are so deceived that they don’t even realize that they have no true relationship with God!  A dangerous place to be!

Jesus is Our Atoning Sacrifice
August 14th, 2022

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.

He Himself

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.

Mercy Seat

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.

1 John 2:1 Christ Is Our Advocate
August 7th, 2022

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.