“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.” (1 John 2:1)
Prior to this verse, John was addressing the fact that Christians should not walk in darkness. It is inconsistent for a follower of Christ to continue on in unrepentant sin. And at the same time, he acknowledges that anyone who says they don’t sin is lying to himself and calling God a liar. So, what’s his point? Why even talk about this?
First of all, look at how he addresses his audience. He calls them, “my little children“. He probably calls them this because he was integral to their conversion and their spiritual growth. He feels as if he’s a father to them. There is an affection, an affinity, and a loving concern implied here. Note, therefore, that he’s addressing Christians here. Then, he gives the reason: “so that you may not sin“. John felt it necessary to say that followers of Christ cannot walk in darkness, because Jesus is the light, and his purpose of solidifying this truth is to encourage his audience to not sin.
Christian, we should not be walking in darkness. If we do, then either we don’t actually know Christ, or we are greatly confused about or have forgotten the gospel. Jesus Christ died on the cross to take on the penalty for our sins, and rather than driving us into more sin, this fact should give us a growing affection for and devotion to Christ and a growing hatred of sin. If your belief in Jesus Christ doesn’t propel you into hungering and thirsting for righteousness, then remind yourself of what Christ has done for you and what He demands of you.
Another thing that strikes me about this verse is the next sentence: “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” We are reminded, that if and when we sin, those sins have already been paid for, for we who trust in Him. Jesus Christ, the only truly righteous One, the One whose righteousness has been credited to our account, is our advocate with the Father. The Father looks at us and sees the worth of His Son in us because of the work on the cross. John’s point? Stop sinning. But if you do sin, remember grace.
As we make war with sin, we must always remember that we are not working for our salvation. For Christians, that salvation has already been earned by Jesus Christ. Obedience, then, is in response to the great love that God has had for us.