1 John 2:1-6
My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father…
The connection between chapters 1 and 2 seems to be this: I have taught you something of the nature and universality of sin, and of the deceivers who say they have no sin, but you are not to understand me as teaching that sin is an element of our being, or attached to us by any absolute necessity, or infused into us by the will or authority of the Deity, or of such might that resistance is vain; on the contrary, the main object of my epistle is, "That ye sin not." Ye are not to yield to sin, but to resist it to the uttermost.
I. THE CHILDREN AND THE ADVOCATE.
1. The word τεκνία, "little children," is a diminutive from τέκνον, and we, having no principle in our language for forming diminutives, or perhaps having lost it, must translate by the two words "little children." The Latins say "Filioli," the Germans "Kindlein," the Italians "Filioletti." The French are as poor as ourselves in this respect, and must say "Mes petits enfans." Such forms of expression in all languages denote endearment and affection. All the most valuable articles in nature are small — the iron, the lead, the silver, the gold, the diamonds of the mine, are all diminutives compared with the rocks, the mountains, and the strata of the globe. It is so in grace also, for the Church of the Son of God, though forming an innumerable company in the heavenly Jerusalem, yet, when compared with the millions of mankind who live and die in their sins, are "a little flock" (Luke 12:32), but in them and with them are found all the riches of Jehovah's mercy, all the wondrous manifestations of His love, all the glories of the eternal kingdom.
(1) The name, therefore, refers to the believer as an object of special and tender care. Ye are the children of my warmest love over whom I rejoice continually. Ye are separated from the world, but ye are of more value in the sight of God than the great world with its vanities, which are all destined to perish.
(2) The purpose of my writing you is, that ye sin not. Ye are not the slaves of sin any more, but the freemen of the Lord Jesus.
(3) I take "these things" to refer generally to the substance of the whole Epistle, but mere especially to the first chapter; and hence we may learn what, in the mind of the apostle, are the best preventatives against sin. The preventatives are not in us, but in God.
2. Jesus, the "Advocate," is now brought before the mind of the children of God as the one all-sufficient fountain of forgiveness for the transgressions of mankind.
II. JESUS THE PROPITIATION.
1. Then it is a fact that the eternal mercy has reached, us in the person of our adorable Redeemer, and that in the shedding of His blood we have the means and the seal of peace with God.
2. But it is asserted that He is the propitiation for "our" sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
(1) In the fullest, freest, and most admirable manner He has removed every barrier between us and God, and expiated forever all our sins.
(2) His love, His Cross, His religion, is not for one age, but for all ages, not for one nation or country, but for the whole world, and the promises of God give us assurance beforehand of its final triumph.
III. THE KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD.
1. There is but one way of knowing with certainty that we have known God, and that is by keeping His commandments. The knowledge which does not lead to holiness is not the knowledge of God.
2. There are two great centres in the moral universe around which the events, characters, histories, and destinies of the species gather, the true one and the false one, Christ and Satan, the author of all truth and the father of lies. The "lie" is the black bond which unites us to the prince of darkness, and "truth" is the golden chain which binds us to our Head and Master in heaven. The truth signifies in the New Testament the Christian religion — the genuine faith and practice of the gospel (John 1:14, 17; John 8:32, 40, 45, 46; John 16:13; John 17:17; John 18:37; Romans 1:8).
IV. KEEPING GOD'S WORD.
1. The only way to arrive at perfection is by keeping the Word of God.
(1) Love begins in the circle of the heart, and flows forth upon its objects in proportion to its fervour and strength. We cannot, therefore, even pretend to love God if He is not frequently the object of our thoughts, if He does not occupy a conspicuous place in our hearts.
(2) Love is a strong passion. Its existence is easily traced by the joy which it gives, by the difficulties it surmounts, by the trials which it endures, and by the deeds which it accomplishes. Love should increase and strengthen by every fresh discovery of the beauty and excellence of its object.
(3) How can we best increase this love to God? The answer is suggested in our text, namely, by "keeping the Word of God." The Bible is the directory of the saints, and holiness consists in obedience to its commands.
V. THE BELIEVER'S COMMUNION WITH CHRIST AND WALK IN HIM.
Parallel VersesKJV: My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: