1 John 2:12-14
I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.…
"For His name's sake!" These petitions which occur frequently in the Book of Psalms have been granted to the very letter. "For Thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy name. Deliver us, purge away our sins, for Thy name's sake." You must be aware that the expression "the name of the Lord" is used frequently in Scripture to denote, generally, His nature and attributes. Indeed, "the name of the Lord" is put virtually for God Himself; so that what is said to be done for the sake of His name might be regarded as done for His own sake by God. And you will find that when employed as a motive or reason, there is a prevalence in God's name which is assigned to no other plea.
I. You cannot mark more distinctly THE ALTERATION WROUGHT BY CHRIST ON HUMAN CONDITION than by representing Him as placing us in such a position that we can ask God for His own sake to pardon iniquity. It is true that prayer, from its very nature, must correspond to the dictates of the Divine attributes, or the demands of the Divine glory; in other words, what our necessities impel us to ask, must be just what God, in compliance with His own properties, can be ready to bestow; else there is no hope of the acceptance of our petitions; but that this should be possible in respect of the forgiveness of sin is a marvel which overwhelms us, even when familiar with the scheme of redemption. The glorious, the stupendous thing in this scheme is, that it consulted equally for God and man; that it made the Divine honour as much interested as human necessity in the granting of pardon to all who would accept. Justice itself, holiness itself — these not only permit our pardon, they demand our glorification. In short, we can not only ask God to forgive in the hope that His compassion may incline Him to show favour, we can take the bold and unassailable ground of asking Him to forgive "for His name's sake." When the Psalmist asked for forgiveness, he asked it for the sake of God's name. Indeed, the Psalmist was not privileged to "see the things which we see, or to hear the things which we hear." He may not have been allowed to discern the exact process; but, in common with other patriarchs and saints under the old dispensation, he had reached a firm assurance that God stood pledged to provide a ransom; that, therefore, the Divine honour was indissolubly bound up with the pardon of sin. And this sufficed. But if David, living only in the twilight of revelation, taught only through the mysteriousness of prophecy and type — if he believed that pardon might be asked for the sake of God's name, shall not we acknowledge the fact — we, "before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth Crucified amongst us" — we, who know that "God hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" — we, who are taught that "all the promises of God are yea in Christ, and in Him amen"?
II. Consider more particularly THE COMFORT DERIVABLE FROM THIS GREAT TRUTH, that it is "for His name's sake" that God forgives sin. And we may here say, that since God forgives sin for His own sake, there is no room whatever for fear that our sins are too great to be pardoned. We may even go so far as to declare, that if it be always for the sake of His own name that God acts when pardoning iniquity, then the greater the iniquity the greater the reason why He should forgive. David would seem to have felt this when he prayed — "For Thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great." Human sinfulness has been turned into the widest field for the display of Divinity, so that on the arena of this ruined creation there may be such a manifestation of all that is majestic in Godhead as should serve to make it a theatre of instruction to the highest order of being. And we cannot hesitate to maintain that it is the greatness of moral evil which has made His interference so honourable to the Almighty. It was a case, if we dare use the expression, worthy the succours of the Godhead. When a Manasseh, who had sinned beyond all that went before, is forgiven, and Paul, who had thirsted for the "blood of the saints," is reconciled unto God, we feel that every attribute which pardon glorifies must be glorified in the highest possible degree. If He was glorified in stilling the tempest, He must be most glorious when that tempest is fiercest. And though when the transgressor remembers that his sins have been numerous and heinous, or that his iniquity has been specially flagrant, if he had to ask forgiveness for his own sake, he might well be discouraged, yet when he calls to mind that if God forgives at all, He must forgive "for His name's sake," it should not be the greatness of his sin which can withhold him from prayer. The bitter impiety of the reckless is not more offensive to our Maker than the suspicion that He is unwilling to receive back the prodigal. Such suspicion throws doubt upon the truth of His Word; and what can be imagined more derogatory to the honour of God? You are expressly told that God "willeth not the death of a sinner," but rather that all would repent and live. Is this true? God saith it. Will you deny it? Will you falsify it? Yet you do if you fear to come to Him, because you know, because you feel that your transgressions are great, that your offences are multiplied. Whom did Christ die for? The guilty. Whom does He intercede for? The guilty. "The name of the Lord," saith Solomon, "is a strong tower." If so, why should we not "flee to it and be safe," forasmuch as to "little children" an apostle could say, "Your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake"?
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.