1 John begins with the apostle John affirming that he and the other apostles had indeed seen, heard and even touched Jesus when he walked the earth. This first-hand witness proclaimed what he had experienced so that others could have fellowship with Jesus also.
John goes on to urge his readers to walk in the light rather than in the darkness. Those who live in sin do not live in the truth. But if we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.
This doesn’t mean that we can be perfect. As 1:8-10 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
Some people have mistakenly believed that God’s grace is essentially a license to sin. “If our sins are forgiven”, they might say, “then we must be able to live any way we choose.” Paul the apostle often had to deal with this dangerously wrong mindset in his letters. In Rom.6:1-2 he writes, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!…”
So that no one would seek to cheapen God’s grace in such a way, John continues in 1 John 2:1-2, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Rather than use God’s amazing grace as a license to sin, we should strive to live holy lives. Christians aren’t sinless, but we should sin less and less as we mature in our faith. However, when we do sin, the blood of Jesus is our atoning sacrifice, and he is our advocate before God.
You might picture this as a criminal trial. One day you will stand before God to answer for your sins. Satan will be the prosecuting attorney, accusing you of every single thing you have ever done wrong. However, Jesus is our defense attorney. He not only defends us before God, Jesus has already paid the price for our sins by dying a sacrificial death on the cross. The following poem might correctly describe this event as it plays out on Judgment Day:
“I hear the accuser roar
Of sins that I have done.
I know them well, and thousands more
Jehovah findeth none.
Still the restless foe accuses
Sins recounting like a flood.
Every charge our God refuses!
Christ has answered with his blood!”—Unknown author