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1 John 2:1 – Our Brother in Heaven


Our Brother in Heaven

Text  1st John 2:1  

Do you see the tenderness in John’s voice here?  He addresses the readers (and us!) as ‘My little children.’  John was in nature a very tender hearted man.  He loved The Lord and was one of His closest companions.  In his Gospel, John reminds us of his close friendship with Jesus, John 13:23  He’s not being egotistical, he’s just reminding us that he’s someone who has experienced the wonderful love of Jesus, and he wants these believers to walk in fellowship with The Lord, and with the church and his motivation is sheer love.

 1. The Christian’s Aimthese things write I unto you, that ye sin not

At first glance, it seems that Christians are in an impossible position here.  We have been told in chapter one that we are sinners, and that we commit sin, and that it is pointless to deny it, for there are drastic consequences if we do.  We have been told that we must openly and willingly admit that we are sinners before almighty God, and repent, and then we will have the promise of absolute and complete forgiveness in Christ.  But now we are told: DO NOT SIN!  Not much help there from John then, is there?  He seems to be telling us to do something that he has just admitted is impossible to do!

John’s Concern for the Church.  To grasp John’s intent here, we need to remember that John is worried about the influence of early Gnostics on the church – these people who claimed to have some ‘special knowledge’ that ordinary Christians don’t have,  Some of them believed that you could sin with impunity – because they had risen above earthly things, and what happened in their flesh no longer mattered – only the condition of their spirit/soul was important.  – and after all, sure we can confess it, and receive forgiveness anyway…   

Modern Christians sometimes have this attitude too.  At a church there was a practice that one of the women was keen on, and which was totally unbiblical.  I asked one of the Deacons why the people would decide to do something that was unpleasing to God, something that would offend a holy God.  He thought about that for just a moment.  “Because God will forgive them.  Mrs P won’t.”

True Christians won’t deliberately set out to sin.  They have new natures, they recognise sin more acutely than the unregenerate, they mourn over it, they worry about it, they repent of it.   The Christian AIMS NOT TO SIN!   2 Tim 3:16  If we aim for perfection and fall short, at least our aim has been characterised by integrity and faithfulness.

And remember, that to aim for perfection is why we are saved.  Our lives are to glorify God. Romans 8:29 So John sets our aim firmly on Heaven, and the perfection of complete communion with Christ.


2. The Candid AcknowledgementAnd if any man sin

John acknowledges our human problem.  Despite our aim for perfection, we will fall short.  Someone once wrote, Notice here:

The probability of sin.  ‘IF’ anyone sins.  Romans 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.   John is a realist.  We don’t aim to sin, but inevitably we will.  We are human.

The universality of sin. If ‘ANYONE’ sins.  There is no restriction here.  This applies to us all.  Old and young.  Mature and immature, Pastor and people, no elites here, no spiritual giants, no super-Christians, no victorious overcomers, no ‘higher-life’ perfectionists.  The advice John will give is for every believer.  There is no spiritual elite.  We are all included in John’s warning here.

The type of sin.  If anyone ‘SINS.’ – John doesn’t specify what type of sin is involved.  Wee white lies, or murder – sin is sin.  There’s no distinction here between venial sin (which RC’s say can be forgiven) and mortal sin (which they say can not)


3. The Compassionate Advocate. we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

When Christians sin in the flesh, and our hearts are pricked and sore with its sting, and we confess that to God and repent, there is something happening in the courts of heaven, mirroring our confession!  We have an ADVOCATE, who stands before God the Father, and pleads our case, and that One is Christ – whom Luther describes as ‘our brother in heaven.’  See:

The closeness of the Advocate.  The Greek word here is parakletos.  The Paraclete – exactly the same word that John uses in his Gospel, when he speaks about the Holy Spirit, – Jn 14:18   The word Paraclete literally means someone who draws alongside you to defend you and fight your case!

The work of the Advocate.  But an advocate is more than just a comforter.  His defence of you is a legal action as well as a compassionate one.   Rev. 12:10 –   Strange as it seems, the devil has some way of accusing Christians before God, – he did it with Job, and he does it with us.  So, he accuses me, and he does it before God, ‘look at that so-called Christian – what a hypocrite – what a loser – you can’t let him into heaven, he’s just sinned again…  Then Jesus steps forward, our advocate, and He says no, that Christian’s sins are dealt with, for I have paid for them all at the Cross, my stripes paid for his sins.

Why this Advocate, and no other, can do this work.  Because he alone is RIGHTEOUS.  IN fact he is THE righteous – note the definite article.

So, what have we learned in this study?  Christians don’t aim low.  They aim to walk with God, and have fellowship with Him, and the Holy Spirit helps us.  But realistically, we will from time to time slip and fall and out old nature will come to the fore.  When that happens, and we confess our sin and repent we are forgiven, – that’s the man-ward aspect of this ongoing Christian life.  There is a heavenly aspect too, for when we slip and fall and the devil accuses us of failure and derides us for our spiritual weakness, our Brother in Heaven steps forward, comforts us and defends us, as only he can.


Bob McEvoy.

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