1 John 2:1-2 Lord’s Supper October 2. 2016
Sermon Series on I John Sermon # 3 Today: “How Jesus Christ Deals with Your Sins”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.
Can you feel John’s pastoral heart for those he is writing to? “My dear children” indicates his affectionate and tender love for them. John wants them to grow in grace, and desires that they would hate sin and love the Lord. Now John knows that in our flesh we will never be free from acts of sin, yet at the same time, He proclaims the gospel of the risen Christ, who has the power to break the reigning and habitual power of sin in our lives.
Last Sunday we read about taking God seriously, taking sin seriously, and therefore taking the salvation that can only be found in Christ, seriously. Now John proceeds to describe the full provision that God has made for the believer who sins: “But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—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.”
How Jesus Christ deals with your sins:
- Christ is your Advocate with the Father.
2. Christ is the Righteous One.
3. Christ is the Propitiation for your sins, and the sins of the whole world.
- Christ is your Advocate with the Father.
Jesus is our parakletos (Greek); the Latin is advocate. Now it is true that God the Holy Spirit is also our paraclete, so that we have two advocates or two intercessors, but each has a slightly different role. While the Holy Spirit is our comforter, Jesus Christ is the one who comes alongside to help us, as a mediator or intercessor, especially in a court of law. If you have been accused of a crime, you need an attorney to come to your aid by pleading your case before the judge. John writes that “Whereas the Holy Spirit pleads Christ’s cause before a hostile world, Christ pleads our cause against our accuser (Satan; see Rev. 12:10) and He pleads our cause to the Father, who loves and forgives His children.” Jesus is always before the Father. He never takes a vacation or a break. Whenever we need Him (which is always!), He is there, coming to our aid.
Hebrews 7:25 says: “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” John Calvin writes, “The intercession of Christ is a continual application of his death for our salvation.” Because Jesus Christ is perpetually in heaven presenting His shed blood, every person that draws near to God through Christ can know that the accuser has no grounds for conviction. We are guilty as charged, but the penalty has already been paid by our Substitute, who pleads our case for us!
Therefore, is Jesus Christ your advocate, your defense attorney, before the Father? If he isn’t, then you have no one to plead for you, and you are still guilty before God.
2. Christ is the Righteous One.
It should be obvious that only through a righteous savior could sinners be cleansed from all their unrighteousness (1:9) See1 Peter 3:18 “Christ suffered, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God”. Jesus had to be “a lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Pet. 1:19). If He had sinned, He would have had to die for His own sins. But He fully kept God’s law. Therefore His active righteousness was freely imputed to those who trust in Him. As Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This means that Jesus Christ alone is an adequate Savior. He is all that we need to stand before the holy God, not in a righteousness of our own, “derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil. 3:9). We can add nothing to what Christ has done.
So, is Jesus Christ your righteousness? Have you felt the guilt and shame of your own wickedness, and your desperate need of Jesus as your perfect righteousness before God?
3. Christ is the Propitiation for your sins, and for the sins of the whole world.
Allow me to first deal with the phrase, “and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” The scriptures do not teach a universalism, whereby all people are saved automatically through Christ. No. That would render the gospel call to repent and believe unnecessary. Rather, this sentence means that there is no other way of anyone being reconciled to God. What Jesus did on the cross can bring forgiveness to anyone who repents and believes; its offer is good to the ends of the earth, for all time on earth. So God’s grace is far more extensive than we can imagine. Christ’s sacrifice is not just for the Jews; it’s for the entire world!” Anyone, anywhere who trusts in Christ’s sacrifice for his sin will be saved.
First, this defines the scope of Jesus’ propitiation. It was meant to extend to all nations and peoples, not just to the Jews.
Second, it emphasizes the exclusiveness of Jesus as the only possible propitiation. No other sacrifice, no other atonement would suffice for the whole world; only Jesus.
Third, it reminds us of the permanency or the timelessness of Jesus’ propitiation. The efficacy of Jesus did on the cross would never diminish nor lose its power. He would not have to be re-sacrificed in the mass.
But let’s return to the main part of the sentence, that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice or the propitiation for our sins. The English Standard Version reads “He is the propitiation for our sins.” What does propitiation mean? It means to placate someone’s wrath, or to pacify a person’s anger. So in what sense was Jesus Christ the propitiation for our sins? How did He appease or satisfy the wrath that we deserved? And we might also ask, “Why does God’s anger need to be placated?”
First, we all understand what it means to be under such wrath, on a human level, don’t we, when we have trembled in fearful anticipation of the just punishment that we deserve from our parents or other authority figures
Second, God’s just anger at our sin shouldn’t surprise us. After all, deep down, we want God to be really angry at some sins, such as child abuse and rape and the murder of innocent people, right? We wouldn’t want a God who feels indifferent to such horrible actions. But we need to realize that as he is a holy God, without any sin, that all of our sins deserve His wrath.
Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth (about God) by their wickedness.”
Third, we have the Biblical account of God’s wrath. We read about God’s anger at sin in Genesis 6-8, when God destroys all mankind, except Noah’s family. We see God’s wrath at man’s mutiny when He sends earthquakes and plagues on the rebellious Israelites in their wilderness wanderings. We read of God destroying His own Holy City and His Temple after centuries of His people rebelling against Him. And the most pointed example is at the cross of Christ, when Jesus absorbs the full weight of the father’s wrath in his body, and cries out on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt. 27:46) So we clearly need an atoning sacrifice, a propitiation, to take up and absorb the just anger of God, and only Jesus, the righteous one, can do that.
See Romans 3:23-25 (ESV). “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood—to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins”
Before Jesus died in our place, God forgave the sins of those who trusted in Him and looked to the atoning sacrifices He commanded. Yet God did not sweep those sins and his righteous anger against those sins under some celestial rug. No. His anger was stored up. But at the cross, all that pent-up anger was unleashed…against God’s own beloved son! Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, in our place, was a sacrifice that turned away God’s wrath; it made propitiation in God’s eyes.
And so as we worship God in our songs, we rejoice that He has taken the wrath we deserved:
“Objects of mercy, who should have known wrath. We’re filled with unspeakable joy!”
“Till on the cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied, for every sin on Him was laid, here in the death of Christ I live,”
“This the power of the cross, Christ became sin for us; Took the blame bore the wrath, We stand forgiven at the cross.”
This idea of propitiation is crucial to the doctrine of atonement. Why? Because it means there is an eternal, unchangeable requirement in God’s holiness and justice that sin be paid for. Before we received the benefits of salvation (forgiveness, etc.), Christ’s death had to have an impact on God’s attitude toward us, as sinners. His burning anger against us had to be quenched.
Yet keep in mind two things. One is that God’s wrath is not arbitrary or capricious. God’s anger at sin is not a matter of unpredictable passions, where you never know when He will lash out at you! (We know people who are like that, but God is different. There are also false religions with a God like that, who is unknowable and unapproachable.) But the God of the Scriptures has a wrath towards all evil is settled, controlled, and wholly opposed to it!
The second thing to remember is that God’s wrath was not turned away by a bribe from someone else. It wasn’t that some patriarch or some pope did some great act of penance to appease God. Not at all. Instead, the initiative for the propitiation, for turning away His just anger at sin and evil, was entirely founded by God Himself! Christ Himself is the propitiating offering. In selfless love, the Father and the Son devised and perfectly executed their gracious plan of redemption. And that plan met requirements of the just wrath of God towards sin and evil, so that God was fully satisfied by what His Son accomplished!
Do you see how in the master plan of God, his work in providing propitiation to turn away his anger was the fruit of his immeasurable love for us. Listen to what John writes later:
I John 4:10 (ESV) “In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” It was God’s love that placated God’s wrath, in Christ!
And even today, Christ is still the propitiating sacrifice, not in the sense that he somehow continues to offer Himself (as in the Roman Catholic sacrifice of the mass), but “because His one sacrifice once offered has an eternal virtue which is effective today for those who believe.”
How has Jesus Christ dealt with your sins?
1. Is He your Advocate with the Father?
2. Is Christ is the Righteous One, dying for you, in your unrighteousness?
3. Is Christ is the Propitiation for your sins?