Liberator, Defender, Sacrifice (1 John 2:1-2)

Sin has a powerful grip on us humans, which we do not have the power to break free of. Only God has that kind of power. So how does he break the grip of sin on our lives? Answer: through the death of Jesus Christ.

We find a brief description of how God overcomes sin through Christ 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 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.

First, God announces his intention to overcome sin. When John says, “I write this to you so that you will not sin,” he is not merely stating his personal opinion. Rather, as an apostle of Jesus Christ, he is proclaiming a truth of the gospel. Indeed, according to 1 John 3:8, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” But Christ’s appearing was also constructive. According to 1 John 5:18, “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God [that is, Jesus] keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.”

From all this mention of the devil, you might conclude that the problem of sin is a problem of victimization. We are innocents who have been enslaved by an evil power. That is part of the biblical message. But the Bible also uses a legal metaphor to describe the problem of sin. We are criminal defendants—victimizers—who are guilty as charged, and God is the Judge in whose hands our sentence rests. Building on this legal metaphor, John writes that Jesus is “one who speaks to the Father in our defense.” Jesus Christ, in other words, is the advocate who makes the case for our innocence.

But how can Christ make a case for the innocence of his clients when they are patently guilty? It is here that John introduces a third metaphor, which is religious in nature. Jesus, he writes, is “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” In the ancient world, religious worship often included the sacrifice of an animal. The worshiper laid his hand on the animal’s head, symbolically transferring his guilt to it, and then the animal was killed in ritual punishment for the person’s sins. John uses this metaphor to describe what Jesus actually did. Through his death on the cross, Christ exchanged his innocence for our guilt so that we might get out from under the grip of sin.

In summary, Jesus Christ is our Liberator, Defender, and Sacrifice. That is how God overcomes the power of sin in our lives.

One thought on “Liberator, Defender, Sacrifice (1 John 2:1-2)

  1. George:

    If I didn’t already believe in the ultimate salvation of ALL humanity by the atonement of Christ, your article would convince me. By the way, I did click on the “Like” option.

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