Read 1 John 2:1-29
The aged apostle John’s writing style is simple and yet different from other letters of the New Testament. Rather than starting with a traditional greeting, acknowledgement of relationship, and with a prayer for their growth, John seems to jump right into the meat of what he wants to communicate. He is writing this letter to give us as readers the right kind of confidence about our faith. And this letter also especially deals with the first-century false teaching of Gnosticism, wherein people considered the flesh to be bad and the spirit, good. This mindset could lead to extreme legalism in an attempt to control the body or to extreme liberty in discounting the actions of the body.
Chapter 1 ended with a reality check about sin. Don’t pridefully think that you are immune to it. Instead readily acknowledge that you are guilty of it and need forgiveness. In fact, we must recognize that Jesus is our Advocate with the Father. He satisfied the Father’s wrath created by our sin and represents us before Him. Take advantage of His advocacy in confession, while at the same time allowing your life to be marked by obedience. While confession and obedience may seem to be at odds with each other, they really aren’t. Obedience acknowledges God’s right to place expectations on us. In fact, believers will be characterized by obedience. Meanwhile, confession acknowledges the fact that we will not achieve perfection in this life.
It is as if John is giving us standards, by which we can test ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith. The first test was that of confession. Do we regularly and readily admit our sin to God and seek His forgiveness? The second test was that of obedience. Is our heart inclination one of doing what God asks of us?
But there is also a third test introduced in this chapter and repeated throughout the remainder of the book. It is the test of love. John put it like this: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.” (v. 9) Although he will visit this idea often in the days ahead, it merits asking today…Is your love for others consistent with your claim to be a Christ follower?