This Court is Now in Session
1 John 2:1-2
My name is Shawn Farrell, I am the High School pastor at FBC and it is my privilege to bring the Word to you this morning. Open your Bibles to 1 John 2:1 to 2. As you are finding the passage, I want to remind you that summer camp is less than two weeks away. This is the highlight of our ministry year and we are excited. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a commercial for camp right here when I am supposed to be preaching, so here goes.
If you have students 6th to 12th grade or you have a cousin, niece, nephew, neighbor, grandchild–send them to camp. We are still taking sign-ups. I cannot emphasize to you enough the way that God works at camp. Every year I am blown away at how God changes hearts at camp. It is a great time. Don’t miss it. Anyway, I thought I would start with the top ten reasons your student should go to camp:
10 it is the most fun you will have all year
9 Michael Philips
8 this man–Jack Skandalakis
7 midnight megabox
6 the boats
5 camp wisdom with Jon Stead
4 chance to hang out with this guy (Dan)
3 great worship
2 best camp speaker in the world
1 wake up to this song everyday (Marsha Brady song)
It is intense—actually our camp is about Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the central focus of our camp. Everything we do, from the games, to the food, to the boats–all of it is centered around the Gospel. And it is well worth sending your students. Don’t miss it.
This morning I want to do the same thing. I want to focus our attention on the Gospel. My goal today is to go back to the cross of Jesus Christ and stir our hearts afresh. We are here this morning because of the cross of Jesus Christ. We serve and minister because of the cross. As Christians our life is about Jesus Christ.
The pathway to the cross should be well-traveled in each of our lives. In fact one commentator wrote, “We never move on from the cross, only into a more profound understanding of the cross.”
Paul recognized this, which is why he declared, “I determined [am resolved] to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). If this message grows old to us or we are not constantly nourishing our souls on the Gospel, then our hearts will quickly wander and our affections will grow cold. Maybe that describes you this morning. Cold affections, wandering heart, lack of love for Christ, lack of desire to know Him. If you are struggling with sin or if your heart is cold, then most likely the cross is not something that has been central in your heart–this is dangerous. This is why Jerry Bridges said, “Preach the Gospel to yourself everyday.” We must come to this place often and remind ourselves of what the Lord Jesus did for us at Calvary.
Can I encourage you to come back to the cross with me this morning? Be reminded this morning of what Jesus has done. Allow your heart to be freshly amazed by the salvation that has been freely given to us. Let me read our passage for you. First John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
The imagery of this passage is legal. The words used and the picture that John paints bring us into a courtroom. This morning as we look at this passage we will enter into the court of divine justice. Walk with me into the courtroom and let’s examine our salvation.
1. You have committed a crime verse 1
Very plain and very simple, you are a criminal. As we enter this courtroom, we see very quickly that you have been charged with a crime. What is your crime? Verse 1 tells us it is sin. Scripture is clear that every person on the face of the earth including every person here this morning is guilty of high treason against God Himself.
“’Why do you contend with Me? You have all transgressed against Me,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 2:29). It is an unarguable fact that all people everywhere have sinned. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I am a sinner, you are a sinner. We have broken the law of God. We are guilty. We are criminals. We enter the courtroom of divine justice and we are on trial for our sinful actions.
You say, “Shawn, where is this in the text?” Read verse 1 with me, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” This is his purpose in writing, that his children in the faith would stop sinning. He is writing that they would no longer be slaves to sin, but rather slaves to righteousness. “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.”
Now look at the next phrase, “and if anyone sins”–this could be translated, “but if anyone sins,” or “and since we do sin.” And the point is that we sin. We still sin–even with the warning here in verse 1 not to sin. Even with 1:5 telling us to walk in the light as He is in the light. Even with 1:8 telling us that we have been cleansed from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ, we still sin. If we deny this then we make Him a liar and the truth is not in us (1:10).
For a while I lived on the 15th fairway of a golf course. (I, by the way, am a terrible golfer. I keep track of my score by how many balls I lose. In short, I am terrible.) Anyway, I used to go out on the fairway in the late afternoon after the course was closed and practice hitting from about 100 yards out to the green. I would take 15 or 20 balls and hit toward the pin. On one particular afternoon, I wound up and hit a ball and sliced it so badly that on a line-drive it hit the sliding glass door of a condo on the other side of the fairway about 50 yards away. It sounded like thunder. The glass didn’t break but it did rattle and shake, and then the ball bounced all over the patio making even more noise.
The owner came running out, and after examining his door to make sure it wasn’t broken, he then turned his attention to find out where the ball had come from. He looked out over the fairway and I am the only living creature in sight. There was no hiding, I was guilty. I sheepishly put my hand up and yelled an apology. He quickly said not to worry about it and went back inside.
I waited a few seconds and then hit another ball. It hit the same sliding glass door with the same force, not more than a foot away from the previous shot. I could not believe it. The man came out again, looked at his door which was still not broken, and then looked at me and yelled, “Maybe it’s time for you to move on,” to which I nodded, gathered my stuff, and ran away.
What is the point? The point is that I stink at golf. I can’t, no matter how hard I try I can’t hit my ball onto the green. I miss the mark every single time. Consistently I fall short of perfection. Even if you are a great golfer, you will not hit the green every time. We miss. We fail. We fall short. This is sin. It is the inability to meet the perfection of God. We fall short. Even as believers we often disobey and find ourselves sinning.
John says right here, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” Can I paraphrase John’s point? Stop sinning. Christian of FBC, stop sinning. As believers we are called to live for Christ, to abandon self and pursue Jesus Christ with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are called to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13), to literally kill the old man. Not to kill your old man. To kill the old man, the sin nature, the flesh. Galatians 6:14 says that “in Christ, I have been crucified to the world and the world to me.”
In actual day-to-day living, we find ourselves often succumbing to the temptations of our flesh and missing the mark consistently. We are sinners. When John says, “And if anyone sins,” the answer is that all of us sin. I don’t know your heart, and I don’t know where you struggle specifically. But one thing I do know every single one of us sins. That is the point. Even as believers who love Jesus, we still slip and fall. Sin is crafty and it is powerful and left alone it will destroy us. Some here today are playing with sin. You have given much of your heart to the Lord, but like Achan you are keeping some small thing hidden for yourself. But God tells us to run from it, lock it away, cut it from your heart, remove it from yourself, do whatever you must not to sin.
Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery in John 8, “Go your way, from now on sin no more.” I make the same charge to you today. “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
Now come back to the courtroom with me. We are the guilty party. We stand accused of sin. Let’s see what happens next.
2. A lawyer is granted to you verse 1
Look back at the text, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Even though we know we should not sin, even though the Word of God is clear that we are not to sin, we will continue to sin. I love this, even if we sin as believers, look at the next phrase, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. Before we meet the advocate, let’s take a minute to meet the members of the court. First let’s look at the . . .
This is you. “And if anyone sins”–who is this talking about? This is you. You are the one on trial. And we already know that you are guilty. The evidence is stacked against each one of us. The judge knows we are guilty, we know we are guilty, and most amazingly our advocate, our defense lawyer knows we are guilty. The next person we see in the courtroom is the . . .
Who is the one who stands against us and brings the charges against us? Though he is not mentioned in the text, there is a prosecutor who also knows about our sin and who is eager to force the case against us before the divine Judge. His name is Satan. What he wants to do is come to the bar, point to the record of our sins, and demand that God be true to His own justice and damn us to hell. In Scripture he is called the dragon, the serpent of old, the prince of the power of the air, the father of lies, a murderer and the accuser of the brethren.
Revelation 12:10, speaking of Satan says that “he accuses them before our God day and night.” Then in 1 Peter 5:8 we read, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan is at the throne of God day and night, bringing accusations against us. He is a hateful prosecutor who cries to God relentlessly that if God is just and God is righteous and God is holy, then He must punish those who have such a list of iniquities. This brings us to the judge. Look back at verse 1.
And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with who?–the Father, who is the judge. Genesis 18:25 says that He is the Judge of all the earth, and Psalm 7:11 says that He is a righteous judge. All those standing before the bar of divine justice are guilty of violating God’s holy law.
J.C. Ryle describes the judge in the following way. “The eye of God! Think of that. In every house, in every field, in every room, in every company, alone or in a crowd, the eye of God is always on you. Remember that you have to deal with an all-seeing God, a God who never sleeps, a God who understands your thoughts, and with whom the night shines as the day. You may deceive your parents, you may tell them lies, and act one way before their faces, and another behind their backs, but you cannot deceive God. He knows you through and through. He heard what you said as you came here today. He knows what you are thinking of at this minute. He has set your most secret sins in the light of His presence. How little is this really felt! There is an all-seeing Witness with us wherever we go. God is everywhere, you cannot shut Him out, or prevent His seeing. ‘Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account’ (Hebrews 4:13).”
God appears as the supreme judge of the universe who sees all and knows all. He is seated at the heavenly bench and judges all people according to the absolute perfection of His holy law. He possesses the power and authority to condemn to hell every sinner who ever lived. Jesus warned, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). This is the judge of the living and the dead, the great and the small. This is the one who sits on the Great White Throne and who will judge both the thoughts and intentions of every man’s heart.
So here we are in the courtroom standing before the holy judge. The charges are clear and we are guilty. The prosecutor is relentlessly pounding the bar and demanding our eternal execution. The judge has the right to execute us for the violation of His holy law. It is at this point that we are introduced to our defense attorney, our advocate.
Fourth The advocate
“And if anyone sins [and we have], we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” This is a legal term that is translated advocate or defender or mediator. It is a legal helper or aide, one who comes alongside to help. It is used five times in the Bible, all by John—four times in the gospel of John in reference to the Holy Spirit, translated there as Comforter or Helper.
Here it is rightly translated as advocate. Jesus Christ the righteous is our advocate. He is our defender. He takes up our defense, not on the basis of anything that we have done, but on the basis of His own righteousness. Though our prosecutor is relentless, so also is our defender.
Listen to what Scripture says about Him. “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” (Hebrews 7:25). Satan accuses us day and night, but Jesus lives to make intercession for us. “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34). He goes to the judge who also happens to be His father and He stands for us.
“For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands…but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24). What an incredible truth–the righteous judge in an act of mercy appoints His own Son as the Advocate of the ones who have violated His law. Our advocate is perfectly sinless, but He defends the sinner. He is holy, but He takes the case of the unholy and the undeserving.
Now the big question that has to be answered is this: how does Jesus defend us? What is His defense to a holy judge? Scripture says that every sin will be punished. Every sin ever committed by every person who has ever lived will be punished. Every sin is on the record. Every sin ever committed by every person will be brought to judgment. That is a staggering thought. There must be payment for the crime. There must be satisfaction of divine wrath. There must be justice–in the words of Paul (Romans 3:26) “how can He be just and the justifier?” How can He be just and uphold justice and at the same time justify the ungodly? The answer is found in verse 2. He pays the price Himself. And now we are cooking with gasoline.
3. Your Penalty has been paid verse 2
The advocate pays the penalty for the sinner. Verse 2, “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” The explanation of propitiation–what does that mean? That is a big word—it means a covering or a satisfaction. It has the idea of appeasement. It can also be translated atoning sacrifice. It carries the idea of payment for sin. It comes from the Old Testament idea of a covering for our sins. On the Day of Atonement when the priest would enter into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on top of the mercy seat to cover or “propitiate” the sins of the people. But Hebrews 9 says that the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sins. The Old Testament sacrifices and the Day of Atonement were only a picture of what was coming.
The Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God is the propitiation for our sins. He is the actual sacrifice made to God on our behalf. Look at the text. He Himself is not merely the agent who made propitiation for sinners, but He is the propitiation. “Now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Not only is He the propitiation but He is our propitiation–your sins are covered in the act of Christ on the cross. My sins were paid that day on Calvary.
“And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross [that is propitiation], so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” 1 Pet 2:24
“For Christ also died for sins once for all [propitiation], the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God [advocacy], having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Pet 3:18).
What is the motive? Why did He do it? “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” (1 John 4:10).
The extent of the propitiation–look back at verse 2, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” We only have a minute to look at this, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is for the sins of the whole world. How are we to understand this? Does the whole world really mean the whole world? Did Jesus’ death actually satisfy God’s justice for everybody who has ever lived? If so, then what is hell?
This is not telling us that atonement was made for everyone. That is universalism. Jesus did not pay for the sins of Judas. The Bible says that when he died he went where?–to his own place. He didn’t pay for the sins of the angry mob that screamed for His blood. He didn’t pay for the sins of Adolph Hitler. He didn’t pay for the sins of the mass of humanity that show up at the Great White throne and are cast into the lake of fire–of course not. On the cross Jesus offered atonement for those who would repent and believe. Who are those?–the ones whom God has chosen, His elect.
Go back to verse 2. Why then does he use the term “the whole world”? The point John is making is that propitiation extends beyond the regional province of Jewish believers to whom John wrote and extended to the Gentiles and even to the outermost parts of the earth. Galatians 2:9 tells us that John’s ministry was primarily to the Jews and that is the audience to which he wrote this epistle. The sacrifice of Christ is not just for the Jews, it is for everyone. all people–the whole world, Jews and Gentiles. Unlike the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament when the High Priest would sprinkle blood and make atonement only for the nation of Israel, the greater propitiation extends not just to the house of Israel but to people from every tongue and tribe and nation.
Let me wrap this up—so what? Stop sinning. This morning, I want to ask each of you, how are you doing in the battle against sin?
Young man who is losing the battle to lust
Career man who is lazy at work
Young lady who is controlled by emotions and not by truth
Single who is discontent
Older saint who is no longer fighting the good fight but has given up
This is a call from the Spirit of God to you–stop. Stop sinning.
“My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin.”
“Surely that man must be in an unhealthy state of soul who can think of all that Jesus suffered, and yet cling to those sins for which He died. It was sin that wove the crown of thorns; it was sin that pierced our Lord’s hands, and feet, and side; it was sin that brought Him to Calvary, to the cross, and to the grave. Cold must our hearts be if we do not hate sin and labor to get rid of it, though we may have to cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye in doing it.” (J.C. Ryle, 50-51)
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Come to the cross. Jesus knows our struggles, He knows our weakness, He knows our sinful bents, and yet He stands for us. Because of what He did on the cross we can come with confidence to the throne of grace–literally we can walk into the courtroom, and as a convicted criminal we can approach the bench and ask for mercy.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Live in light of the cross. Remember Jesus.
Who will stand for you? You need the cross. Your sentence still hangs over your head. Payment will be drawn from you in hell forever. Come to Jesus Christ today and find forgiveness for your soul. Find one who will go to the Father and stand on your behalf. Embrace the one who died in your place, paid your debt, and satisfied God’s wrath on the cross.