Study 1 GOD’S REMEDY FOR THE MALADY OF SIN
THE LETTERS OF JOHN
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 1 John 1:1-10)
John’s First Letter is a personal one from the aged apostle. It was probably circulated to believers in a number of places. Though not a doctrinal treatise, it is full of very important truth; in this series of studies we shall select some of its leading themes. The first of these is God’s Remedy for the Malady of Sin. Sin is our great problem – the problem of all mankind. Here John tells us of the provision God has made to set us free from the guilt, pollution and power of sin.
1. God is light and love; He is altogether holy and loving, and He has fully declared Himself in His Son.
We see this in 1 John 1:1-6. In 1 John 4:8 and 16, we read that ‘God is love’, and in 1:5 that ‘God is light’. Light is the symbol of His splendour, His omniscience, His holiness and absolute purity – look up and compare Leviticus 19:2; 20:7,26. This loving and holy God has fully declared Himself in His Son, who said – look up John 14:9, and compare Hebrews 1:1-2. John tells us in 1 John 1:1-3 that he saw, heard and touched Christ, and that He was (and is) “the Word of life”, who has “appeared” (verses 1-2), and who prior to His appearance was ‘with the Father’ – look up John 1:1-2,14; John 17:5.
2. God longs to bring all men into fellowship with Himself (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and with one another.
‘Fellowship’ is a key-word in this letter – for example, see 1 John 1:3. The word ‘fellowship’ (Greek: ‘koinonia’) conveys the idea of joint participation, of mutual sharing. When God created man His plan was to share His life with him, but sin entered and fellowship was broken. Now, He longs to bring us back into fellowship with Himself and with one another. Notice in verse 3 that fellowship is “with the Father and with his Son” (vertical), and “that you also may have fellowship with us” (horizontal).
3. We are sinners by nature and by practice. How can we have fellowship with a holy God and He with us?
Sin created a barrier between God and man – see 1 John 1:5-6. He is light, and we are in the darkness! 1 John 1:8 and 10 make plain that we are sinners by nature and by practice; that is, we have a sinful, fallen nature (verse 8), and commit acts of sin (verse 10). No one is sinless in this life – verses 8 and 10 declare this, and experience confirms it. Only One has ever lived without sin – look up Hebrews 7:26. The rest of us are sinful – look up 1 Kings 8:46; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:20, 23. How can a holy God have fellowship with us who are so sinful?
4. There is only one way; through the Person and Work of God’s Son, who came to earth and shed His blood to provide salvation for all who would put their trust in Him.
In 1 John 3:5 we are told why Jesus came from Heaven to earth, and in 1 John 1:7 we are told that when we come into the light of God’s presence, acknowledging our sin, He removes the barrier of sin and we have fellowship “with one another” – that is, with God (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) and with all believers. But how is our sin dealt with and removed? By “the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son”. His ‘blood’ stands for His atoning, expiatory and substitutionary work and death upon the cross – look up Isaiah 53:5-6; John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; thus, sin is removed by God on the grounds of the once-offered sacrifice of Christ.
5. When we believe on Christ (come into the light and put our trust in Him), the barrier of sin is at once removed, we are born into God’s family, we receive His life (a new nature) which cannot sin, and henceforth we no longer habitually commit sin.
Notice the word ‘all’ in 1 John 1:7, and compare Matthew 1:21. Then look at 1 John 3:1-2; 5:18, where we are told that by the miracle of the new birth we are born into God’s family and become His children. Now notice that 1 John 3:9 tells us that the divine life, which cannot sin, is implanted in the child of God, thus enabling him to live a new life – look up 2 Corinthians 5:17.
6. We do stumble and fall, however, because although we now have a new nature which cannot sin, we still possess the old nature which cannot do other than sin.
See from 1 John 2:1 that John makes allowance for the fact that believers do sin. What happens when Christians sin?
7. Provision has been made! Jesus Christ not only died as our Sin-bearer, but now lives to be our Advocate. As such, He pleads the merits of His Finished Work before the Father.
We learn from 1 John 2:1-2 that when we sin, our relationship with God is not affected – we are still His children; but our enjoyment of fellowship with God is affected. Moreover, the Devil accuses us before the throne of God – look up Revelation 12:10. When this happens we have an Advocate, a divine barrister, in the court of Heaven who pleads our case before the throne of God, on the basis of His work upon Calvary – see verse 2, and compare Romans 8:33-34.
8. When, because of sin, our communion with God is temporarily broken, we need to repent and make confession to God; when we do this we are at once forgiven and cleansed, and communion is restored.
God can see our true state, and to confess is to admit our sin. How wonderful the promise of 1 John 1:9 is!