Study 2 FAMILY PRIVILEGES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
THE LETTERS OF JOHN
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 1 John 2:1-19)
Several times in his First Letter John addresses his words to his “dear children” – 1 John 2:1 is an example. The reference is not to their first birthday but their second, when they were born again and became members of God’s family – look up John 3:3-7. Our first birthday did not make us children of God; it is only when we put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ that we are born again and become members of the family of God – look up Galatians 3:26. So John was writing to those new in the faith, who were “newborn babies” – look up 1 Peter 2:2. John also writes to “fathers” (those mature in the faith and in their knowledge of the Lord), and to “young men” (those who were growing up into spiritual manhood). Now, we all begin the Christian life as babes, and so what the apostle says to these “dear children” is applicable to all the members of God’s family. What does he say about their privileges and responsibilities?
1. All God’s children have an Advocate with the Father.
From 1 John 2:1-2 we see that God’s plan and provision is that we should not sin. God has provided full deliverance from sin through the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus; and by the Holy Spirit – look up Romans 6:14. His plan is that we should not sin! But what if we do sin? as of course, we do (1 John 1:8), and as we infer from 1 John 1:9. If (or when) we sin, “we have an Advocate with the Father” (KJV). What does this mean? It means that in the presence of our Father we have someone who speaks in our defence. The Lord Jesus pleads His own merits on our behalf. “Jesus Christ the Righteous One…” has made provision for our pardon and cleansing by His shed blood and finished work. This provision is available for the whole world (as we learn from verse 2), but it is enjoyed only by those who have put their trust in Christ. When God’s children sin, therefore, their relationship is not changed.
2. All God’s children have had their sins forgiven.
We get this in 1 John 2:12. What a glorious truth – every child of God is already completely forgiven! It does not say ‘shall be’ or ‘may be’, or ‘we may be forgiven if…’; it says we “have been forgiven”. God says it, we must believe it. We are also told that we have been forgiven “on account of his name”; that is, because of all that Jesus is and has done for our salvation. Who is He, and what has He done? The answer is in 1 John 1:7. His blood goes on cleansing us from every sin.
3. All God’s children must continue in Him.
We see this in 1 John 2:28 – but what does this mean? To continue in Him is to live in close fellowship, in harmony with Him. Why? The reason given is that the Lord Himself is soon coming, and we need to be ready to meet Him with ‘confidence’, and not be ashamed when He comes. This does not mean that our salvation is in doubt. Nothing can alter the relationship of the child of God with his loving Heavenly Father. It is talking about how we live. If we are living carelessly when He comes, this matter will be settled at the Judgement Seat of Christ, where all God’s children will be rewarded or will suffer loss – look up 1 Corinthians 3:13-15.
4. All God’s children need to be on their guard against deception.
We get this in 1 John 3:7. It was very necessary for John to write these words because there were many false teachers around, teaching heresy. Some were downright apostates. But the same warning is needed today, for on every hand there are those who are teaching things contrary to the Word of God. See what the apostle Paul said in Acts 20:27-30, and compare 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. Solemn words of warning! How necessary it is for us to test everything by the Word of God! – look up and underline 1 John 4:1.
5. All God’s children should guard against hypocrisy.
We get this in 1 John 3:18. As children of God we must be sincere and see to it that our testimony is borne out in the way we live from day to day. Our words must correspond with our actions, and vice versa. If we profess one thing and do another then we are downright hypocrites, and any hypocrisy is obnoxious to our loving Heavenly Father – look up and compare 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16.
6. All God’s children are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
From 1 John 4:4 we see that the Holy Spirit indwells every true child of God. Turn to John 14:16-17; Romans 5:5, 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19 for confirmation of this – then look up 1 John 2:20, and notice the words “you have”; and 1 John 4:13, and notice the words “he in us” and “has given”. Thus, every child of God has two Advocates – one above in the person of the Saviour, and one within in the person of the Holy Spirit. Several things happen at once when we become a child of God. First: we are baptised by the Spirit into the body of Christ – look up 1 Corinthians 12:13; second: we are sealed by the Holy Spirit as God’s property – look up Ephesians 1:13; and third: we are immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit – look up 1 Corinthians 6:19.
7. All God’s children must keep themselves from idols.
Notice from 1 John 5:21 that anything that comes between your soul and the path of obedience to God is an idol, and God says, “You shall have no other gods before me” – look up Exodus 20:3. How possible it is for a child of God to be guilty of idolatry! It is significant that John’s Letter ends with the words, “keep yourselves from idols”, and that the very first words in Genesis 1:1 are, “In the beginning God…”
No matter how long we have been in God’s family, these privileges and responsibilities never cease to be ours; and they are for all God’s children.