Get Real
Part 2
Chapter 3: Loving Your Brother

2:1 “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.”

John addresses his readers as “my little children” six times in this book. Jesus used this exact phrase in the Gospel of John: “My little children, I will be with you only a little longer.”—13:33

In chapter two, John’s manner of writing also changes. He no longer says, “We write to you” but switches to a gentler and more patient approach by saying, “I write to you.”

In essence, he’s saying in vs 1—I know I’ve told you that he will cleanse you of all sin, but this must not embolden you to go on sinning. I’m not teaching (what some have called) greasy grace or sloppy agape!

“But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” 1 John 2:1b, NIV
The word sin is used in the aorist verb tense, which means that John is speaking of a single act, not of someone habitually living in unrepentant sin. It might be better read, “If anyone commits an act of sin.”

“Advocate” literally means “one called to your side” or “one who undertakes and champions your cause.”

The word “with” in this verse is from a Greek word that means “facing.” John is telling us that, when we sin, the Lord Jesus will stand with us as we face the Father with our sins.

Vs. 2 “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Earlier than New Testament times, the Greek Word for propitiation was widely used to describe the act of appeasing someone who was angry with you; for instance, Jacob’s act of sending gifts ahead of him to appease his angry brother, Esau.

But by the time the New Testament was being written, the word had come to describe the act of removing what caused alienation between two parties. In this case, it was sin that stood between us and God, bringing total alienation.

Jesus assumed that guilt on the cross and paid the penalty in his own blood, removing the cause of alienation and providing satisfaction for the demands of the broken law. Verse 2 can literally read, “He Himself is a satisfaction.”

There are those who erroneously interpret the second half of verse 2, “for the sins of the whole world,” to mean that the atonement made by the blood of Jesus has saved the entire world, that everyone is covered, everyone is saved. This is called universalism and its a false teaching.

Peter writes, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”—2 Peter 3:9, NKJV

Notice that salvation depends on repentance.

On the Day of Pentecost Peter said to the convicted crowd, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…’Acts 2:38, NKJV

The Bible tells us that the blood of Jesus brings life to those who have repented of sin and put their faith in Christ, but to those who will not repent, the testimony of the blood brings condemnation.

Vs. 3 “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.”

The word “know” here means to know something by experience. Because of the verb tense, we see that John is telling us that if we are presently keeping his commandments (his word), then we can know that in the past we truly came to know him. In other words, your walk will confirm your talk!

Vs. 4 “He who says, ‘I know Him [by personal experience],’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

The message here is very clear. If we claim to have had a personal salvation experience with Christ, it will be evidenced by a sincere desire to live according to His Word. We are lying about knowing him if no such desire or lifestyle exists.

Vs. 5 “But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this, we know [by experience] that we are in Him.”

“Keeps” is in a verb tense that means habitual, continuous action. It is a lifestyle. Essentially, John is saying, “Whoever keeps on keeping His Word as a way of life…”

“Perfected” literally means “has been completed.” In other words, the work of God’s love is to bring us to a place of steadily, continually living according to His Word.
Vs. 6 “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

The word “abide” is used in the New Testament to refer to families living in homes. It implies fellowship, communion, dependence, harmony, and friendship.

And the word “walk” in this verse, comes from two Greek words: peri (meaning around) and pateo ( to walk). So, this word literally means, “to walk around”.

John repeatedly emphasizes that your walk and lifestyle will prove the genuineness of your experience with Christ Jesus.

Vs. 7 “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the Word which you heard from the beginning.”

John says that the message he is writing to them is not brand new but a repetition of what they have already been taught.

But then in the very next verse he seems to contradict himself:

Vs 8 “Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.”

Now, the “thing” John refers to is the utter necessity of walking in love. The commandment of love is both old and new. It is old because John’s readers have had it since the beginning of their Christian experience, but new, because as their Christian experience has unfolded, new power, meaning, and obligation have come to light.

As walking with Christ was being hammered out in John’s experience, he was seeing the light—we are to walk in love. Like a passing parade, the darkness of sin and unbelief are passing by. Just as every parade has an end, so will the parade of Satan’s hosts. But the true light, the genuine article, the real thing, continues to shine—the love of God through Christ!

Chapter 4: In the Light or In the Dark

Next, John is going to tell us that there are two classes of people in the world: those who are in fellowship with God, and so walk in light and love, and those who are not in fellowship with God, and so walk in darkness and hatred.

Vs. 9 “He who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.”

Whenever John uses the term brother he is speaking of a follower of Christ. The word hate literally means “to detest or loathe.” The loathing may be shown by outward emotion or simmer just under the surface and be seen only by a disposition of disdain.

Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount,

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”—Matthew 5:44, NKJV

And the Apostle Paul wrote to Titus about the way we were before knowing Jesus:

“For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.”—Titus 3:3, NKJV

That’s the way we were, but it’s not to be the way we are! If we walk in hate toward a brother or sister after being saved, we are walking in the darkness.

Vs. 11 “But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

The penalty of living in the darkness is not merely that one does not see, but that one goes blind. Spiritual blindness is the worst blindness of all! John uses a verb tense that means a past event which has completed action. He is saying, “when the darkness of hatred overtook me, it blinded me.”

The moment we allow hatred to consume our hearts, we become blinded and can no longer see where we are going. Picture a blind man with a cane, feeling his way along. That’s us if we allow hatred towards someone else to grow in our heart!

Hatred removes our ability to discern good from bad and right from wrong and guarantees that we will stumble.

Vs. 10 “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause of stumbling in him.”

The word for love here is agapao, which is love that is self-sacrificing and gives of itself for the happiness and well-being of others. Agapao puts others first. It is supernaturally produced in our hearts and overflows toward others only as we continue to abide in Jesus.

The “light” referred to in verse 10 is Jesus Himself and all that is written about him in God’s Word. The promise is that, so long as we walk in love, there is no occasion for stumbling and nothing to trip us up or make us fall.

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