“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.” – 1 John 2:1-2 (NASB)
Sometimes big words which aren’t commonly used by us can cause us to not quite understand what a verse is saying for us. We have a powerful big word in this passage – “propitiation.” In the New Testament it signifies “an expiation, (another big word) which is a means whereby sin is covered and remitted.” This implies that we, when we believe by faith, have a clear purpose for living. John simply puts it like this: don’t sin — don’t do what dishonors God. John wrote these for us to know that we may not sin. It is possible to not sin because God has forgiven us our sins. In 1 John 3:8 he wrote, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” We can say this positively, instead of negatively. In 1 John 3:23 is a summary of what John’s whole letter requires. Notice the singular “commandment” — “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” That’s our purpose. Two things so closely connected John calls them one commandment: believe Jesus and love others.
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:1-2 (ESV)
Yesterday our promise focused on the small word, ‘sin,’ how in truth we struggle with sin and our need for confession of sins. Today’s promise comes from a much bigger word and one which is not in our common vocabulary. It is ‘propitiation.’ It is appropriate for John to address his readers as “my little children” because when he wrote this, John was greatly advanced in years. He was the sole remaining survivor of the apostles who had enjoyed intimate, eyewitness association with Jesus throughout His earthly ministry. Yet not exiled to Patmos where He receives the Revelation of Jesus Christ, John was actively serving the church in Ephesus. He taught that Christian must continually acknowledge and confess sin (1 John 1:9), but we’re not powerless against it. Fulfilling the duty of confession does not give license to sin. When we do sin, we have a promised defense attorney, Jesus Christ our Advocate. Why is this a promise for us? Because the death of Jesus on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s holiness for the punishment of sin. That’s what ‘propitiation’ means – “satisfaction” or “appeasement.” Jesus is the satisfaction of God for us each time we sin, we’re covered.