References: I John 2:1-2; Rom. 5
I have been referencing the first two verses of I John 2, particularly verse 2, which speaks of satisfaction for sin:
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).
But we would miss the real point if we failed to establish the context, set out in chapter 1:5-10. John writes of the impossibility of having new life in Christ but persisting to live in the darkness of the old life of sin. The point is that we understand the benefits of God’s wrath being satisfied.
Understand simply this: you and I can and must now enjoy life as new creatures in Christ, but here on earth, even in new life in Christ, we will still struggle with sin. John encourages believers to put away sin; he is not trying to provide an excuse to continue in sin.
The debt met
Let us return to the word satisfy. There is no possibility or hope of dealing with sin, or in trying to do away with it in your life, without first a total and complete satisfactory payment to God by the One who knew no sin. This sacrifice alone meets the requirement of justice.
So our struggle with sin has nothing to do whatsoever with a payment for sin. Yes, sin is a reality. Scripture is clear that as believers, we will struggle with it all our lives, but when we do, we have an Advocate. There is another legal term: we literally have a defense attorney who speaks for us before the throne of God.
Here is the implication: Christ, as our attorney, says no matter what sin we committed in the past, no matter what small or large fall into temptation, Christ will stand for us, before the judge, and declare, “That sin is paid for. The justice of God has been totally, fully, and completely satisfied.” That is how you and I, as believers, stand before God.
It is also clear that if you do not have Christ, there exists no satisfaction. There is no defense for you before God.
No occasion for sin
Notice again, John writes this “so that you may not sin.” You may not walk away from this and shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, it’s no big deal if I sin a bit… hey, I am covered.” Not in the least.
The fact that Christ has fully satisfied my debt for sin is not an occasion for me to sin. Properly understanding this wonderful truth leads me to see sin as absolutely serious and to fight against it every moment.
Removal of all doubt
But when I do sin, as part of my struggle, I do not have to see myself as back to being under the wrath of God.
Certainly God is disappointed when His children fall before temptations. But even then, the God of redemption, the God of His covenant people, the God who has provided a remedy, wants you to have full assurance and comfort that satisfaction has been made. Doubting this, saying, in effect, yes, I seek God, I worship but I am still struggling with sin–so God must be angry at me… well that means you are calling God a liar.
God declares with absolute clarity, When you who are my children sin, I want you to know that you have an Advocate, and He, the Christ, is the propitiation for your sins.
This is what we confess when we say “with His precious blood, He has fully satisfied for all my sins.”
The great statement of Heidelberg Q&A 1 is simply the message of the gospel. How great it is, and what a gracious God we follow. His gospel removes all doubt and hopelessness and provides full comfort.
It leaves you with this very simple reality. You have life, and you can live. It also must create in you a greater sense of the importance of making sure that your neighbor knows that as well.
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.