CHRIST OUR MERCY SEAT
1 John 2:1-2
Verse 1-2 says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
John is of great age at the time of the writing of this epistle. Most scholars say it was written about A.D. 90. He addresses this verse to “My little children.” The love of the aged apostle shines out toward the family of God in this statement. This is an embrace. He says, “these things write I unto you.” John is doing in this epistle what Jesus told Peter to do when He said, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15).” John is lovingly instructing the “lambs” in the stead of the Great Shepherd. There are three things in these two verses that I want to comment on. First,
THE SAINTS ADMONITION
John says, “these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” John in chapter 1 deals with fellowship. He tells us that if we maintain fellowship we must “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1:7). If we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness he says we are liars. That is putting it straight. He also says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” If walking in the light is walking without sin, and walking in darkness is having sin in the life, what is the answer? Do these statements contradict? The Bible never contradicts. Sometimes it may be hard to understand, but it never contradicts. John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So to walk in the light is not to walk without sin. It is to walk continually dealing with sin as it arises, and confessing it, and being cleansed of it, and therefore, being right with God because of the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. We are not right with God because of personal self-effort but by the power of the blood of Christ.
Now John wants to make it clear that he is not teaching that it is ok to sin. But he does teach that with our best efforts we will still sin. Sin in the life of a Christian should not be deliberate. He says, and I paraphrase, “You will sin. When you do, you need to confess it immediately. When you do, you will be forgiven. But while I am telling you that it is not possible to live without sin arising, I am telling you that you should not deliberately sin. I am telling you that your goal should be holiness of life.” Salvation by faith in Christ alone, does give us a license to sin. The words “ye sin not” is an aorist tense verb in the subjunctive mood. The aorist tense speaks of an act of sin. Do not commit an act of sin. The subjunctive mood is the mood of potentiality or possibility. It is possible for a Christian to sin. Because it is, we must constantly be on guard. And if we do sin, we should immediately confess it, that we might be forgiven and restored to fellowship on the spot. Next we see,
THE SINNERS ADVOCATE
John says, “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The “if” with the subjunctive moods puts this in the 3rd class condition. It is “if” maybe it is true, maybe not. He is saying, “If in such a case, or if it happens.” If we had to sin, there would be no responsibility. We do not have to sin. However, we do sin, and when we do, we have an Advocate with the Father.
John says in the case of an act of sin “we have an advocate with the Father.” The words “we have” is a present active indicative verb. This means that Jesus is in heaven with the Father right now as our Advocate. The word “advocate” translates “parakletos” and means, “one who pleads another's cause with one, an intercessor.” This is the same word that is translated “comforter” in John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7 where the reference is to the Holy Spirit. A. T. Robertson in his Word Pictures says, “Holy Spirit is God's Advocate on earth with men, while Christ is man's Advocate with the Father.”
John says in chapter 1 and verse 9 that Jesus is “faithful” and “just” to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He is not just “faithful” but also “just.” God is a just God. He will not turn the head and let anyone get away with sin. The sinner will pay. He will stand before God who has the record of every thought and deed. And if the sinner were to deny that he has committed something that is brought up there, God will be able to instantly replay the scene, and there before the created universe, the man will stand speechless and condemned by God’s justice from which there is no recourse.
How can God be just and forgive a believer in Jesus Christ? Because of the Advocate. He is there to plead His finished work as the ground of our forgiveness. If a man could be born without sin, and live without sin, then he could stand before God’s throne of justice and be completely free from all condemnation. If a sinner stands before God and all he has to offer is his own righteousness, he will be utterly condemned. God has said, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” The sinner apart from Christ has to plead his own case. We are told in advance how it will turn out.
The one other way of acceptance before a Holy God is for the Advocate to plead our case. How does He plead our case? Does He say, “Father this one is my disciples. He likes me and I like him. I would like for you to forgive and forget his sins?” Is this the way our Advocate argues our case? No. He argues on the grounds of His sacrifice and His righteousness. It goes something like this, “Father, I paid the debt of sin for this person in order to satisfy your justice, I died his death, and I lived the life of righteousness that he cannot live so I could impute to his account my righteousness (Rom. 4:5; 5:17). In this way, He wins the case. We are accepted in the beloved (Eph. 1:5). Next we see,
THE SAVIOUR, OUR MERCY SEAT
John says, “And he is the propitiation for our sins.” The words “He is” are a present indicative of the to be verb “I am.” It is not “I was.” He remains in the eternal present our “propitiation.” The word “propitiation” translates “hilasmos” and means, “an appeasing, propitiating.” Hebrews 9:5 says, “And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.” The word “mercyseat” in this verse is from the same root word as our text. The mercyseat was the place where the blood of the sacrificial lamb was sprinkled once a year in the Holy of Holies and God rested His case against Israel typically. Jesus gave a parable of the Publican and the sinner in Luke chapter 18. He said in verse 13, “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” The words “be merciful” in this verse are from the same root word as in our text. The publican was asking God to be his mercy seat. Our text fulfills this request. “And he is the propitiation for our sins.” He is not only the High Priest offering the sacrifice, He is the Sacrifice offered by the High Priest. He is not only the Sacrifice offered, and the High Priest offering, but He is the Mercy Seat on which God rests (SEAT) His case against the believer. Hallelujah. Someone hold my mules!!!
He is not only the Mercy Seat for believers, He is the Mercy Seat for the repentant sinner. He died for the sins of the whole world. All men can be saved. He did not die for a select few. He died for the sins of the whole world. The offer is there if the sinner will only respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and come to Christ. John 1:11-12 says, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
Christ is the Mercy Seat.
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.