(1 John 1)
The picture we have in John’s first epistle depicts a courtroom atmosphere. This is written by the one who in his Revelation of Christ saw and declared what he heard. And he wrote that the accuser of the brethren is cast down. He was thrown out of the courtroom. In this passage he, the accuser, is not to be found in the courtroom of heaven. We see instead of any accusations leveled against us, that God is faithful and just to forgive sins. His justice is absolute, steadfast, and will never change. It is based on the blood of the eternal covenant. John continues and declares that we have an advocate, our high priest Jesus, who ensures our entrance to the Father’s presence, to the throne of grace.
We might now say that no judgement exists. God has taken care of it all. Absolutely true because of the blood of Jesus Christ. However, we cannot avoid the fact that man has fallen and needs someone to pick him up. God wants restoration and reconciliation with man. He sent Jesus to be that for us. He, all by Himself, is the mediator, a true priest, between God and man. All the writings of the New Testament point to this fact. It has been and always will be about coming to Jesus. As we wrote at the start of this series of messages, we come to Him where He is now, on His throne, a place of authority. It remains a mercy seat, a place where God’s meeting with man always begins and ends with mercy.
God is the judge who forgives. He sees and judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Do we come to Him to see what we can get? Actually, if we come to Him honestly and ask Him about things we wish to do, He will show us His perspective. We may be surprised sometimes if we have a condemning heart that He will show us He is greater. No condemnation exists in His presence. Other times we have to deal with consequences like the uncomfortable feelings of guilt, of remorse, and regret. Today we use all sorts of means to make the bad feelings go away. Sadly we can do this in our heads and pronounce away our bad feelings and choose to declare ourselves OK. We mess with our conscience. That is the part of our spirit where God makes that separation of soul and spirit and our true intent is exposed. It is often called conviction, which is another word to express feelings of guilt, remorse, or regret.
After years of God’s working in my life, I hear John moving me, and us, to stay in the light. In this atmosphere, we recognize every idolatry, impurity, and whatever retards our true maturity, and agree with God that the Lamb, as freshly slain, takes that stain away. John had this revelation when he saw the Lamb on the throne. The blood was there, it remains there, and shall ever be there. This is the blood of the eternal covenant. Consider that word eternal. It represents something ever and always present. John’s message in this first chapter is to bring the believer to the point of eternal innocence. No allowance for sin is here. So he writes that we may not sin, but if we do, acknowledge it and move on, for our high priest, Jesus, intervenes for us.
A process exists in our earthly existence to get to this point. This is often not the automatic state, or experience, of the believer. I ask us all this question. Is the sacrifice for sin finished? Are we required to “own” our sins? We must acknowledge our specific sins. Some sins have consequences for our families, for others in the church. Some are so extreme that a brother or sister must be put outside. Such an act of church discipline, as we call it, should not be seen as an end in itself. We should be moved to prayer.
Lot chose to live in Sodom but he is accounted as a righteous man. Abraham prayed for him. This was after Abraham had fought kings to deliver him and his family. Is this our attitude when a brother makes bad choices? Paul judged a man living with his father’s wife by turning him over to Satan for the destruction of his body that his spirit might be saved. Consider this for an understanding of what is at stake in our lives and the life of our fellowships. Yet, many understand, and I tend to agree, that the man who repents, and is to be received back into fellowship in the second letter to the Corinthians is this very same man. While he was released into a place of torment, he changed his lifestyle, and was restored. Mercy triumphs over judgement.