1 John 2:1-2 ESV
“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.”
When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives we are crucified with Christ in death to sin and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our old self is crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we will no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Eph 4:17-24).
So, the goal of our salvation is not just forgiveness of sins so that when we die we get to go to heaven, and so we escape punishment for our sins in hell. The goal of our salvation is that we no longer live in sin, so that we no longer make sin our practice but that godliness and righteousness are now what we practice, by the grace of God, in his power. Therefore we are to no longer let sin reign in our mortal bodies to make us obey its passions.
But this does not mean we will never sin, for we still live on this earth, we still live in flesh bodies, we still have the propensity to sin, and we will still be tempted to sin until the day that we die, or until the day Jesus returns to take us home to be with him. But if our faith is genuine, and if sin is not our practice, and if righteousness and obedience are our practice, then Jesus, who has pardoned our sin, is our advocate (intercessor, defense) to the Father (Gal 5:16-21; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 6:1-23; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 2:6-8).
For Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He who is God (the Son of God), who knew no sin, took our sins upon himself (became sin for us) when he was put to death on that cross (2 Co 5:21). So when he died our sins died with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead he rose victorious over sin, death, hell, and Satan, on our behalf. So, by God-given faith in him, which results in us dying with Christ to sin, we are forgiven.
And, yes, Jesus died for the sins of the people of the whole world, but we are only forgiven our sins and made right with God via us dying with Christ to sin and us being raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him now free from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin and now empowered of God to walk righteously in obedience to our Lord Jesus (1 Pet 2:24; Gal 2:20; Rom 6:1-23; Luke 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
1 John 2:3-6 ESV
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
Now here is the clincher. Jesus said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. So there will come a day when we will all stand before God and we will all be judged of God by our deeds, and then many who claimed Jesus as Lord in this life are going to hear him say, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
[Matt 7:21-23; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Heb 10:26-27; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-11; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Luke 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
So, it is not enough just to pray a prayer to receive Christ, or to make a public confession of him as Lord, or to say you believe in Jesus, or that you accept his love, grace, and forgiveness. First we must be crucified with Christ in death to sin, i.e. we must repent of our sins and surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and let him change us from the inside out. And then we must walk in obedience to his commands (New Covenant) in his power.
But this isn’t us doing something to try to earn our own salvation. We can only die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness because of what Jesus Christ did for us on that cross, and only through God-given faith in him, which is not of our own doing. All this comes from God, but we must appropriate it to our lives. We must surrender. We must yield control of our lives over to the Lord and cooperate with his work of grace.
[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; Titus 2:11-14; Rom 12:1-2; Luke 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Co 6:19-20; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Jas 1:22-25; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23]
For, the truth of the Scriptures tells us that to know and to love God/Christ is to obey him: (Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:10; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:16; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:1-2; Jas 1:21-25; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Php 2:12-13; Jn 10:27-30).
So, if we say that we know him but we do not obey him, in practice, we are liars and the truth is not in us. Do you believe that? Many do not. Many people today, at least here in America, think that a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ is enough to secure them forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life with God and heaven as their eternal destiny. But that is not what the Scriptures teach. So we need to know what they teach.
For again the goal of our salvation is not just forgiveness of sins so that we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. The goal of our salvation is to change us, to transform us, to turn us from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that we may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:18).
The truth that is in Christ Jesus instructs us “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (see Ephesians 4:17-24).
And God’s love and grace to us is not free license to continue in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord. For if this is how we live, we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God. Instead, God’s grace trains us to renounce (say “No!” to) ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return, for Jesus cares (Titus 2:11-14; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Eph 5:3-6).
Does Jesus Care?
1 Peter 5:7
Lyrics by Frank E. Graeff, 1901
Music by Joseph L. Hall, 1901
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
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