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The word “sin” has virtually disappeared from modern conversation. Afraid of sounding judgmental, we call sin something else—a mistake, an addiction, a tendency, a bad decision—and ignore it as normal and natural behavior. But John is calling the church to a radical holiness where those in the church will regularly remember their sins and seek God’s forgiveness. Each sin, small and large, injures us or someone else; it imprints on our soul, makes us imperfect, and separates us from the perfect God. If we confess our sins to God each day, then He will purify our hearts and draw us closer to Him.

You are my little children, so I am writing these things to help you avoid sin. If, however, any believer does sin, we have a high-powered defense lawyer—Jesus the Anointed, the righteous—arguing on our behalf before the Father. It was through His sacrificial death that our sins were atoned. But He did not stop there—He died for the sins of the whole world.

John is affectionately addressing this letter to his “little children,” and he is writing to help them avoid sin and the pain and guilt that come with it. The glamour of decadent lifestyles devoid of God is often advertised as the epitome of joy and freedom. But what are often conveniently left out of these portrayals are the agonizing consequences of such destructive lifestyles. Meaningful pleasure comes not when we are enslaved by the empty promises of the world, but when we are living in loving obedience to God.

We know we have joined Him in an intimate relationship because we live out His commands. If someone claims, “I am in an intimate relationship with Him,” but this big talker doesn’t live out His commands, then this individual is a liar and a stranger to the truth. But if someone responds to and obeys His word, then God’s love has truly taken root and filled him. This is how we know we are in an intimate relationship with Him: anyone who says, “I live in intimacy with Him,” should walk the path Jesus walked.

My loved ones, in one sense, I am not writing a new command for you. I am only reminding you of the old command. It’s a word you already know, a word that has existed from the beginning. However, in another sense, I am writing a new command for you. The new command is the truth that He lived; and now you are living it, too, because the darkness is fading and the true light is already shining among you.

Anyone who says, “I live in the light,” but hates his brother or sister is still living in the shadows. 10 Anyone who loves his brother or sister lives in the light and will not trip because his conscience is clear. 11 But anyone who hates his brother is in the darkness, stumbling around with no idea where he is going, blinded by the darkness.

We are deeply loved by God. When we turn and love those members of our faith family whom God loves, we are set apart and different from the world.

12 I am writing to you, my children, because your sins have been forgiven by the authority of His name.

13 I am writing to you, fathers and mothers, because you have known Him as the Creator, as the One who started everything.

I am writing to you, young people, because He has given you the power to conquer the evil one.

14 I have written to you, my children, because you have known the Father.

I have written to you, fathers and mothers, because you have known Him, the Creator.

I have written to you, young people, because the voice of God remains and is heard among you. Remember that you have conquered the evil one.

15 Don’t fall in love with this corrupt world or worship the things it can offer. Those who love its corrupt ways don’t have the Father’s love living within them. 16 All the things the world can offer to you—the allure of pleasure, the passion to have things, and the pompous sense of superiority—do not come from the Father. These are the rotten fruits of this world. 17 This corrupt world is already wasting away, as are its selfish desires. But the person really doing God’s will—that person will never cease to be.

18 My children, this is the final hour. You have heard that the antiChrist, the greatest enemy to His kingdom, is coming, but in fact, many antiChrists are already here. This development tells us how late it really is. 19 A group has left us, but they were not part of our family. If they were truly our brothers and sisters, they would have remained for the duration with us. When they left, they made it ever so obvious that they were not part of us.

20 You have been given an anointing, a special touch from the Holy One. You know the truth.[a] 21 I am not writing to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it. You know that no lie belongs to the truth. 22 The liar is the one who says, “Jesus is not really the Anointed One.” This is the antiChrist, the one denying both the Father and the Son. 23 Anyone who denies the Son does not know the Father. The one affirming the Son enjoys an intimate relationship with the Father as well.

24 Let the good news, the story you have heard from the beginning of your journey, live in and take hold of you. If that happens and you focus on the good news, then you will always remain in a relationship with the Son and the Father. 25 This is what He promised us: eternal life.

26 I also am writing to warn you about some who are attempting to deceive you. 27 You have an anointing. You received it from Him, and His anointing remains on you. You do not need any other teacher. But as His anointing instructs you in all the essentials (all the truth uncontaminated by darkness and lies), it teaches you this: “Remain connected to Him.”

28 So now, my little children, live in Him, so that whenever He is revealed, we will have confidence and not have to hang our heads in shame before Him when He comes. 29 If you know that He is just and faithful, then you also know that everyone who lives faithfully and acts justly has been born into a new life through Him.

Footnotes

  1. 2:20 Other manuscripts read “all things.”