Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 56
The True Light
I John 2:1-29
All right, getting back into The Word now in I John chapter 2, and we’re going to jump right in at verse 1, as we pretty much finished chapter 1 in our last taping. But, I guess I’d better keep reminding everybody these little epistles at the tail end of our New Testament are just a continuation of the Old Testament prophecies. And it’s all in view of the coming wrath and Tribulation, the Second Coming and then the one-thousand-year Kingdom Age. In these little Jewish epistles there is not one word in here about the Church, the Body of Christ – but rather it was written to these congregations of Jewish believers that were part of Christ’s earthly ministry and that of the Twelve.
I was so encouraged when someone sent me a commentary a while back that I had never seen or heard of before – and it says the exact thing that I’ve been saying – so I know I’m not coming out of the woodwork all by myself. But remember that these little epistles are written by James and Peter and John, who were part of the Apostles of Israel. And remember, at that Jerusalem counsel that’s recorded in Galatians chapter 2, after all the arguing and after everything had finally settled, they all shook hands. A gentleman’s agreement that Peter, James and John would stay with the Nation of Israel and Paul and Barnabas would go to the Gentiles, or non-Jewish world.
Well then, as a result of that handshake, I have to hold these people’s feet to the fire. If they shake hands on this, and then come right back and write something for Gentiles, then they didn’t keep their word. But they did keep their word, so everything in these little epistles (written now by James and Peter and John and then Jude slips in between there, but it’s the same format, this) is all written to the Nation of Israel. Now, when I say “written to,” that doesn’t mean you tear it out and throw it away, or that it’s of no use to us. Paul himself says, “all Scripture is profitable” but not all Scripture is written directly to us for our practice. In this Age of Grace we’re in, we go primarily to Paul’s epistles as they were given to him by the risen Lord for us, as he tells us in Ephesians 3:1-2.
And that’s where people get all mixed up. So, here again, these little epistles were written primarily for the Jew’s benefit. The Kingdom believers were, I feel, in little congregations there between Pentecost and when these things are written – and, of course, it all ends with the destruction of the Temple just a year or two after the New Testament is finished. And Israel is then dispersed into the nations of the world. And now then here we are, as I’ve been stressing ever since we’ve been in James, full circle, 2,000 years later and the scenario is almost the same once again.
Today, Israel is back in the land waiting for all these end-time things to take place. The Roman Empire is ready to make its appearance again in the nations of Western Europe and so everything that was in place here in the late 50’s AD and early 60’s AD is now in place once again. And so these letters were so appropriate for the Jewish believers, the Kingdom believers – they know nothing of Paul’s Gospel yet. They’re Kingdom believers looking for the return of their Messiah.
Now I emphasized that when we were introducing the little book of James, but never lose sight that the prophetic program is coming right straight through with no indication that it’s going to be interrupted. And I pointed out in a past program the only hint we had is what the Lord Himself, the God of Creation, knew, and that was in Luke 4, when He stopped in the middle of the verse in Isaiah 61 verse 2. And He said, “this has been fulfilled in your ears.” But remember He stopped in the middle of the verse and sat down. Because the rest of the verse made reference to the Tribulation, and the next verse made reference to the Kingdom. Age. But the Lord knew that that wasn’t going to happen at that time, so He stopped.
Peter, on the other hand, in the book of Acts, also uses an Old Testament prophecy and he tells the people, those Jews, on the day of Pentecost that what they’re seeing is what was foretold in Joel. And he quotes the whole prophecy. “The sun and the moon turned into blood. And the great catastrophes associated with the Tribulation and then the Kingdom would come” So remember that these letters were written to Jewish believers in view of the soon-coming Tribulation and the Second Coming and the Kingdom, with no hint of the Age of Grace, or of Paul’s Gospel of Grace.
Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t take good things out of these Jewish epistles. Of course, there are many things because the God of the Jewish economy is the God of Grace, and so this whole Book all fits together – but what’s written to Israel is intrinsic to Israel. What’s written by the Apostle Paul to the Church or to the Grace Age is intrinsically written for us. All right, so remember now this little Book is written to Jewish believers by the Apostle John.
I John 2:1a
“My little children,.…” Now that’s a term of endearment. And what is the main theme of John’s writing back in the Gospel as well as in his letter – what’s the four-letter word? Love!John is the Apostle that is always epitomizing love. He must have been the kind of an individual that just had a soft heart. I don’t think he was the blundering type that Peter was and that shows up so clearly in John 20. John is just a heart of love. And so this is a term of endearment that fits his personality, even though it’s inspired by the Spirit.
I John 2:1a
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not….” Can’t you hear the begging in his voice? Now Paul says much the same thing. Let’s go back and look at how Paul puts it. Go back to Romans chapter 12, and verse 1. It’s almost the same kind of language but, you see, Paul doesn’t exude that softhearted love that John does, I don’t think. Paul just comes right out and says it.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2. And be not conformed to this world:.…” What’s he saying? Basically the same thing – that you “sin not.” Because if you’re not going to be conformed to the things of this world, then you’re not going to be living a life of sin. You’re going to be living a life set apart for Christ. Now, back to I John, so John puts it this way.
I John 2:1a
“My little children these things write I unto you, that ye sin not….” Live lives that are beyond reproach. But what are we, and what were these Jews? Human. And as humans we’re prone to sin. We may not go into the gross sins, but we’re all capable of sinning. Whether it’s a silent coveting of something or somebody, or maybe we just slip out a bad statement about someone that we know is not going to help them. Well, that’s sin. And I think those are the areas where most believers have to confront their sin. I don’t think that many of us are going to be confronted with gross adultery or murder or thievery or anything like that. But nevertheless, sin is sin.
I John 2:1b
“…And if any man sin,.…” See? “If a man sin.” Now isn’t that comforting? And does the rest of the statement say, “If you sin, you’re out? If a man sins, he’s lost or on his way to hell?” No. It doesn’t say that.
I John 2:1c
“…And if any man sin, we have an advocate (or a lawyer, or an attorney) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”
I don’t like to visualize the spiritual any more than necessary. I don’t think that’s always appropriate but, nevertheless, there are times when we just have to sort of get a mental picture of things. Here we have God the Father, the invisible Spirit God – God of holiness and righteousness; and right there at the right hand of the majesty, the Scripture says we have our crucified, buried, ascended Lord now doing what? Interceding for us. He’s our advocate. And so every time the believer sins, what does the advocate do? He says, “Father they’re mine. They’re under the blood. They’re washed.” And that’s comfort and I think this is to a certain degree for us as well as it was for those Jews.
I went through most of Paul’s epistles again and I can’t find a single place where Paul directly addresses how we are to deal with our failures in this Age of Grace. Paul doesn’t use this kind of language. The closest I can come to Paul telling us how to deal with our daily sin, is in II Corinthians, chapter 7. This is kind of amazing. Now he certainly draws that line of demarcation between the works of the flesh and the works of the Spirit, but he does not address the problem of a believer sinning. And I can’t quite understand why, unless the Holy Spirit intends for us to go into verses like I John which, like I said, can certainly be applicable. But this is as close as Paul comes to telling us how to deal with our daily sin.
II Corinthians 7:1
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting (maturing) holiness in the fear of God.” Quite a statement isn’t it? How are we to be cleansed? Turn to Ephesians chapter 5 verse 26. Now he’s speaking of the corporate Body of Christ – but nevertheless, as the corporate Body, we are individually a part of it. And look how we’re cleansed.
“That he (that is Christ is verse 25) might sanctify and cleanse it (that is the Body, but that would also splash over to the individual believer, so He’s going to cleanse us) with the washing of water (not H2O water, but what?) by the word.”
The Word! So, now then, how do you and I as Grace-Age believers deal with our sins from day-to-day? Well, let’s just take an example. Come back with me to Galatians, chapter 5 verse 16, and I think this is one way of doing it. Because we know that Paul makes it so plain that we never again have to pray for forgiveness. And I’ve taught that for years. The believer does not have to constantly come back and say, “God forgive me.” You’re forgiven. That’s a one-time deal. But we do need daily cleansing.
“This I say then, (now remember this is Paul writing in the Age of Grace) Walk in the Spirit, (that is in the Holy Spirit’s control) and ye shall not fulfill (or give in to) the lust (or the desires) of the flesh.” There’s the whole idea. That we, with the indwelling Holy Spirit, are now empowered not to sin. And that’s why John had to plead that they sin not – but Paul, on the other hand, says that, if we’re walking in the Spirit, we won’t. All right, verse 17:
“For the flesh (the old sin nature) lusteth (or wars) against the Spirit, (the new nature) and the (new nature in the power of the Holy) Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Well, that’s obvious. In other words, you can’t just drift. There has to be some energy put into our living the Christian life. All right, verse 18.
“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Now he shows exactly what you and I are to be aware of. These are the things of the flesh. These are the things that the Spirit will keep us from committing if we let Him.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,”
Now we always put those four in the category of sexuality. That’s where the world is just getting almost awash.
“Idolatry, (and it doesn’t have to be an idol of wood or stone. Anything can become an idol) witchcraft,.…” Now, believe it or not, the first thing we heard about, when we were out East, was the tremendous rise of the practice of witchcraft. And they were giving us evidence of it. And so most of us think, “Well, that’s something that took place eons ago.” No. It’s right here in America and it’s exploding all around us. So it’s no longer something to just wink at.
“Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, (we’re hearing a lot about that lately. My, they can exude hate) variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Now that is what the Book says – this isn’t what I say. People who practice these things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. They’re lost. They’re of the world. They’re of the flesh. They’re doomed. And then you see the other side of the coin, which is the life of the believer, under the control of the Holy Spirit:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. 23. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
All right, there I think it’s defined that when some of these things of the flesh enter into our life (and they’re not all going to hit us at once), I don’t think any of us have to worry about that. But, if any of this stuff happens to come into our thinking, or whatever, how are we going to cleanse it? Get into the Book!
You know, somebody out in Virginia the other day gave me a thought that I had never considered before, and I just can’t get it out of my mind. He said, “You know, you can take an alcoholic and you can rehabilitate him; and with some ongoing help, he can go back to a normal lifestyle. You can take a drug addict and bring him into rehabilitation and, of course, with some help you can bring him back to a normal lifestyle. And it’s behind him. But take someone who has watched pornography – and that is something that you can never wipe off the brain.”
Now think about that. These people or these kids watching pornography – that’s there until the day they die. Nobody can take it out and the only way we can overcome it, of course, is saturating our mind with the Word of God. Otherwise, that stuff just keeps coming up and coming up and coming up. That’s something to think about isn’t it? And it is a problem. My, you’d be surprised, in our little ministry, how many letters we get where a spouse is tied up in pornography. And it ruins a marriage. And it’s something that you can’t deal with. You can’t rehabilitate them because, just as soon as anything triggers their thought processes, there it is. Well, you know that. Remember all the stuff you heard when you were in junior high and high school, it’s just as sharp today as the day you heard it. It never leaves. And the only thing we can do is just simply combat it by saturating ourselves with the Word of God. That’s how we’re to be cleansed in this Age of Grace.
All right, coming back, and like I say, we can take some of these things even from these little epistles and use them for our profit, because all Scripture is profitable. So coming back to chapter 2 now. So, if we sin, we do have an advocate with the Father, and it’s, of course, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. All right, now verse 2 – here is again where John and Paul are on the same ‘page.’ They use the same word.
I John 2:2
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
And that of course, I taught years ago – that when Christ finished the work of the cross, He was able to forgive the whole human race. They’re forgiven. But it does them no good until they appropriate it by faith. God has reconciled the whole world. He has told every human being that has ever lived everything that needs to be done to bring them back. It’s finished. But, it can’t be done until they believe. And never forget that. The work of the cross was total in the forgiveness of mankind’s sin.
But it does them no good until they appropriate it by faith. And that’s what must just tear the heart of God – that His love was so great, His suffering beyond human comprehension to pay the sin-debt for every human being, and yet so few cash in on it. Now that must be heartbreaking to think that He has done so much and only so few respond. But for those of us who are responding, we can go to this One Who is the propitiation for our sin. Remember for salvation today, in this Age of Grace, a person must believe in their heart that Jesus died for their sins, was buried, and rose again. God calls it a free gift, and the moment we believe that for salvation He saves us. Now I can prove that Paul uses this same word“propitiation.” Come back with me to Romans, chapter 3, and verse 25. Christ Jesus again in verse 24.
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,.…”
The Lord Jesus Himself is the propitiation and it is again accomplished through our faith. That’s what appropriates it. Now when I say ‘appropriate’ I guess I should use an everyday example. Congress will pass a law and they will put so many billions of dollars into – we’ll say a highway building fund. It goes into a fund and it sits there in Washington UNTIL… What does the individual state have to do? Well, they have to make application. They have to appropriate money for highways out of that fund in Washington. But until the state asks for it, and makes application for it, it stays there.
Well, it’s the same way with the plan of salvation. God has done it all. It’s just sits there waiting for the appropriation of the individual by faith. And oh it’s so simple, it blows people away, and they can’t buy it. But that’s where it is.
All right, now this word propitiation is that total work, as well as place of sacrifice, that was probably pictured the best back there at the Tabernacle where they had the brazen altar. And as that sacrificial animal was laid on that brazen altar, the animal was the sacrifice. The altar was the place of sacrifice. Christ is all of it. The Lord Jesus is all of it! He is not only the sacrifice, He is the place of sacrifice. He’s the mercy seat. He’s the Ark of the Covenant, He’s everything and we appropriate it all by faith when we believe Paul’s Gospel for salvation.
Now I can’t understand it all, and I don’t expect anybody else to, but what little I understand, I take by faith. “God, You said it, and I believe it.” And that’s why it is so thrilling, and that’s when you can pass it on to others. That’s the only reason I teach. My, there’s nothing more thrilling than to be able to see somebody come to a knowledge of all this and accept it by faith. The Lord Jesus became our everything in that finished work, and that’s why no one is going to come up before the Great White Throne and have an argument. They will immediately recognize that they deserve the eternal doom to which they’re going – because then they’ll recognize that, yes, their sins have been paid for, but they never appropriated it. They never cashed in on what our precious Lord had done on their behalf.