John states his purpose in I John 1:3. He writes, "What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." Later in his epistle (I John 5:13), John expands on his purpose. He says: "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life."
In I John 2:1 the author relates his purpose to helping believers overcome sin. He declares, "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin." Sin will mar their fellowship with God and with the saints. John's desire is that the believers will live without sin, but he also talks about Christ being their Advocate when they stumble.
One, no one lives completely without sin.
John recognizes the tension that always exists for Christians between the goal of a sinless life and the realistic fact that at times we do stumble and sin. No one, including Christians, lives entirely without sin. John declares (I John 1:8), "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
When we come to faith in Christ, we should begin to live His life. Christ dwells within us. We have the Holy Spirit as a powerful influence to help us avoid sin. And yet, with all this, there are times when we falter. Because of this, our lives must be lived in humility and full dependence on God. When we depend on Him, the Spirit helps us grow in the image of Christ.
Two, we must not practice sin.
Despite the fact that we stumble, we as Christians do not live in a state of continual deliberate sin. We can mature toward the goal of perfect harmony with the will of God. John goes on to say (I John 2:4-5): "the one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected."
We as believers can live an overcoming life. We are not slaves to sin. The power of the evil one has been broken. John is so certain of this that he is able to say that those who do not overcome are liars. They do not truly follow Christ. When we truly follow Christ, we live victoriously.
Three, Jesus Christ is our Advocate.
John says that Jesus Christ is our Advocate (paraclete). The title paraclete can refer to either Christ or to the Holy Spirit. In our text, John refers to Christ. In his gospel John identifies the Holy Spirit as "another paraclete." By this he means another paraclete like Jesus, not one who is different.
Broadly speaking, the best English word to interpret paraclete is Helper. It covers all the other meanings. However, in this passage the term Advocate stands out. Jesus Christ Himself defends us when we stumble. He presents our case to the Father. No one else is qualified to be our Advocate. Even though believers sin, they have an Advocate with the Father.
What amazing truth! Christ, the Son of God, defends us before the Father. Obviously, this is totally in harmony with the will of the Father. It is all a part of His great plan of salvation. We are not only initially redeemed, but we also are sustained through the work of Christ.
Four, Christ atoned for our sins.
Jesus can be our Advocate before the Father, because of His atoning work on our behalf. John states (I John 2:1), "and He Himself is the propitiation (hilasmos) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." The precise meaning of the Greek word hilasmos is debated. The NAU uses the translation "propitiation;" the RSV translates the word as "expiation." The term propitiation suggests that God's righteous anger is changed. Expiation indicates that sins are covered over. Jesus has made amends for our wrong.
The NIV catches both meanings by using the translation "atoning sacrifice." Because of Christ's sacrifice, the anger of God is changed and sins are covered. Jesus paid the price. We stand before God free persons because of Jesus Christ.
Sooner or later, all believers stumble and sin. Thus, this passage is extremely important. We know that we still have a future. We can still have fellowship with God and with the believers. We can do this because of the dual role of Christ our Savior. Jesus is both our "atoning sacrifice" and our Advocate. The Father will not reject us because He ill not reject the sacrifice made by Christ. He sees us through the blood of Christ.