Posted in , , ,

A Continual Application

10 February 2012 by Frank Turk

To prevent these tragic failings, the Apostle testifies first that the design of his doctrine was to keep men from sinning; for when he says, that ye sin not, he means specifically that they, inside the bounds of human ability, should avoid sinning. And it's for the same reason I have already said what I said about fellowship with God, that we are to be conformable to him. He is not, however, forgetting to say that the forgiveness of sin is wantonly spilled out; for though heaven should fall and all things be utterly mixed up, this part of truth ought never to be omitted; but, on the contrary, what Christ is ought to be preached clearly and distinctly. And that's still our job to this very day. Because the flesh is inclined to covet the world, men ought to be carefully warned, that righteousness and salvation are provided in Christ so that we may become the holy possession of God. Yet whenever it happens that men wantonly abuse the mercy of God, there are many snarlish men who load us with calumny, as though we gave loose reins to vices. We ought still boldly to go on and proclaim the grace of Christ, in which especially shines forth the glory of God, and in which consists the whole salvation of men.

These barkings of the ungodly ought, I repeat it, to be wholly disregarded; for we see that the apostles were also barked at by the ungodly for this. Therefore John immediately adds the second clause, that when we sin we have an advocate. By these words he confirms what we have already said, that we are very far from being perfectly righteous-- that we contract new guilt daily -- and that yet there is a remedy for reconciling us to God, if we run to Christ; and this is alone that in which consciences call acquiesce, in which is included the righteousness of men, in which is founded the hope of salvation.

The conditional particle, if, ought to be viewed as causal; for it cannot be but that we sin. In short, John means, that we are not only called away from sin by the gospel, because God invites us to himself, and offers to us the Spirit of regeneration, but that a provision is made for miserable sinners, that they may have God always willing to be good to them, and that the sins by which they are entangled, do not prevent them from becoming just, because they have a Mediator to reconcile them to God. But in order to show how we return into favor with God, he says that Christ is our advocate; for he appears before God for this end, that he may exercise towards us the power and effectiveness of his sacrifice.

That this may be better understood, I will speak more homely. The intercession of Christ is a continual application of his death for our salvation. That God then does not impute to us our sins, this comes to us, because he has regard to Christ as intercessor. But the two names, by which he afterwards signalizes Christ, properly belong to the subject of this passage. He calls him just and a propitiation. It is necessary for him to be both, that he might sustain the office and person of an Advocate; for who that is a sinner could reconcile God to us? For we are excluded from access to him, because no one is pure and free from sin

Hence no one is fit to be a high priest, except he is innocent and separated from sinners, as it is also declared in Hebrews 7:26. Propitiation is added, because no one is fit to be a high priest without a sacrifice. Hence, under the Law, no priest entered the sanctuary without blood; and a sacrifice, as a usual seal, was wont, according to God’s appointment, to accompany prayers. By this symbol it was God’s design to shew, that whosoever obtains favor for us, must be furnished with a sacrifice; for when God is offended, in order to pacify him a satisfaction is required. It hence follows, that all the saints who have ever been and shall be, have need of an advocate, and that no one except Christ is equal to undertake this office. And doubtless John ascribed these two things to Christ, to show that he is the only true advocate.

-- John Calvin, Commentary of 1 John 2:1-2
Paraphrased