The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: 1 John 1:5-2:2, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: 1 John 1:5-2:2. for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.

1 John 1:5 – 2:2, The Assurances of Salvation:
• We’re back in 1 John, and just coming back let me remind you that John writes this Gospel for the sake of Christian assurance. And the first importance is the source of our salvation, the Word of Life – Christ and His Gospel. That’s our first assurance!
• But the very next thing we need to be aware of is sin and salvation. I mean you cannot talk about salvation without discussing sin, and vice versa. Listen, Christians are to confess their sin readily. That’s because the confession of sin is basic to salvation.

• However, the Gnostics in John’s day, and false teachers in our day, they say ‘you don’t have to confess your sins to be saved.’ But let me put it in this way, in order to have the assurance of salvation, you need an awareness of what your saved from!
• We are saved from sin and its consequence. What’s the consequence of sin? God’s wrath! The opposite of His wrath is His fellowship which is a result of salvation. That’ll be our first assurance as we get into this morning. Yet that’s not our only focus, part of our assurance is admitting & confessing our sin, and being aware of the forgiveness of that sin!

• See God is light, 1 Timothy 6:15 -16 describes God as the “blessed and only sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light.” Not only is God light in Himself, but He is the source of our light. Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”
• So simply out, God is light, He grants that light to us, but it is given to us through Jesus Christ. Therefore 2 Corinthians 4:4 reminds us that the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving in order that they might not see this light. This brings us to our first assurance of salvation,

  1. We have Fellowship with the Light:
    • Text – 1 John 1:5-7
    • Explanation – According to John, there are some who confessed to be in fellowship with God, but weren’t. Now if that is you today, let me warn you, John says you are liars who don’t practice the truth. However the person who says “I share life with God”, and truly does so, he has received the light of God’s life.
    • That is the true meaning of fellowship, being a partner with God. So if we say we have fellowship with Him, it doesn’t mean anything if we walk in the darkness. God is light meaning He is self-revealing and His represents holiness, goodness, and life. Yet, in Scripture “darkness” represents sin, evil, and death.

• Illustration – So how’s your walk? “Walk” is an expression that refers to the manner of life, or for how you live your life. So it’s not the claim that matters, but the conduct. You can’t claim to be in the light while you’re walking in darkness.
• That’s the idea in Matthew 6:22, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is clear, your whole body is full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body’s full of darkness.”
• So if somebody says they’re in the light and walking in the darkness, they are just telling lies. In Ephesians 5, Paul tells us that the works of darkness are the works of the flesh. If that’s true, you are walking in darkness!
• Application – That’s where the Gnostics were. They claimed to have fellowship with God but they lived in isolation, which is a contrast to fellowship! They were in darkness, choosing to live in sin! Listen, sin distances man from God, it is the opposite of fellowship.
• Fellowship means being intimately involved. Therefore it’s impossible for those in the darkness to have fellowship with God. Light and darkness are opposites, and repel each other. One cannot have fellowship with God with one foot in darkness and one in light, since God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. Darkness and light are two opposing forces, each making their competing claims upon us.

• Conclusion – However, fellowship with the light means we have fellowship with Christ in His love. What He loves we love. It means we have fellowship with Him in His desires. He desires the glory of God – therefore we also work for the same.
• It means that we have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings. We are not nailed to the cross, nor do we die a cruel death, but when He is reproached, we are reproached; and a very sweet thing it is to be blamed for His sake, to be despised for following the Master, to have the world against us.

• Bridge – The positive is that we have also fellowship with Christ in His joys. We are happy in His happiness, we rejoice in His exaltation. And ultimately, because of our fellowship in Christ, our sins have been paid for by His blood.
• This is the Christian’s assurance, through the death of Christ, the shedding of His blood satisfied the demand of a holy God as payment for our sins. And now in Him, we are cleansed! This brings us to a second assurance concerning our salvation,

  1. We Confess Our Sin:
    • Text – 1 John 1:8-10
    • Explanation – Let’s start by saying that the confession of sin is the noble thing to do. But men don’t like to confess their sin. See, we may come up with very complicated and even religious systems to remove the necessity to confess their sins.
    • The Gnostics believed that sin is attached to the physical world, there’s nothing you can do about it, so don’t make an issue out of it, focus on the spiritual. So there are all kinds of ways to deny sin. Romans 1 teaches us that man chooses to exchange the truth for a lie.

• And it is all about loving sin and not wanting its consequences. Now John tells us that denying sin is sin! Sin obstructs and denies our fellowship with God! Thomas Watson puts it this way, “Sin is a mere cheat. While it pretends to please us, it entices us! Sin does as Jael did. First she brought the milk and butter to Sisera, then she struck the nail through his temples so that he died (Judg. 5:26).
• Sin first judges, and then kills. It is first a fox and then a lion. Whoever sin kills it betrays. . . Sin is like the usurer who feeds a man with money and then makes him loan his land. Sin feeds the sinner with delightful objects and then makes him loan his soul. Judas please himself with thirty pieces of silver, but they proved deceitful riches. Ask him now how he likes his bargain.”

• Illustration – What this tells us is this, one needs to recognise their own sinfulness otherwise, in their folly, they won’t need Christ! When you say you have no sin, it is clear evidence that you don’t have fellowship with God! But when you walk in fellowship with God, to yourself, you might seem to be more of a sinner than ever before!
• That is when we acknowledge our sin! In the transparency of your life, your wickedness will be evident to you and you will have a desire to get rid of it because it’s not pure and it drives you away from holiness! Only when you acknowledge your sin, will you confess it and repent from it! Because sin is the obstacle that’s stops our fellowship!

• Application – John therefore tells us “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So in order for us to have the assurance of our salvation in the face of sin, we cannot deny it, but we must admit it!
• Proverbs 28:13 fittingly says, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them, finds mercy!” So John says when we confess our sin, Christ is faithful and righteous to forgive us.

• Thomas Watson put it this way, “When a man has judged himself, Satan is put out of office. When he then lays anything to a Christian’s charge, he is able to reply and say, “It is true, Satan, I am guilty of these sins, but I have judged myself already for them; and having condemned myself in the lower court of conscience, God will free me in the upper court of heaven.”
• God not only forgives our sins but He also purifies us from sin. But then we can ask, how is God just if He forgives our sins? In our minds, justice means punishment without forgiveness. God cannot leave sin unpunished. Therefore, the cross is the only moral ground on which God can forgive sin, because that’s where the blood of Jesus was shed so that He can be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

• Conclusion – Confessing our sin, is then not just a general statement we speak, it the deliberate act in which we bring them to our minds, declaring them, and forsaking them. Having confessed and repented, the finished work of Christ is credited to us and the only justice God has for us, is His mercy.
• That’s why we can sing with the hymnist, “when Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within. Upward I look and see Him, Christ, there. Who made an end of all my sin! Because the sinless Saviour died for me, my sinful soul is counted free. For God the just is satisfied, to look on Christ and to pardon me.”

• Bridge – Friends, God’s forgiveness excuses us from the punishment of sin which we deserve. And we have this assurance when we continually confess our sins as it points us to Christ in us and His work on our behalf. This brings us to a third assurance…

  1. We Have Christ as Advocate:
    • Text – 1 John 2:1-2
    • Explanation – This is very important for driving the point home because we often doubt our salvation, that part of what sin does, it brings doubt. So listen, we are not powerless to sin, but redemption doesn’t give us a license to sin. It should encourage repentance and a lifestyle of killing sin. John Calvin once said, “see the great difference between sin and grace. Sin brings a man low, but grace lifts him high. Sin tumbles him in the ditch, but graces sets him on the throne!”
    • Sin will always be there somewhere in our lives and we’re always going to be confessing that sin, and always going to be being cleansed. But that doesn’t mean we should respond by saying, “it’s going to be there and it’s going to be cleansed and we’re going to confess it, so why bother striving for holiness?”

• Romans 6:1 says, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? May it never be.” Romans 6:6, “We are no longer to be slaves to sin for He who has died is freed from sin.” And verse 12 says, “Don’t let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts.”
• So John also warns us not to abuse God’s grace and not treat sin lightly. Sin must be overcome. It is to be mastered, it is to be conquered, and you can conquer it. You can rise above it in the strength of the new life and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

• Illustration – As you grow in Christ, there should be the decreasing frequency of sin. But anyone sins we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. This phrase translates a single Greek word: paraklētos.
• paraklētos is consistently portrayed as an advocate, one who speaks on behalf of the accused, which is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit testifying in favour of Jesus over against a hostile world (John 16:7–11). But according to 1 John, Jesus functions as our paraklētos, speaking up on our behalf in the presence of his Father when we sin.
• Application – So when Satan brings some accusation against a believer, the Lord Jesus can point to His finished work on Calvary and say, “Charge that to My account.” See He is the righteous advocate who stands in the presence of the Father to speak on behalf of those who have not acted righteously.
• However, Jesus Christ is much more than an advocate who intercedes for those who have sinned, He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He doesn’t just speak for us, He is the sacrifice that bears God’s wrath and turns it to favour. We can put it this way, by His sacrifice – our fellowship with God is restored!

• So in our salvation, we can be assured that Jesus is the one who speaks to the Father in our defense when we sin. One commentator said this suggests that He is pleading for mercy for sinners by pointing to His atoning sacrifice.
• This might make it sound like God is always angry and Jesus needs to calm Him. But it is God Himself who took the initiative to provide the sacrifice which is needed if our sins are to be forgiven. But John is not content to say that Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice ‘for our sins’, but adds, but also for the sins of the whole world.

• Conclusion – This does not mean universalism, meaning all will be saved. It simply says that His propitiation is as wide as sin. It is easier to say what it doesn’t mean, than what it does. What we can say is, in 5:11–13 he says that those who have the Son have eternal life, but those who do not have the Son do not have life.
• Bridge – That is the assurance of salvation, to stand in fellowship with God because we confessed our sin to the righteous advocate who still stands for us. That’s John’s picture of who is a Christian, one who is being cleansed, one who is confessing, and one who is conquering.