1 John 2

* The apostle directs to the atonement of Christ for help

against sinful infirmities. (1,2) The effects of saving

knowledge in producing obedience, and love to the brethren.

(3-11) Christians addressed as little children, young men, and

fathers. (12-14) All are cautioned against the love of this

world, and against errors. (15-23) They are encouraged to stand

fast in faith and holiness. (24-29)

1,2 When have an Advocate with the Father; one who has

undertaken, and is fully able, to plead in behalf of every one

who applies for pardon and salvation in his name, depending on

his pleading for them. He is "Jesus," the Saviour, and "Christ,"

the Messiah, the Anointed. He alone is "the Righteous One," who

received his nature pure from sin, and as our Surety perfectly

obeyed the law of God, and so fulfilled all righteousness. All

men, in every land, and through successive generations, are

invited to come to God through this all-sufficient atonement,

and by this new and living way. The gospel, when rightly

understood and received, sets the heart against all sin, and

stops the allowed practice of it; at the same time it gives

blessed relief to the wounded consciences of those who have

sinned.
3-11 What knowledge of Christ can that be, which sees not that

he is most worthy of our entire obedience? And a disobedient

life shows there is neither religion nor honesty in the

professor. The love of God is perfected in him that keeps his

commandments. God's grace in him attains its true mark, and

produces its sovereign effect as far as may be in this world,

and this is man's regeneration; though never absolutely perfect

here. Yet this observing Christ's commands, has holiness and

excellency which, if universal, would make the earth resemble

heaven itself. The command to love one another had been in force

from the beginning of the world; but it might be called a new

command as given to Christians. It was new in them, as their

situation was new in respect of its motives, rules, and

obligations. And those who walk in hatred and enmity to

believers, remain in a dark state. Christian love teaches us to

value our brother's soul, and to dread every thing hurtful to

his purity and peace. Where spiritual darkness dwells, in mind,

the judgment, and the conscience will be darkened, and will

mistake the way to heavenly life. These things demand serious

self-examination; and earnest prayer, that God would show us

what we are, and whither we are going.
12-14 As Christians have their peculiar states, so they have

peculiar duties; but there are precepts and obedience common to

all, particularly mutual love, and contempt of the world. The

youngest sincere disciple is pardoned: the communion of saints

is attended with the forgiveness of sins. Those of the longest

standing in Christ's school need further advice and instruction.

Even fathers must be written unto, and preached unto; none are

too old to learn. But especially young men in Christ Jesus,

though they are arrived at strength of spirit and sound sense,

and have successfully resisted first trials and temptations,

breaking off bad habits and connexions, and entered in at the

strait gate of true conversion. The different descriptions of

Christians are again addressed. Children in Christ know that God

is their Father; it is wisdom. Those advanced believers, who

know Him that was from the beginning, before this world was

made, may well be led thereby to give up this world. It will be

the glory of young persons to be strong in Christ, and his

grace. By the word of God they overcome the wicked one.
15-17 The things of the world may be desired and possessed for

the uses and purposes which God intended, and they are to be

used by his grace, and to his glory; but believers must not seek

or value them for those purposes to which sin abuses them. The

world draws the heart from God; and the more the love of the

world prevails, the more the love of God decays. The things of

the world are classed according to the three ruling inclinations

of depraved nature. 1. The lust of the flesh, of the body: wrong

desires of the heart, the appetite of indulging all things that

excite and inflame sensual pleasures. 2. The lust of the eyes:

the eyes are delighted with riches and rich possessions; this is

the lust of covetousness. 3. The pride of life: a vain man

craves the grandeur and pomp of a vain-glorious life; this

includes thirst after honour and applause. The things of the

world quickly fade and die away; desire itself will ere long

fail and cease, but holy affection is not like the lust that

passes away. The love of God shall never fail. Many vain efforts

have been made to evade the force of this passage by

limitations, distinctions, or exceptions. Many have tried to

show how far we may be carnally-minded, and love the world; but

the plain meaning of these verses cannot easily be mistaken.

Unless this victory over the world is begun in the heart, a man

has no root in himself, but will fall away, or at most remain an

unfruitful professor. Yet these vanities are so alluring to the

corruption in our hearts, that without constant watching and

prayer, we cannot escape the world, or obtain victory over the

god and prince of it.
18-23 Every man is an antichrist, who denies the Person, or any

of the offices of Christ; and in denying the Son, he denies the

Father also, and has no part in his favour while he rejects his

great salvation. Let this prophecy that seducers would rise in

the Christian world, keep us from being seduced. The church

knows not well who are its true members, and who are not, but

thus true Christians were proved, and rendered more watchful and

humble. True Christians are anointed ones; their names expresses

this: they are anointed with grace, with gifts and spiritual

privileges, by the Holy Spirit of grace. The great and most

hurtful lies that the father of lies spreads in the world,

usually are falsehoods and errors relating to the person of

Christ. The unction from the Holy One, alone can keep us from

delusions. While we judge favourably of all who trust in Christ

as the Divine Saviour, and obey his word, and seek to live in

union with them, let us pity and pray for those who deny the

Godhead of Christ, or his atonement, and the new-creating work

of the Holy Ghost. Let us protest against such antichristian

doctrine, and keep from them as much as we may.
24-29 The truth of Christ, abiding in us, is a means to sever

from sin, and unites us to the Son of God, #Joh 15:3,4|. What

value should we put upon gospel truth! Thereby the promise of

eternal life is made sure. The promise God makes, is suitable to

his own greatness, power, and goodness; it is eternal life. The

Spirit of truth will not lie; and he teaches all things in the

present dispensation, all things necessary to our knowledge of

God in Christ, and their glory in the gospel. The apostle

repeats the kind words, "little children;" which denotes his

affection. He would persuade by love. Gospel privileges oblige

to gospel duties; and those anointed by the Lord Jesus abide

with him. The new spiritual nature is from the Lord Christ. He

that is constant to the practice of religion in trying times,

shows that he is born from above, from the Lord Christ. Then,

let us beware of holding the truth in unrighteousness,

remembering that those only are born of God, who bear his holy

image, and walk in his most righteous ways.

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