He in Us and We in Him

This past week in our Tuesday morning coffee session, Daniel and I went over 1 John chapter 2. (If you want to read his take on chapter 1, click here.)

The first thing that jumped out at me in verse 1 was McKnight’s use of the word “Illuminator” for the Greek paraklētos, where the word we usually find is “advocate”. The reference in the back of my NLT defines paraklētos as “comforter, helper, advocate…a person who helps or enable another person…sometimes has a legal meaning, referring to an advocate in a courtroom setting…it became a title for the Holy Spirit, whose role includes encouraging, strengthening, and supporting God’s people.” When I look at the word Illuminator, I think about bringing things to light. He lights up what’s in the darkness, the things we might want to keep hidden. He helps us, encourages us, to bring those secret sins to light so we can receive the mercy and grace He offers for them. He sacrificed Himself so everyone can have mercy for ALL of our sins, those that are evident and those that still need to be made apparent. The true Light (v.8) appears to chase away the Darkness. The Word illuminates and makes apparent what we want to keep hidden, then the Advocate pleads the case for mercy to erase those sins from our record.

In verse 5, we are told that if we truly obey His word, God’s love is completed in us. We can’t be perfect on our own. We are human, imperfect creatures who make mistakes and bad decisions. But when we observe the things that God has taught us, and live in Him, His love makes us complete. We are made perfect in Him. And “in this we know that we are in Him.” We know. We can have that blessed assurance that we sing about because we are living in Him.

Not going to lie, McKnight’s translation of verse 6 made me giggle. We are to live our lives as Jesus did, we are “obligated to walk around just as that one walked around.” It conjured up images of playing follow the leader or those old video games where you collect characters that trail along behind you as you move along. But in honesty, that’s not far off. We should strive to follow His example as closely as is humanly possible, doing the things He did and teaching the things He taught.

Verses 9-11 talk about loving our siblings and being in Light or Darkness. We have to love our siblings to be able to be in the Light. And I want to point something out. We can’t create dark. All dark is is the absence of light. When you take the light away, you have dark. We also don’t create hate. Hate is the absence of love. When you take love away, you have hate. It doesn’t have to come along with feelings of resentment, vengeance, hurt, or anger. Hate can be apathetic. But if you don’t have love, that leaves hate. That is why John tells us that if we don’t love our fellow believers we aren’t in the Light. Because the Light is Jesus and God is love, so to be in the Light we have to have that love. If we have His love in us, we will show it. If we don’t show it, are we truly in it? Is it completed in us, as verse 5 talked about?

We have that throwback to the word “released” in verse 12 that was first introduced to us in 1:9. I still love the thought that comes with it of being set free.

The next couple of verses feel a little redundant, like they are reiterating each other. John says there are some who are mature who have known the Father from the very beginning, but there are also some who are children, or young, in the faith who have just recently overcome the Evil One. But no matter whether you are years into your walk with the Lord and have walked with Him your whole life, or if you have newly found the strength in Him and His Word to overcome, we are all God’s children if we know the Father.

The section in verse 15-17 warns us about loving the things of the world. John tells us that what is in darkness isn’t from God. Those things that are from this world are not what God has created, but what Satan has perverted.

Starting in verse 18, the ones who are Anti-Christ, those who are actively teaching that Jesus is not the Christ (v. 22). When they left the church, their status was made apparent. It was proven who they were and what their true motives were. They were, as McKnight calls them, falsifiers. Liars. They tried to make what was True look false, and what was False look true. They straight up denied who Jesus was. But John tells the believers in verse 20, “You have the Spirit of the Holy One.” We know the Truth, because the Spirit of Truth resides in us. Ans when we let the Spirit of Truth remain in us, we remain in the Son and in the Father. And that “you” in verse 20 was a collective “you”. He was speaking to everyone hearing that letter read aloud. Each of us has the Spirit of God dwelling in us. Also, in verse 24, the NLT uses the phrase, “remain in fellowship with”, where McKnight’s version simply says, “remain in”. Literally, those two phrases mean the same thing. But when we look at the connotations we have come to associate with the term “fellowship”, I think “remain in” feels so much more comforting. We are in Him. That common life we talked about in chapter one, we also live with Him. He is in us, we are in Him, every step of every day.

The last section of chapter 2 continues to talk about us having His Spirit. If we have His Spirit in us, we have His anointing. His Spirit teaches us. John 14:16-17 tells us the Holy Spirit was coming to dwell in us and would never leave us, and farther down in verse 26, Jesus says the Holy Spirit “will teach you everything and remind you of everything I have already told you.” In that verse, again, McKnight uses the word Illuminator where my NLT says Advocate. He shows us the Light and illuminates the Truth. And dwelling in us, He gives us Life. Back to 1 John 2:29, the rightness, or righteousness, that we have doesn’t come from ourselves, it comes from the life that He gives us. It isn’t there of our own accord, but comes because He is in us and we in Him.

I can’t wait to see what new nuggets of knowledge come from chapter 3 this week!

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