"That Ye Sin Not"
I John 2:1-2
John's primary object, as he states it, in this passage is to keep God's saints from walking in a path of sin. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not." How does he hope to prevail with them? What arguments will he use to keep the people of God from giving in to their carnal nature and sinful lusts? The argument he uses to prevail upon the hearts of God's saints seems absurd to the world. To the religious legalist, it seems to be something less than foolish. Here it is - John says, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins."
It is as though John said, the best way to prevail with gracious hearts, that you sin not, is to let you know before hand that if you do sin, you have an Advocate with the Father who will take away your faults, secure your pardon, and keep any harm from coming upon you because of your sin.
The world counts such reasoning to be absurd. The legalist denounces it as base antinomianism. But this is the common strain of the gospel. The best argument that can be imagined to prevail over the hearts of regenerate men and women and keep them from sin is to let them know how very gracious God is to them, even declaring that he will forgive them of whatever sins they may commit! This is grace indeed!
This assurance of grace is so far from opening the flood gates to licentiousness, that it is the only means by which those gates can be shut. It is the constant method of the Holy Spirit in the writings of Holy Scripture to assure God's saints of the non-imputation of sin, even before it is committed, that they might be persuaded to walk in righteousness. That is exactly Paul's method in Romans 3:23-6:23. Grace is God's method of salvation. Grace is God's motivation to good works among his people. Gracious hearts always respond to grace. Grace compels, constrains,and tenderly forces every believer,in the tenor of his life not to sin, but to maintain good works.
Legalists are motivated by the fear of punishment. Mercenaries are motivated by the promise of reward. But the people of God are motivated to seek his honor, do his will, avoid sin, and walk in holiness by the blessed promise and assurance of his grace in Christ.