First Letter of John 2: 1-6 (NIV)
1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
When the Apostle John wrote this, thought by scholars to be late in his relatively long life, he knew that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice was not only for Jews but for the peoples of all nations. Moreover he knew that the sins for which the sacrifice of Jesus was sufficient atonement were not only those of the present; they included those that had already been committed some time in the past and those to be committed at some future time by people who had not yet been born – including us.
Even so, there are people who refuse to accept Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. There are people whose sins have been covered but who refuse to accept that atonement, some even refusing to accept the fact that they have sinned. Perhaps the saddest cases are those referred to by the Apostle John in verse 4: “The man who says ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands”.
I have to admit that, despite good intentions, I do not always do what Jesus commands. I fail to live up to his standards; I fail to “walk as Jesus did” (verse 6). Sometimes my efforts to be obedient are half-hearted; my human frailty is reflected in my weakness of will, lack of strength, failures of faith.
I am grateful for the comforting words which the Apostle John gives us (verse 1). Writing to us so that we will not sin, he then assures us that, even if we do sin (for example by failing to do always as Jesus has commanded), Jesus speaks to the Father in our defence.
We who follow Jesus seek to obey his word. Unassisted we would be incapable of this obedience but we are not unassisted. As he promised to his disciples (Gospel of John 14 and 15), so he gives to us the gift of the Counsellor, the Spirit of truth, to inform us, guide us and strengthen us.
May those newly sworn-in to our Federal Parliament be strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that they are equipped to obey the word of Jesus and to walk as he did – throughout their Parliamentary careers and beyond.