Imagine that you are given an accounting ledger with your name at the top. In the negative column is everything you owe God—your sins carry the penalty of death. You can never do enough good deeds to repay that debt. How can you balance your account? Then you hear about God’s offer of forgiveness. Jesus paid that penalty by dying in our place. When we put our faith in Him and accept God’s gift of eternal life, our debt is canceled!
In today’s reading, John explains three identities of Christ that reveal how this can be true. First, Jesus is our “advocate with the Father” (v. 1). Like a lawyer in a courtroom, Jesus defends us. We are guilty of sin and deserve punishment, but Jesus took our condemnation on Himself. As a result, we are free, if we trust in His name for salvation. On this same basis, we can confess our sins and walk in the light.
Second, Christ is “the Righteous One” (v. 1). He lived a perfect, sinless life—the only human ever to do so! He did not owe a death penalty but chose to die in our place. Third, He is “the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (v. 2; see also Rom. 3:25). Only someone who is perfect would be eligible to substitute for someone else. Only God could do that. So God the Father sent God the Son to open the way to eternal life (John 3:16).
The Old Testament sacrificial system looked forward to what Christ would accomplish once for all (Heb. 9:12). In theology, we refer to this as “propitiation,” defined in one study Bible as “a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath and turns it to favor.”
>> Have you received God’s gift of salvation in Christ? There is nothing you can do to cancel the debt of sin. But if you accept this gift, praise the Lord, your debt has been paid! Let today be the day that heaven rejoices in your spiritual rebirth (Luke 15:10).
Lord, today I am ready to admit my guilt before You. I can do nothing to save myself from Your just wrath, so please wash away my sins with the blood of Jesus, Your Son, and let me become Your child.