1 John 2:1, “My little children, these things write I unto you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
John refers to them as “little children” (1 John 2:1,12,13,18,28; 3:7,18; 4:4; 5:21), John is an aged man at this point (2 John 1; 3 John 1) and he cares for them the way a father would his children (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 12:14).
He wrote unto them that they “may not sin.” The word is aorist tense; That is, John did not want them to sin at all. He wanted to help them keep clear of sin. Inspired instruction certainly helps in keeping men from sin (Psalm 119:11). A christian should strive to live a holy life, free from sin.
However, we do sin. What happens when we do sin? Are we without hope? John says, “And (Kai – the word may be rendered ‘but’ depending upon the context and most likely should be in this context, see ESV) if (at times this word approaches the meaning of whenever, or when cf. 1 John 2:28) anyone sins (aorist tense, denoting an instance of sin, it is in the singular in the KJV) we have (present tense; the force of which is ‘we keep on having’ even after baptism!) an Advocate (a defense attorney) with (pros – the word lit. means before or facing) the Father…” This Advocate is said to be Jesus Christ.
How does this advocate defend us? By arguing that the law is unjust and thus should not be enforced? No! With some fancy legal maneuvers? No! By looking for loopholes in the law? No! By appealing to the emotions of the Judge and jury? Certainly not!
How then? 1 John 2:2 reads, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins.” I have heard it expressed this way: This lawyer’s methods are highly unusual – (1) He admits his client’s guilt; (2) He pays the price with his own blood (1 John 2:2).
Does this deny human conditions for the Christian’s forgiveness? No, no more than it does for the alien sinner. Watch the words, “and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2b). Certainly, there are conditions to be met for the child of God to be forgiven ( see 1 John 1:9; also Acts 8:22). However, these conditions are not being emphasized at this point. What is being emphasized is that we have an Advocate. We are not without hope.
Wayne Jackson wisely observed, “While many Bible students are aware of the fact that the blood of Jesus is applied to their souls in their initial obedience to the gospel … some do not realize that the Lord’s cleansing blood continues to function on their behalf as they struggle with sin in their christian lives” (Notes From the Margin of My Bible, vol. 2, pp. 163-164). Yes, even after baptism one could not be forgiven without the great propitiation of Christ; without the blood of Christ all the repentance and confession in the world would not avail.