My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
3 And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. 4 If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. 5 But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him.6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.– 1 John 2:1-6
I love keeping my options open. I try to under-promise and over-perform. I want to offer options to people that cover all contingencies. “If you need some time to think this over, that would be fine by me. I can give you the time, or I can take your answer now.”
There is a little bit of that in John’s comments to his beloved children here. “I am writing this so you won’t sin. But if you do sin, we have you covered.” Just because we never do want people to sin, we don’t want anyone to despair of God’s forgiveness.
This is a remarkable contingency plan. This is the remarkable grace of God. God never wishes us to sin. He knows that sin kills. The soul who sins will die (Ezekiel 18:20). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). You sins have separated you from your God, so that he does not hear when you call (Isaiah 59:2).
The additional fact that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) renders us in an impossible situation – unless God forgives our sins, and provides a righteousness to us that we have not earned or that we do not deserve. This is exactly the kindness and mercy of God. For the sake of Jesus forgives our sins. He has atoned for the by death of his Son. This is the message that John shares.
But the grace of God is never to be an encouragement to sin. God forgives us so that we may obey him from a pure conscience. He allows us to live free from guilt and shame so that our love for him may be not motivated by a desire to cover our shame or make up for our faults. That contingency greatly devalues God’s mercy and cheapens God’s grace.