We fail to meet the divine standard. The Divine Representative stands in our defense. All these things clear the path for the divine accomplishment, which John unfolds in 1 John 2:2 – “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). When the gavel falls, a verdict will be rendered. Will you bear the weight of your sin and thus, endure 10,000 degrees of white-hot wrath? Or will you trust Jesus to stand in your defense?
It has been said that one of the greatest problems that plagues contemporary people is unresolved guilt. Sin squeezes the life out of unwitting victims. Sins of omission, sins of commission, sins of regret, neglect, fear, ungodly anger, broken relationships, and insubordination pose a massive threat to the well-being of well-meaning people.
No one is excluded from this sinful parade. We have all committed sin. We are sinners by nature and by choice – and as a result, guilt rears its ugly head. Sometimes the guilt waits to surface until we’re all alone. For some of us, guilt is a constant note on the musical score sheet of our lives. For others, the only time we feel guilt is when we hear a preacher remind us about our sin.
Here is the problem: Apart from the grace of God, we all stand before the bar of God’s justice – and we stand condemned. Apart from the grace of God – we are guilty.
The sound of the gavel is unmistakable in a courtroom setting. When the gavel falls, it reminds us that a verdict has been reached. It announces the guilt or innocence of the defendant.
In 1 John 2, the apostle John ushers us into the celestial courtroom and answers the question, “What is the greatest need of sinners when the gavel falls?” As we enter the heavenly tribunal, I invite you to encounter the divine standard and the divine representative.
The Divine Standard
If you ever have the opportunity to attend a trial in a courtroom one of the first memories you will have is when the Judge enters the courtroom. The bailiff announces, “All rise!” John the apostle introduces the presiding Judge of the universe in 1 John 1:5. He writes, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
The Presiding Judge of the Divine Standard
He is the majestic God of the universe. The psalmist proclaims, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Ps. 8:1, ESV). Moses says, “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exod. 15:11).
He is the transcendent God of the universe. “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isa. 57:15).
He is the sovereign God of the universe. The psalmist reminds us, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Ps. 115:3,).