Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

I'm OK – You're OK

Not!

1 John 2:1–6

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

First John dives into the great question of Christianity—how “perfect” are we expected to be? Today’s second paragraph starts out sounding like the standard is very high.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 

But that doesn’t seem to agree with the first paragraph. If Christians keep His commandments already, what’s the point of John writing these things … so that you may not sin? (Yes, that is a purpose construct.)

And why give encouragement if anyone sins? Doesn’t the second paragraph imply that can’t happen?

This apparent contradiction is the logical foundation of the gospel. Yes, the standard is extremely high, and we fail to meet it, but there’s a solution.

He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

We’re not perfect—not even close—but we’re forgiven.


In the 1960’s, noted psychiatrist Thomas Anthony Harris popularized the phrase “I’m OK – You’re OK.” His book by that title was on the New York Times best seller list for almost two years.

That’s a sad commentary of the confused state of our society. People bought the book hoping to find answers. Fat chance.

Instead, it led them directly away from the gospel. The gospel teaches people to be honest with themselves about their faults and offers them a solution.

The “I’m OK –You’re OK” philosophy teaches “self-help.” It’s designed to “heal” people in the sense that they feel better about themselves, but the fundamental issues are left untouched. Sin isn’t even recognized.

That just keeps things in the dark.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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