Wednesday, March 26, 2008

We Have An Advocate

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

In the previous chapter John has made it clear that we all sin, and in verses 9-10 (which we looked at last time) he told us that if we confess our sins God will forgive our sins and He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. John's motive here is not to encourage us to sin, but to show us that we do not have to sin; John is not giving us a license to sin and that is what chapter 2 is about.

John begins chapter 2 with the words "My little children." With these words, and the switch to the first person singular (I as opposed to we in chapter 1) John is drawing his readers attention to the exhortation that he is about to give them. John does this with the affection and compassion of a father as he addresses his readers as his children in the faith. And what is his message to his children? He tells them that he has not written this letter to them to give them either permission or an excuse to sin; he has actually written to them so that they will not sin, which may seem odd considering that in that last few verses of chapter 1 John made a point to make sure we all knew that we all sin and that God will forgive us if we confess our sins. He even when so far as to say that if we say that we have no sin we are a liar and the truth is not in us. Now he says he has written this to us so that we may not sin, so how do we explain this seeming contradiction here? I think Warren Wiersbe sums this up well when he writes:
There are three motives for obedience. We can obey because we have to, because we need to, or because we want to.

A slave obeys because he has to. If he doesn’t obey he will be punished. An employee obeys because he needs to. He may not enjoy his work, but he does enjoy getting his paycheck! He needs to obey because he has a family to feed and clothe. But a Christian is to obey his Heavenly Father because he wants to—for the relationship between him and God is one of love. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

This is the way we learned obedience when we were children. First, we obeyed because we had to. If we didn’t obey, we were spanked! But as we grew up, we discovered that obedience meant enjoyment and reward; so we started obeying because it met certain needs in our lives. And it was a mark of real maturity when we started obeying because of love.

“Baby Christians” must constantly be warned or rewarded. Mature Christians listen to God’s Word and obey it simply because they love Him.

Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (1 Jn 2:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

This is the point that John is making here; when we look at the compassion and mercy of God, and the fact that he says that he will forgive all of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, our love for Him should motivate us toward holiness and not toward further sin; we show our love for our Heavenly Father by our obedience to his word, not because we have to but because we want to.

John goes on then to again remind us that even though we are to live a holy life there will be times when we realize that we have fallen short of what God has called us to be and he tells us that when that happens we are not to give up and stop trying. Why? Because we have an advocate with the Father. Webster's Dictionary defines the word advocate as:

1 : one that pleads the cause of another specifically : one that pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court
2 : one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal
3 : one that supports or promotes the interests of another

Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Includes index. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

The Greek word used here is paráklētos, which means, "a legal advisor, pleader, proxy, or advocate, one who comes forward in behalf of and as the representative of another." So the picture that we are getting here is that when we sin as a Christian we have someone who will come forward on our behalf and plead our case before the Father; we have someone who will defend us and who will represent us. John then gives us the identity of this advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous. We will see in the next verse that not only is He our advocate, but that He is also our propitiation; not only does He defend us, but He also is the one who paid our fine (more on that next time).

Notice that John refers to Jesus here as Jesus Christ the righteous. John here is pointing to the holiness and perfection of Jesus, he is reminding us that Jesus is the perfect Son of God and that as our sinless advocate, when Satan brings an accusation against us (Revelation 12:10), He is able to point to His finished work on Calvary and say, “Charge that to My account.”

So as you spend some time alone with God today take a few minutes to thank Him for all He has given you; thank Him for the promise that if you confess them He will forgive all of your sins. And take some time to praise and thank Jesus for being your advocate, for coming to your defense, and for standing up in your place as your representative since you are not able to do so yourself.
Print This Post

No comments: