I’ve been reading through 1 John lately and sharing a little bit about what I’m learning here on Thursdays.
Here’s a little recap about what has been going on:
John has just finished writing about the difference between those who walk in darkness and those who walk in the light. He has shared that all sin. He has reminded the believers that God is faithful to keep His covenant promises to forgive our sin and just in the act that procured the forgiveness, Christ’s blood.
Now he writes:
“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. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” 1 John 1:8-2:2 NLT
There is a tension in Scripture between taking sin seriously and yet understanding that forgiveness is available to all who come repentant to Christ. This is grace. Yet, this grace is costly. We see it here. We also see Paul write about this in Romans 6, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” If you look you will find it elsewhere too.
We struggle with sin in this world. It is the way of the world we live in...brokenness. And we are called to submit our brokenness to the Lordship of Christ, to surrender these patterns we have lived in for a long time. I am called to lay down my pride, the way I compare myself to others, my eating habits—these places where I have lived in patterns of sin—and I am called to walk a new way.
Yet, a new way of living doesn’t happen all at once. John realizes this. He gives a reminder of Good News: “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father.”
An advocate. The word in Greek is paraklētos.
It means “’called alongside’ and describes anybody summoned to the assistance of another. It was particularly used in the law courts of a barrister, whose responsibility it is, as counsel for the defense, to plead the cause of the person on trial” (John Stott’s Commentary on The Epistles of John by Tyndale).
So, who is our advocate? “He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”
We could not have a better advocate. He himself is the atoning sacrifice for sin. Our sin. The world’s sin. My sin. In Him, the justice of God is satisfied.
So when the accuser stands before the Father accusing me, of all the things I have done, I am guilty. There’s no doubt about it. Yet, the day I lay down my life before Christ, having come repentant, Jesus stands before God saying “She’s mine.” I have paid the price. And God is satisfied.
This is a picture of what Jesus does when we trust Him.
This is grace. Undeserved. Costly. Joyous.
This grace calls us to respond.
To change the direction of our lives.
To orient our lives toward Christ.
To love God. To love others.
Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we stand in full assurance that Jesus is our advocate. May we receive this grace and never fail to be changed by it as we remember His atoning sacrifice. May we be drawn to surrender our lives, to take up our cross and follow in this humble way of life, a life of loving obedience.
P. S. Another interesting thing about the word paraklētos is that it is only used in one other place in Scripture. John uses it in the the Gospel of John to describe the Holy Spirit. So while Jesus is our advocate before the Father. The Holy Spirit is Jesus' advocate here on earth. "He pleads Christ's cause before a hostile world" (John Stott's commentary on The Epistles of John). May we respond be sensitive to the Spirit's leading.