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  • Writer's pictureTim Hemingway

Jesus, Our Living Advocate


 

"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One." 1 John 2:1



I want us to reflect on the fact that we have an advocate in heaven interceding on our personal behalf right now.

 

John seems to be saying that his letter is intended to help his readers not to sin. God doesn’t want us to sin, and he’s given us means of grace to help us not to sin.

 

So, I think we have to strive for that. Jesus did not save us so that we might indulge in our sinful passions, relying on a huge safety net below to catch us over and over. He died to save us so that we would count ourselves dead to sin and alive to righteousness.

 

But we are not perfected yet! Sin will still get the better of us. That should cause a certain amount of sadness and self-loathing to rise within us. Those would be right responses.

But those responses shouldn’t last for very long. Only as long as it takes us to confess our sin to our advocate in heaven.

 

What is an advocate? An advocate is someone who positively promotes you before another. Like a sponsor who upholds your cause. Or someone who has got your back and is expert in defending you.

 

And why does John say we have an advocate when he could say we have a cross? Or say, we have a saviour? Or say, we have a redeemer?

In verse 2 he does say that. He says we have an ‘atoning sacrifice’. So why does he say in verse 1 we have an advocate? Why does he say we have someone effectively who, as we sin, is speaking up on our behalf to defend us? Wasn’t the cross enough? Has God forgotten how pleased he was with Jesus?

 

Let me quickly suggest 3 reasons:

First, our sinning goes on. The fullness of what we will be has not yet been realised. We sin in the present and Jesus intercedes in the present. And he will intercede in the present all the way until we are finally glorified. In other words, we have an advocate in the present as well as a redeemer in the past. That’s the time factor.

 

Second, Jesus is not dead but living. He ever lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25). John says he is ‘righteous’. Our lives are hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:3) who is raised and is righteous. We are absolved of guilt not merely because of the cross but because we died with him in his death and were raised with him in his righteousness. He is righteous and he is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). That’s the union factor.


And thirdly, because the cross is the foundation of everything else we receive (Romans 8:32). God finds it more glorifying to enjoy the results of the cross along with the event of the cross, than he does to merely focus on the event alone. Like with our spouses, we don’t only remember the event of our marriage we enjoy the results of that marriage from day to day also. God executed the cross to accomplish things, and witnessing those things in the person of his son, right there with him, brings him more joy. That’s the glory factor.

 

Jesus is in heaven now and he sponsors us – I think by name - before the Father on the basis of the sufficiency of his death, when we sin. That, I think, is something to celebrate as we come to the table.

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