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We Have an Advocate – a blog post

April 13, 2018

I remember when my dad had surgery to remove a brain tumor in the summer of 2012. My mother had just passed in April and he was still recovering from that when he started to notice his speech was a bit slurred at times. He had the surgery and they removed the tumor, but unfortunately, as we found out later, the cancer had spread to his colon, which had been a source of cancer for him previously.

Over the next several months, my dad had a few additional visits to the hospital to deal with other issues due to a compromised immune system. Every time a new set of nurses or doctors would be involved, I would have to explain my dad’s situation again. He was 72 at the time of his surgery and it seems that most medical personnel looked at him as a man who had been retired for several years, which was understandable, just not true in his case. He was working full-time at the State Hospital in Terrell up until the day prior to his surgery.

When I would explain that, the staff immediately would reply “oh, I didn’t realize” and they would change their approach from more maintenance to helping him to recover and resume normal life. I found myself in a place I never imagined, but I was an advocate for my dad’s care. Not having me in his corner would have affected how he was treated by the medical community.

I’ve heard the term advocate used in many different settings. In the educational world, an advocate is sometimes needed, a parent or someone who works closely with the child, to present the case of how to best respond to a student with a learning difficulty, a discipline issue, or some sort of conflict.

Whenever we go through a difficult situation, it’s always great to have someone on your side, in your corner, someone who “has your back” if you will.

In I John 1:5-2:2, we see that man is in a desperate situation, one that can only be solved with the support and sacrifice of the proper Advocate. The reality is grim, but there is hope.

I John 1:5-2:2,This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous one. He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

Here, John reveals 4 truths that are fundamental to understanding a right relationship with God.

The first truth is God is light. It is not that God is IN the light or that God GIVES light, but God IS the light. He is the true light in which there is no darkness. In following after God, in our pursuit of God, in our response to His revelation to us that He is light, we are to walk in His light. Walking in the light is living in a manner consistent with God’s commands and character. He contrasts that light by speaking of some who say they are have fellowship with God, who say they are walking in the light, but yet are still walking in darkness. He is very clear in his description of those – he says those who say they are walking in the light but continue to walk in darkness, they are lying and not practicing the truth. It sounds harsh, but it is true.

So, with that said, what does it mean to walk in darkness? Walking in darkness is continuing in a pattern of sin inconsistent with God’s character or instruction. This is not referring to the random, occasional failures, or the specific acts of sin that may creep into our life, but a willful disobedience by continuing to live in a manner inconsistent with God’s character. Think, “thou shalt not”. Think secret sins. Think patterns or lifestyles inconsistent with God’s instruction.

Walking in the light did not come at a cheap price. Our righteousness, our ability to walk in the light was purchased by Christ on the cross, with His very life. I hear from people saying they want to “do better”, they are “trying to get it going right”, but it’s not about what we do as much as it about who we are. If we focus on being more like Christ, then the things we do will naturally reflect that.

We have sinned. Romans 3:23 declares “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No man is exempt. Verse 8 of our text above declares that as well. If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves. It’s sin that breaks fellowship, it’s sin that destroys, it’s sin that discourages us. The root of sin is selfishness, so anytime there is broken fellowship, either between us and God or between us and another person, selfishness is the root of it.

John is remembering a time of walking with Christ where there was great fellowship among the brethren, where the love of Christ was being poured in and through them. John remembers the fellowship of believers in Acts 2, where people were in one Spirit with the Father and with one another, selflessly giving to one another as any had need. There was unity, a bond of fellowship in freedom of walking in grace. Sin is a hindrance to that fellowship, to that unity.

Some in the church are under the mistaken notion that once I’m saved, I sin no more. While my eternity is secured upon my response to the drawing of the Holy Spirit on my life and my sin can no longer separate me from God for eternity, that doesn’t mean that I can live any way that I want, do anything that my flesh tells me to do, or treat others harshly. These false teachings that are filtering into the body of believers are causing people to be more focused on self than on the Lord and others, and it’s hinders the effectiveness of the body. John wanted people to feel the power of the Holy Spirit when they came in contact with the fellowship of believers there. I desire, and I know you do too, for people to sense God’s presence when they enter into our fellowship, or even when they encounter our church as we go out into the community.

Sin is a hindrance to that, so what do we do about it? One of the greatest aspects of John’s writing here is he does not give an indictment without hope, a concern without a remedy. That certainly is the case here as he presents the truth that man has sinned, he also shares the remedy, which comes to us in the third truth, which is…

We must confess. Verse 9 of our text says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. Church, you can claim this, you can live it, you and count on it. God’s Word is clear. Yes, God is light, and yes sin is darkness. Yes, we have sinned, but yes we can confess and have forgiveness. David Allen, SWBTS professor says it this way, “Confession should always be the natural response the moment we become cognizant of sin.” Confession means “to say the same thing as”, in other words, confession means agreeing with God that was He says about our sin is true. It is an admission of guilt It is different than “I’m sorry I got caught”. It is a genuine seeking of forgiveness, and God always honors that.

I remember when the truth of this passage was cemented in my heart for good. I was in my first year of college and I was wrestling with the tug I felt toward the ministry. However, I looked at my life and I saw things I still struggled with and things that made me feel unworthy of this call. Then one night in a dorm Bible study, this verse was the focus, and God revealed the truth of this, He opened my eyes to the fact that God’s revelation of my sin is not a declaration of my unworthiness, it is a call to confession, and God is faithful to cleanse me if I will confess my sin. So did I come to that realization on my own? Certainly not, I had someone in my corner prompting me. That leads us to the fourth truth of this passage, which is…

We have an Advocate. I John Chapter 2, verse 1 tells us that John did not intend to give us an indictment without hope. “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous one”. Jesus Christ is going before the Holy Father for us. He is our Advocate, speaking on our behalf, and along with the Holy Spirit, intervenes for us in areas where we are powerless.

The term advocate is one that we use frequently in society, as I mentioned earlier. We are always more confident when someone has our back, when someone is advocating for us. We have an Advocate that sticks closer than a brother. We have an Advocate in Spirit – the Holy Spirit is our teacher, our comforter, the one who convicts us of our sin. John 16:13a says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth”. We have an Advocate in Heaven, as Jesus is speaking to God in Heaven on our behalf. Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them.” He is our Advocate in deed, our atoning sacrifice. Romans 5:8 says, “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Just imagine you are in a courtroom before the Judge, being tried for your sin – the evidence is clear – you are a sinner.

As the Judge is about to pronounce sentence, Jesus steps up and says “Yes, Father, he is guilty of that sin. But, Father, I went to the cross and died for that sin. When he was a boy, through faith in me my atonement was applied to him and his sins were forgiven. I put my robe of righteousness on him. He is covered by my blood, and he is forgiven because he is my child. I advocate for him – he is Yours because he is Mine.”

Church, the reality is this…God IS light, we HAVE sinned, we still DO wrestle with sin, we MUST confess, but anyone who knows Christ has THE Advocate on their side, speaking to Jehovah God on their behalf. We need not fear going to the Advocate as one who is ashamed – at the moment of realization of sin, we should go. Conviction leads to confession, which leads to cleansing, which leads to joy.

The voice that tells you that you should be ashamed is the devil, who discourages you, tells you there is no forgiveness, that you are too far gone, that your life doesn’t matter. The devil is a liar, the author of all lies. He knows the Truth but the Truth is not in him. Don’t believe him, don’t be distracted by him, don’t buy into his lies. He can do nothing good for you.

Let us not just accept our sin but let us confess it and let our Advocate go before the Father. This glorifies God and like the Prodigal Son who was welcomed with open arms by his father, your Father rejoices at our confession and never tires of hearing the cry of His children.

 

Blessed,

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church – Palestine, TX

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