Chances are that if you’ve ever had someone tell you, “I know a good lawyer,” then you’re in trouble! When we break the law and face indictment, the need of the moment is good legal representation.
We have been arguing for the believer’s eternal security in Christ, no matter what we do. But, what happens when we sin and break God’s law? The answer is in 1 John 2:1 – “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” First, notice that God’s desire for His people is that we “sin not.” He does not merely want us to sin less, but not to sin at all. A holy God could not say anything less. Second, notice that John does not say, “if any man sin, we have a Savior, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” He is writing to people already saved, calling them “little children” in our text. If sin in a believer’s life causes him to lose salvation, then why are we pointed to an Advocate instead of to a Savior? Third, John does not write, “if any man repent, we have an Advocate.” Repentance is not what guarantees the presence of our Advocate, our sin does.
So what is an advocate? The word (Greek, parakletos) literally means “one called to another’s side.” The implication is that, when we sin, we need someone to come to our side, to plead our cause and to give needed help. This is what a defense attorney does in court for a client. The lawyer stands to represent the client who has been indicted. The goal is to see the charges dropped and to ensure the client faces no penalty. There are a number of good qualities you expect when searching for a good defense lawyer.
If you are facing a malpractice indictment, you probably wouldn’t hire a lawyer specializing in bankruptcy cases. You want someone who knows the subject at hand to properly represent you. The Lord Jesus knows the subject at hand. Although He is the sinless One, He fully knows the seriousness of sin, the damage it causes, the rebellion against God it demonstrates, and the pain He Himself endured because of sin. There is no one Who understands the subject better, not because He sinned Himself, but because He “bore our sins in His body on the tree.” (1Peter 2:24, ESV)
Our Advocate is not only fit to represent us because of what He knows, but because of Who He is. He is fit to stand for us because of His humanity (John uses His human name, “Jesus”). He is fit to stand before the Father because He is without sin (John called Him “Jesus Christ the Righteous”). When we sin, our Advocate stands for us before the Father, and can plead the merits of His own sacrifice for sin on our behalf. John assures us in verse 2 that He is “the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins.” David Smith wrote: “Our Advocate does not plead that we are innocent or adduce extenuating circumstances. He acknowledges our guilt and presents His vicarious work as the ground of our acquittal.” The term “righteous” also emphasizes His character. As D. Edmond Hiebert said, “He never resorts to anything crooked or unworthy to get His client ‘off the hook’ with the Judge.”
Notice also that, when we sin, God is still called our Father. Although sin harms our relationship, it does not destroy it. Thankfully, sin does not break the relationship, although it most definitely breaks our fellowship.
There is a great deal of frustration when an attorney is not diligent to defend the client. Laziness or lack of interest in the client is often the cause. We can be thankful that our Advocate is always there for us. He is there before we sin, when we sin and after we sin. He is continually pleading our cause. And He is there for us because He cares for us. Laziness and apathy are never charges that could be brought against our Attorney.
Good lawyers are worthy to receive reasonable fees for their work. But often the best attorneys are those we can least afford. Who could afford a lawyer who will represent and work tirelessly for the client every hour of the day and night? Yet this is the work of our Advocate who represents us continually before the Father. We receive this great blessing as part of the gift of salvation. We have a Savior Who paid the full price for sin and is our Advocate, Who freely stands in to represent us at all times.
No one would willingly hire an attorney with the reputation for abusing disclosures made by his clients. It is assumed that what you state to your attorney will remain in confidence. In our case, our Advocate already knows what wrongs we have done before we even speak to Him. Yet, He desires our full confession in order for our relationship with God to be restored. And even though He knows our sins, His desire is to present Himself FOR us, not AGAINST us. The work of accusation and attack is that of Satan (Zech 3:1; Rev 12:10), not that of our Advocate.
So when we sin, we are not condemned, nor do we lose our salvation. Our Advocate comes to our side and does what only He can do—He represents us before the Father.
He lives—the great Redeemer lives;
What joy the blest assurance gives!
And now before His Father, God,
Pleads the full merit of His blood.
Great Advocate, Almighty Friend!
On Thee do all our hopes depend:
Our cause can never, never fail,
For Thou dost plead, and must prevail.
In every dark, distressing hour,
When sin and Satan join their power,
Let this blest truth repel each dart,
That Thou dost bear us on Thy heart.