Abiding in the Advocate (1 John 2:1-6)

2016-week-40As a youth leader in the church, I try to make it a priority to train the next generation in understanding and applying the Word of God. At the same time, I recognize the importance of being involved in the lives of the youth. One of my favorite activities to partake in with the youth is sports. Almost every month I find myself playing a game of two-hand-touch football. Two of the youth I disciple are brothers. It should come as no surprise, then, when a questionable play has occurred, both brothers share their side of the story. Yet, rarely does it match. Thankfully, every so often someone is watching this game take place and they chime in on what actually happened. They advocate for one side or the other. While a game of football with the youth is nothing serious, the point it brings up is.

Last week we learned as Christians we live in the light when we confess our sins, not by denying our sins. This is important because the Apostle John continues in the letter, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin” (2:1a). John is proclaiming these Christians can become sinless this side of heaven. Rather, as will be seen, he is showing them the word God has spoken has exposed their sinful hearts and guides them into truth. He is telling these believers the Word guides them to live a life of obedience to the Lord. Nevertheless, no Christian can obey the Lord perfectly. Thus, John points his people to the One who has perfectly obeyed, Jesus Christ. He says, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (2:1b). We cannot obtain salvation by trying our best not to sin. A perfect and holy God requires pure holiness. We have rebelled against God and have chosen the path of lawlessness. As a result, we deserve the wrath and just anger of God. Lest we foolishly think we can make things right ourselves we find out as sinners, we cannot merit salvation. There is no amount of good works which will make us right with God. In and of ourselves, we are without hope.

The hope we cannot find in ourselves is found in Christ. Because we have disobeyed God, we are at enmity with Him. We cannot approach Him ourselves. We need a pure atoning sacrifice. We need someone who will be our advocate, standing in our defense. God Himself provided such an advocate in the person of Jesus Christ. His life was a righteous life. He never sinned. His death was a propitiating death, meaning it turned aside the wrath of God from us as Christ absorbed the wrath of God on the cross. By the way of analogy, as a sponge soaks in water, Christ soaked in the wrath of God that we may be saved by His grace and be made right with Him. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Good News that saves. What we deserved for our sins was God’s wrath; what we received by the blood of Jesus is God’s grace. This Good News is not limited to one ethnicity or to one section of the world but to all in the world who would repent of their sins and believe in Christ for salvation (2:2).

The proper response to this Good News is to ask yourself the question: Do I know Jesus Christ? To know Jesus Christ is to abide in Him as your Advocate. You do not come before God based on your righteousness but based on Christ’s righteousness. The evidence you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ is you desire to obey His Word (2:3-4). A Christian is one whose lifestyle is in conformity to the Word of God. The one who lives in obedience to the Word of God is one who points to the love of God (2:5). The evidence someone has trusted in Christ for salvation is they walk in the way in which Jesus walked (2:6). They abide in the advocate.

Reflection Questions:

  • How does understanding Jesus’ life as righteous and His death as propitiatory contribute to Jesus’ role as our advocate?
  •  Does your manner of life reveal rebellion against God’s Word or conformity to God’s Word? What does this say about your relationship with God?
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