In this article on 1 John 2:1, the author shows how we are encouraged in our struggle against sin through the fact that we have Jesus Christ as our advocate.

Source: Clarion, 2005. 2 pages.

1 John 2:1 - Jesus Christ, Our Advocate

...We have one who speaks to the Father in our defence.

1 John 2:1

The apostle John had a most remarkable way of encouraging his readers to walk in the way of the Lord. In his first letter he writes, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1, 2).

What a great encouragement this is. For who can keep God’s commands perfectly? Despite the best efforts, there will be stumbles, falls, and failures. Does it not happen in normal life that failure brings forth rebuke, perhaps even punishment? If you are certain of failure, why even bother to try? John indicates, however, that there is a provision for failure, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is at this point that John touches on one of the key aspects of our Lord’s work for us while He is in the heavenly sanctuary before the throne of our heavenly Father. He is there as “one who speaks to the Father in our defence.” To use a familiar term, Jesus is our advocate.

John explains why it is of such great benefit to us to have our Lord Jesus Christ as our advocate, speaking on our behalf. First, it is a great benefit because He is the Righteous One. For sinners, it is so important to remember that our advocate is sin-free. This is an absolute qualification for the advocate in the heavenly court. This was foreshadowed in the Old Testament sacrifices: only unblemished animals qualified. The letter to the Hebrews spells this out in great detail too; our Lord is like us in every respect, sin excepted.

The picture, however, is not yet complete. What makes our Lord Jesus Christ such a suitable advocate for us when we commit sin is that He is the “atoning sacrifice.” Again, our minds go to the Old Testament. By means of animal sacrifices, offered as substitutes for sinners, sin was paid for, and the sinner was reconciled to God. The Lord’s anger was taken away because sin was punished in the substitute animal. All the sacrifices had their climax in the seventh month, on the great Day of Atonement when there was a general payment for all the sins of Israel. All this was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. John the Baptist called our Lord “the Lamb of God.” Our Lord himself stated that He had come to give his life as a ransom for many. The letter to the Hebrews is filled with references to show that Jesus paid for sins once for all. Our Lord Jesus is, therefore, a most suitable advocate because He was the atoning sacrifice.

What an encouragement we have. John tells us that when we sin and we stand guilty again before the throne of God, Jesus Christ stands at our side. He does not try to find loopholes in the law to see how He can get us off the hook. Rather, He basically says to his Father: “Look at me! I have already paid for their sins. Let them go free!” If we want to think about it in terms of a courtroom, we can picture God asking us what we plead with respect to the charges against us. Our plea is always the same: “Please look to Jesus. He has paid.”

We notice that John does not leave it at that. He adds that the Lord Jesus made atonement not only for our sins, “but also for the sins of the whole world.” We should not think that John is teaching that everyone will be saved. Reading through this letter as a whole makes it clear that John knows that there are those who will perish in unbelief. One of the purposes of this letter is to warn against those who live in unbelief. What John is doing is putting penitent sinners at ease as he points to the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice. John teaches that the well of salvation will never run dry.

When you reflect on these words, you will realize John is not encouraging people to sin because the Lord Jesus will always cover up for them. What it comes down to is that God says, “I want you to walk according to my commands and I have already made provisions for your failures.” For the believer, this is not an invitation to carelessness, but an encouragement to keep on striving. We dare to try because we know Jesus Christ is our advocate.

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