We Have an Advocate With the Father

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist                              December 28, 2018

[Observed on the First Sunday after Christmas]

 

1 John 1:1-2:2

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just 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.

2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

God makes us honest people.

 

The deceit in the heart, the slight of hand to cover sin, the fear of letting the truth be known, God gets rid of it all, and makes us honest people.

 

For us to be honest people, we first get to realize and confess that God is not a liar.

 

Strangely, that’s the sinners first move of defense, to make God out to be a liar. How does one make God out to be a liar? We might think of the atheist who, despite all the wonderful, life-giving creation around us and daily sustaining us, yet argues that there is no God because there is no evidence of a creator.

 

From the atheist, we might choose some other favorite target, perhaps someone who wants to bring death to other people, perhaps a Nazi or Stalin’s KGB operatives, or something like that. For, to train yourself up in brining death is certainly to say that the God of life is a liar. Then we can add in others, those promoting euthanasia, those operating abortion chambers, and all the rest.

 

All different ways to make the God of life out to be a liar.

 

But when the Apostle John speaks of how one makes God to be a liar, he doesn’t cast so far out into foreign regions or philosophical schools or anything like that. He stays right close to home; he stays with you and me. How do you or I make God to be a liar? By claiming to be without sin. 1 John 1:10:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us … If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

 

There we see the depth of our sin. Our sin is not just that we sin against our neighbor, that we lie or envy or steal or slander or commit adultery or neglect to love neighbor; our sin is that we deny we are sinful.

 

In many and various ways is the denial accomplished. It can be a straight up denial, “I have not sinned, I am not a sinner,” but that kind of denial is hard to sustain and probably too crude for most.

 

So, instead, we can find ourselves confessing sin. But the sin we confess is not our own, but our neighbor’s. The devil causes much division among the Lord’s people in this way.

 

The devil might know that he might be wasting his time tempting a bunch of Christians to become atheists, or to join some euthanasia movement, or to in some other way attack the Lord’s institutions of marriage and family and home and property, but the devil can always do his damage by having us point out the guilt of others who have sinned, whether against us or against others.

 

By having us confess the sins of others, the devil tempts us into claiming that they are worse sinners than we are. Thus, we justify ourselves by using the Law of God against others.

 

But to justify yourself is to make God to be a liar: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us …  If we say we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar, and his word is not in us.

 

That’s where God makes us honest people, by using his Law to accuse us of our own sins, not the sins of others. His Law always accuses. When his Law accuses us, our deceit is over, we confess that we are sinful, and that, as sinners, cannot justify ourselves.

 

 

Then how to be justified? If we can’t justify ourselves by confessing the sins of others, nor by claiming that we have no sin, then how to be justified? By having an Advocate with the Father. John 2:1:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

Jesus is the righteous One. The only One who can, in human flesh, stand before God his Father with no accusation of the Law held against him.

 

Standing at the face of his Father, he speaks, then, not for his own justification, for he is righteous and has no need to be justified, but to justify us. To his Father he presents the sacrificed blood of the cross. By this blood he atones for our sin, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the world.

 

So we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. We will not be justified by denying our sin, that would make God to be a liar. We will not be justified by confessing the sins not our own but of others, that would make God to be a liar.

 

But we are justified by having faith in Jesus Christ, our Advocate.

 

 

So we are given a wonderful and comforting certainty of who we are at the face of God.

 

Before God, we are sinners. We know this not because we get to it with our reason, nor because we feel it, nor because others accuse us of it. We know it because God says it. It is his Word of Law. His Law always accuses, and we want to make sure that the chief accusation we hear from the Law is the accusation his holds against us. So that we won’t make God to be a liar.

 

Then, at the face of God, we are righteous. We know this not because we can deduce it with our own reason, nor because we feel it, nor because we kid ourselves into thinking that we are somehow more righteous than another.

 

We know we stand before God righteous because God says it. He says it as he, Jesus, God the Son, advocates to his Father on our behalf, declaring us righteous by his own blood.

 

He says it as he, God the Father, hears the advocacy of his Son, and he forgives us and calls us his children.

 

He says it as he, God the Spirit, takes this Word of justification from the heavenly Throne and brings it to us in the Gospel, speaking us forgiven here on Earth even as we are before the Father in Heaven.

 

So even as we live in our sinful flesh, and even as in our sinful flesh we do sin, as we confess our sin, God, faithful and just, forgives us our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

 

If we say God has not cleansed us, if we say Jesus Christ is not our Advocate, then we make God to be a liar, and the truth is not in us.

 

But God is not a liar, Jesus is our Advocate, his Word is true and certain, so his blood does cleanse us of all sin and give us fellowship with one another.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

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