Our focus for this week is 1 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.
John tells us not to sin. Why?
In this chapter, Ortlund reminds us of the cost of sin:
When we choose to sin, we forsake our true identity as a child of God, we invite misery into our lives, and we displease our heavenly Father. We are called to mature into deeper levels of personal holiness as we walk with the Lord, truer consecration, new vistas of obedience.
Well, have you ever sinned?
What about sinning in a way that you’d be uncomfortable mentioning to your best friend - or your pastor - or in RZIM Connect?
What about sinning in a way that makes you wonder if God — seated on his heavenly throne in all perfection and glory — still wants to have anything to do with you?
How does God describe himself in response to our ugly, disgusting sin?
Amazingly, as Ortlund exegetes the Scripture for us, we learn that Jesus is our Advocate. He writes:
The New Testament’s message of grace is not morally indifferent. The gospel calls us to leave sin. John explicitly says that he wrote this letter so that his readers “may not sin.” And if that was the sole message of the letter, that would be a valid and appropriate summons. But it would crush us. We need not only exhortation but liberation. We need not only Christ as a king but Christ as a friend. Not only over us but next to us. And that’s what the rest of the verse gives us.
In the midst of our worst sins, does Christ abandon us? No. In fact, his advocacy for our renewal and transformation becomes more passionate!
Ortlund, drawing on Bunyan’s work, explains:
Intercession is something Christ is always doing, while advocacy is something he does as occasion calls for it. Apparently he intercedes for us given our general sinfulness, but he advocates for us in the case of specific sins.
But his advocacy on our behalf rises higher than our sins. His advocacy speaks louder than our failures. All is taken care of.
Taking this to heart means that we no longer need to advocate for ourselves. There’s no need for self-advocacy when you have Christ in that job.
This is a great comfort. And it gives us a unique approach to dealing with human imperfection. Ortlund pastorally advises us:
Do not minimize your sin or excuse it away. Raise no defense. Simply take it to the one who is already at the right hand of the Father, advocating for you on the basis of his own wounds. Let your own unrighteousness, in all your darkness and despair, drive you to Jesus Christ, the righteous, in all his brightness and sufficiency.
Many of us live in a culture of self-promotion. How might knowing Jesus as our Advocate cultivate a humble heart?
Many of us live in a cancel culture that punishes flagrant sin. How might knowing Jesus as Advocate help you overcome sin?