Gentle and Lowly: Discussion of Chapter 9 — An Advocate

Hi @Interested_In_Book_Studies,

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?

:rofl: :joy: :sweat_smile:

What about sinning in a way that you’d be uncomfortable mentioning to your best friend - or your pastor - or in RZIM Connect?

:frowning:

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?

:neutral_face: :expressionless: :no_mouth:

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.

Discussion questions:

  1. Many of us live in a culture of self-promotion. How might knowing Jesus as our Advocate cultivate a humble heart?

  2. Many of us live in a cancel culture that punishes flagrant sin. How might knowing Jesus as Advocate help you overcome sin?

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I appreciate these questions, Carson. They really get me thinking.

In a culture that encourages self-promotion, we can so easily get caught up in trying to define our worth by means of our performance. Are we as valuable in our field as our colleagues? Do we have a skill or an extra bit of knowledge to give us that edge that we need to succeed? Do I say and do the right things to be accepted? Do I hold the correct social or political views? And even if no one else is watching, what measures do I apply to myself in seeking to determined my value?

When I look to Jesus as my Advocate, not only do I no longer have to be the best, or the brightest in order to have value, but when I fail, and especially when I fail miserably, or sin in a massive way, I have One who is waiting in the wings to step to the plate on my behalf. No more excuse making, no more spinning the issue, just a honest appraisal that I blew it…again…and badly. And Jesus doesn’t turn and run. HE doesn’t cancel me. In fact He draws near. And more than that, He draws me near…yet again…to the throne of grace. Not because I am the best, or the brightest, or the most socially adept, or the cleanest, or most sinless individual. But He draws me to Himself, and to the Father simply because I am His, and His heart beats for me. Even when I sin, His heart still beats for me. This frees me to actually forget about myself and my own self-promotion, and just “be”.

I see advocacy as Him choosing us on an entirely new level. It isn’t just on a legal level, but a heart level. How precious! I think about a child advocate, who is not just interested in justice, but who is really interested in the well-being of the child. The advocate is watching and pressing for that which will promote the best outcome for the child. And Jesus does this for us!

To live as one who has not been “cancelled” by my Advocate, helps me to not get so hung up in the sin/shame cycle. When I internalize that I am fully seen, fully known, fully loved, fully forgiven, fully chosen, and that I have a Champion on my side, sin looses the power of deep shame over me. Truly this is grace upon grace!

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I remembered an experience as I read this chapter. I was a foster care social worker. I had to testify about each case’s progress in family court every few months. One day the judge sat on his bench and proclaimed that he was going to hold me in contempt for some unknown offense. I had no idea what he was talking about, and could only stammer, “I think I need a lawyer.” He told me that he would continue the case and that I had better bring a lawyer next time. I went crying to my supervisor, who said that he would come with me along with an attorney with whom our agency regularly worked. The attorney told me that he would stand in my place and speak to the judge. I would not need to say anything. The next court date went like a breeze because the attorney stood in my place and spoke in my behalf. The judge assuaged, we proceeded with the case as if nothing had happened. This is what Jesus does for me in the Holy Throne Room. There is not a better advocate than he!

This helps me to be more humble (a) in my self-image, and (b) how I view others. I am a wretch, and can still stand before the Father when I sin because Jesus stands and speaks for me. I can advocate to the Father in others’ behalf (“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do!”) because I know that that is what Jesus does. Stephen did it when he was martyred; why should I hold my tongue?

I guess I have just answered the second question. I do not need to be part of the cancel culture. I can speak the words of Jesus because he speaks for me.

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Thank you @blbossard, I loved how you brought in your personal court experience… it really made the picture of Christ come to life.

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@clark.belle, everything you said was right on!

I find this to be especially true!

And praise the Lord for His amazing love! This is so good!

Thanks for your post!

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Gentle & Lowly Chapter 9

Greetings to all,

Question: Many of us live in a culture of self-promotion. How might knowing Jesus as our Advocate cultivate a humble heart? Isn’t self-promotion the antithesis of the life God is calling us to live? Aren’t we called to live by faith, through grace, loving God and loving others-especially fellow believers? God is calling us to surrender. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With ALL your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make.” When I live continually connected to Jesus he leads, guides comforts and supplies. I often pray for his wisdom, and that my thoughts, words & actions would be his flowing through me. We were leading an in-prison bible study with 45 men, but covid-19 brought that to a screeching halt. OK, Lord now what? We are writing letters to all of our bible study men. We founded a non-profit prison ministry, and we have a P.O. box so the men can write us. Two weeks ago we announced to a few friends that we were going to conduct a fund-raising campaign. Four days later we had $2000 in the bank. We recently purchased toiletries for 300 indigent inmates. We wrote a book-study on grieving behind bars which is soon going to print, and will be taught when we are again allowed back into the prisons. When we let go and let God he goes to work on our behalf. He says we are to cast our cares on him because he cares for us. I have peace & security because I know that Jesus is my intercessor, my advocate and so much more. He loves me more than I will ever know this side of Heaven.

Question: How might knowing Jesus as advocate help me overcome sin? I believe Jesus advocates for so much more than just our sin. Doesn’t he remind our Heavenly Father that we are forgiven, justified, and declared righteous by the sacrifice of his body on the cross? About 3 years ago I was worshiping Jesus, and thanking him for taking my place on his cross. Suddenly I had a vision of Jesus hanging on the cross, and I was kneeling below his right arm. A few drops of his blood dropped on me and I turned brilliant white. He showed me that ALL my sins were judged as God poured all of his wrath against sin into the body of Jesus, and his shed blood washes us clean. He declares us righteous in his sight. Many verses tell us that God has forgiven believers: Hebrews 8: 10-12, Hebrews 10:17, II Cor. 5:19, I John 1:7, and the verb tense here is an on-going action. In other words, the blood of Jesus is continuously washing clean all who belong to him.

Conclusion: We are no longer under the old testament law, but under the new covenant of grace. Paul lays this out very clearly in Galatians 3:15 through 5:26. God declares that believers in Jesus are his sons and daughters, joint heirs with Christ, justified, totally forgiven, declared righteous, deeply loved and more…. I can truly say that by embracing the ministry of Jesus and the teachings of Paul I no longer struggle with habitual sin or sinful habits. I am not saying I don’t sin. Jesus blesses me every day, and I so appreciate him that I can’t stand it when I sin in any way. When I do blow it, I thank him and praise him for his sacrifice on my behalf. I thank him for his forgiveness and ever cleansing blood. I thank him for his marvelous love, and that he declares me righteous in his eyes. What I don’t do is beat myself up and fill my head with condemnation. I have learned that when I believe these many, new covenant promises of God that my behavior just falls into line with his holy word. Living in union with Jesus has nothing to do with our striving, but has everything to do with our faith and trust in Jesus and his holy word. When I stopped being the director of my life and surrendered that to Jesus, he transformed me from the inside out. I love Jesus, and I love others. Some of my dearest friends are prison inmates, and I am honored to call them brothers in Christ. May you be richly blessed!

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The self promotion culture has gotten to me too many times as I‘ll find myself seeking to find worth in man’s (and sometimes my own) approval… and oh, how depressing it gets — I’m never enough or can’t keep people’s expectations for me. I begin to feel boxed in and long for the show to just be over, but then what? If I let people down I lose my worth… and we begin to see where the spiral leads to; the more I try to climb out of the hole, the deeper I dig myself in it.

It is humbling to surrender — to hand the shovel over to another and realize my weakness and error, but that’s when the other is able to do their work and we can be restored and taken up, out of the pit to places we never could’ve gotten to on our own! It cultivates within a humble heart knowing that it is all because of who He is, not because of what I’ve done!

My aunt was a life guard awhile back but one of the things she told us while sharing some of her stories was that she could not rescue someone who was drowning while they were fighting her, if they were fighting her too much she would move back until they “gave up” and then she could come close and save them. I think in a similar way this relates to Jesus saving us… He can’t do His complete work in and through us until we “give up” ourselves. Sometimes it’s the very thing we’re fighting against that we actually need the most! Jesus is our Advocate, He is for us! But the more I try to prove my self-worth and gain accolade in my performance the deeper I dig myself and the further I distance myself from my only Hope! But even as we covered last week, He is not limited to the depth of a our pit, He can still reach down and pull us up unto Himself! Thanks be to God!

The thought of Jesus as my Advocate changes a game! He’s everything an advocate can be! My champion — He’s already won the race and now He’s coaching me through it, He’s my biggest fan, He’s my supporter and the one who steps in when I fail or fall. Regardless how long it takes for me to get back up, He’s there to fill in for me. And He’s already claimed my metal for me… He knows that with Him in the game and only because of that, am I going to win! And there’s so much more!

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