3. There is the blessed assurance that we have Someone who is always on our side.
I John 2:1,2 - "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."
Now don't misunderstand these two verses. Yes, there is an assurance here--namely, that Jesus is our Advocate--but don't abuse that fact and deceive yourself into thinking that because Jesus is your Advocate you can get away with any sin easily. That is not the case! Notice what John wrote directly before this assurance in verse 1 - "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin."
John wanted to assure them that there is Someone on their side, but he didn't want them to think that this was a license to sin! Of course, as humans we all know that there are some people who want to take advantage of others; if God would let them, then certainly they would even take advantage of Him and His goodness. But that isn't going to happen.
What John is doing here is reminding them (and us) that the Lord's blessed assurances are not excuses for sin but reasons for righteousness. The more we understand how kind and loving our Father is, the more we should want to please Him, and this means that we will try even harder to avoid sin. Don't forget that John said he wrote these things so that Christians would not sin.
That being said, John once again comes back to the reality of our sin problem. We saw in I John 1:8,10 that while we live in the flesh, we will not achieve sinless perfection. So, John shows us another blessed assurance, and he begins by saying - "if anyone sins" (2:1). John is not addressing people who think they never commit sin. He is addressing those who acknowledge the fact that they do sin and are in need of cleansing. John says that these people have an Advocate--Jesus Christ!
Now, what is an "Advocate"? An advocate is one who takes your side and speaks in your defense. This is a term that is often used for lawyers or attorneys. A lawyer is one who takes the side of his client; the lawyer pleads his client's case. If you were on trial in court, everybody in the courthouse might be against you, but your lawyer is supposed to be on your side. When an accused man stands before the judge, his lawyer stands by his side. This is a symbolic reminder that the lawyer is there to speak on his behalf.
Jesus Christ is our Advocate to the Father. He pleads our case before the Judge of all the earth. The Bible calls the devil "the accuser of our brethren" (Rev. 12:10). But Jesus is the defense attorney! A brother in Christ once commented on this subject and said - "I ain't scared of the judgment because my Lawyer is the Judge's Son!"
One approach in personal evangelism is to ask a person: "If you were to stand before God in judgment right now, what would you say?" That might be a way to get a discussion started, but if you ask me that question, my answer would be: "I wouldn't say anything if I was standing before God in judgment right now. I'd let my Advocate do the talking for me."
"But Stephen, what kind of defense will He make?" Well, I guarantee it won't be some loophole in the law. That happens in the court systems here on Earth, but it won't happen there. "Well, if He can't defend us with a loophole in the law, then how will He defend us?" Will He try to make the case that we've never been guilty? Of course not! Jesus isn't going to lie and say we've never sinned. He also won't make excuses for us; that won't help either. "Stephen, maybe he'll point to other people and say that we weren't as sinful as them?" No, that's not it either. So, how is Jesus going to defend us or advocate for us?
That's a good question. How can people like ourselves who have transgressed God's laws be defended in the righteous court of Almighty God? How? The answer is right here in the text. The defense, the only saving defense, is not our merits but what Jesus Christ has done on our behalf! I John 2:2 names the defense--Jesus is the propitiation for our sins! He Himself paid the penalty. The sentence of what we deserve (i.e., eternal destruction) has already been carried out in His vicarious suffering! He suffered for all of us personally. He paid it all! I don't want Jesus to plead for me on the basis of the good things I've done, or on the basis of bad things I haven't done. The one exception to this is that I want Him to plead for me in stating that I put my trust in Him by believing and obeying. By becoming Christians and living for the Lord we have put it all into the Savior's hands!
And we should feel confident in knowing that as faithful Christians Jesus is our Advocate and that our salvation is in His hands. What better defender could one have? After all, Jesus doesn't want us or anyone to be lost. It is true that many will be lost, but that will be in spite of God's love and mercy. Think about it: If Jesus were willing to die that we might be saved, surely we realize that He will do everything He can to get us to heaven! Romans 8:32 - "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
Sometimes people wonder why everybody can't be saved since the Lord wants to save everyone. The answer is that He cannot do anything that is unrighteous. He cannot and will not violate His own righteous principles. He can't save those who are unwilling to submit to and be saved by His plan. Yes, many are going to be lost in spite of God's love, but the great assurance in this text is for His faithful children. It is assurance that is given to all of us who are weak and make a lot of mistakes yet who are putting our trust in Him and striving to be faithful even though we're not perfect. Isn't it wonderful to be assured that Christ, as our Advocate, will do everything He can to get us into heaven? Amen!
Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.