We Have an Advocate

1 John 2:1-2

1My 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. 2And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.


Preached at FBC Toulon, IL on September 2, 2001 by Albert Harmon; see it at toulonbaptist.com

As John continues he wants them to understand the seriousness of sin. You see with this confess and you are forgiven and the blood of Jesus that cleans us from all sin, some might be thinking that sinning is not all that big a deal.

So John first tells them that they are not to sin. Now that is easier said then done. John knew that they could never become prefect this side of eternity. But he also wanted them to understand that just because we are not able to be perfect they were not free to sin as before their conversion.

But how to deal with the sin problem, the one we have every day we live. The problem of jealousy, gossip, telling half truths and out right deception. John tells us the solution.

It is in an advocate, Jesus Christ, the righteous.

  1. Do not do acts of sin.
    1. The verb is in the Aorist tense which would indicate individual acts of sin as opposed to a life of sin.
      1. John wants them to refrain from sin.
      2. Even though our sins are forgiven we must never think lightly of sin for God never does.
      3. As God's children we must always be mindful of the will of the Father and His abhorrence and hatred of sin.
      4. He endeavours in this to steer them a middle course, that they might neither presume to sin, nor despair if they did; Poole
    2. The believer has already been delivered from the power of sin but not yet from the presence of sin.
      1. Rom 6:5-6 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (NKJ)
    3. That is sin no longer controls us as once it did, but we are now under the control of the Holy Spirit.
      1. Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (NKJ)
    4. But we still do sin and therefore need an advocate.
      1. Christians need an Advocate because of the ADVERSARY, the devil or Satan, who accuses us before God <1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 12:10>. If Satan is the "prosecuting attorney," Christ and the Holy Spirit are the legal advocates, the "defense attorneys," who help, defend, counsel, and comfort us; they plead the Christian's case before God day and night, providing a continuing remedy for sin. (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
  2. We have an advocate
    1. Advocate
      1. If any of his children should fail and commit sin, the author is anxious that they neither deceive themselves about it nor lie about their action nor give up walking in the light. The answer to lapsing into sin is not self-deceit but the forgiveness of God made available through Jesus Christ. He has been designated the believer's advocate, the counsel who speaks in our defense. His worthiness to perform this function rests on the fact that even as God is righteous (1:9), so Jesus Christ also merits the title "The Righteous One." Expositor's Commentary
      2. The word is used in the NT only by John (<Jn 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7>; and here). The advocate pleads the cause of the believer against Satan, his accuser (Rev 12:10). He is Jesus Christ the righteous. Righteous indicates the particular characteristic of our Lord which gives effectiveness to his advocacy (cf. <Heb 7:26>). Because he is righteous he can plead with the righteous Father. (from Wycliffe Commentary)
      3. [Advocate], lit. "who-is-called-to-one's-side," is used here in an active meaning, "who comes to a person's side," then, "who comes to help a person," either as a counselor who teaches and admonishes (e. g. <John 14:16; 15:26>), or as an advocate who pleads one's case with another person. (from UBS Translator Handbook Series)
      4. As our "advocate," Christ is not a mere suppliant petitioner. He pleads for us on the ground of justice, or righteousness, as well as mercy. Though He can say nothing good of us, He can say much for us. It is His righteousness, or obedience to the law, and endurance of its full penalty for us, on which He grounds His claim for our acquittal. The sense therefore is, "in that He is righteous"; in contrast to our sin ("if any man sin"). The Father, by raising Him from the dead, and setting Him at His own right, has once for all accepted Christ's claim for us. Therefore the accuser's charges against God's children are vain. "The righteousness of Christ stands on our side; for God's righteousness is, in Jesus Christ, ours" [LUTHER]. JFB
      5. [If any man sin, we have]. The change from the indefinite third person, "any man," to the first person, we have, is significant. By the "we have," John assumes the possibility of sinful acts on the part of Christians, and of himself in common with them, and their common need of the intervention of the Divine Advocate. (from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament)
      6. parakleeton (grk 3875)]. From [para] (grk 3844), "to the side of," and [kaleoo] (grk 2564), "to summon." Hence, originally, "one who is called to another's side to aid him," as an advocate in a court of justice. Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament)
      7. One who pleads another's cause before a tribunal or judicial court. The word advocate is found only once in the NKJV: "If anyone sins we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" <1 John 2:1>. The Greek word translated as advocate here is also found four times in the Gospel of John, all referring to the Holy Spirit <John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7>; (helper, NKJV). Bible Application Handbook
      8. Hovey: "The man-ward influence of the atonement is far more extensive than the moral influence of it." Christ is Advocate, not with the sinner, but with the Father. While the Spirit's work has moral influence over the hearts of men, the Son secures, through the presentation of his blood, in heaven, the pardon which can come only from God (1 John 2:1 -- "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous and he is the propitiation for our sins). Hence 1:9 -- "If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and righteous [faithful to his promise and righteous to Christ] to forgive us our sins." Hence the publican does not first pray for change of heart but for mercy upon the ground of sacrifice (Luke 18:13 "God, be thou merciful to me a sinner," but literally: God be propitiated toward me the sinner"). AH. Strong Systematic Theology
      9. Romans 8:31 ¶ What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
      10. Hebrews 7:24-25 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
      11. 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
      12. Rather, conceive of this as a special activity of Christ in securing upon the ground of that sacrifice whatever of blessing comes to men, whether that blessing be temporal or spiritual. 1 John 2:1 -- "if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous"; Romans 8:34 -- "It is Jesus Christ that died, yea rather, that he was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us"
    2. Old Testament While the word advocate is not found in the Old Testament, the concept of advocacy is found. Abraham intercedes with God in behalf of Sodom (Gen. 18:23-33); Moses intercedes with God in behalf of the Israelites (Ex. 32:11-14); Samuel intercedes with God in behalf of the children of Israel (1 Sam. 7:8-9). Other examples may be found in Jeremiah 14:7-9, 13, 19-22 and Amos 7:2, 5-6. Modern translators often use "advocate" to refer to Job's desire for a heavenly attorney to plead his case even though he die (Job 16:19). Holman Bible Dictionary
      1. C. H. M. on Exodus 17:12 -- "The hands of our great Intercessor never hang down, as Moses' did, nor does he need any one to hold them up. The same rod of God's power which was used by Moses to smite the rock (Atonement) was in Moses' hand on the hill (Intercession)."
    3. What does our Advocate do?
      1. Makes intercession for transgressors
      2. When sin interrupts the life of a Christian, the advocacy of Christ restores the believer to fellowship with the Father and the Son. There is repentance, confession and self-judgment on the part of the believer. Through Christ, the Christian maintains the fellowship into which the grace of God has called and brought us. He is the propitiation and is the righteousness of the believer in the presence of God. He lives to take the failures of His own as He died to put away their sins by His blood. Explorer's Bible Study
        1. Isa 53:12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (NKJ)
        2. Rom 8:34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (NKJ)
        3. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men the testimony given in its proper time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6, NIV)
      3. And not for all men, though they have all sinned;
        1. Else we would not call on people to repent.
      4. And for all that believe in him
      5. Be they weak or strong,
      6. Even for the apostles as well as others;
        1. for they were not without sin, as are none of us.
        2. were men of like passions as others,
        3. and had their daily infirmities,
        4. and so needed an advocate as others;
        5. and hence John says, "we have an advocate", &c.
    4. With the Father
      1. Not with the sinner.
      2. Christ is on the side of the Father.
      3. He has no pretensions that we are good and right
    5. Jesus Christ the Righteous
      1. The adjective [righteous] is best taken as a predicate, adding a new trait to the argument. It serves to make the reader aware of the fact that Jesus, since he does what is right before God, is man's most effective advocate with God. His prayers for man are not hindered by sin and, therefore, will certainly be heard by God (cp. <John 9:31; James 5:16>). (from UBS Translator Handbook Series)
      2. Jesus bridges the chasm of sin separating us from God. We human beings are separated from God by sin, and only one person in the universe is our mediator and can stand between us and God and bring us together again Jesus, who is both God and man. Jesus' sacrifice brought new life to all people. Have you let him bring you to the Father?
  3. The basis of His plea
    1. Not because He thinks we are not guilty
      1. He came to call sinners to repentance
      2. To seek and save the lost
      3. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us
      4. He suffered on our account, the just for the unjust
      5. Those not guilty and uncondemned have no need of an advocate.
    2. Not that He does not agree with the law we have broken.
      1. By our disobedience we have declared we do not believe the law is worthy of obedience and the law Giver is a tyrant.
    3. Not that we have some good excuse.
    4. Because He is our friend although He is not the friend of sin.
      1. (ad'-vo-kat) (parakletos): (1) a legal advocate; (2) an intercessor, (3) a helper generally. In the passage before us the first and second meanings are included. Christ in heaven intercedes for Christians who sin upon earth. The next verse declares that He is the "propitiation for our sins" and it is His propitiatory work which lies at the basis of His intercession. (from International Standard Bible Encylopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (C) 1996 by Biblesoft)
    5. The nature of the intercession.
      1. General intercession for all men:
        1. Isaiah 53:12 -- "he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors"
        2. Luke 23:34 -- "And Jesus said, Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do" a beginning of his priestly intercession, even while he was being nailed to the cross.
      2. Special intercession for his saints:
        1. Luke 22:31, 32 -- "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you that he might sift you as wheat: but I made supplication for thee that thy faith fail not";
        2. John 14:16 -- "I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter"; 17:9 -- "I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me";
        3. Acts 2:33 -- "Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear";
        4. Ephesians 1:6 -- "the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved"; 2:18 -- "through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father"; 3:12 -- "in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in him";
        5. Hebrews 2:17, 18 -- "Wherefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted"; 4:15, 16 -- "For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities but one that hath been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need";
        6. 1 Peter 2:5 -- "a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ";
        7. Revelation 5:6 -- "And I saw on the midst of the throne...a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth"; 7:16, 17 -- "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun strike upon them, nor any heat: for the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them unto fountains of waters of life: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes."

The Priesthood of Christ does not cease with his work of atonement but continues forever. In the presence of God he fulfills the second office of the priest, namely that of intercession. Hebrews 7:23-25 -- "priests many in number, because that by death they are hindered from continuing: but he, because he abideth forever, hath his priesthood unchangeable. 25 Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25, NIV)

To people who are feeling guilty and condemned, John offers reassurance. They know they have sinned, and Satan (called "the Accuser" in Revelation 12:10) is demanding the death penalty. When you feel this way, don't give up hope--the best defense attorney in the universe is pleading your case. Jesus Christ, your advocate, your defender, is the Judge's Son. He has already suffered your penalty in your place. You can't be tried for a case that is no longer on the docket. United with Christ, you are as safe as he is. Don't be afraid to ask Christ to plead your case--he has already won it (see Romans 8:33, 34; Hebrews 7:24, 25). LAB

Do you have an advocate in heaven, pleading your case.

  1. He is the propitiation of our sins.
    1. [The propitiation] [hilasmos (grk 2434)]. Only here and 1 John 4:10. From [hilaskomai] (grk 2433) "to appease, to conciliate to oneself," which occurs Luke 18:13; Heb. 2:17. The noun means originally "an appeasing or propitiating," (from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament)
      1. Luke 18:13 "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' (NKJ)
      2. Heb 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (NKJ)
    2. In the Greek Old Testament the verb in question is the most general term for such rituals. Almost invariably it has the sense "to cleanse from defilement." Where priests or other men are the ones who expiate, it refers to sacrifices or purifying rites. But in Hebrew thought it is also possible (as it never is among the Greeks) that God performs the action. (from UBS Translator Handbook Series)
    3. [And he is the propitiation] Hilasmos (grk 2434). The atoning sacrifice for our sins. This is the proper sense of the word as used in the Septuagint, where it often occurs; and is the translation of 'asham (heb 816), an oblation for sin, <Amos 8:14>. Chata'ath (heb 2401), a sacrifice for sin, <Ezek. 44:27>. Kippur (heb 3725), an atonement, <Num. 5:8>. See the note at <Rom. 3:25>, and particularly the note at <Luke 18:13>. The word is used only here and in <1 John 4:10> (from Adam Clarke Commentary)
    4. hilasmos ^2434^, akin to hileos ("merciful, propitious"), signifies "an expiation, a means whereby sin is covered and remitted." It is used in the NT of Christ Himself as "the propitiation," in <1 John 2:2> and <4:10>, signifying that He Himself, through the expiatory sacrifice of His death, is the personal means by whom God shows mercy to the sinner who believes on Christ as the One thus provided. (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)  

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com