Advocacy and Priesthood; Feet Washing; Administrative Forgiveness; Government of God; Intercession of Christ; the Lord's Ways With Job; the Lord's Ways With Peter; Application of the Red Heifer as a Type

Job 33  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 7
I do not think that 1 John supposes that a Christian does not live without sinning. It shows that a holy provision is made for him, in case he does. It declares that he cannot say he has no sin, but sinning is put in the past. James, however, declares de facto we all offend in many things.
1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9),1 speaks neither of the time of our conversion, nor of our failures after it. Like John's usual statements, it is abstract confession, which, and which alone, is true integrity of heart, and actual forgiveness goes with it. We are personally forgiven all trespasses, and stand abidingly in the power of that forgiveness, so that nothing is imputed to us personally (that is so as to put our persons out of grace). There is the present grace wherein we stand. But as regards the government of God it is another matter. Then I read, "If he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Hence we are to pray for those who have sinned not unto death, to confess our faults one to another, and to pray one for another. Hence in its place the church, and Paul in his, could forgive sins, as we read in Corinthians. There was a binding in heaven of what was bound on earth, and a loosing in heaven of what was loosed on earth. So, when at Paul's first answer all men forsook him, he prayed that this might not be laid to their charge. The Lord's warnings to His disciples that, if they did not forgive, they would not be forgiven, equally apply. It is not a question of justification with the believer, but of present relationship in divine favor, which some seem to forget altogether. It is not merely that we have the fruit of forgiveness in restored communion, though that be true; but in the positive present aspect of God. As a Governor over those in relationship with Him, He is displeased with certain things, may cause me to die through His displeasure, if I do not judge myself—has done so, as we learn in scripture, both historically and doctrinally.
The passage in John 13 (as does indeed the red heifer) shows distinctly the way of cleansing when a man has defiled himself in his walk. He is cleansed by the washing of regeneration once for all, but needs to wash his feet and must have them washed. And this it is which carries up, farther than mere discipline, the forgiveness of the church. We are to wash one another's feet, but we need this washing in its place to have a part with Christ. God takes care we shall be clean; but we must be clean to be with Him, not by renewed blood-sprinkling in respect of imputation, but by washing the feet with water, that we may have the truth in the inward parts with Him, and have no defilement of walk on us.
I do not know what the question as to Christ's prayer means.
It was intercession. The character of intercession may be different now that He is on high, and refer to a different standing in which we are, but praying for him (Peter) was intercession. The Lord's intercession for us produces, as its result, the fruits of grace, of which confession is the fruit in every honest heart.
Christ's intercession is to make good our present state in conformity with the place justifying forgiveness has placed us in. It is founded on "Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation." These being perfect, our faults (instead of bringing imputation, or being allowed to harden the heart and produce falseness in the conscience) call out His advocacy and the soul is restored. Forgiveness in the absolute sense is righteousness, as regards clearance from all imputation of sins of the old man; but in Christ, we being in heavenly places according to God's righteousness, everything inconsistent with our relationship to God as brought there is a just cause of God's actual displeasure. God is not mocked; but Christ intercedes for us, and, by that which rests on righteousness and propitiation, the fault becomes the occasion of instruction and a deepened work and state in us. Now, for every true saint, this present condition of our souls with God is the capital thing, founded on the fact that he is reconciled to God, and accepted perfectly in His presence in righteousness. It is being thus in His presence which is the ground of all present relationship with God. God's character is not changed because we are brought perfectly near Him; but that character acts on our conscience, and forms it. "We walk in the light as he is in the light"; and if we do not walk according to the light, we find it out, because we are in the light; and to this effect Christ's advocacy comes in. We know God's displeasure against sin. I do not talk of imputation. I say it is displeasure against sin; and if we have sinned, apprehend that in the light. It is not merely loss of communion, but knowledge of God's displeasure with the thing. If we do not walk with God, we have not the testimony that we please God, but displease Him. "The righteous Lord loveth righteousness." Christ's intercession does not lead to forgiveness (as to imputation, it is founded on the removal of that), but regards God's nature and character and our present actual relationship with that. By reason of righteousness and propitiation sin calls out (not satisfaction in us with non-imputation, that is hardness and sin, but) the advocacy of Christ. Sin is taken notice of, estimated as an evil in God's sight, in my soul, but in grace -not in God's favor, however, as simple non-imputation, but in Christ's advocacy active about it, so that my feet are washed. Filth is there: neither I nor God are content—not I, when His word searches my heart. He is displeased when He sees it, and as to my present relationship He does see it. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Ghost—to God—and God knew it, and was displeased with it; those who profaned the Lord's supper the same. The discipline exercised was only the expression of it, but it was exercised because of the displeasure. Judging ourselves, we should escape this. Godly sorrow works repentance. Are we to repent and not to be forgiven, nor rejoice in having it? For this, we must confess. It is absolutely stated, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us." If my feet are defiled, they are not cleansed till they are washed. Christ's intercession is the proper means of this. If anyone sin, we have an advocate.
The meaning of John 16:25-2725These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. 26At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. (John 16:25‑27) is this. Up to that, they had never gone directly to the Father, nor in Christ's name. But as Martha said, " Whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." Now He puts them in direct relationship with the Father: not as if He was to go instead of them and He only could, as Martha said; in His name they were to go themselves direct to the Father. That was when in gracious desires or wants they had to look for something It has nothing to do with when they had sinned and got away from God in their hearts. Christ's interceding for them is unasked. We do not ask Christ to intercede. He is an advocate through His own grace when we have sinned, not when we ask. I return to the Father in confession, because He has asked when I went astray; as Peter wept because He had prayed for him—not that He prayed for him because he wept, or looked up to Him. What Christ says is, they should not be asking Him about anything, but go 'directly to the Father: that is the contrast—not with intercession, when we have sinned or need grace and do not know it.
It is not said, as supposed,2 Christ is able to save us from our sin, because He ever liveth. But He carries through all the snares, difficulties, dangers of the way, and Satan's power—restoring our souls if we have failed; grace to help in time of need, as well as restoration—because He ever liveth to make intercession for us, is on high immutably to carry on our cause. For we go through the conflict of good and evil, and have to overcome, though nothing is imputed and we are sure to be kept to the end; but we need to be kept. He will deliver us from every evil work and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom, but we must be delivered.
The book of Job gives us a full account of the case in its operation in man, without reference to any dispensation whatever. He was a godly man, none like him. God saw defect in him. Satan appears, on God's speaking of him, as his accuser. God withdraws not His eyes from the righteous. He deals not first here with outward sin but inward working of ignorance of self, and then its breaking out through God's ways into actual sin; so that it got out, when brought into God's presence as a detected thing, into Job's conscience. The effect of the revelation of God's presence is, first, submission, and then confession. "I have uttered that I understood not... I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." And God restores him to full blessing. Elihu interprets these ways. These ways are interpreted—" one among a thousand to show unto man his uprightness." Job was not upright in the full, true sense of it; there was not truth in his inward parts (though till he cursed his day there was no outward sin) till he abhorred himself and said so; that is, made confession. Then his flesh became fresher than a child's again. What we have to add is this: Christ's advocacy, founded on known righteousness and accomplished propitiation, carries on the administration of this for us in heaven, where we have to be in spirit with God: "such a high priest became us." Next, below, the church in its ministrations and acts ought to be an interpreter, and deal with the conscience, and administratively wash the feet here below: an individual may be by grace, the church (2 Corinthians), elders (James), individuals (1 John). At any rate, in faithful grace, the Holy Ghost by the word so deals with us. The result is always confession, certainly to God, it may be to man. There is no uprightness without this. If I have sin, know it, and come to God to commune with Him, as if I had none, I am in that a hypocrite—hiding iniquity in my heart. We see here where the accuser comes in: he is "the accuser of the brethren."
The advocate3 is one who manages our affairs, and carries on our cause. It has been said "patron," in a Roman sense; because he supplied the need of his clients—was bound to plead their cause and case for them.
1. How does our being forgiven if we confess our sins (1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)) agree with chapter 2:12, and many other similar passages? '
2. Christ's being able to save us (Heb. 7:2525Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)), from our sins eternally, or from all the dangers of the way, to the end? And what has intercession to do with it?'
3. ' What is the meaning of Christ being our Advocate? Is it in sense of pleader, or more as a friend at court? It has been translated " Patron." '