An Advocate With the Father

 •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Blessed indeed it is to see how rich and full is God’s provision for our need. There is not a single need that can possibly arise in the history of God’s people that He has not foreseen and made provision for. And it is well if our hearts have drunk in this blessed fact, for it will help to give us confidence in God, and enable us to go to Him in every time of need.
In John we have the manifestation of eternal life in the Person of Jesus; and as partakers of this life we are in relationship with God, and have communion with the Father and the Son. But this communion may be broken through sin. The relationship cannot be destroyed, but communion is interrupted. Now the same grace that brought us into this relationship with God restores communion also when it has been lost through sin. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:77Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. (1 John 2:7)). This is God’s gracious provision for His own children when they have lost communion through falling into sin.
Before we look at this point, let us notice a little the fact that God’s Word makes no provision for a believer to sin. John says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not” (1 John 2:11My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1)). He does not say, “that ye may sin,” but “that ye sin not.” In the first chapter he says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:88If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)); and “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” So then, we have sin, and we have sinned. Yet, true as this is, God has brought us to Himself in grace where we walk in the light as He is in the light. But what is the ground of this? How could God, consistently with His own nature and character, give us such a place? The simple soul-satisfying answer is, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:77But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)). Blessed and sure foundation for our souls to rest upon! “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” How wonderful is God’s grace abounding over all our guilt and shame!
But “shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.” “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” It is all to deliver us from sin, not that we may go on in it. God is not only “faithful and just to forgive us our sins,” but also “to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In virtue of Jesus’ blood we are pardoned once and forever; but we are also morally cleansed through the Word applied in the power of the Holy Spirit. A new nature is given, and as this is regulated by the Word, we are cleansed from all unrighteousness. May we then lay to heart that the whole work of grace is to deliver from sin — from its guilt, and from its power and defilement. “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not” (1 John 2:11My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1)).
But the soul-humbling fact remains, that the believer, though a child of God, and walking in the light, does fall into sin; as James says, “For we all often offend” (J.N.D. Trans.); and as John here says, “If any man sin.” We still have the flesh in us, and if allowed in the least degree, it is sin, and communion is broken. God has condemned sin in the flesh on the cross, and if we are allowing what He has condemned in the sacrifice of His Son, He cannot have communion with us.
Now God has made provision for the restoration of this communion when it has been lost. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:11My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1)). God provided a Savior for us as lost sinners, and He has provided an Advocate for us as failing children. And thus His provision is complete. It covers the whole range of our need from first to last. Jesus died for us to save us, and now He lives for us on high, a High Priest with God, an Advocate with the Father; and there He maintains our cause according to the value of an already accomplished and eternal redemption founded on the shedding of His own blood.
There is a difference, no doubt, between His intercession as in Hebrews, and His advocacy as in John. But all is founded on the value of His sacrifice for us. In Hebrews His intercession is in view of our weakness. Here His advocacy is in view of sin which has interrupted communion. Both are needed. We are weak and can no more take a single step in the wilderness journey in our own strength than we could have saved ourselves when in our sins. It was as much the power of God that conducted Israel across the wilderness, as it was His power that saved them out of Egypt. And so it is with us. It is God’s salvation and God’s power from first to last. We are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:55Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5)); and because we have a High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, having been tempted in all points like as we are, except sin, we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (1 Peter 1:55Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5); Heb. 4:15-1615For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15‑16)).
But in John it is not merely a question of weakness. It is if any man sin. And here “we have an advocate with the Father.” It is “with the Father.” Mark, though we may have sinned, the relationship is not broken — God is our Father still. The relationship abides, but communion is interrupted and needs to be restored. And this is brought about through the advocacy of Christ who has undertaken our whole cause. We have this Advocate. It is God’s provision and nothing can possibly hinder His services for us in this capacity. It is an unconditional service characterized by pure grace. It is no movement on our part that secures it. It is not, if we repent, or if we confess our sins, but “if any man sin, we have an advocate” (1 John 2:11My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1)). It is all grace. The whole movement begins with Him, just as when He saved us in the first place. As surely as sin has interrupted our communion with God our Father, so surely the advocacy of Jesus goes on to bring about its restoration. And this is what makes the restoration certain, sooner or later. If left to ourselves we could never get right. But all begins with Him, and His work cannot fail — blessed be His name! Repentance and confession have their place, but these are the results of His advocacy, not the cause; and the difference is very great. But we will look at this a little more fully that our souls may get the full benefit of it.
I repeat, the action of the Advocate does not wait for our repentance and confession. We may take the case of Peter as an illustration. Before he had committed the terrible sin of denying his Lord, Jesus said unto him, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:3232But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. (Luke 22:32)). (He was indeed on the way to this sin, being filled with self-confidence, and he needed to be sifted, and the sifting was allowed to take place; but Jesus prayed for him before he fell into the hands of Satan, and his faith did not fail. He was indeed sifted, but his faith was sustained even in that dark hour when Satan would have filled him with despair.
At the suited moment Jesus looked on him, and His words were brought to his remembrance, and then “Peter went out and wept bitterly” Luke 22:6262And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:62)). Here was indeed repentance, but it was the fruit of the Lord’s intercession, and not what led to it. Afterward Peter was restored. There was the message to him from the risen Lord by the women, and the Lord appearing to him first of all the apostles and, last of all, the probing of Peter’s heart to reach the root of the evil, but in all this we see only the Lord’s own action in meeting Peter’s need. And He meets our need too when we, like Peter, have turned aside. It is a service of perfect love and unmixed grace, not waiting for anything in us, save the need which arises from our failure and sin; and even this it anticipates, as we have seen in the case of Peter.
We may now look a little at the ground of this service of our blessed Lord. Our Advocate is “Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:11My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1)). The righteous One represents us; “as He is, so are we” (1 John 2:22And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)). He is our life and our righteousness. We are in Him, the righteous One and thus stand before God in immutable righteousness. “And He is the propitiation for our sins.” He has suffered for our sins, the Just for the unjust, has borne them in His own body on the tree, and has perfectly glorified God about them; and His presence on high is the witness of our perfect acceptance in Him, according to the value of His propitiatory sacrifice. On the ground of this, He maintains our cause on high and, if we have sinned, secures our restoration to communion.
It is important to see that His advocacy is not in any sense to atone for our sins, as if they were imputed to us. He atoned for our sins once in His death on the cross, and this can never be repeated. By that one sacrifice all our sins are covered, and there can be no imputation of guilt to the believer, as it is written, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Rom 4:88Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. (Romans 4:8)); and again, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb 10:1717And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17)). We have been pardoned and justified, and are in Christ, according to divine righteousness, so that the advocacy of Christ can have nothing to do with satisfying God about guilt, or securing pardon for us, as if sin had been imputed to us. Even the sins we may commit after having believed were all covered by the death of Christ, and they are not imputed to us; but they hinder communion with God, and this is an immense loss to our souls.
It is God’s good pleasure that we should be in communion with Himself, and that our joy should be full. But practical holiness in us is absolutely necessary for this because God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. We cannot go on in sin, and have communion with Him; and hence, if we sin, we need to be restored so as to enjoy afresh the communion we have lost. And for this Jesus our Advocate intercedes on the ground of the fact that we are in relationship with God according to divine righteousness, and according to the value of His propitiatory sacrifice.
And now a word as to the action of the Lord’s grace toward us when overtaken in sin. A beautiful picture of this action is given us in John 13, where the blessed Lord washes the feet of His disciples. Peter did not understand then, but would understand it afterward. He also, in his ignorance and pride of heart, resisted the Lord’s action saying, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” But “Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” (John 13:88Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. (John 13:8)). Peter then desired Him to wash his head and hands also; but Jesus again answered, “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all” (John 13:1010Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. (John 13:10)).
All except Judas the betrayer, were already washed, and were “clean every whit.” They were clean through the word which Jesus had spoken unto them (chapter 15:3). They were born again-born of water (a figure of the Word) and of the Spirit — and thus were clean. We are born again but once, and in this get a new and clean nature, and thus are washed all over. But washing of the feet applies to our walk as Christians. Our walk needs to be separated from the defilement of this world, in order that we may have communion with Christ in glory. It is thus we have a part with Him. “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” Rejected and cast out of this world, He was going back to the Father. But He did not thereby give up His own which were in the world, but “loved them unto the end” (John 13:11Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (John 13:1)). And in going to the Father, He would have them linked up with Himself in His own blessed relationship with the Father, to have communion with Himself and the Father outside the world which was the scene of His rejection and death. But to have part with Him — communion with Him — according to that heavenly relationship, it was necessary to have the walk kept pure (the feet washed) according to the truth of this relationship. Thus the blessed Lord has girded Himself for this lowly service of love to His own in order to keep them in communion with that heavenly scene where He is, forming their affections according to the revelation of Himself to their hearts, as they are being conducted on to their portion with Him in glory.
Do we then fall into sin? Do our feet become defiled in our walk through this evil world? Well, we have an Advocate with the Father, whose plea for us cannot fail, and who also turns to us in blessed grace, with towel and basin, to wash our feet and bring us back into the communion we have lost. By the application of His Word to us, we are led to self-judgment and a walk of holy separation from evil, according to the truth of the cross, in which sin in the flesh has been condemned. May the Lord give us to walk thus in happy communion with Himself.
Jesus also says, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done unto you” (John 13:14-1514If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (John 13:14‑15)). May we also heed this admonition, following His example in the same lowly grace, and in the power of the same divine love.
One thing more. If we have sinned, and the Lord is seeking to wash our defiled feet, or if our brethren are seeking to do so in the Lord’s name, how solemn if we are resisting this action of grace! God is not mocked! He is full of patience, but if we are rebellious He knows how to chastise and break our stubborn wills. Oh! may we trust our feet in the hands of the blessed Lord, to be washed when the need arises through our failure, bowing to His will with repentant hearts and with chastened spirits, and humble, prayerful dependence on God, seek to walk in His fear, and in the realization of His perfect and unfailing love and grace.