My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 1 John 2:1
A noun meaning to speak or write in favor of; to support or urge by argument; to recommend publicly. An advocate is a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of another, on behalf of another; for the cause of another.
A number of my closest friends and distant relatives have sought out legal aid in the last several years – even I, myself, have experienced this. These legal advocates are (or were) all great attorneys, but none of them advocates for their clients as well as Jesus represents us.
My Advocate, Jesus Christ, stands in my place before a Holy God, because He is Holy God. He pleads my case when Satan, my accuser, brings charges against me. Every time I sin, Satan delights to accuse me before God, but Jesus Christ the righteous One, steps in to represent me. Christ intercedes for me, and because of His own perfect sacrifice, my sins have been paid for. I have no need to atone for them because He already did that for me. Satan’s charges against me are dismissed! (I John 2).
He does this for you too.
If we claim to be Christians, there ought to be something to show for it. If we aren’t walking a true Christian walk, obeying God, growing to be more like Christ, loving others; then we aren’t fooling anyone. If we love God, we’ll follow Him in everything we do.
All that said, we can try to obey in all things, but we will fail at times. We all sin, and we will need the cleansing provided by God through the blood of His Son that is available to us as we confess our sins. Christians will not lead sinless lives, but they will progress in holiness and be assured of salvation as they are distressed by and repent of their remaining sins.
We can’t be perfect, even though we should try to talk as closely to God as possible, with the help of the Holy Spirit. We’ll fail, but the true test is whether or not we admit to wrongdoing and ask forgiveness. If we say we don’t sin, again no one is fooled. We have to have a heart that’s humble enough to confess that we’ve sinned. This is what we’re called to as followers of Christ.
However, John knows we still struggle with sin, and he reminds us that there is forgiveness; for we have a righteous Advocate with the Father — the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1 John 1:9 we read that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and with Christ as our Advocate we can see how this is true. In promising the new covenant, God pledges to forgive our sins, and God is always faithful to His covenant. But He will only remain so if He provides a way for our sin to be punished. By imputing our sins to Christ on the cross, God satisfied His just need to punish sin so that He could be faithful to His pledge to forgive us.
Two thousand years ago, the death of Christ purchased forgiveness for His people. Today, He continues to apply this finished work to us as He is our Advocate with the Father, interceding on our behalf before the One who loved us so much that He sent His Son to save us. John Calvin comments, Christ “appears before God for this end, that he may exercise towards us the power and efficacy of his sacrifice.”