“Good News For All The People”—Daily Reflections for Advent 2016
THE SEVENTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, December 13th
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 2:1-2
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, former pastor of historic Westminster Chapel in London, said that we have never really told God’s good news in all of its goodness, if we haven’t been charged with going easy on sin. Legalists pounce on God’s free, unmerited grace with warnings that it will encourage sin. In his commentary on the book of Romans, Lloyd-Jones explains:
The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this, that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like… If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel. (Romans: Exposition of Chapter 6)
The apostle John begins today’s Scripture with the awareness that some garble God’s good news to mean they can sin as much as they like. It is such a response to the good news that John wants to correct: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” Yet for others who might be discouraged when they sin, John wants them to be reassured: “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” John knows the danger of taking sin lightly and the danger of taking sin too seriously. He wants us to know that when we sin we have an Advocate in “Jesus Christ the righteous”.
The Greek word translated “advocate” is parakletos (para = alongside, kaleo = to call), and it speaks of a person called to the side of another to help. A parakletos was someone often called alongside to help in a court of law, to intercede on one’s behalf with the judge. “Jesus Christ the righteous” acts as our parakletos the moment we sin. Not the moment we confess our sin, but the moment we sin: “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father.”
The apostle Paul tells of Christ at the right hand of God, “who indeed intercedes for us” (Roman 8:34). The book of Hebrews says that Jesus Christ is the One who “always lives to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25); and that He “entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Hebrews 9:24). Thankfully, the apostle John says that Jesus acts as our Advocate, not with the “Judge” but with the “Father”. We’re family!
Jesus always acts effectively as our Advocate when we sin, because, “he is the atoning sacrifice for our sin.” Our forgiveness and perfect standing with God do not depend on anything that we do, but rather, on what Christ does on our behalf. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice not only for our sins, “but also for the sins of the whole world.” God’s arms reach as wide as the world! “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Thinking back over today’s Scripture we might well agree with Bible commentator William Barclay: “He would be a bold man who would set limits to the grace and love of God or to the effectiveness of the work and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” (1 John: Daily Bible Study) Here is good news of great joy for all the people!
- What does it mean to you that Jesus Christ the righteous is your Advocate when you sin?
- Do you think that you tend to take your sin too lightly or too seriously? Explain.