1 John 2:1, “My 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.”
Though in our Bibles, this is the beginning of a new chapter, it is actually a continuation of the previous verse, but also, at the same time, a look forward to what he is about to share with his followers.
Notice that John addresses the believers as “my little children” for he is talking as a father would discipling the flesh of his flesh, and as joint heirs with Christ, we are one with one another! In his discourse, you can clearly see that he cared and loved his brothers and sisters and wanted them to remember that we actually are one IN Christ, and thus we ARE brothers and sisters together.
John stresses the point again that he is writing so that “we may NOT sin.” He is not saying that just hearing him will keep us from sin, but rather his exhortations will allow us to make the educated CHOICE to NOT sin! Sin is always with us, around us and temptation to sin comes from every aspect of the world. We must view sin as God, our Father views it, with total and absolute intolerance for we must remember that God’s commandment to us is as the Apostle Peter exhorts, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15-16. God is perfect and He demands that we be perfect, yet He knows that we cannot within ourselves be that perfection.
Remember, in the words of Jesus we are “to go and sin no more,” NOT “go and sin as little as possible.” Our goal, our motivation then, should be perfection. Our actions and our conduct, as Peter exhorts, should be one that is TOWARDS perfection. It is truly a heart or spirit attitude that we should adopt. But remember this, our Lord KNOWS our frailty, our flaws and weaknesses and in His unbounding and limitless love, He has graciously made provisions for us in the event of failure due to those weaknesses and flaws.
Our effort, our striving should be to the goal of not sinning, not choosing the way of sin as the path we walk. Yet, the beloved Apostle continues on with the thought of sin with this statement, “and if anyone sins,” simply because he knows that sin is apart of the human nature that our reborn spiritual nature is constant at war with. But notice he states, IF, anyone sins. There is a lot of power and principle packed into that simple little word, IF!
You see, we strive, we press on, as the Apostle Paul has told us, toward the goal. That word “if” has at least two implications in what the Apostle John is saying; we don’t HAVE to sin. We have the ability to no longer choose the path of sin, as Christ Jesus gave us the power to actually choose to NOT remain in bondage or as a slave to sin. That word “if” is not predicting the fall back into sin, but rather leaves it open to the individual.
The other implication is that due to our human nature, there is a real possibility that we just MIGHT sin. John is being very pragmatic and is not being unrealistic to man’s abilities in the slightest. He is demonstrating that even though we have the freedom to choose and are no longer in bondage, sometimes our choices can still be in conflict with the goal of perfection.
Then the Apostle continues the explanation concerning the grace that our Heavenly Father has given. “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father.” We have an ADVOCATE. For those not totally aware, an advocate is one who comes to the side of another in a time of need in order to help. It is usually associated with one offering legal help and actually in this case, since sin is the breaking of God’s law(s), it is a legal remedy we need. But, it does go much deeper than just a stranger defending us against charges leveled at us. We will get into that in just a little bit.
We now know what an advocate is, but consider the rest of this verse which is extremely important and especially when meditating on the Living Word; “we have an Advocate with the Father.” John, who is being “patriarchal” in his writing, is not saying, “we have an Advocate with God.” He is clearly making the distinction that that our help is being met with our Father! Think about this for a moment. We all have an individual image of God, Almighty dependent upon our relationship and knowledge of Him. But, our ultimate image as His child should be one of Father and the Apostle is reiterating this fact.
Consider this; one cannot undo their birth. Think about that for a moment. Once born, your Father will always be your Father, whether estranged or not. In the spiritual sense, once you have been reborn, as Jesus stated to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ – John 3:6-7. Therefore the implication is solid, God, Almighty IS our Heavenly Father, forever. So then, our Advocate is with our Heavenly Father and the “legal” implication is the restoration of our relationship (broken due to sin) with our Father.
This is one of the reasons why we need to understand, from our Heavenly Father’s perspective the devastation of sin in our spiritual lives. It breaks the relationship, the fellowship we have with God, Almighty who IS our Heavenly Father. This is why our heart/spirit goal should be to strive for perfection and the graciousness of our Father has created/instituted an Advocate for us so that the relationship and fellowship will always remain intact even when that fellowship becomes broken due to our inherent weakness!
There is another attribute our Advocate takes care of for us; guilt and the despair and hopelessness that arises from that broken fellowship with our Heavenly Father. In the original Greek, the word ‘parakletos’ (Strong’s Greek #3875) is used for Advocate and it literally means: an intercessor, consoler:–advocate, comforter. Notice, this is EXACTLY the same term used for the Holy Spirit!
When we sin, it is no small matter. We are surrendering to that which we have been set free from and that in itself is enough to break the Father’s heart, especially when you consider what it took for the advocate to become the ADVOCATE! This leads us to the rest of the verse, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” He is no ordinary Advocate, but rather the One, who at the Father’s behest, came to earth, died, and rose again all to be able to intercede on our behalf.
Satan loves to accuse the brethren and you will find it from the first book until the last when he is defeated and his accusations with him, but – when we sin, we give him fuel for those accusations, again, another reason why sin is so horrendous in the sight of God, because we ARE His children! But again – our Advocate is a RIGHTEOUS One! There is NO sin in Him and never was other than the sin that He took upon His body and purged them on the cursed tree for each and every one of us. His sacrifice can be summed up thus: (a) He bore our sins in His body, (b) He took upon Himself our punishment, (c) God’s wrath and justice against sin was thus poured out upon Calvary.
Because of this very fact, and the fact that Jesus Christ BECAME righteousness, when Satan brings accusations against the children of our Heavenly Father, our Advocate, our Righteous Defender, our Intercessor, can point to the work that WAS finished, once for all, on Calvary, and state to the Father with Authority on our behalf, “Charge that to My account!”
One thing in closing; this is not to make it easier for us TO sin, knowing we have this Mighty Advocate, for we must always remember the price He paid to become our Advocate. This SHOULD make it easier though for us to strive for the goal of perfection, to make it easier to CHOOSE to not sin, but knowing that if in our weakness we do fail, His strength is enough to help us overcome!