The Advocacy of Christ.

The question often arises in the minds of the Lord's people, especially of those who are young in the faith, "What is to be done with the sins we commit after we have been saved?" Many a child of God has said, "I know that I have believed in Christ, and see that my sins were put away in His blood; but what troubles me is the sins I commit now; and what am I to do with them?" The divine answer to this question is found in 1 John 2:1-2, "My 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;" and in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This is clearly written to believers; for the apostle addresses them as "my children;" that is, those who have been born of God. And again, "We have an advocate with the Father;" and it is only those who are born again who can truly call God their Father. In one sense every believer has the forgiveness of all his sins; as in 1 John 2:12, "I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake." It is very important to distinguish between our sins being once and for all put away by the "one sacrifice" on the cross, and the Father forgiving a child when he has sinned. There are two things we need in order to be happy in God's presence - the forgiveness of sins, and a new life and nature. You find these two in 1 John 4:9-10. In verse 9, "God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (eternal life); and in verse 10, "To be the propitiation for our sins" (forgiveness of sins).

Every one is born into this world at a distance from God, ignorant of Him, and with a corrupt, fallen nature, which is enmity against Him; "dead in trespasses and sins," without a spark of life or desire Godward; as we find in Romans 3:11, "There is none that seeketh after God." But God saw us in this dreadful condition, with nothing but death and eternal judgment before us, and loved us, "and sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." And we, through the mighty energy of the Holy Ghost, are born again, and get eternal life; as in John 1:12, "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God;" so that those who have received Christ, and have truly believed in Him, can say on the authority of Scripture that they are "sons of God," and born of Him. So now we have a life and nature that loves God, and delights in Him, and can have "fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3); whereas the old Adam life has no communion with God whatever. What a wondrous word that is, "Fellowship" (or communion) "with the Father, and with His Son!" What does fellowship or communion mean? Common thoughts, joys, and interests. Thus we now have a nature which can enjoy God, which will be our joy throughout eternity; and in proportion as we enjoy this communion now our joy is full. (v. 4.) The ground of our peace depends upon the death and resurrection of Christ, and, thank God, can never alter; but joy depends upon our walk, and how far we are living in communion with "the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ."

Fellowship with the Father! One might well say, "How could such poor feeble things as we are have fellowship (communion or common thoughts) with the Father and with His Son?" Suppose you are enjoying Christ, and you get a glimpse of His glory and perfection, and you delight in Him; well, the Father delights in Him too, so that through grace you have common thoughts with the Father about the Son, only, of course, in far different measure. And again, "No one knows who the Father is save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." (Matt. 11:27.) If Christ reveals the Father in all His love to your soul, and then says, "My Father is now your Father" (as in John 20:17), you have common thoughts with the Son about the Father, as far as you are able to enter into it.

Oh, if all Christians knew more of this communion, which is our highest privilege, how blessed they would find it! Peace, which was made by the blood of His cross, cannot alter, or our standing in Christ, because it does not depend upon us, but upon the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus; but our communion and joy may be broken by the merest trifle, even a foolish thought; and if we sin, it is as though a cloud came between us and the sun: the sun remains unchanged, but we do not feel its rays. The advocacy of Christ is to restore our souls when this communion has been interrupted by our sin - not to put the sin away: that was done on the cross. We read in 1 John 2:1, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father. The common thought is, that when we have confessed our sin, Christ goes to God and intercedes, and the sin is passed over. It does not however say, "If any man confess his sin," but "If any man sin." There is a child of God born again, his sins once and for all put away, and he himself "made meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light;" he has fallen into a sin, and that is not consistent with being a saint of God, and by that sin, although he has not ceased to be a child of God, his communion has been interrupted, and he has lost his joy. Well, "we have an advocate with the Father." Advocate means, one who undertakes the cause of another, one who manages our affairs. And who is "the advocate," the one who manages our affairs with the Father? No less a person than "Jesus Christ the righteous;" not "the loving or merciful One," as we might be inclined to think, but "the righteous." This is very blessed; for if He is there in righteousness before God, that is the proof that our sins are all gone for ever; for He took them on Him on the cross, and now He is before God without them, and He Himself is our unchanging righteousness there.

He is also "the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:2); that is, God is satisfied about our sins when Christ "bore them in His own body on the tree." Thus, when a child of God sins, and communion has been interrupted, He is there in the presence of God our Father, and prays about us, and the consequence is, that the word of God is brought home to our conscience by the power of the Spirit, and we are made to feel our sin and confess it to God our Father; and we have the word in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins; He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Mark the expression, "Faithful and just;" not "loving and merciful," and why? Suppose a child of God has sinned, Christ is before the Father, and says, so to speak, "I bore that sin in my own body on the cross, and I am here in righteousness to represent that child of God." So God is faithful and just to the work and person of Christ to forgive us our sins, because the work of Christ put them all away, and He Himself is our righteousness before God. But if when we sinned Christ had not been to the Father about us, we should never have confessed at all, but have got further and further away from the Lord. How blessed it is to think of the Lord's unchanging love and service to us! "He loved us, and gave Himself for us," and put away all our sins; and though now He is away, and we are left in this evil world, His love is still the same, and when we sin and get away from Him in our souls, He restores us to the communion we had lost.

"My soul He doth restore.
Whene'er I go astray;
He makes my cup of joy run o'er
From day to day."

So now the answer is simple as to what a child of God is to do with his sins: we are to confess them to God our Father. But how blessed to know that when we have sinned, and confess, that Christ has already been to the Father about us, and that we have the word, "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." So that if we have truly confessed and judged the sin, we ought to believe on the authority of the word that we have forgiveness. Real confession is not merely a general confession of sins at the close of the day, that would be no real confession at all; but every time a sin is on our conscience it should be judged and confessed, and not only to judge ourselves for an act of sin, but for the state of soul we were in at the time, which is a far deeper thing; for if we had been in communion with the Lord, we should not have committed it at all; for depend upon it, a child of God does not fall into positive sin when in communion with the Lord; but there has been first a getting away from Him. But what a blessed privilege, when we have sinned, to be able to go to God our Father, and confess it all out to Him; not as a sinner to get salvation, or to get converted again, but as a child to a Father who loves us perfectly, but at the same time is God who is "Light," and cannot have fellowship with anything that is evil or inconsistent with that light. May you and I, dear reader, know more what it is to have "fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ," that our "joy may be full," till we enter that blessed home "where there shall in no wise enter any thing that defileth or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life," where there will be no need of "an advocate with the Father," because there will be no sin, and we shall be "holy and without blame before God in love." The world, the flesh, and the devil, and everything that hindered our communion here, gone for ever; and to know throughout eternity what uninterrupted communion means in everlasting glory!

F. K.