Thoughts from The Bible

Our Righteous Advocate and Propitiation
by Sarah Wootten Corinth Missionary Church

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. [And] if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world,” (1 John 2:1-2, ESV).
As we continue our journey through 1 John, we come to these two verses that are rich in their description of Jesus. John tells us that Jesus is the righteous advocate for believers who became the propitiation for our sins … Umm, excuse me. What is John saying about Jesus? Those are big words that we don’t ordinarily use, and honestly, the Bible only uses them a handful of times. What is going on here? Let’s start with an illustration to explain.

Imagine you’re standing in a courtroom where the judge is perfect in all of his judgments. Everything he does is righteous, thus the innocent have no reason to fear. However, 1 John 1:10 reminds us that you are a sinner; you aren’t innocent. The only possible verdict for you is guilty. But in walks someone who will defend your case. This advocate, however, is also righteous. He will surely not defend the wicked and let them go without punishment. How can this helper help you? You will still receive the punishment you deserve.

The advocate begins to make his case. He tells the judge that yes, you are guilty and deserving of a heavy sentence. However, the fullness of the punishment you deserve he has already taken upon himself. He served the sentence for you; therefore, there is no punishment left for you to bear. Therefore, the right verdict on your case is to let you go free. The crime has already been paid in full.
God cannot allow sin to go unpunished. However, as John tells us in 1 John 2:1, Jesus advocates for believers before the Father. How can He righteously advocate for sinners? By becoming the wrath-removing sacrifice – the propitiation – for our sins.

When Jesus died on the cross, He endured the wrath of God that would have been poured out on His children. Jesus took the punishment that sinners deserve and appeased God’s just judgment. For those who trust in Jesus, the punishment has already been paid in full, and God’s wrath is no longer awaiting them.

This is the good news of the gospel. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot be good enough to earn salvation. Jesus has already paid the price on our behalf and reconciles us to God. But as John writes these words about Jesus, he isn’t only explaining the gospel to us. He has a purpose in reminding us of what Jesus accomplished. Reread 1 John 2:1 and pay attention to John’s purpose statement. He says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin,” (1 John 2:1a, ESV).
How does knowing that Jesus is our righteous advocate and propitiation help us to not sin?
This isn’t an easy question to answer; it takes some contemplation. Lord willing, we will discuss that next week.

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