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Yesterday on the blog we said an advocate is like a defense attorney who stands beside the accused in a court of law. But the doctrine of Christ’s advocacy should force us to ask (and answer) several other questions. Perhaps the most important is this: who has an advocate?

The Apostle John equips us with this answer: “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” (1 John 2:1).

But who is the “we” in John’s letter? Near his conclusion, John tells us: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). John is writing to Christians. He’s writing to genuine followers of Jesus. He’s writing to those who truly believe in the death, burial, resurrection, and saving work of Christ.

Which means that only Christians have Christ as their advocate. We have an advocate.” In Western legal tradition, the accused in court who cannot afford an attorney our provided a public defender. A public defender represents those without an advocate.

While this is an incredible blessing for indigent people in countries like the United States, there are no such provisions in the court of heaven. There are no public defenders before God the Judge. Yes, there is an Advocate available, but He is only available to those who now trust in His blood.

You cannot have Jesus as your advocate if you will not have Him as your substitute. This is the point John makes in the very next verse when he writes, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Jesus is an advocate for those who have received His work as propitiation. Those who have trusted in the wrath-bearing work of Christ on the cross have an advocate in heaven.