Years ago my dad was a salesman for a company called “Pre-Paid Legal.” The idea was simple: instead of paying a lawyer’s expensive hourly rates, why not pay a small monthly fee and get access to experienced attorneys whenever you need them? If my memory serves me correctly, the services were not easy to sell. Perhaps people thought, “If I don’t need a lawyer, why should I pay for one? If I stay out of trouble, why pay in advance for an attorney?”
If Jesus has already died, if you’ve already been forgiven, why do you need an advocate? Once again, a careful look at John’s words equips us with an answer. 1 John 2:1 says, “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).
We are called not to sin. John (and Jesus who discipled him) call us to repent of sin. To turn away from it. To go and sin no more. That’s the standard. But what’s reality? Anyone who sins needs an advocate.
So here’s the crucial question, dear reader: do you sin? “Not as much as I used to.” . . . Anyone who sins needs an advocate. “Not as much as other people.” . . . Anyone who sins needs an advocate. “Not the really bad sins.” . . . Anyone who sins needs an advocate. “Only sometimes.” . . . Anyone who sins needs an advocate. “But I ask for forgiveness when I sin.” . . . Anyone who sins needs an advocate. “But I’m a Christian!” . . . Anyone who sins needs an advocate. But why? Why do Christians need an advocate? Scripture teaches us two clear reasons.
Reason 1: The Father is an Impartial Judge
The Apostle Peter writes this in 1 Peter 1:17, “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” The fact that our Father is an impartial judge means He doesn’t give us special treatment because we’re His kids. He doesn’t bend the law or ignore it. He’s impartial. So we need an advocate.
In his book, The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate John Bunyan puts it this way: “Alas! the Judge is the almighty and eternal God; the law broken is the holy and perfect rule of God, in itself a consuming fire. The sin is so odious, and a thing so abominable, that it is enough to make all the angels blush to hear it but so much as once mentioned in so holy a place as that is where this great God doth sit to judge.”
Reason 2: Satan is a Relentless Accuser
Revelation 12:10 calls Satan “the accuser of our brothers” who “accuses them day and night before our God.” Satan’s relentless accusing is depicted in the story of Job. God asks Satan, “have you considered my servant Job?” and Satan retorts with an accusation: “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:9-11).
Or consider the prophet Zechariah’s vision when he was shown “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him” (Zechariah 3:1). Satan relentlessly accuses Christians before ethe presence of God the Father, their holy and righteous judge.
Because God the Father is an impartial judge, because Satan is a relentless accuser, anyone who sins needs an advocate. In his book Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund writes, “The Bible nowhere teaches that once we have been savingly united with Christ, we will find grievous sins to be a thing of the past. On the contrary, it is our regenerate state that has more deeply sensitized us to the impropriety of our sins. Our sins feel far more sinful after we have become believers than before. And its not only our felt perception of our sinfulness; we do indeed continue to sin after becoming believers. Sometimes we sin big sins.” (90-91. Emphasis added.)
And because we sin, we need an advocate. Praise be to God, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.