Chapter 6: Our Advocate When We Sin

From the book The Last Hour
By Gerald Flurry
 

Most members in the early Church didn’t even see the books John was inspired to write. They are primarily for this end time. Near the end of his life, Mr. Armstrong believed that the Bible was mainly written for the end-time Church, just before Jesus Christ returns. I agree.

As I have said, John had a profound understanding of Jesus Christ. In fact, even with the record we have in John’s writings, most people still do not understand Christ as John described Him. Let’s look at an example of this fact, unique to John’s writings.

“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” (1 John 2:1). Christ is our Advocate, not when we are righteous, but when we sin. If we sin, we have an Advocate, or one who pleads another’s case before a judge—God the Father, in this case.

We are all sinners. We are all going to disappoint people, including ourselves—and our Father. Even the ministry is “compassed with infirmity,” or weakness (Hebrews 5:2). We all fail to be perfect like our Father. This does not mean it is ok to sin—it is simply acknowledging reality.

When God’s people stumble and sin, we may think only of God distancing Himself from us—ashamed of us. But that’s not the way it is. Do we realize that, when we draw upon Him, Christ becomes our Advocate, pleading our case with God the Father? When you sin, and perhaps get depressed over it, Christ is at God’s throne being your Advocate!

Jesus Christ came in human form and understands the pulls of the flesh. He knows the weaknesses of the human spirit and the flesh. With that experience, He can help us get through to the Father in every detail. He has experience the Father doesn’t have. And the Father wants to hear His point of view. They both want to be absolutely just. The Father says to Christ, I want to hear you tell me about my son. We want to be as fair and loving and compassionate as we can be. The fact that we have an Advocate shows God’s great love and passion for justice. What a wonderful Father we have, who will sit down and talk with our Husband about how to remove our sins.

This gives us a deep insight into the character of the Father and the Son. They have gone to extreme lengths to see that we receive justice. Our Father is perfect and demands perfect justice. God is “no respecter of persons.” God demands that every angel, fallen angel and human being receives perfect justice.

God is unlike anyone we see on Earth, except in the very elect. And we are far from perfect.

We must strive diligently to understand our Advocate and our perfect Father. We are here to let God build that same character in us. Soon we will be in God’s Family living like the Father and Son have lived for all eternity!

During His ministry, Christ referred to the Holy Spirit as a “Comforter” (John 14:16). The Greek word translated Comforter is the same word as advocate in 1 John 2, but the context shows the difference. The Holy Spirit certainly is a great comfort, and it helps us overcome sin. But we have another Comforter. Christ personally is a Comforter, as our Advocate today. That job goes far beyond what the Holy Spirit does for us. We have two comforters: Not only the Holy Spirit, but also the righteous Christ is helping us to receive perfect justice by being our Advocate with the Father when we sin. Just knowing that is encouraging.

Another way to translate Advocate is Encourager. We know the Holy Spirit in us encourages us. But we also have another Encourager, even when we sin. How often do you husbands see your wife down and depressed, and you know she needs your encouragement? A righteous husband will be there for his wife. Christ doesn’t ask us to do things in our marriage that He will not do in His marriage to the Church. We have the supreme Husband of all husbands!

Ephesians 5 is called the marriage chapter for mankind, but it’s really about Christ and the Church (verse 32). Marriage instruction to God’s Church is all about Christ marrying the firstfruits. Our physical marriages are a type of our marriage to Christ. We must strive to pattern our physical marriages after Christ’s marriage to the Church. ONLY THEN are we fulfilling the God-ordained purpose of marriage!

Marriage is a God-plane relationship. We must ponder this deeply to comprehend God’s beautiful truth. Only God’s mind in us can fathom this God-plane glory!

Because of His love for His wife, Christ intercedes between us and the Father. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). He died for us, but now He lives as our High Priest to intercede for us in any way possible. We are saved by His life—not His death (Romans 5:10).

This is the opposite of how many people view God. To many, He is a harsh taskmaster, ready to destroy us if we weaken. Actually, He is just the opposite.

Hebrews 9:11-15 convey that Christ fulfills the role of Mediator and High Priest. The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible says, “He [Christ] is called mediator clearly in the sense of a surety, one who becomes security for something” (emphasis mine). Christ secures our calling. We have absolute security if we do our part. Christ gives us every opportunity because so much is at stake. How we are loved!

In Old Testament Israel, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would present a sacrifice in the holy of holies once a year and make atonement for himself and the people. Jesus Christ became our sacrifice and our High Priest!

Understanding that history clarifies John’s point. Christ made one perfect sacrifice for all, but it doesn’t stop there: He is now our Advocate—a part of His job as High Priest. Many people see Jesus’s job being finished at His crucifixion. But this truth proves that Christ’s Work didn’t end with His sacrifice. It really just began there. We must see the whole picture.

Human parents often make tremendous sacrifices for their children early on, but then they become derelict and fail to finish the job of rearing them. God isn’t about to pay the ultimate sacrifice and then neglect His family responsibility. The Logos sacrificed Himself, and now He continues His love by being our High Priest and Advocate! The job isn’t finished! There is a lot of work yet to be done. Christ and the Father are doing everything they can to help us into the Kingdom of God—just as you would do anything to help a son or daughter if you are a loving, sacrificing parent. God wants us to be in His Family! He continues to work toward that end until we are in the Kingdom.

We can’t afford to mope around because of our sins. Christ wants us to repent and put those transgressions behind us. Our High Priest and Husband lives!

We have an advocate,” John wrote—not did have. Our High Priest, Jesus Christ, is alive and working as our Advocate—now! That one word is a vision of breathtaking splendor.

We don’t understand what Christ is doing today if we fail to grasp this. He is always very active on our behalf—on your behalf.

We are engaged to the living Christ. He is our Advocate to do everything possible to consummate our eternal marriage! We would never make it if not for our Advocate.

This word also reveals a lot about our Father. He too is living, deeply sensitive to every important detail in our lives. He established Christ’s responsibility as our Advocate. He is a Father who has perfect love for each and every son. How can a Father with perfect love not be equally involved with each Family member? Our Father has no favorites in His Family.

How inspiring to know that we are so deeply loved!

Since we are to be perfect like our Father, we must have His passion for truth and justice. He listens when His only begotten Son pleads our case. He is a Father—not a cold, calculating judge! And we must become perfect as the Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). We must always be willing to hear any advocate to render true justice.

This is the only place in the Bible that the English word advocate is used. It helps us better understand the wonderful character of God. Christ and the Father are doing everything they can to give us eternal life—working passionately for each one of us. This is real! Everything is at stake. If we don’t give up, we are going to be in God’s Family.

Advocate is another one of those unique, powerful, visionary words that John uses.

Some people give up in discouragement. But that never happens if we stay close to our encouraging Advocate. God’s people need encouragement.

Christ taught John how strong and meaningful the original word advocate was (much more so than the English word today). It means God-advocate—not human advocate. It continually brings the Father into the picture: Christ is our Advocate to the Father. That keeps our focus on the God Family!

What an inspiring vision!

The world only focuses on the person of Christ, not the Father whom He came to reveal. Christ is not the Head of the Family. He is “an advocate with the Father.” If you understand the Advocate, you understand the Father—the God Family.

What majestic depth! We need to think about and study this message deeply—etching it into our minds.

The Propitiation

“And 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). Christ is not an Advocate for the world—yet. He will be one day. But He has offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, which only God could do.

Propitiation means that Christ paid for our sins. He is the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). John brings Christ’s blood into the picture. That is what propitiation is all about. Christ’s propitiation, His one supreme sacrifice, is valid for every person ever born.

What does it take to save us? The blood of bulls and goats cannot do it (Hebrews 10:4). It takes the blood of a God who became a man! Those Old Testament sacrifices meant nothing for salvation—except as they pointed to Christ. The blood of bulls and goats is only a type of Christ’s precious sacrificial blood.

Notice—God always puts the Church first, before the world. First John says that we have an Advocate today. Christ is with His Church, guiding and helping us. Then, with that Church, He will reach out to the whole world! His propitiation for the sins of the world makes that possible. We must get that order correct.

But we must never forget about the world! We are no better than anyone else. Christ died not only for His Church but for all mankind. The Father loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son. If we forget we are here to prepare for them, we won’t be able to do this Work. We must reach out to the people of this world and warn them, and tell them about God’s plan.

We are to help reach the entire Earth with this message. Christ is our Advocate today, and soon He will be an Advocate for all people. The true Church—His Bride—will help Him with that job in the World Tomorrow. All those billions of people who eventually come to know God’s truth will need individual attention and the Father’s great mercy. If you don’t keep that world vision in mind, you will get wrapped up in selfish pursuits. We must see where we fit into the big picture, especially in this last hour.

Again, Christ’s propitiation is not the end. After that supreme sacrifice, the Father and the Son don’t stop there. They are not like derelict parents, bringing children into the family and then neglecting them. After children are brought into God’s Family, Christ then becomes their Advocate with the Father. The Father and Christ work to nurture God’s Family. This is God’s Family love.

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3-4). Why would John say this? Because many in God’s Church then said they knew God but were not keeping God’s law! Again, John thought he was in the last hour, so he spoke bluntly.

If you don’t keep God’s law, you don’t know God! And if you say you do, you are a liar. We don’t even have an Advocate if we don’t repent and keep the law! John was prophesying about how blunt we would sometimes need to be in this last hour rebellion.

John was making the law real to a Church in grave danger. Like the Laodiceans and religious people today, they were spiritualizing away God’s Ten Commandments. This is why they were falling away from the truth. They were rejecting God’s leader at that time, the Apostle John. He alone taught God’s law. He was the physical head of God’s government at that time.

Today, 95 percent of God’s people reject the only physical leader who implements God’s law. This is a terrifying tragedy. That means they have rejected their Advocate, Christ, the Leader of God’s very elect. They have lost contact with their Father. They do not keep His commandments.

Liars

If you know God, you keep His commandments. “He” who says he knows God and keeps not His commandments is a liar (1 John 2:4). God makes it personal and addresses each individual—every son. God’s Church is made up of individuals, and over 100,000 of them today stumble at God’s law and reject His government!

John first discusses our Advocate, then our propitiation, and then he hammers the law doctrine (which includes the government that proclaims that law). Why? Because this is how God’s people were falling away then, and how they are falling away now. If we don’t keep the law, our religion is vain.

Today, all of God’s own Laodicean people will go into the great nuclear Tribulation, which will bring 50 percent of them back to God—the other 50 percent will lose their eternal salvation because of their unrepentant rebellion against God’s Ten Commandments. It’s all about rebelling against God’s law.

Let’s not use God’s most encouraging words about our Advocate to water down what He says about law. Such reasoning leads to an individual or collective disaster in God’s Church.

Not only must we keep the law. We must proclaim it to the entire world. That is what propitiation is about. And only those who follow their Advocate will do that work. We are called, not to be saved, but to do a worldwide work. Otherwise we would not have been called now—“out of season.” We would have been called later with the rest of humanity. Today there is a work to be done for the world. God gives us salvation if we do His Work.

One commentary states that John is really steeped in the law, as if that were a negative quality. That type of human analysis shows a bias against God’s law! People in the world and God’s own Laodicean Church are always trying to get away from the law. That is why God’s lukewarm Church and the world are headed for a massive cataclysm.

Joseph Tkach Sr., the former leader of the wcg, said, “The Ten Commandments do not require kindness, mercy, compassion … or love.” That is a diabolical statement (read 1 John 5:3). We have to tell such people that they don’t know God—if they say they do, they are liars!

Lawbreaking brings us to ruin! It will destroy an individual or a church. How confused God’s Church has become because of lawbreaking. When John saw people falling away, he didn’t try to gloss over the problem by talking about God’s Church having “different branches” or any such thing. He said, “You are liars!” They broke God’s law, and lying became their way of life. Could John get any stronger than that?

We must understand where God’s law is and the government that is enforcing it. When we talk about the law, we had better not lie. If we are lawkeeping people, we will know God. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). Do you know God? The answer always gets back to law and government.