“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. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2)
Salvation from the Lord is not only deliverance from the penalty of sin. It is also continued deliverance from the power of sin and eventually deliverance from the very presence of sin upon one’s home going to heaven. John’s focus in today’s text is upon the believer’s sanctification and the continual deliverance from the power of sin.
What happens when we sin as believers in Christ? Our fellowship with God is affected and intimacy with God is damaged. While our eternal position with God as our Savior and Deliver is never in question, our harmonious relationship with Him is negatively impacted.
Think of when you disobeyed your parents, or if you are a parent, when your children disobeyed you. While the status of you being their parent and they your children was never in doubt, the strain on the relationship could be felt. Cold stairs, little conversation, imposed grounding and privileges removed perhaps were part of the existing tension. There was a price to be paid.
However, Jesus Christ has already paid the price for the believer’s sin: past, present and future (Colossians 2:13). He is not only our Savior but He is also our advocate.
What is an advocate? An advocate (παράκλητον; parakleton) is one who intercedes and provides help on behalf of another person. In effect, Jesus comes along side each believer and assists them in their walk of holiness: especially when the believer sins.
The basis for Jesus’ advocacy is not based on anything believers have done, or could ever do. Penance is not in question here.
Rather, the basis for Jesus’ help is His atoning sacrifice on the cross on behalf of the sinner. Jesus Christ is, and remains, the believer’s propitiation before God the Father. He satisfied the righteous wrath of God the Father towards the sinner by becoming a sin offering on the believer’s behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). Propitiation and expiation are forever linked together.
Dr. R.C. Sproul writes, “Let’s think about what these words mean, beginning with the word expiation. The prefix ex means “out of” or “from,” so expiation has to do with removing something or taking something away. In biblical terms, it has to do with taking away guilt through the payment of a penalty or the offering of an atonement. By contrast, propitiation has to do with the object of the expiation. The prefix pro means “for,” so propitiation brings about a change in God’s attitude, so that He moves from being at enmity with us to being for us. Through the process of propitiation, we are restored into fellowship and favor with Him.”
In other words, expiation is the undertaking which results in the change of God’s outlook towards you and me. It is what Christ accomplished on the cross. The result of Christ’s expiating work is propitiation—God’s wrath is removed.
This work is applicable to all kinds of people within the fallen world. There is no distinction because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:21-26 says, “21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Sin can and should be conquered through the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:12–14; 8:12–13; 1 Cor. 15:34; Titus 2:11–12; 1 Pet. 1:13–16). The presence and power of the Holy Spirit is based upon the advocacy of Jesus Christ.
As you approach the Lord today in prayer, take time to thank and praise Him for being you advocate and helper.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!