by Ron Hutchison

"My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2).

This passage is very comforting for in it we see that there is provision made for all who are willing to conform to the will of Christ.  It says that Jesus is our Advocate.  An advocate is an attorney or a lawyer in a judicial case.  An advocate pleads the case of his client in a court of law.  So Jesus is our attorney, representing us before the Courts of Heaven, and we file our petitions as it were in Heaven through Him.  In Colossians 3:17 the apostle Paul wrote, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Colossians 3:17). Everything we do must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.  We approach the Father through Jesus. So Jesus represents us. He pleads our case. He argues in our behalf.  The Hebrew writer wrote, "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus makes intercession for us.  We come to God through Him. He is the "go-between" between God the Father and man.

The Bible teaches that every accountable person has sinned.  Paul wrote, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). In Ezekiel 18:20 The prophet Ezekiel said, "The soul who sins shall die...." (Ezekiel 18:20). Paul also wrote, "The wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23). All of us have sinned.  All of us have broken God's law.  That is what sin is.  John wrote, "Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law" (1 John 3:4 - HSCB).  There is not one accountable person living today who has not broken God's law and thus who has not sinned. The penalty for us then, is death.  The fact of our sin cannot be denied and it cannot be dismissed on some  legal ground.  The evidence of our guilt is conclusive.

Look at Romans three, beginning with verse nine, and observe here that every accountable person is guilty of sin.  "What then? Are we better than they? [that is, are we Jews better than the Gentiles?"] Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.  As it is written: 'There is none righteous, no, not one;  There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.  They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one'" (Romans 3:9-12). Paul charges that every one of us has sinned.  We are all under sin. There is none of us who are righteous.  We have all gone out of the way.  There is none who does good, no, not one.  Isaiah wrote, "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6). Realizing that we are all guilty of sin, Jesus as our advocate, cannot argue that we are not guilty of sin.  We are all sinners and deserve the penalty of sin, which is death.

Jesus cannot argue that we are not guilty of sin on the grounds of our ignorance. Paul taught, "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead"  (Acts 17:30-31). There was a time when God overlooked some ignorance. But He does not overlook ignorance today.  Now, God holds us accountable when we sin in ignorance.  Thus, Jesus cannot argue that we are not guilty of sin because of our ignorance. 

Further, Jesus cannot plead for a suspended sentence on the grounds that our crime is of no consequence, because the Bible says that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). We are guilty as God has charged, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Thus Jesus cannot argue that we should be pardoned because our sin is of no consequence.

Is our case hopeless then?  Is there no way we can be released from the consequences of our sin? Well, John teaches here in our text that Jesus is "the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." To propitiate means that He has made atonement for our sins; he has paid the penalty for us.  In other words, if I should go down town and borrow some money on my car, and I was not able to pay it back, and some of my brethren said to me, "You know, we have known you for some time.  We are going down here to the bank and cover that debt so you won't have to repay it."  And they would pay the interest and pay the principal.  The debt would be taken care of.  So Jesus has paid the debt for us.  He has atoned for our sins. He has covered for our sins so we don't have to pay the penalty for our sins. 

So Jesus has paid the penalty and is able to argue and serve as our Advocate; not on our merit, but on His own; and that is the only way that He can defend us.  The penalty of the broken law, as we have said, is death.  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).  So Jesus took upon Himself the penalty and allowed it to be executed on His own person that we might be free.

In Matthew 26:28, when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, He took the cup and when He had given thanks He said, "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Jesus shed His own blood so that we might receive the remission of our sins. Paul wrote: "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures," (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Notice that Paul says that Jesus died for our sins.  In the great prophecy of Isaiah he wrote, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:5-6). Jesus went through what He did on the cross because of our transgressions and our iniquities.  Paul wrote in First Timothy two five and six, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1 Timothy 2:5-6). In Matthew 20:28 the Bible says that the Son of man "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Jesus paid the ransom for us. Jesus made the atonement for us on the cross.

Now, it is somewhat difficult for us today, this far from the cross of Christ, to fully realize, or visualize, the horror of death by crucifixion and all the other things that Jesus went through when He died on the cross for us.  On one occasion we see Jesus in the upper room where He instituted the Lord's Supper.  He washed the disciples feet and predicted His betrayal by one of His own disciples.  He took Peter, James and John into the garden with Him and He said, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death..." (Matthew 26:38). Why was Jesus so sorrowful?  It was because the sins of untold millions yet to be born were heaped upon His head and His heart that night.  He was about to face a test on which the spiritual welfare of the whole world depended.  He told Peter, James and John, "Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:38b-39).  Jesus lived in an age when they put people to death by crucifixion.  He knew what a horrible, terrible death it was.  He had possibly seen people hanging on a cross.  It was as if He was saying, "Father, isn't there some other way?"  And then He heard the footsteps of the soldiers, and they came and arrested Him as if He were some common criminal.  They took Him that night and led Him from one mock trial to another.  They took Him first before Annas, then to Caiaphas, then to Pilate, then to Herod, and then back to Pilate.  In every mock trial, they were ridiculing Him.  And even with all the persecution heaped upon Him, that night, He never retaliated.  They took their filthy, sinful hands and beat the Son of God in the face that night.  They spit their filthy spittle in His face, and yet He never retaliated.  They beat Him on His back until His shoulder blades looked like white caps in a sea of blood.  And He never retaliated. They made a crown of thorns and put it on His tender brow.  They even stripped Him of His clothes that night, and they put a mock robe around His body and a mock reed in His hand, but he never retaliated.  Pilate wanted to release Him and gave the Jews a choice to release Jesus or Barabbas.  They chose Barabbas.  And when Piliate ask what should be done with Jesus, they shouted, "Crucify Him. Crucify Him."  The next morning they marched Him to Golgotha.  As the custom was in that age, He was compelled to carry His own cross, but He was so physically and emotionally exhausted that He fell under the weight of that cross. Simon of Cyrene was there, and he was compelled to help Him carry His cross.  And then they reached Golgotha. And when they did, they nailed His body to that cross, and then they picked that cross up and dropped it into the hole that had been prepared for it. No one can know the pain and anguish that went through Jesus' body when they dropped that cross into that hole, but Jesus Himself.  And He was left there to die.  And that scene was so terrible, that at high noon God sent a blanket of darkness over the face of the earth.  And in the midst of that darkness, among other things that Christ spoke were those words of deep dispair, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). It seemed as if Jesus was saying, "My last earthly friend has forsaken Me -- this I understand.  Satan and all his angels are against Me -- this I understand.  But, O My God, My only hope, My only stay, why have You forsaken Me?"  But Jesus had taken upon Himself the redemption of the world and He must satisfy justice.  So He was left there to hang and to die alone, forsaken by His father.  And then Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30), and His Spirit left that torn, tattered body. And it was done.  Why didn't Jesus come down from that cross?  Why didn't He call for ten thousand angels to deliver Him?  It was because you and I would have been lost and without any hope. You and I would have to pay the price that Jesus paid.  That's why.  

So Jesus endured the cross so that we might be permitted to be free.  It ought to move all of us to bow our heads in shame and lift our hearts in full submission in obeying Christ, and also cause us to desire more than anything to lead others to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  The Hebrew writer wrote, "though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him," (Hebrews 5:8-9). Jesus learned obedience from the things He suffered.  He learned what it takes to be obedient.  That's what made it possible for Him to be the author or the cause of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.  Yes, we must obey Jesus in order to receive the salvation He died to give us.  Don't ever let anyone tell you that there is nothing you can do to receive salvation.  We must obey Jesus.  The Bible says, "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city." (Revelation 22:14). Do you want to have the right to the tree of life?  Do you want to enter in through the gates into the city?  If so, you must do His commandments. Jesus said in Matthew seven twenty-one,  "Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). There are many in the religious world today who will tell you that all you have to do to be saved is to "call upon the name of the Lord."  They will then give  you a prayer to pray and ask you to repeat that prayer.  That is all they say is necessary to be saved.  But Jesus said that it is not enough to call upon the name of the Lord.  We must do the will of the Father.  That means that we must obey His will.  There is something for man to do.  Those who believe that they have been saved by prayer are mistaken and are still in an unsaved condition.  You must obey the will of the Father to be saved.

In Isaiah fifty-three and verse eleven, the prophet Isaiah wrote, "He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. The "He" in this verse is God the Father.  The "His" is Jesus.  God saw the labor of Jesus' soul and was satisfied. That satisfaction is not satisfaction that Jesus died. It is the fact that God's justice has been satisfied. Jesus satisfied the demands of God's justice by giving His own life.  He sacrificed His own life for us.  Peter wrote, "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed." (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus did not bare His own sins on the tree.  He bare your sins and mine.  We are healed by His stripes.  Revelation one five says,  "To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood"  The washing away of our sins took the blood of the only begotten Son of God. 

So, Jesus suffered at least five bleeding wounds for us while He was on the cross.  Both of His feet were nailed to the cross; His hands were nailed to the cross. Later that afternoon when they sent the soldiers to break the legs of those who had been crucified they broke the legs of the two thieves, but when they came to Jesus He was already dead.  One of the soldiers lifted his spear and pierced His side, and from Immanuel's veins there came forth blood and water.  We do not know how many wounds were on His body as a result of the scourging He had received.  Sometimes when they would scourge a prisoner he would be so badly beaten that his teeth would be knocked out; sometimes even his intestines would be protruding from his body.  It was a terrible situation they had to endure.  Such was Jesus' suffering for us, and the Bible says that He was "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Peter wrote, "knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19). So when Jesus died on the cross, He became our advocate before the Courts of Heaven.

If we needed a lawyer, we would have to have one who was willing to take our case.  I never had to use a lawyer, but I know some who have had to use one.  Not all lawyers are willing to take all cases for one reason or another.  There are conditions set before they will take certain cases.  There are also conditions on which Jesus will accept our case.  He will not accept our case unless we are willing to obey Him.  He will only take our case and argue our case before the Courts of Heaven if we will obey Him.  That's what we read a while ago in Hebrews 5:8-9.  Jesus became the author of eternal salvation unto all those who obey Him.  So, we must do all that we can in obeying the Lord and in leading others out of darkness into His marvelous light that we might be saved from our sins.

The obedience that is required is very simple.  Jesus Himself taught us to take certain steps or certain actions in order to be saved. These are the conditions that must be met in order for Jesus to be our Advocate.  Jesus said, "...for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24). Jesus is saying here that we must believe that He is the Son of God.  We must believe that He is the promised Messiah.  We must believe hat He came to this earth to die for our sins.  We must believe everything the Bible teaches about Jesus.  We must believe His miracles, we must believe everything He taught while He was here on earth; We must believe that He died for our sins; We must believe that He was resurrected from the dead. We must believe that He has built His church and established His kingdom.

Jesus also taught that another step we must take in order to be saved is repentance.  He said, "...unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3). We must repent, which means we must make up our minds to turn from our sins and to turn to obeying God's will in our lives.  We cannot continue to live in sin if we expect to be children of God.  Now that does not mean that we won't sin from time to time. But we must not live a habitual life of sin.  We must turn from a sinful way of life. That's what repentance is.

Jesus also taught that we must confess Him before men.  He said, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32).  We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God. Confess with our mouth what we believe in our heart.  A good example of this confession is found in Acts 8:37 where we find the Ethopian Eunuch being taught by Philip.  Philip had preached to him Jesus and the Bible says, and "...as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, 'See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?' Then Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'  So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him." (Acts 8:36-38). This is the confession that each of us must make before we can be saved. We must confess that we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. 

Jesus also taught the necessity of being baptized. He said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16).  Here Jesus tells us we must be baptized. Peter teaches us that we repent and are baptized for the remission of our sins:  "Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38).  Since Peter said we must repent and are baptized for the remission of sins, then why should anyone deny that?  Baptism has something to do with remission of sins.  When one is baptized after completing all of these other steps that Jesus teaches us, that person receives the remission or forgiveness of his sins.  Baptism is a burial in water.  It is where we contact the blood of Christ and receive forgiveness.  Paul wrote, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4). It is in baptism where we come into contact with the death of Jesus.  It was in His death that Jesus shed His blood.  Thus, it is in the act of being buried in water in the likeness of Jesus' burial and resurrection as Paul teaches in the next few verses in Romans 6, that we contact that blood that He shed in His death and thus we are enabled to rise from the watery grave of baptism to walk in newness of life.

Thus, in order to obey Jesus these steps are necessary: We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God; Repent of our sins; Confess Jesus before men; and be baptized or buried in water.  When we do that we become Christians.  We are saved from our past sins.  Jesus has pleaded our case before the Courts of Heaven and we are pronounced "not guilty."  Then, we must be faithful unto death as Revelation 2:10, and we will have that eternal home in heaven. 

[Note: This lesson was originally presented on WRKY as a radio sermon. It has been revised to make it into an article for the web page.]


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