An Advocate with the Father
The priesthood of the Lord Jesus is with God. His advocacy is with the Father (1 John 2:2). And the change of words indicate a difference in relationships, as held by the same persons. As High Priest, the Lord’s ministry is to keep His people from failing. As Advocate, it is to deal with them, and to restore them when they do fail. The believer is “justified from all things” (Acts 13:39), once for all, at the time of his conversion. And at no future stage of his history will he stand before God as a sinner, to be judged for his sins. For to him there is the definite assurance that he “shall not come into judgment,” but is “passed out of death into life” (John 5:24, R.V.).
But if, as a child of God, he fails and falls, either or both of two things will happen.
(1) He will be made conscious that there is a cloud between him and his Father in heaven. His communion will be broken, and his peace of heart lost (Phil. 4:7). He will not be happy. Sin has disturbed the rest of his soul. He will be as a child who, in disobedience to his parent, has gone into some forbidden path, soiled his garments, and is ashamed to appear in the family circle, around the family board.
(2) Should he continue in this state, unhumbled by it and refusing to own it, Fatherly chastisement will come upon him (Heb. 12:9-11), and he will have to “bear the rod,” if he will not bow to the voice of conscience and of the Word, and judge himself for his sin. His relationship as a child is not disturbed, but his intercourse with the Father for the time being is.
And this is a solemn pass to reach in the life-history of a true child of God. If pride, self-will, and hardening of heart ensue, it may form a crisis, from which he may never be fully restored, or have the dew of his spiritual youth returned and renewed in experience. And in such a condition he may drift further from God, and into a backslidden and worldly condition, from which he may never fully recover. How many there are in such a state! Once bright, happy, active Christians, but they took a false step, a wrong turning, got into bad company, neglected prayer and their Bibles, and at last were tripped up or overcome, and lie like a bird with a broken wing, unable to rise into the air, or to sing as they did in days of spiritual youth. There should be no delays in having such a condition dealt with, and this thoroughly and honestly. There must be no cloaking of sin, no blaming others for it; but a full and detailed confession of it to God as Father (1 John 1:9), and a forsaking of it (Prov. 28:13), and cleansing from “all unrighteousness,” of which such departure from God is the real cause.
It is just here that the advocacy of the Lord Jesus comes in. We see it exemplified in the case of Simon Peter in Luke 22:31-32. The Lord, who could read His heart, had already warned him of his “haughty spirit,” which is the sure precursor of “a fall” (Prov. 16:18). But Peter heeded not the warning word. Then the Lord prayed for Peter—even before Peter’s open fall, and for this, that in the hour of testing, his faith “might not fail” in the “sifting” he was about to be subjected to. Peter fell, but not finally. When the Lord “looked upon” Peter, he “wept bitterly.” This was the evidence of his contrition. And when through grace, having been fully reinstated in his place of service, he used his experience to “strengthen his brethren” for many a year after.
And all such restoration is due to the service of an “Advocate with the Father,” who in unwearied love and faithfulness, serves His brethren, of whom He is “First-born” (Rom. 8:30). And to honest, contrite hearts, He never fails in His office, which is to restore their souls (Ps. 23:2), and to bring them back to the enjoyment of fellowship with the Father, which sin had disturbed. And this latter He does, by bringing to their consciences the “water of the Word,” as exemplified in the scene in the upper room, when He brought the basin and the towel to wash the soil-stained feet of His disciples, apart from which cleansing He told Peter he could have “no part” with Him—that is no present part—as we say—no communion. “In Christ” Peter had “a part” which he could not forfeit, as all true believers have now in salvation, security, and relationship. Their place “in Christ” can never be lost. But “with Christ,” in fellowship, communion, heart intercourse, can be and always is disturbed by the least continuance in or connivance with sin.
Let us, therefore, “keep short accounts with God.” When we fail or fall, judge it at once, confess it to God as our Father, yield to the work of the Great Advocate in His restoring grace, and submit to the use of the Word He brings to the conscience to cleanse it from not only the sin that stains it, but to separate the child of God from the evil and the way, that led to his fall. The word “Advocate” in 1 John 2:1 is the same in the original as “Comforter” in John 16:9, used of the Spirit, and is well expressed in the title of Paraclete—one brought to our aid, to stand by us, and support our cause. This the Lord Jesus does for His own, in heaven with the Father. And this also the Spirit does in the Christian, for He “makes intercession for the saints” (Rom. 8:32). And He it is who brings the Word in season to the soul in the hour of its restoration to communion with the Father. How well provided then are the people of God! Not surely to make them careless in their ways, or indifferent to that holy living and manner of life unto which they have been called (1 Pet. 1:15), but to prevent them from either “fainting” under a sense of their failure, or “regarding it lightly,” as if it were a commonplace event, to be little exercised over.
Christ, our Paraclete
Christ our Advocate, unwearied,
Serving all His people still,
Day by day their cause upholding
In the Father’s gracious will;
On his heart, in love unchanging,
Bearing all their need and care,
All their failings and their stumblings,
Weighed and measured in His prayer.
High ’mid heaven’s unsullied glory,
There before the Father’s face,
Knowing all His people’s weakness,
Claiming for them daily grace;
By the Spirit’s gracious teaching,
Making all His fulness known,
And in ceaseless, faithful service,
Watching o’er them from the throne.
Article series: Our Glorious LordOur Great High Priest A Minister of the Sanctuary: The Present Service of the Glorified Lord
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