Our Advocate and Forgiveness

It is a blessed thing for one to know Christ as his Savior but more blessed to know the Savior. Paul could say, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Tim. 1:12), but also desired to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10).

The Lord Jesus Christ not only became man to die for our sins but is now a risen, glorified man in heaven, the High Priest and Advocate of His people. As High Priest, He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities and lives to strengthen us, that we might “hold fast our confession” – or testimony in this world (Heb. 4:14-16, R.V.). As Advocate (or intercessor) He pleads our cause when we sin. “If any man sin,

We Have an Advocate

with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). when a Christian does wrong he needs one who is right, or righteous, to plead his cause. We need an advocate in heaven, because Satan accuses us before God day and night (Rev. 12:10). Satan would like to put a mark against the Christian when he sins. If he could do this, every Christian wuuld be barred from heaven, because none is perfect But, thank God, the Lord Jesus Christ is the author of Eternal Salvation. He not only died upon the cross to save us, but He lives as our Advocate in heaven to intercede on our behalf; therefore, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” (Rom. 8: 33). “If any man sin, we have an Advocate.” Notice, it does not say if any man confes8 his sin we have an Advocate but, “If any man sin.” The moment a Christian sins Christ his Advocate pleads his cause, so that no charge can be laid against him in heaven. Sin, however, does affect his fellowship with God his Father and must be confessed on earth.

It is important to notice, “we have

An Advocate With the Father”

not with God as creator or judge but as Father. The name “Father” denotes a family and children. The sinner will have to meet God in judgment for his sins after death (Heb. 9:27). But the Christian is chastised, by his Father, in this life here and now, and more especially when he does not judge himself and confess his sins (1 Cor. 11:31). God’s character in dealing with sin is “a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). The Lord Jesus met God in His holiness and was consumed by His wrath for our sins, as it is written: “Thy wrath lieth hard upon Me, and Thou hast afflicted Me with all Thy waves” (Ps. 88:7). He cried upon the cross: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Surely, this is proof that no sinner who meets God in his sins will ever escape His wrath. Moses saw God as a consuming fire dwelling in the “bush.” He marveled that “the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2). God might have consumed the bush (Israel), because He was holy and they were sinful; but in grace He condescended to dwell with them as their Deliverer and Savior. And so He does with us. God chastens (child-trains) His children as a Father now, but at the judgment seat of Christ their works of wood, hay, and stubble will be burned by the fire of His judgment. But the believer himself “shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Cor. 3:15).

Some Christians at Corinth were weak and sickly, and some slept (died), because of unjudged sin The Lord judged them as children, that they “should not be con-demned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:32). The same was doubtless true of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10). Both of these cases were sins unto death (1 John 5:16), i.e. they died for, or because of, their sin in this life, but will not be condemned in the next life. Sinners will be judged after death (Acts 17:31, Heb. 9:27), not here.

The Forgiveness of Sins

This is one of the most important subjects in the Bible. Ignorance of the Scriptures regarding this truth will rob one of joy, happiness, and blessing. There are three aspects of forgiveness that I would like to consider namely: 1-God’s Forgiveness of Sinners; 2-The Father’s Forgiveness of His children; 3.-The Christian’s Forgiveness of others.

1-God’s Forgiveness of Sinners.

It is a known fact that sin cannot enter heaven. Since all in the world are sinners, each one must be forgiven or be lost forever (Rom. 3:23). This forgiveness must be upon the ground of God’s sovereign grace and not man’s worthiness. “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

The ground of forgiveness is Christ’s death and resurrection: “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). “Through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 13:38). “Whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission (forgiveness) of sms” (Acts 10:43).

The foundation of the new covenant is the blood of Christ (Maft. 26:28, Heb. 10:16); therefore, all believers can say: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Notice these words, “we have redemption,”

“we have. ... the forgiveness of sins”;

and note the ground: “according to the riches of His grace.” What a wonderful salvation God’s grace has provided for the sinner! He has said concerning all who believe, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17).

Reader, are you a believer? If you are, look afresh to the cross and believe those words: “It is finished!” Believe God when He says, your sins are “remembered no more”-your past sins; your present sins; your future gins. All your sins are gone forever and you are eternally forgiven: “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). Behold Christ Jesus who “sat down in perpetuity” at God’s right hand in heaven (Heb. 10:12, R.V.) Since you are accepted in Him (Eph. 1:6), you are no longer in Adam but in Christ (1 Cor. 15:22; 2 Cor. 5:17). You are no longer a sinner but a saint (Rom. 1:7; 2 Cor. 1:2). You are in the world but not of it (John 17:16). “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor.6:19-20).

Your link with the old creation has been severed forever before God, because Christ died as your substitute and you have died with Him. As a new creature you are a partaker of the “divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4); God is your Father; you are ~His child, and heaven is your home. You have received resurrection life from Christ and He is your life (Col. 3:4). You can say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal.2:20, R.V.).

As believers we are “to walk, even as He walked” (1 John 2:6). “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us” (Eph.5:1,2).

2-The Father’s Forgiveness of His Children.

John wrote to the little children, “Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12). He also said:”These things write I unto you, that ye sin not” (1 John 2: 1). God has not saved us to go on in sin, but to live for Him (Rom. 6: 13). Paul wrote: “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead (have died, R. V.) to sin, live any longer there-in?” (Rom. 6: 1, 2). Sin is still in us, but no longer as the ruling power of our lives; no longer to reign or to have dominion over us (Rom. 6: 12, 14). We are not saved to be “always sinning,” as some say, but we read, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2:1). We have noticed the words “Advocate with the Father.” The name “Father” speaks of relationship. Because of this changed relationship, a Christian is no longer counted a sinner-not even when he sins. He is a child of God, but a disobedient child, and as such, must confess his sins to his Father, to be forgiven.

This is what happens

when Christians sin:

In heaven, God our Father is displeased; Satan accuses us before God’s throne; and Christ, our Advocate, must plead our cause so that no charge can be laid against us there. On earth, fellowship with our Father is broken; the Holy Spirit-the Comforter who takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us-is grieved, and He must convict us of sin until we judge ourselves for allowing it and confess it to our Father. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all Un-righteousness” (1 John 1:9). He is faithful to Christ and His Word. He is just, because the debt of sin has been paid on 1the cross (Rom. 3:25,26); therefore, when the Christian confesses his sin, fellowship with his Father is restored. If we do not judge ourselves and confess our sins, we are subject to

Our Father’s chastening.

“For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Heb. 12:6). Thus we learn that a true Christian is not allowed to do as he pleases, for he is saved to please God. The sooner we learn this the better, for sin committed by the believer brings chastisement on earth and the loss of reward in heaven; while obedienc~ gives joy and happiness here and will bring reward in heaven.

Peter exhorts, “giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness . . . For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.. . But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins (2 Peter 1:5-11).

Therefore, it behooves us to confess our sins immediately, lest we receive chastisement now, and lose our reward at Christ’s coming (Rev. 22:12). On the other hand, should God see fit to cut off by death (sleep, 1 Cor. 11: 30) a backsudden or disobedient Christian because of his sin-although he has lost joy and fellowship and will lose future reward – yet he will enter heaven without charge against him as a child, because he is trustmg a faithful Savior and Advocate. To understand this more fully one must see the difference between the “Father’s House” and the “Kingdom.” In the “Father’s House,” all the children will have fulness of joy, according to their capacity, but they will only have capacity according to their spiritual growth in this world; while in the “Kingdom,” those who are “faithful servants” will be made rulers over cities (John 14:2; Luke 19:17).

3-The Christian’s Forgiveness of Others

As children of God and members of His family, Christians are expected to obey the rules that govern God’s family. One of the rules He has established is: “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). There is conditional forgiveness in God’s government: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). The Lord Jesus said: “If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:15). In Matthew eighteen, He told a story of the man who owed ten thousand talents (millions of dollars) and was forgiven, then refused to forgive his fellowservant who owed him one hundred pence (about fifteen dollars). This man with the “unforgiving spirit” was delivered to the tormentors, and the Lord adds: “So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matt 18:35). In the same chapter, Peter was told that he must forgive, not only seven times, but seventy times seven (Maft. 18:22). If we are able to forgive a person 490 times there will be no limit to our forgiveness.

The Lord Jesus illustrated, when on the cross, what He had taught during His life. At the time of His greatest suffering at the hands of men, He cried: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). To be like Him we must forgive sinners.

In the epistles, Christians are exhorted to forgive: “Even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). If we want to walk as Christ walked, and if we want to consciously enjoy our Father’s forgiveness and fellowship, we must forgive others. For it is written: “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us . . . If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen” (1 John 4:12, 20)? These words may well exercise all who retain hate and unforgiveness in their hearts toward others.

Forgiveness and the Lord’s Supper

The Lord Jesus Christ said: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matt. 5:23, 24).

In the epistles, we are taught, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:31, 32).

It is not always the easiest to forgive, but it is Christlike. God prizes our gifts if we offer them having forgiveness in our hearts toward others. He commanded Israel: “Ye shall burn no leaven in any offering of the Lord made by fire” (Lev. 2:11). “Unleavened” speaks of “sincerity and truth,” and “leaven” of “malice and wickedness” (1 Cor. 5:8). There was no malice or wickedness in Christ We must lay aside these in order to praise and worship Him.

Forgiveness and Prayer

“When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also….may forgive you… But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11: 25-26). It is evident from this passage that our Father often withholds answers to prayer because of an unforgiving spirit. The Psalmist said: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps. 66: 18).

Cases have been known where prayers were answered after Christians learned and confessed before God the dreadfulness of the unforgiving spirit. No matter what it costs, we must forgive others in order to walk with God. By “suffering as Christians,” we glorify God; and though our faith be tried as by fire, it will “be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7; 4:16-19).

Summary

We have seen that God forgives sinners, unconditionally and eternally, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: “whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). But we have noticed that the forgiveness of children, by God our Father, is conditional upon our having a forgiving spirit toward others, and upon our judging and our confessing sin. The disobedient child is also subject to his Father’s chastening, which may mean sickness, death, or other chastisements. This chastising is here and now, not after death. The disobedient child of God suffers the loss of joy, fellowship, and worship in this life, and besides will lose reward at Christ’s coming.

If he confesses his sins, having a forgiving spirit toward others, his Father will forgive him.

May the Lord give writer and reader, if saved, grace to walk worthy of our blessed Lord, with a right spirit toward others, and with true love toward God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

T.B. Gilbert