1999-02-11 - Our Advocate
I Jn 2:1-2 My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (NAS)
As good as we can be, we can not be good enough. There is a strict requirement of perfection in adherence to the Law in order to gain entrance to Heaven on our own merit. I can easily say that I don't match up to that requirement. The goal could never be exceeded, yet it must be matched. It is easy to understand this requirement and its mute testimony to our inability to measure up to it in both our hearts and minds. John writes to encourage his readers not to sin. I encourage you as well. But, the voices of the world, are our flesh and the enemy call to us with tempting promises. We are capable of willfully, selfishly deceiving ourselves into thinking what we will to safeguard or justify our actions leading us to disobey God - to sin.
1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. (NAS)
Many people think that no one can understand, or God can not forgive what they have done. There's the old saying that there is nothing new under the sun. In the case of temptation and sin, it is very true. All temptation appeals to our pride or our flesh, or both. Eve's sin was no different. In her disobedience, the apple was seen as good for food - appeal to the body appetites, a delight to the eyes - appeal to physical sensations, and desirable to make one wise - appeal to pride. While God may allow us to enter such a situation, He will never leave us without a way out. We can always turn away and lean on Him.
James 1:13-14 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. (NAS)
But it will never be God that tempts us. While there are times that compromising circumstance finds us rather than we finding them, we often exercise poor judgment that gets us into tight corners. Even if we are innocent in arriving at the circumstance, it is our decision to follow the call of our will over God's call to be set apart and to flee from temptation. Does this mean there are places that are 'off limits'? Jesus ate and drank with Tax Collectors, publicans and harlots. There is no one who is exempt from God's love, nor from His call to salvation. Just as Jesus was at home in Samaria, at dinner at Matthew's home, or speaking with the woman caught in adultery, I would say that He would be happy to speak and eat if He were invited to a bar today. Do not take this as license to go where ever. Even those with the sure call of God to go to Muslim nations to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the peril of their lives, go mature, focused and prepared.
Rom 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NAS)
For those of us who have the sense and the courage to admit we can not measure up to the perfection of the Law, we have this promise from God. There is nothing that can come between us and our Savior. That includes us. In Heb 13:5, we are reminded that God will never forsake us. There are no exclusions listed, no caveats. The person who has given themselves over to Jesus Christ are hidden in His life, never to be snatched away. We have someone on our side in the Court of Heaven. Jesus is our Advocate who can stand before the Judge and declare that we are no longer guilty of the charges that will be leveled against us. His blood has expunged our record of every stain and failure.
Eph 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (NAS)
Before creation began, God laid out the plan of grace. If we could maintain innocence, or satisfy the Law in our own strength, the cross would be unneeded. To those of us who accept His freely offered grace and forgiveness, the Father has prepared adoption papers that make us His sons and daughters. In the Roman Empire, an adopted child had all the rights and privileges of natural born children. There was no distinction made in the Roman legal code. The Ephesians would readily make the connection. The promise is the same to us. A father or mother, who knows they have been lied to, still loves their child. There may be disappointment, but their desire will be to restore their son or daughter. If you are struggling with something you are sure can not be forgiven, I assure you that God stands ready to forgive and heal your broken heart. There is no sin that God will not forgive, if you are willing to turn from it. If it tears at you, what is the point in holding on to it? The walk back is shorter than it seems.
Lord Jesus - Encourage the one who thinks they are unlovable and unforgivable to come to you. There is no pact You can not override, no action You can not forgive and no broken heart that You will not heal. I know Your forgiveness and mercy first hand. If You can reach to hearts on death row, there is no place that is beyond your reach. If you can mend my depraved heart, there is no one You can not forgive. Amen.