My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous one. He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.
This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked.1 John 2:1-6
Quotes from Chapter 9
We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righeous.1 John 2:1
Intercession has the idea of mediating between two parties, bringing them together. Advocacy is similar but has the idea of aligning oneself with another. An intercessor stands between two parties; an advocate doesn’t simply stand in between the two parties but steps over and joins the one party as he approaches the other. Jesus is not only an intercessor but an advocate. Advocacy flows straight from the depths of Christ’s very heart.
Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them. For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.Hebrews 7:25-26
He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.1 John 2:2
Jesus shared with us in our actual experience. He feels what we feel. He draws near. And he speaks up longingly on our behalf. All those in Christ have, right now, someone speaking on their behalf.
He is “righteous.” He and he alone. To come to the Father without an advocate is hopeless. To be allied with an advocate, one who came and sought me out rather than waiting for me to come to him, one who is righteous in all the ways I am not—this is calm and confidence before the Father.
Intercession is something Christ is always doing, while advocacy is something he does as occasion calls for it. He intercedes for us given our general sinfulness, but he advocates for us in the case of specific sins.
Christ, as Priest, goes before, and Christ, as an Advocate, comes after.John Bunyan
Christ, as Priest, continually intercedes; Christ, as Advocate, in case of great transgressions, pleads.
Christ, as Priest, has need to act always, but Christ, as Advocate, sometimes only.
Christ, as Priest, acts in time of peace; but Christ, as Advocate, in times of broils, turmoils, and sharp contentions; wherefore, Christ, as Advocate, is, as I may call him, a reserve, and his time is then to arise, to stand up and plead, when his own are clothed with some filthy sin that of late they have fallen into.1
Christ’s advocacy on our behalf rises higher than our sins. His advocacy speaks louder than our failures.
When you sin, remember your legal standing before God because of the work of Christ; but remember also your advocate before God because of the heart of Christ. He rises up and defends your cause, based on the merits of his own sufferings and death.
Jesus is our comforting defender, the one nearer than we know, and his heart is such that he stands and speaks in our defense when we sin, not after we get over it.
When we choose to sin, we forsake our true identity as a child of God. We are called to mature into deeper levels of personal holiness as we walk with the Lord. When we choose to sin—though we forsake our true identity, our Saviour does not forsake us. These are the very moments when his heart erupts on our behalf in renewed advocacy in heaven with a resounding defense that silences all accusations, astonishes the angels, and celebrates the Father’s embrace of us in spite of all our messiness.
Christ gave for us the price of blood; but that is not all; Christ as a Captain has conquered death and the grave for us, but that is not all; Christ as a Priest intercedes for us in heaven; but that is not all. Sin is still in us, and with us, and mixes itself with whatever we do, whether what we do be religious or civil; for not only our prayers and our sermons, our hearings and preaching; but our houses, our shops, our trades, and our beds, are all polluted with sin.John Bunyan
Nor does the devil, our night and day adversary, forbear to tell our bad deeds to our Father, urging that we might forever be disinherited for this.
But what should we now do, if we had not an Advocate; yes, if we had not one who would plead; yes, if we had not one that could prevail, and that would faithfully execute that office for us? Why, we must die.
But since we are rescued by him, let us, as to ourselves, lay our hand upon our mouth, and be silent.2
Do not minimize your sin or excuse it away. Raise no defense. Simply take it to the one who is already at the right hand of the Father, advocating for you on the basis of his own wounds. Let your own unrighteousness, in all your darkness and despair, drive you to Jesus Christ, the righteous, in all his brightness and sufficiency.
- John Bunyan, The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate, in The Works of John Bunyan, ed. G. Offor, 3 vols. (repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1991), 1:169.
- Bunyan, Works of John Bunyan, 1:197.
- What is the difference between an intercessor and an advocate?
- Where does Jesus’ advocacy flow from?
- Why is Christ’s role as intercessor important?
- Why is Christ’s role as advocate important?
- What is the significance of the word “propitiation”?
- How are we able to come to the Father?
- Explain in your own words the comparison between Christ as Priest and Christ as Advocate in the quote from Bunyan.
- What do we do when we choose to sin?
- Based on what merits does Christ rise up and defend your cause?
- What are we called to do?
- List different titles given to Christ in this chapter.
- Why do you need an advocate? How does Christ’s advocacy impact your life?