Christ - The Advocate

The High Priest that becomes us is, then, as the apostle has declared, One “separate
from sinners,” those sanctified by His blood being “perfected in
perpetuity” by it, so as being “once purged,” they might have “no more
conscience of sins.” But this, as we know well, does not mean, “no more
consciousness of sins,” (that is, of committing them,)
but that we have consciousness of the efficacy of that work abiding
ever before God for us. There is never a moment’s intermission as to

But then, what about the sins which are committed
after conversion? Is there simply no notice taken of them? That, we are
sure, is impossible: both Scripture and our own experience would refute
the unholy thought. That the people of God have often to suffer greatly
because of their sins is known to all; and Scripture is full of
examples of this, and asserts it doctrinally in the clearest way. Thus,
“if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth
according to every man’s work,” says the apostle Peter, “pass the time
of your sojourning here with fear: forasmuch as ye know that ye were
not redeemed with corruptible things, as with silver and gold...but
with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:17–19). And again he says:
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God; and
if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not
the gospel of God? and if the righteous scarcely”—or rather, “with
difficulty”—“be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
(ch. 4:17, 18.)

Thus there is even a special judgment going
on of the people of God at the present time; a judgment so necessary
that on account of it, the righteous are said to be with difficulty
saved: not, of course, because of any uncertainty about it, but simply
because so much has to be done in this way to maintain the holiness of
God. And the apostle Paul also speaks in even stronger language to the
Corinthians: “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged;
but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:31, 32).

is indeed strong language as to those for whom the work of Christ
avails in so full and absolute a manner as we have just seen it does.
This work, then, does not set aside the need of such judgment. Nay,
rather it secures it. Let us notice well that it is the Father’s judgment: “if ye call on the Father who
without respect of persons judgeth.” In the final judgment of wrath it
is not the Father who judges: as to that the “Father judgeth no man,
but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honor
the Son, even as they honor the Father” (John 5:22, 23). The Father’s judgment
is “of every son whom He receiveth;” so that “if ye endure chastening,
God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father
chasteneth not?” (Heb. 12:6, 7).

How blessed it is to know,
and at the same time how solemn to realize, that the sin of a child of
God is against his Father, and that it is the love of relationship that
is called into exercise about it,—love which acts towards us “for our
profit, that we might be made partakers of His holiness” (Heb. 12:10).
It is impossible that He should treat it lightly; and it will be
impossible in the end for any one of His own to treat it lightly
either. Grace abides toward us; and because grace abides, sin cannot be
permitted to have sway over the objects of it.

But because
this whole matter of a believer’s sin is between the Father and His
child, we are not to imagine that Christ has not to do with it. His
priestly work has indeed been so fully done that in this character He
has nothing more to do: He sits down, because His work is accomplished.
But as Son over the house of God, priesthood is not His whole work. The
children of God are put into His hand, who is the First-born among
brethren; and in every thing that concerns them He has His necessary
place and part. So then it is here: “if any one sin, we have an
Advocate”—a Paraclete—“with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and
He is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1, 2).

last is the ground and justification of the grace expressed in the
former. Suited Advocate is He in deed who has been Himself this
propitiation for us; and here “Jesus Christ the righteous” is very
fully manifest,—love and righteousness alike displayed in Him. Here is
the very character of the Advocate or Paraclete—the One “called to our
side,” “to our assistance,” as both words mean; and this is in natural
relation with the fact that we are given to Him. We being in His
charge, He stands forth in our behalf, pledged and proved on both
sides, God’s and ours, and who has made both one. On earth, the Spirit
of God is our Paraclete, and makes intercession for us, though perhaps,
as far as we are concerned, in a groan that we cannot utter. In heaven,
Christ our Paraclete is, as it were, similarly our voice uttering
itself, but infinitely better than any utterance of our own could be.
How well are we provided! Here are two Witnesses in our behalf, each
perfect absolutely, and having perfectly the ear of Him with whom they
plead. How certainly effectual must be such intercession as this!

How good also it is to know that it is “if any one sin,” not, if any one repent, “we have an Advocate.” In Peter’s case, which is surely intended as a typical one, it is before the
sin that Christ intercedes for him, and how tender is the intercession,
“I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” Having need to learn
himself, and to have the spirit of self-confidence broken in him, he
cannot be spared the needful experience. Satan is permitted to sift
him, but the Lord’s gracious eye, as Peter at the critical moment was
given to see it, was watching the result with unwearying care, and
guiding all to the predicted issue. The knowledge of ourselves—the
needful exercise as to good and evil—He cannot ask that we shall be
spared; but the end is sure, and we are invited to realize the strength
and tenderness upon which we may lean at all times without a shadow of

The maintenance of communion is that which our
Advocate continually is occupied with. For this the knowledge of
ourselves is a necessity. Whether this shall be acquired as Simon Peter
acquired it, it depends upon ourselves to say. I suppose we have all of
us had to learn a good deal by such painful experiences; but there is
surely a better way. Peter, we may remember, had resisted, if but for a
moment, that washing of his feet, for him and for us all so needful;
and it is still the independency which under whatever fair appearance
resists His way with us, that condemns us to such a painful discipline.
The Lord is still and ever our one necessity. Wisdom is with Him and we
must find it in Him; if it be in the way of the Cross, we. need not
wonder, though He Himself has borne all the burden there.

Cross is indeed the fulness of all wisdom for us. It is the judgment of
man; it is the manifestation and glory of God. If we accept it as the
setting aside for us of self and all that self can glory in, we shall
find that it has set aside at the same time all that would hinder safe
and steady progress. Christ is then ours with all His fulness, to draw
from for every need that can possibly arise. Take it as the apostle
puts it, that “in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,
and in Him we are complete”—filled up. Here is the one daily provision
to carry with us, but for it the judgment of the Cross must be accepted
in its entirety. Then in this Cross Christ is entirely for us,—all that
God is as manifested here in Him.

This lesson is the lesson
for all of us. The Advocate is with the Father, that our very failure
may make for the learning of it, though it be in shame and bitter tears
of repentance that we have to learn it. His advocacy is not to spare us
what is needful for this, but that His end in us may be fully attained,
and God glorified. Tenderest love there is in it, assuredly, and divine
comfort,—tenderness, but no laxity; and no way of blessing for us
except in complete surrender into His hands. We cannot but remember
that they are hands that were pierced for us, and that for Him there
was no way but that of the Cross.

F W Grant