************ Sermon on 1 John 2:1 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 25, 2019
1 John 1:5-2:2
1 John 2:1
"Jesus Our Defender"
John wants us to imagine a courtroom. When the judge asks the defendant to stand, you are the one coming to your feet. When the judge asks how the defendant pleas, you are the one expected to answer. You are the one who has to defend himself. You are the one who stands when the verdict is announced. The courtroom John has in mind is in heaven.
In our legal system you either hire a defense attorney or one is appointed for you. Their job is to stand beside you, answer for you, defend you, and question your accusers. How awful it must be in those countries where this is not allowed or this is not a right. How awful it must be to stand there alone.
In the heavenly courtroom -- and here is the Good News of the Gospel -- we have a defense attorney. Our text says, "we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense -- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One" (1 Jn 2:1). John identifies Jesus as our Advocate, our Defender, our Divine Defense Attorney. In spite of jokes saying otherwise, there are lawyers in heaven but there is only one practicing lawyer. There is only one practicing lawyer in heaven and He is the defender of all who belong to His Church and Kingdom.
I Divine Justice
A All this talk about courtrooms and justice and judges and defendants presupposes something. It assumes something about the Gospel. Most people think of the Gospel in terms of grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, and compassion. But the Gospel requires sin, guilt, and justice as well. Without sin, guilt, and justice there can be no Gospel, there is no Gospel.
John tells us in verse 5 that "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all" (1 Jn 1:5). Among other things, this means God is holy, pure, moral, virtuous, righteous. Which means God is offended by our sin. Which means we lie under the wrath and judgment of God. Which means we deserve eternal punishment. Which means we need forgiveness and grace and mercy and love. So, I repeat, the Gospel requires, sin, guilt, and justice.
B Without our text, John's first letter would be scary, frightening. Without our text, John's first letter would overwhelm us and panic us. Why? Because John's statements in the letter are so absolute. Last week I said John answered the question "Who is a true Christian?" John gives us different tests to answer this question. Let me highlight some of these tests:
(1 Jn 1:5) This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.Christians don't live in darkness, says John. We confess sin. We obey God's commands. We love our brothers and sisters in the faith. We do not love the world. We do what is righteous.
(1 Jn 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 Jn 2:3) We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.
(1 Jn 2:9) Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.
(1 Jn 2:15) Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
(1 Jn 3:7) Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
We listen to these statements and we end up asking the same question as those who listened to what Jesus said about a camel and the eye of a needle: "Who then can be saved?" (Lk 18:26). We listen to these statements and all of us can only conclude,
"I can't be a true Christian. There is darkness in me. I don't always confess my sin. My obedience is not perfect. My love is not perfect. I am attracted to the world and the things of the world. Often I don't do what is right and righteous."We listen to John and we might conclude he teaches that if you are a true Christian, then you will live a perfect life. And if you don't live a perfect life, all that awaits you is judgment and punishment.
We need our text, my dear children. Our text is absolutely crucial. It stops the panic. It gives us comfort. John writes it to make our joy complete (1 Jn 1:4) in what otherwise would be a completely hopeless situation. John doesn't want to overwhelm you or leave you in fear and trembling about judgment. Instead, he wants to fill you with joy.
C Our text starts with "my dear children." This is how John identifies his audience throughout his letter: "my dear children"(1 Jn 2:1,12,13,18,28; 3:7,18; 4:4; 5:21). By this he means those born of God or born-again of God, those who possess eternal life, those who know God as their Father in Christ. These spiritual children of John are true Christian believers.
But they aren't perfect children of God. They aren't pure and holy and righteous like God. They are sinners. The Greek of our text makes this clear. Our pew Bibles says "if anybody does sin." A better translation: "if anybody does sin, and we all do ..."
Now, realize this: God is just and holy. So every sin demands punishment. Every sin will be accounted for. No sin by no sinner will go unpunished. God's justice must be satisfied. Most presentations of the Gospel say nothing about God's justice, God's hatred of sin, God's demand for satisfaction. This includes even the sin of those John identifies as "my dear children."
Into this situation comes the news that we have an Advocate, One Who speaks to the Father in our defense. Through this Advocate every sin will be punished and yet the sinner who is one of my dear children will be forgiven. Let's look at how this happens.
II The Courtroom
A In the divine court nothing is said about innocent until proven guilty -- because before the Divine Judge everyone stands accused and guilty, because before the Divine Judge no one is innocent. "If anybody does sin, and we all do." Remember what we are told in 1 John 1:8? "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." And verse 10? "If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." This week the Wall Street Journal had an article about how the FBI asked a DNA firm for information to solve two cases -- one involved a dead child whose body had never been claimed and the other was from a rape crime scene. But God doesn't need DNA or crime labs to determine our guilt. He knows our guilt. He knows our sin. He knows our total depravity. He knows how we are born with original sin.
We are sinners. We still sin even though we have been born-again, even though sin no longer controls us, even though we are new creatures in Christ, even though we strive for righteousness, even though we obey God's commands, even though we love our brothers and sisters.
Every person who has ever lived ends up in this courtroom. Everyone of them guilty. Everyone of them found to be guilty. The Judge knows we are guilty. The Judge has declared us to be guilty. The Judge, you see, has the complete record. The Judge is perfect in knowledge. The Judge is perfect in His judgments. No mistakes. No verdicts rendered unfairly. No runaway emotions controlling what happens. He has a perfect knowledge of our guilt.
The Judge knows we are guilty. We know we are guilty. Our Advocate knows we are guilty.
It should be clear to everyone Who is the Judge. Our text tells us we have an Advocate Who speaks to "the Father" in our defense. He speaks to the Father. The Father is Judge.
This is not a jury trial. We wouldn't want a jury trial in that courtroom because the world hates us. They would vote for our death or a life sentence without parole. This is a trial before an absolutely righteous Judge Who will only do what is right and holy and just. But we also know He is compassionate, loving, and forgiving.
Our Judge is God. He wrote the Law. He interprets the Law. He is the Law enforcer. And so we go before Him.
A number of months ago a couple of you looked surprised when I said salvation saves us from God. We aren't saved from sin. We aren't saved from death. We aren't saved from the world or from Satan. Rather, we are saved from God -- His wrath, His anger, His justice. We need to be saved from God as Judge because His is the right and the power to condemn us all.
We don't want to meet this Judge. We don't want to experience His anger. We don't want to be under His justice. We don't want to feel His punishment. People in Israel thought that way and Amos warned them this was wrong and foolish thinking:
(Amos 5:18-20) Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light. (19) It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. (20) Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light-- pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
(2 Th 1:7-9) ... when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (8) He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power ...
We need to be saved from God. He is the Judge of the entire universe. If we are to be saved, we need to saved from Him.
B There is a prosecutor in this courtroom. He is not mentioned in our text but he is found throughout Scripture. He knows and sees our sin. He is not omniscient like God. He is not omnipresent like God. But he somehow knows the wrong we do. And he appears in the divine courtroom to present the case against us. What he does is point the finger, point out the sin, point out the guilt, and demand -- demand -- that God be true to His justice and condemn us all to the eternal fires of hell. "Justice," he demands. "Justice, judgment, condemnation, hell because they are guilty."
You all know the prosecutor. His name is Satan. He is the accuser. That is what he is called in John's Revelation:
(Rev 12:10) Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.He is a hateful accuser who cries to God relentlessly to punish us for our sin.
In the divine courtroom -- and elsewhere -- he is the adversary. That's what Satan means -- Satan means adversary. He is the adversary of the church and of the elect. He is the adversary of the Gospel and the Kingdom. He is the adversary of God and Christ and the Holy Spirit. He is our adversary and he is relentless in this pursuit.
C This brings us to our Defender, our Advocate. You don't want to be in that courtroom without Him. You don't want to be a defendant in any courtroom without a defense attorney.
He will accept you as a client and defend you even though you are guilty. He only accepts guilty clients. And, He only defends those who confess their guilt. He only defends those who have reached out to Him as Savior. Everyone He represents before the Divine Judge is a confessed felon. The Judge knows it. The sinner knows it. The Advocate knows it.
I have a brother-in-law who is a lawyer. Over the years I have kiddingly asked him why he defends people he knows to be guilty. He usually answers with something about the right to a defense attorney in the American system of justice.Have you ever argued with the idea that guilty people have the right to an attorney? Be careful: because if you say no then you are saying you don't have the right to be defended by Jesus.
Here is a better answer: In the same way as every guilty person has an attorney in the heavenly court room, so every guilty person has the right to an attorney in an earthly court room.
I said earlier our prosecutor is relentless. "Justice, justice, justice; guilty, guilty, guilty." But our Defender is also relentless. He is even more relentless than is Satan.
(Heb 7:25) Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.Always lives. Always intercedes.
Our Defender is good. He is the best possible Defender and Advocate to argue your case before the Judge. How good is He? Well, let me ask, how many cases has He lost? Not one. He is so good He has never lost a case. Not once. He always gets mercy. He always gets forgiveness. He always gets acquittal.
Why? Why does He win every case? What does He say to the Judge? First, He says "I am the Righteous One." He is sinless, pure, holy -- even though He was tempted as we are. He tells the Father He was sinless in our place and His obedience is applied to us so it is as if we have never sinned nor been a sinner, as if we have been perfect.
Second, He says in the words of verse 2, "I am the atoning sacrifice, the propitiation, for their sins." He reminds God that our sin has been punished. That justice has been served. That guilt has been paid for. By Him. "Father, I died for them. I suffered for them. I was punished in their place." Our Advocate became our substitute.
Before the Divine Judge two voices speak when it comes to you and me. Satan, our accuser, our adversary, relentlessly says "Justice, justice, justice; guilty, guilty, guilty." But when Jesus our Advocate speaks he has nothing left to say. Before Jesus he is silenced and we are saved from God's wrath. Thank God, I say, for His marvelous Gospel.
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