Today’s Reading: 1 John 2
Author and pastor Tony Evans once said:
I spilled coffee on my suit pants recently. It did not matter whether I spilled it accidentally or intentionally. It stained my pants. There was a stain, and it needed to be cleansed. But I don’t let the fact that we have Tide detergent at home, a detergent that removes stains, allow me to dip my pants in coffee every day. I still try to avoid spilling stuff on my pants. No one says that since they have a washing machine and a dry cleaner, I can get as dirty as I want, do they? God knows every now and then coffee is going to spill, and He wants us to know that when it happens, we have a Cleanser. We have a spiritual washing machine. We have the blood of Jesus.
In today’s chapter, the apostle John wants to tell us about that spiritual washing machine and the blood of Jesus: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
There are two really important words here that every Christian must become familiar with: advocate and propitiation.
Let’s start with propitiation. The word is one of the great words of the Bible, even though it appears only four times in the New Testament. The word was used to describe an Old Testament object in the holy of holies called the mercy seat. The mercy seat sat on top of the ark of the covenant with two cherubim. We were all reintroduced to it during Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it’s not in a warehouse in Washington DC nor at Area 51.
In the Old Testament times, the priests would put the blood of the animal sacrifice on top of the mercy seat. The blood on the mercy seat would cover the contents of the ark—the Ten Commandments, which the children of Israel were constantly breaking. Every Year when the priest would go in and ask forgiveness for the sins of the nation of Israel, God would look down and not see the disobedience of man but the blood of the sacrifice. Propitiation was made. That is exactly what Jesus did for us.
That’s why Advocate is just as important. It was a court word used by the person who spoke up for the accused. The word means to stand side by side, right next to the other person, the accused. When you are in a court of law and being accused of something, you, as the defendant, don’t speak. The lawyer, the advocate, speaks for you. He understands the law and understands the case.
What John is trying to tell us is that when we sin, not if we sin, we have an Advocate who has an open-and-shut case on our behalf. It’s not how good we are or how many successful sinless days we have. It’s that our Advocate, Jesus, shows the smoking-gun evidence of why we are innocent: His blood. His shed blood was spilled on our behalf. We don’t say a word because the blood speaks for itself. We are found innocent and Propitiated at that moment.
Charles Spurgeon tells us why this is beyond the courts of men and for the court of heaven and why being good or moral isn’t enough: “Morality may keep you out of jail, but it takes the blood of Jesus Christ to keep you out of hell.” Like the old hymn says, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
As a Christian, I am not sinless, but when I become a Christian, I will sin less and less. But I still sin and need something to fall on and into. We fall into our great Advocate, Jesus. After we get saved, we must not forget our greatest safety device, the blood of Jesus. We have an Advocate, and that Advocate has an open-and-shut case. The best thing we can do is keep our mouth shut and let Him present that case to God on our behalf.