My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)
In Gentle & Lowly, Dane Portland says “our sins feel far more sinful after we have become believers than before.” Well, he’s half right. Our sins should feel more weighty or grievous but in truth, they don’t always. This is the sense given in 1 John 1:8:
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves.
John doesn’t imply we tell others we’re without sin. Rather, we claim to ourselves we are without sin. We have a terrible blind spot in those areas of our lives not yet yielded to God.
In my Sunday morning message a few weeks ago, I quoted Martin Lloyd-Jones in Seeking the Face of God:
You will never make yourself feel that you are a sinner, because there is a mechanism in you as a result of sin that will always be defending you against every accusation. We are all on very good terms with ourselves, and we can always put up a good case for ourselves. Even if we try to make ourselves feel that we are sinners, we will never do it.
So when we advocate for ourselves, we do so claiming that our sin was excusable, or not so very bad. When Jesus acts as our advocate, he do so on the basis of his own righteousness, and the sacrifice he made to cover those sins. That leads to the glorious hope of Romans 8:33-34:
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
There is no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, because Jesus stands up and represents us before the Father. Since the Son always does the will of the Father, the Father always grants what the Son requests. So when Jesus pleads on our behalf, his case is always, eternally successful.
Yes, our sin should grieve us, but it should not grind us down. Jesus is our advocate, and he will never stop pleading for us. He is the Righteous One and the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2). Thanks be to God!