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My Attorney

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(11/16) Have you ever heard anyone use the letters of the word BIBLE as an acronym? BIBLE means Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. I like that, donít you?

One of the last things our Lord instructed the 11 Apostles, and many more disciples, to do was to tell everyone that they could that with repentance and faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus they could be forgiven and have eternal life (Luke 24:46-48). John took that message to heart and with the Holy Spiritís guidance wrote his Gospel and this letter so that people would know Jesus Christ and truth and enjoy a family relationship with the God of the universe. This is what He says towards the end of his Gospel, "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:30-31) God wants people to have His life and John was moved to write to that end. He begins this letter by stating this: 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. He wants you to have a relationship with the God of the universe. John 1:11-12 tells us that God wants to adopt you into His family. He wants to be your Father. He wants everyone to be part of His family and share in all He has. "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." Isnít it awesome to know that the God of all creation, the infinite, eternal, all powerful, Holy God is our Father? Jesus said to pray, "Our Father, who is in heavenÖ" Paul says we can call Him, ABBA Father, or dearest papa, or daddy. When he rose again from the dead, He said to Mary Magdalene, "Tell my brothers, I go to my Father and your Father." Jesus our Brother, Jehovah our Father, Does that leave you in awe?

When you become a child of God you become part of a large family and share in the promises and the Hope that God has given to us in His Word. You also share in the family business of caring for each other and helping others to know that God wants them to become part of His family.

And all of this produces joy in our hearts.

Now, there are two things that will kill our joy and rob us of the blessings of fellowship with our Father and each other. Lies and Sin. Yes, lies are sin, but in this case they are the lies we are told, or the lies we believe. Eve listened to Satanís lies and then she and Adam sinned. The results of that is what brought death and hell to all of us and created a sin nature that lives on in us and we pass it on to our children.

Satan is still lying to us today. He tells us that sin is okay. He says, itís okay to lie if it doesnít hurt anyone and you can get what you want. Itís okay to kill your baby if it is inconvenient for you to have it. Itís okay to be sexual with someone you arenít married to because itís natural. Itís okay to marry someone of the same gender, because it is the way you are wired. And there are many more lies people believe.

He lies to us as well by creating counterfeit faiths so that people do not come to a knowledge of the truth and therefore donít become disciples of Jesus or part of the family of God. These may be false religions like Islam or Hinduism or Christian cults like the Jehovahís Witnesses or Mormons. There were cults started immediately after Jesus rose again. One cult said that to truly be a disciple one had to follow the laws of Moses as well as believe in Jesus. Gentile men had to be circumcised to be a Christian. This cult was a major thorn in Paulís side as they tried to draw away people from the Churches that Paul had planted. Listen to what he says to the Corinthian Church in 2 Cor. 11:3-4. "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not acceptedóyou may well put up with it!" And vv.13-15, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."

I. The False Premises (vv. 8, 10)

By the end of the first century, the major Christian cult was Gnosticism. One of the lies that Gnosticism taught was that the body was evil but the spirit was good. The body could sin because it was evil, but the spirit could remain pure. Those who were enlightened could sin with their bodies but remain sinless with God.

A second lie that is still taught in some places today is that a person can reach holy perfectionism; that is, a state in which he or she can no longer sin. Some Pentecostal Holiness churches still teach this.

A third lie that many people believe today is the denial of a sin nature. Many people believe that people are basically good and that they are born with a clean slate and have to be taught to sin. Sin to these are the big things like rape, robbery, and murder. As long as you donít do these things, you are basically okay with God. These who embrace this lie, often compare themselves with their neighbors. "I am just as good as church people, and/or better than most."

Still, a fourth lie, that many embrace, maybe some of you, is that sin is not wrong, if you can justify it. That is, itís not your fault. It was necessary. Anyone would have done it. I didnít know what I was doing. Have you ever believed that lie? I have.

Letís look at our text, 1 John 1:8-2:2.

By the way, notice that there are three false assumptions that John names in this first chapter, (Vv. 6, 8, and 10). For anyone, anywhere, other than Jesus to say, "I have no sin," John says, is deceiving themselves. He or she has been deceived and has embraced the lies we just spoke of. And, the truth, perhaps the truth of the Gospel message, is not in that person. The truth could also be that Jesus who is the Truth, doesnít live in that person. Because they have never embraced the truth of the Gospel, Jesus has never made His abode with them as He says in John 14:23. Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

II. The Fateful Problem

I have told you before that there are 5 major New Testament words for sin.

A. Sin (hamartia) a word meaning to miss the mark as Paul tell us in Rom. 3:23. This is the word used most often. It is appropriate because we have all missed the Holy perfection of God.

B. Trespass (parapatoma) is a slipping or falling, unplanned or unintentional breaking of Godís law. Itís like not seeing the speed limit sign that just said 30 when you have been doing 60. Continuing to do 60 was not intentional.

C. Transgression (parabasis) is an intentional stepping over the line, ignoring the boundaries of God. I know I shouldnít but I am anyway.

D. Lawlessness or iniquity (anomia-without regard to law) is intentional, rebellious, flagrant breaking of Godís laws. No one, not even God is going to tell me what to do or not do. I donít care about the consequences I will do this.

E. Debt (opheiloma) is a summary of the consequences of all the above. Every sin places us in Godís debt. Something is owed to God. And what is owed is death. James says it, "Sin brings forth death." Paul says it, "The wages of sin is death." Ezekiel says it, "The soul that sins shall die." (James 1:15; Rom. 6:23; Ezekiel 18:3)

F. It is a problem we all have. It is part of our soulís DNA. Paul said in Romans 5:12, " Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned"

Solomon said, "There is not a just man on all the earth who does good and sins not." Remember, sin is something that we can do in our thoughts, with our words, with our hands, or by doing nothing. And though we know Jesus died to forgive us, sin still causes death of sorts and divisions, and keeps us from enjoying our life, and robs us of intimacy with our Father. In fact, it often keeps us from wanting to be anywhere that we know God is central, like Church, or small group, or family dinners. Sin produces guilt, even if we try to suppress it, and it creates physical as well as spiritual problems. We donít want to pray, or read our Bibles, or be around our Christian family. We get depressed, or angry, or cynical, or arrogant. We have trouble sleeping. We get paranoid and much more.

III. The Fantastic Provision (Vv. 7, 9)

Now, we know that Jesus died to pay our penalty for our sins. When you receive Him, you receive His forgiveness. You receive Him as your Lord. You receive His Holy Spirit to be you helper, to empower you to obey Him, know His truth, do His will, and help you to say no to sin. You receive His righteousness imputed to your account. Dress in His righteousness alone faultless to stand before His throne.

Now verse 7 tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ, never loses its power to cleanse from sin, itís like a waterfall that keeps running over our souls. But, when we sin, intentional or not, that sin interferes with our relationship with our Father. We donít lose our salvation, nor do we stop being His child. His adoption is forever. But it makes our relationship uncomfortable. So John tells us what to do when we sin.

A. Do Not Deny it. (v. 10) To deny it is a lie, and is evidence that either you are not a Christ-Follower, or you or you do not know His truth, or you are willfully justifying or rationalizing your sinfulness.

B. We Confess it. (v. 9a) not generally but specifically. We recall that thought, that word, that action, or that neglect and we nail it. To confess is homologeo. Homo is same, logos is word. It is the same word, or more specifically to say the same thing as. To confess means that we say the same thing God says about what we did or didnít do. It was wrong, unholy, sinful, and it damaged our soul and hurt others. Confession is always the first step in forgiveness. David tell us that is what he had to do to deal with his guilt and sin in Psalm 32:5, I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden.

I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. Do not rationalize or Justify, or trivialize the sin. Do not say, "If I was wrong," or "Forgive all my sins," What sins? Be honest to God and say it. "I was wrong, and you were right about this."

C. God Forgives it and Restores us. (v.9b) isnít that awesome?

1. That He is Faithful means, He always keeps His promises. You will not be the first person that God says, "No way, sorry about your luck but I canít do that," to. God promises to forgive and He will.

2. He is Just. It is legal and right to forgive because Jesus paid it all. It was covered. He knew what you were going to do and He already paid for it.

3. He Forgives our Sin. Since it was legally paid for, He will never ever charge us with it, nor bring it up against us again (once it is confessed).

4. Cleanses us from all Unrighteousness. He makes it possible for us to enter His presence in prayer, or church or at the dinner table, without the stain of guilt. He says it is gone.

IV. The Faithful Proponent (2:1-2)

A. For Christ Followers.

"My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

John is concerned that Godís people have been embracing the lies of the cult of Gnosticism. So, he tells them his concern. Notice, the endearing term he uses for these people. John is an old man, approaching 100 years old, and calls these Christians, "My Little Children, I am writing this so that you may not sin." Donít embrace the lies, and donít intentionally continue to do the things that Jesus died to redeem you from. Donít continue in the habit of thinking of yourself and always trying to satisfy your wants your way, apart from the will of God. John is here speaking of not letting the sin nature control your actions. John wants us all to know that real Christ Followers do not continue to indulge willingly in the things that Jesus died to redeem us from. This is a major theme in this letter and we will look at more in Chapter 3. But John also is realistic and knows that from time to time we will mess up. A fit of anger, hurt feelings, or a situation we want to escape from, etc. Thatís the reason for 1:9 and 2:1-2.

The word Advocate is the same as what Jesus called the Holy Spirit in John 14:16, He is a Paracletos, or one who comes along side of to help. Some translations use the word Helper in John 14, some use Comforter. Helper is best because that is what it means. It is one who speaks or acts or anotherís behalf. In this verse it is like an attorney. When you get into a legal problem it is usually best to have a good attorney to speak or act on your behalf. In that sense John wants you to know that Jesus is your defense attorney. He stands between you and the judge to plead your case. That is what an advocate does. He is an intercessor, a mediator.

Some see this as a situation where Satan knows your sin and accuses you before the Father as a guilty person unworthy of redemption and Jesus uses His death and resurrection as your defense. Others see this as Jesus being your constant Mediator or High Priest as 1 Tim. 1:5 and Heb. 2:16-18 tell us. He is able to help us in our struggle against sin because He has a constant audience with the Holy Father. Since Jesus is Righteous, He is the only one qualified to represent us. Still others see this as the same as Paul speaks of in Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:24-25 tell us, "But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Our salvation is eternally secure because Jesus is alive and His death, resurrection and infinite life, has secured forever our home and life in Godís presence. It is what enables us to approach God with our confession because we do not go alone. His Spirit convicts us of sin and His eternal presence allows us to approach God with our confession and repentance. He says, "Come on, Iíll go with you. We will talk to Dad together." Thatís what He lives to do. You are never alone, and donít have to approach the Father alone.

B. For Non- Christians Ė "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."

John wants everyone to know that no one is excluded from receiving the Grace of God. There is no one too bad, nor is there any sin that cannot be forgiven. The word propitiation is a tough word, but it basically it means, the satisfier of justice. Jesus satisfied Godís justice for the whole world. Now some will say, then all are forgiven and saved. But sadly, no. The pardon for sin is given as a gift and must be willingly be received. The Good news is that the person who repents and wants to receive Him as Savior and Lord can rest assured that Jesus will represent Him to the Father. We can tell the world, those in jail, those in depression of guilt, those who have ruined their lives, those suffering with addictions; those who believe they cannot be forgiven, those hearing Satanís accusing lies about their guilt and God, we can tell them that God can and wants to forgive them and change their lives because Jesus has satisfied justice on their behalf and will gift them with a pardon if they will repent and receive it and then they will be adopted into Godís family as Godís child.

This is Why John is writing.

If you are sinning-stop it. Donít rationalize it. Donít justify it. Donít ignore it. Confess it and receive Godís cleansing grace and renew your relationship with Him. Think its too hard to come to God? Jesus will go with you. Think you are too bad to be forgiven. Jesus paid for the worse sins imaginable and there is nothing that He canít forgive except un-belief.

Sometime ago I saw this and saved it.

After living a "decent" life my time on earth came to an end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a courthouse. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table.

As I looked around I saw the "prosecutor," he was a villainous looking gent who snarled, as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen. I sat down and looked to my left and there sat my lawyer, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed very familiar to me. The corner door flew open and there appeared the judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as he moved across the room, and I couldnít take my eyes off him. As he took his seat behind the bench, he said "Let us begin."

The prosecutor rose and said "My name is Satan, and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell." He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life, and the more he spoke the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that I couldnít look at anyone, even my own lawyer, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.

As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at my representative who sat there silently not offering any form of defense at all. I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life ó couldnít that at least equal out part of the harm Iíve done. Satan finished with a fury and said "This man belongs in hell. He is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise. Justice will finally be served this day."

When it was his turn, my lawyer first asked if he might approach the bench. The judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan and beckoned him to come forward. As he got up and started walking I was able to see him now in his full splendor and majesty. Now I realized why he seemed so familiar. It was Jesus representing me; my Lord and my Savior. He stopped at the bench and softly said to the judge, "Hi Dad," and then He turned to address the court.

"Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned. I wonít deny any of these allegations. And yes the wages of sins is death and this man deserves to be punished". Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, "However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life, and he has accepted Me as his Savior, so he is mine. "My Lord continued with "His name is written in the book of life and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand yet, this man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy."

As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at his Father and replied, "There is nothing else that needs to be done, Iíve done it all."

Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down, and the following words bellowed from His lips ó "This man is free ó the penalty for him has already been paid in full, case dismissed."

As my Lord led me away I could hear Satan ranting and raving, "I wonít give up, Iíll win the next one." I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, "Have you ever lost a case?"

Christ lovingly smiled and said, "Everyone that has come to me and asked Me to represent them has received the same verdict as you, Paid in Full."

Letís Pray about it.

If this life lesson has challenged, encouraged or helped you, let me know, or if you have any questions, write to me at pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you. (p.s. I wonít put you on a mailing list or ask you for money). It would encourage me to know that you were encouraged.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman