The Wonder of His NameAdvocate
Leslie Basham: If you feel condemned, Nancy Leigh DeMoss has good news. When you’re forgiven through faith in Christ . . .
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: God is for you. Because Christ's advocacy is ongoing, because He ever lives to make intercession for us, we know that He is always speaking at the right hand of the Father speaking on our behalf. That's how God can be for us.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, April 7.
Do you know you have an advocate? Someone who sticks up for you? Nancy Leigh DeMoss tells you about your advocate as she continues the series “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.”
Nancy: In the American justice system, every U.S. citizen has the right to be represented by an attorney in court. If you have allegedly committed a crime, you’re accused of a crime, you have a right to have an attorney. And that attorney may be selected by the defendant or it may be appointed by the court.
We’ve been following in recent weeks several high-profile criminal trials. They’ve been in the news everywhere. And some of these defendants were captured on camera in the very act and others have multiple eyewitnesses who testified against them.
Don’t you ever wonder how these criminal lawyers can defend some of these clients and then enter a “not guilty” plea on their behalf, when they know they’re guilty? But that’s the justice system that we have and for the most part it’s really a blessing, isn’t it, and the opportunity to be represented in court.
Well, that court system is an imperfect picture of an incredible court system that God has established. And we spent some time in the last session looking at Jesus as our Great High Priest. But I want us to see an aspect of that priestly ministry today that reminds me of that court system.
Jesus’ work for us did not end at the cross, as we said in the last session. He’s not just hanging around in heaven, taking it easy, waiting for the time when He comes back to earth on a white horse. He has an active ministry today and every day on our behalf. We can’t survive or live this Christian life without that priestly ministry of Christ.
We talked in the last session about the fact that He intercedes for us. He offers up prayers on our behalf. But today, want to focus in on another aspect of His priestly ministry on our behalf. And to give you some context for that, let me invite you if you have your Bible to turn to 1 John, not the Gospel of John, but the first Epistle of John chapter 1, little book toward the end of the New Testament. First John 1 was written by the same apostle who wrote the Gospel of John, by the way. I’m beginning in verse 3 of 1 John 1:
That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us . . .
Now as you’re studying God’s Word, when you see repeated words or phrases, highlight those because it tells you something about the point of what you’re reading.
. . . and indeed our fellowship [second time that word is used] is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Now in this context here John is talking about the fact that we have been brought into relationship with God. He calls them “children of God” in this book. His concern is not so much about how to find a relationship with God, but the concern is how to maintain fellowship with the Father once you have a relationship with Him.
He talks in this first chapter about how you have to walk in the light. As God is the light, you have to walk in the light of His presence and His Word if you are going to have fellowship with Him. So verse 6 he says:
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
"If we confess our sin . . ." That’s the opposite of saying you have no sin. You’re either saying you haven’t sinned or you’re confessing your sin. That’s the only two options, right?
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (vv. 6–9).
Now, go down to chapter 2:1: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” So he says here, “Don’t sin! Walk in the light. Don’t sin!” But the fact is and the problem is, sometimes we do sin. Much as we might not want to sin or think we shouldn’t sin, know we shouldn’t sin, sometimes we do sin. Our flesh is weak. Even as believers in Jesus Christ, we all stumble. James 3 tells us that. We have inherited sin tendencies and stubborn sin patterns. At least I do in my life. Do you in yours?
I’ve been walking with the Lord now for over fifty years, and I’m looking sometimes and I’m going, “How come I’m still doing this? How come I still fall in some of these same ways?” And when we do sin, what are we to do? He says, “Don’t sin!” But we do. So what do we do when we do sin?
Well, our natural tendencies when we sin are often not the right thing to do. One thing is a natural tendency is to be indifferent about our sin. Slough it off. It’s no big deal. Everyone sins! And that’s the way a lot of Christians act about their sins. It’s not that big of deal.
Some aren’t indifferent, they fall instead into despair. They beat themselves up. They get buried in guilt and some of you women live in a lot of guilt and despair because of sinful patterns in your life. “I can’t believe I did that. I did that again. I did it again.” Despair.
Then there are others, a lot of firstborns, who try harder. They try harder. “I’m going to quit this if it kills me.” It may kill you because self-effort is not the way to walk in holiness. And then having been in despair or trying harder, here’s what a lot of other people do. They just give up! They get defeated and then they get indifferent. And it’s kind of this vicious cycle in a lot of believer’s lives.
Well, all of those ways of responding when we sin are all ways of going to Mt. Sinai where the Law was given. That’s where we either don’t take sin seriousl,y or we get in despair over it, or we try to engage in self-effort, try harder, or we just give up. That’s what we do when we go to Mt. Sinai where the law was given. That puts us in bondage. It puts us in prison. It helps keep us living in fear and dread of God.
What’s the alternative? Go to another mountain, Mt. Calvary where grace was given, where Christ died for us. And that’s what the apostle John says here as he continues in chapter 2. Don’t sin.
But if anyone does sin, [here’s what to do] we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins [the One who satisfies the righteous wrath of God against our sins], and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (vv. 1–2).
Now I want to look at that word today. Jesus our Advocate. Advocate. The word in the Greek language parakletos. Perhaps you’ve heard it pronounced “paraklete.” It's one who comes along side of another to help or to comfort. It’s an advocate for us. The apostle John is the only author in the New Testament who uses this Greek Word.
It’s used four times in the Gospel of John. But you may not have known that because in the English Bible it is not translated “advocate” in the Gospel of John. In each of those cases in John it refers to Holy Spirit and the word is translated “Helper” or “Comforter.” “I will send you another Helper. I will send you another Comforter.” But it’s the same word that is translated “advocate” in 1 John.
An advocate is one who stands alongside of another and appears on his behalf to plead his cause. An advocate helps the needy person by defending him—a defense attorney, if you will. And Jesus advocates for us before the Father by applying on our behalf His own merit and the sufficiency of His sacrificial death on our behalf.
He’s our defense attorney, and He goes before the Father and He pleads our case not based on our innocence, because we’re guilty—we were guilty. But He pleads with the Father based on His own merits, His own sinless life, and the sufficiency of the sacrifice that He made for sin. So that’s why John says: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
We have a few glimpses in the Old Testament of this advocacy work of Christ. They are just hinted at. We see, for example, in Job 16:19: “Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high.” Now, I don’t think Job really knew what he was saying there, but it was a glimpse under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of the advocacy work of Christ on our behalf. “He who testifies for me is on high.”
There’s an Old Testament character who in many ways foreshadowed Christ as our advocate. And that would be Moses. In many different ways he did that. In Exodus 3 you read about how Moses was sent by God to intervene on behalf of Israel before Pharaoh for their deliverance. Moses became an advocate for the people of Israel.
And then at Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19, it was Moses’ position as an advocate, as an intermediary representing the people before God, that’s what kept the people of Israel from being consumed by the fiery presence of God on Mt. Sinai because Moses was an intermediary. He represented the people to God.
As you move into Exodus in chapter 32 you have the incident of the golden calf and how the people so greatly sinned against God, and God threatened to wipe them out. And what did Moses do? He served as an advocate. He interceded for the people. He said, “Lord, no, please! What will the nations say when they see that You brought this people out and then You killed them. God, please, no! Take my life. Write me out of Your book.” And God heard Moses’ intercession. God pardoned His people, and He renewed His covenant with them on the basis of Moses advocating on behalf of the people.
So there are a number of related concepts here: Jesus as Advocate; Jesus as our Mediator; Jesus as our Intercessor. And together, those words describe His ongoing ministry on behalf of us as believers today.
Think about that word “a mediator.” A mediator is someone who intervenes between two parties that have a disagreement they can’t resolve. And what’s the goal of the mediator? It’s to bring the two parties together, if possible to reconcile them.
I had a conversation with businessman in our area last week who was in mediation yesterday with former employer and business associate of his. They went to mediation because they had differences they could not resolve. And the goal of that mediation was to resolve those differences, to come to agreement in relation to their conflict. So there was a mediator who was trying to bring them together.
Now the result of that kind of mediation may be that they settle financially, and they both had to agree to whatever the mediator said. But humanly speaking, based on what I know about that situation, those two men are probably not going to become friends. They may have to settle or pay a certain financial amount to each other or one to the other. But they’re probably not going to be reconciled to each other based on that mediation. That’s going to require God to intervene in that relationship. But what Jesus does as our mediator, our Advocate, is He reconciles us to God, and He restores our fellowship with God.
Now, in the court system, if you want to be an advocate or an attorney, you have to have standing in that state and in that court to represent the accused person. I read a piece on the Associated Press that happened a number of years ago where there was a Missouri man on trial for tampering with a judge. He requested to have Jesus as his lawyer.
The judge refused the request. He said, “You can consult with Jesus if you want, but Jesus can’t be your attorney in this courtroom because the attorney had to be licensed to practice law in the state of Missouri." And he said, “Jesus does not have standing to be an attorney in this court.” Well, Jesus is the only attorney, the only Advocate, who is licensed to represent clients in courtroom of heaven., He has standing there. Praise God! Yes, He does.
Now, an attorney’s job is to defend his client. And no matter how serious the alleged crime, no matter how obvious it appears to everyone else that this person is guilty, attorneys normally don’t start out by admitting his client’s guilt in the courtroom, even if it seems obvious to everyone else. The attorney is going to do everything he can to show that the defendant is not guilty, or if he is proven to be guilty, he wants to be sure that that client is not treated unjustly—that he gets the fullest possible benefit of the protection of the law.
Jesus’ advocacy for us is different than that. He knows we are guilty of breaking God’s law. He doesn’t deny that fact, in the courtroom of heaven. He doesn’t pretend that we’re innocent. Jesus is the truth as we heard in a recent session as we looked at Jesus as the truth. He always tells the truth. And the truth is that we were rebels. We were enemies of God, and we still sometimes deny Him and defy Him and rebel against Him. So how does Jesus advocate for us knowing we’re guilty?
Well, the fact is, Jesus died for us. He paid the price for our sins. And now He defends us before the throne of God in heaven. And amazingly, He defends us as being innocent. Knowing that we have sinned, He goes before the throne of God and says, “They’re innocent.” How does He do that? He’s not lying; He’s not bending the law; He’s not violating justice to say that. He does it because the price has been paid, and we are now justified in Christ. We stand before God through Christ as if we had never sinned. Only in God’s math can that happen. It’s amazing grace.
Oswald Sanders says it this way in his book, The Incomparable Christ. He says: “He appears as our advocate, not to appeal for clemency but to claim justice for us—to claim what we are entitled to in virtue of His sacrifice on Calvary.” Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Now, we have an accuser. Another reason we need an advocate. We have our own hearts often accuse us, but then we have an accuser. His name is Satan. He’s called the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). He is a tireless prosecutor against God’s children. He appears, at times, in the high court of heaven and before the throne of God who is the Judge. And Satan brings charges against you and against me. He brings up sins that we’ve committed and shortcomings and failures and faults. You say, “I don’t need Satan to do that. I do that myself.”
Well, Jesus is our defense attorney, our Advocate. And He stands up and He approaches the Judge at the bar, and He says, “My client has been fully pardoned. My client is fully innocent. Justice has been carried out. Let the prisoner go. She’s innocent.” Because of His sinless life, His death on the cross in our place, the fact that our sin imputed to Him, reckoned to His account and His righteousness was imputed to us or reckoned to our account, therefore we are guaranteed of being acquitted. Innocent.
No accusation can stand against us in the courtroom of heaven if we are children of God, if we are in Christ. As Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” No condemnation. No condemnation.
Some of you need to counsel your hearts according to that truth. We all do. But some of your consciences are just like always working to convict you of things that have been put under the blood. They have been forgiven. They’ve been pardoned. God sees you as innocent. But you keep bringing them up. Why do you do that? Counsel your heart. There’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Now, if you’re insisting on persisting in your sins, if you’re denying that you have sinned, if you’re unwilling to repent of that sin, then you’ve got another issue. But if that sin has been repented of, it’s been put under the blood of Christ, you’ve claimed His forgiveness, then you have an Advocate who stands before the Father and says, “No condemnation. Not guilty. Acquitted.” As our Advocate, Jesus takes up our cause at the throne of God in heaven. And if He didn’t, if we didn’t have that Advocate before the Father, our sin would bring judgment on us.
So as Paul goes on to say in Romans 8 beginning in verse 31:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God [today, right now], who indeed is interceding for us (vv. 31, 33-34).
He’s our defense attorney, our Advocate.
That passage says that God is “for” us. Do you ever stop to think about that? God is for us? God is not against you if you are in Christ. God is for you. Because Christ's advocacy is ongoing, because He ever lives to make intercession for us, we know that He is always speaking at the right hand of the Father speaking on our behalf. That’s how God can be for us. And that’s why we can run to Him for help, for forgiveness, for grace, for mercy and not fear His judgment. Psalm 56 says it this way: “This I know, that God is for me” (vv. 8–9).
Now, God’s not for you if you’re apart from Christ. God’s against you if you’re apart from Christ. The only way He can be for us is once we find our way to Christ through repentance and faith, trusting Him, His righteousness, His sinless life, not our own righteousness, not our own works, not our own efforts.
Listen, if you know and trust Christ as your Mediator and Advocate, you will never, ever experience God’s judgment or His wrath—only His mercy. And if Jesus is not your Mediator and your Advocate, one day you will face God as your Judge and you will be declared guilty. Guilty. There will be no mercy unless you have found Jesus to be your Advocate and your Mediator.
The purpose of Jesus first coming to earth was to bring salvation not judgment. But the purpose of His second coming will be eternal judgment on all who have not believed. Is Jesus your Advocate? Are you in Christ? Is He your mediator? Have you placed your faith in Him and His righteousness? Have you trusted that your sins were placed on Him so that His righteousness could be credited to your account? If so, then you can rejoice that there is no condemnation in Christ.
And you can have great peace knowing that we don’t have to fear death, judgment, condemnation, the wrath of God because of His eternal work on our behalf, the sacrifice that He paid on the cross and now His ongoing intercession and advocacy for us in the throne room of heaven. It also means that nothing can make God love you less, and nothing you do could make God love you more. God is for us because Christ is our Advocate.
Yes we sin. But we have a Great High Priest, an Advocate—the man Christ Jesus. And because of His ongoing advocacy before the Father on our behalf, we can be forgiven. We can be restored to fellowship with God and declared not guilty!
Charitie Bancroft said it this way in 1863. You may be familiar with this hymn in a contemporary setting, but it was actually written in the mid-1800s. The words are perhaps familiar to you, but rejoice in them and savor them as I read these words.
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is written on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Hallelujah, what a Savior.
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing you the wonder that you have an Advocate pleading your case before God. Nancy will be right back.
That message is part of a longer series called “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.”
“Advocate” is one of those thirty-two names. Nancy writes about all of them in a new book called The Wonder of His Name. Reading the book will help you follow up on this radio series and get deep truths about Jesus into your heart.
Nancy not only writes a devotional about each of these names. She also provides quotes from godly thinkers through history and hymns. And the beautiful illustrations from Timothy Botts enhance the book as well.
We’ll send you the book, The Wonder of His Name, when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Call with your gift and ask for the book. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit