Defending Sinners

1 John 2:1 “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ the Righteous One”

There it is. John didn’t want the people to whom he was writing to commit sin. Was that really any of his business? Is it any business of the pastors who serve you? You bet it is! “It’s my life, and I can live it the way I want,” may be a popular way of thinking. But it’s an attitude that needs to be checked at the door when we enter God’s house and become members of his family. It’s not that your pastor wants to become a snoop, and catch you in some questionable behavior. But Christian leaders are right to be concerned about the way people live their lives, just like the Apostle John was.

Why? Because sin hurts. When you visit your doctor or dentist, don’t they ask some personal questions about the way you are living your life? And don’t they have some straightforward, even firm things to say about what needs to change? They can make us feel uncomfortable, but we expect it. They are supposed to be looking out for our health. Whether or not you floss, what you eat, and how much you exercise can all have an effect on us for good or bad.

Sinful behavior works the same way, only the stakes are higher. Sometimes it literally destroys our bodies. Just ask the person who has been drinking too much, or who has had too many sexual partners, or even the person who has let worry create too much stress and anxiety. There is a reason God set his commandments up the way he did. He wasn’t trying to take the fun out of life. He was trying to keep us from destroying ourselves.

Worse yet, sin erodes faith. It is a cancer for our souls. In my home we have a cancer survivor, too. When my son was diagnosed, the doctor gave the chemotherapy about a 95 percent chance of success. That doesn’t mean we would have volunteered for the disease. It’s still a killer. So is sin. “The wages of sin is death.” It’s not reasonable to volunteer for this killer.

So your pastors preach, and they preach so that we stop committing sins–not just you, but the pastor, too. But you know how successful that has been. For thousands of years God’s people have kept committing them. That is why John follows up: “But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ the Righteous One.”

With these words John is putting Jesus in the role of a lawyer. He is our defense attorney, defending us in God’s court of law. It isn’t every day we cast a lawyer in the role of hero and source of comfort. We tend to be suspicious of them. People even accuse them of being interested only in our money, of having only their own welfare in mind.

So maybe it seems strange to us to have Jesus described as our lawyer. But when you are going to court, and you know that you are guilty (and so does the judge), you want the best lawyer money can buy.

That’s exactly what we have in God’s court of law, except we have him for free! The devil is prosecuting, and he has a solid case against us. His power and resources far exceed our own. But Jesus has committed himself to our case and speaks in our defense. He has taken our case because he has dedicated himself to defeating the other side. He will win for us at all costs. And in God’s court of law, he never, ever loses.

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