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Speaking for the Defense

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
November 7, 2022 12:00 am

Speaking for the Defense

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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November 7, 2022 12:00 am

Will God ever regret saving you? Will He ever become so fed up with your constant failure to live a holy life that He’ll eventually cast you off? Stephen answers that question with a resounding “No” as he takes us to one of the most beautiful promises in all of Scripture. 


We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, and he adds this, the righteous. There's nothing that's going to slide under the table. Your security and your hope of heaven is not some bargain deal. There's nothing going on between our defense attorney and the judge.

There's nothing crooked, you know, to get you off the hook. He cannot advance a defense for you, which he knows is not the truth. When God forgives the sin of a believer, he's not simply sweeping your sin under a rug. He doesn't pretend as if your sin doesn't exist and just ignore them. The forgiveness of sins is a legal transaction.

You are declared justified. Because of that, God is just and justified in the way he deals with sin. This is a concept that's important to understand. We need to know how salvation works, and that's the theme of today's broadcast.

This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davy, and today's lesson is called Speaking for the Defense. The Apostle John, this 80-year-old man, has told us, look, I'm writing you this letter because I want your joy to be full and ours with you. He says in chapter 2, I'm writing this letter so that you can understand that your sins are forgiven through Christ alone. Just recently 20 million pilgrims bathed in the polluted waters of the Ganges River, believing that its waters are the nectar of immortality, believing that this goddess represented by this river would forgive their sins.

And so certain dates in January and February, every so many years, bring millions to the banks of this river. The Bible contains the remedy for sin, and even though that would be the largest religious gathering on the planet, there is no forgiveness in a river. There is forgiveness in blood. There is no forgiveness in water. There is forgiveness in a cross. There is no forgiveness in a goddess no one has seen or heard.

There is forgiveness in the Son of God who came to be seen and heard. And John says, this is why I'm writing this to you. Because left alone, we might wonder as the world wanders, groping after God, John would say, no, no, no, that's exactly why I've written down for you these words from God. God has spoken, there is no need to fear.

How in the world can that be true? John will tell us in chapter 2 now, and at verse 1 where we find ourselves, as he writes, my little children, I'm 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 or the satisfaction for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. Let's just spend some time uncovering the treasure of these words from God. The first thing John does here is he alludes to our direction in life. Notice he's writing to Christians, my little children, I'm writing these things to you. In fact, seven times in this letter, this aged Apostle will refer to his audience, them and us as little children, an affectionate term.

No doubt many of these original readers had come to faith under his ministry where he pastored in Ephesus for many years. My little children, I'm writing these things to you so that you may not sin. You see, from what John has just taught us in the earlier paragraph about the ongoing cleansing flow of the blood of Jesus Christ on our behalf, the believer might be led to fall into the trap of the Gnostics or the docentus, who basically said, look, sinning isn't really that bad a thing. So we're under grace, lighten up, loosen up, live a little.

Have you heard that? You're forgiven. No, John would quickly add, look, I'm writing to you so that you may not sin, in other words, so that you may steer clear of sin, so that you may avoid sin. Another error of interpretation would be to say, as some have also said that John is teaching sinless perfection, that a Christian can arrive at a place where they no longer sin. Would you notice that John writes, so that you what?

So that you may not sin. John isn't telling Christians they'll never sin again. John is encouraging Christians to not want to sin again.

It's a big difference. He isn't encouraging our perfection. He is encouraging our direction. Don't let it be toward sin. Let it be toward holiness and the character of Christ you're modeling your life after. We want to avoid sin. Our daily prayers, Lord, lead us not into temptation.

Why? Because we can't handle it. And we hate sin.

And we love the Savior. In fact, that's the highest motive for obeying Him. That is the highest motive. There are three ascending motives for obedience. The lowest incentive is fear. The next would be duty.

The ultimate would be love. Obeying because we have to, that's fear. Obeying because we need to, that's duty. Obeying because we want to, that's love. A slave obeys out of fear. He has to. An employee obeys because, well, he needs to.

He might not like his job, but he needs his paycheck. A Christian obeys because he wants to. I love the illustration of this truth pulled from history by Donald Gray Barnhouse, a Presbyterian pastor, now with the Lord for some years, a former longtime pastor from Philadelphia who influenced so many people, including one of his young interns by the name of Howard Hendricks who has influenced many of you as well as myself.

Barnhouse often gave this analogy to explain why a Christian may sin, but doesn't have to sin. He said there was a crew of a large sailing vessel that once had a captain that during a voyage lost touch with his sanity, lost his mind. They didn't know what to do other than lock him in a safe place on board while they completed their journey, their voyage. According to custom, the first mate immediately became the captain, and from that moment onward the old captain had no authority whatsoever over the crew or the ship. Problem was the old captain didn't agree with that arrangement. So from his confined quarters, he could be heard barking out command after command. Even though the crew was naturally inclined to obey his voice, they had for years, they had to teach themselves that no matter what he commanded, he had no authority over them anymore. They didn't have to obey him. They were to listen to the voice of their new captain. In that same way, then he draws the analogy, the believer trains himself to listen to the new captain, Christ, and ignore that insane old captain, Satan, the world in the flesh, that always lead us into trouble. We don't have to. My little children, I'm writing you these things so that you understand you no longer have to sin. Now, John would immediately anticipate his audience responding as we would.

Well, that's wonderful news. I don't have to sin, but what happens when I do? What happens when we choose to listen to the voice of that old captain? You've already told us in the previous paragraph that Christ's blood continually cleanses us from every sin and we're to confess specific sin all the time, but will there ever come a time when God will say enough, enough?

Will he ever kick us off the boat? Notice the very next phrase. I'm writing these things to you so that you may not sin, and if anyone sins, now watch this, Greek students will appreciate the fact that I'll point out this is what the Greeks called third-class condition. You could literally translate this, if anyone sins, and they will. It's hard to translate all the conditions in the original language, but that's what it's saying here. You could translate it to capture this third-class condition, and when anyone sins.

You might write in the margin of your Bible, because this text has confused many English students, right next to that word when, or if, write in the word when. And when anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father. In that first verse, John reinforces our direction in life, and now what he's going to do is reveal our defense in life. We have an advocate.

What I want to do is make five observations. Number one, our defense is unrelenting. We have an advocate, present tense. We have ongoing, never-ending, unrelenting, an advocate. He will never jump ship.

He will stay with us all the way. We have an advocate. By the way, don't miss John's pronoun there. We have an advocate. In the faithful apostle, now in his 80s, says, I need an advocate too.

I'm so glad John included himself, you'd think by this time he wouldn't need one. Oh no, we have an advocate. This is the language of the courtroom. We automatically think of the lawyer called for the defense or the accused, who stands alongside his client in court.

There's much more than that. You might be tempted to think that John here is speaking of a court-appointed attorney, an attorney who might not know you, an attorney who might not care as much about your future as you'd like him to. But you don't have the money for your own attorney. You don't have the money for your defense team. You ever notice how the bigger the team, the less likely to go to jail.

You have no money for that. You can only hope that the court-appointed attorney does his job, and they do. But that's not John's idea here. You see, in the law courts of the New Testament times, the advocate had a long-standing relationship with the client. He wasn't just some hired defender or pleader of someone's cause. He was the patron. He was standing counsel of the defendant. He was most likely the head of the clan tied to the descendants.

This is a family matter. They both belong bound together by the claims of honor for the sake of the family name. An advocate wasn't simply defending your cause.

He was effectively defending the honor of his family's name. You need to know, too, that this word, translated advocate, the noun parkletos, is the same title given to the Holy Spirit, translated comforter, or helper, John 14-16. Both the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ have similar roles, but in this context, in different locations, so to speak, even though they are equally omnipresent deity, Jesus defines their roles in terms of geography to make an emphasis to our puny little minds.

Very helpful, too. He said to his disciples, I'm going to ascend, and when I ascend, I'm going to ascend to the Spirit. He'll descend, and he'll help you. He'll teach you. He'll indwell you. He'll anoint you.

He'll convict you. The Holy Spirit, then, is God's advocate for us on earth. Jesus is our advocate in heaven. The Holy Spirit makes intercession from within us, Romans 8.

Jesus Christ is making intercession on behalf of us. So guess what? You really do have a team.

And what a team. The accuser can say, did you see that? Did you see that? Did you hear that? Hey, did you hear that?

Did you see that one? Kick him off the boat. No, I'm their advocate, Jesus would say, and I'm not going to leave their side. He's unrelenting in his defense.

He's unrestricted in his defense. One of the terribly irritating things I'm sure to the accuser is that he can never tell the Father anything the Father doesn't already know. Notice again in verse 1, we have an advocate notice this, with the Father. John uses this same phrase in chapter 1 and verse 2 to speak of Jesus' pre-incarnational relationship with God the Father. He now uses the same phrase in chapter 2 and verse 2 to refer to his post-resurrection relationship with the Father. With the Father face-to-face, intimate communion, our defense counsel knows the judge.

That's a good thing, isn't it? There's an intimate relationship and communication. There's nothing that can get him between them. What do you think Jesus is saying in the inner chamber of God the Father? Do you think he's saying to the Father, well, look, Father, he's innocent down there. At least that's the way I interpret it. Do you think he's saying to the Father, look, she had extenuating circumstances that were beyond her control as it relates to that sin? Do you think he says to the Father, you know, they were trapped. They were tricked.

And we ought to just never mind. No, he doesn't say any of that, does he? Because he can only tell the truth.

What kind of defense is that? I mean, can you imagine being in a courtroom setting and the prosecutor's up there, you know, just railing away at you and your attorney's going, yeah, yeah, you're right. I agree with that. He did that.

Yeah, I believe it. He'd think, thank you very much. That's exactly what Jesus is doing. You're right. You're right. He did that. He said that. I saw that. He thought that. He planned that.

Why? Well, because our defense thirdly is untarnished. Our defender's character is unsullied, untarnished. It's just if John, you know, thinks we might not know what he's talking about. So he adds, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ. And he adds this, the righteous.

The Greek instruction without a definite article is not referring to his identity, it's referring to his character. Jesus Christ who just so happens to be righteous. What that means is there's nothing that's going to slide under the table. Your security and your hope of heaven is not some bargain deal. There's nothing going on between our defense attorney and the judge, you know.

There's nothing crooked, you know, to get you off the hook. So all the while the accuser is pointing his finger, Jesus is saying to the Father, he's right. He's right.

Oh, I saw that. How offensive. He's unrelenting. He's unrestricted. He's untarnished.

But he's also undefeated. Verse 2, and he himself is the propitiation of our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. He himself is the satisfaction, that word propitiation, hilasmos, means satisfaction. He has satisfied the wrath of a holy God against us. He's paid the penalty. He's guilty, he has to die, but I died for him.

I took his penalty. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, this word hilasmos was used to describe the mercy seat. That's the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, that golden box inside it contained the tablets of a law God provided to Moses. And so that law would be broken. The high priest would come in once a year and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat, the hilasmos, the propitiation. So God would see lawbreakers, broken laws through the blood. So also we have broken the law, but we have accepted the blood of Jesus shed on the cross on our behalf as our covering. And God chooses then to view us lawbreakers, we all, through the blood sacrifice of his son, for he himself.

Would you notice the text? For he himself is the covering, the lid, the propitiation. He himself is the satisfaction for our sins. He is not only our defense attorney. He has agreed that we're guilty and then he has paid the sentence of execution.

He not only pleads for us, but he has exchanged places with us. He himself satisfied the payment for our sins. Now I want you to notice in verse 2, John adds, but also for the sins of the whole world.

This might be a little tedious, but I do want to cover this just briefly. I've read commentators who try to say here that this means Jesus paid for the sins of all the Christians living in Ephesus, to whom John was originally writing. But also he's paid for all the sins of all the Christians who live around the world. In other words, that Christ's atonement was only for Christians, well in an effectual way, that's true, but John never uses the phrase, the world, to refer to Christians living all around the world. He uses that phrase to refer to non-Christians who represent the world. So this text has created a lot of heartburn.

What does he mean? I think he means that the atonement of Jesus Christ is both limited and unlimited. Is he teaching universalism? Everybody gets in.

No. It's unlimited in its potential. The penalty has been paid for everyone. So the invitation to the gospel can go to everyone with legitimacy. Whosoever will may come is not, you know, wordsmithing. But it's limited in its effectual manner in the lives of those who do believe.

Pardon is only as good as it is accepted. And I think what John is also suggesting, and probably this is his primary point, is that for the believer and for everybody else in the world who is yet an unbeliever, the plan of salvation remains the same. No one comes to the Father except through the atoning work of Christ, the person of John 14.6. No one finds satisfaction from the penalty of sin except through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, Romans 5.9.

The freedom from the penalty of sin is actual for the believer, but it is available for the unbeliever. But it's the same plan. And this is where universalism is taking an interesting twist in our own generation the last 10, 15 years. God isn't one plan for the Western world, and then God's just sort of going to, you know, not worry about the details, and it'll be different for somebody else in the Eastern world.

I mean, if a Hindu wants to go and bathe in the Ganges River trying to wash away his sins, God isn't going to say, well, for him, I'll be satisfied by dirty river water. No, it's the same plan for anyone, anywhere in the entire world, which means there's only one defense. There's only one name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. There's only one advocate who stands capable of pleading our cause.

There's only one who can satisfy the claims of a broken law by lawbreakers. There's only one who can stand between us and hell. Just look at Christ. He stands there on our behalf. Robert Murray McShane, the Scottish pastor from the 1800s, used to encourage his congregation by telling him, look, for every look at yourself, for every one look at yourself, take 10 looks at Christ.

Make sure you keep that ratio. It'll drive the accuser nuts. For every one look at yourself, it's 10 looks to Jesus Christ, your defender. An advocate, the hymn writer put it this way, when Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see him there who made an end to all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free.

Watch this. God the just is satisfied to look on him and pardon me, to look on him and pardon me. Now one more question and I'm finished. Will Jesus ever tire of defending us?

I mean, doesn't the accuser tell you that? Oh no, it's not him again. For goodness sake, here he comes again. That's 14 times today. Will he ever tire of us?

The readers of the letter would have wondered and certainly every believer wonders and that's one of those buttons the enemy will push in our hearts and lives, surely Jesus will tire of us. What kind of assurance do we have that we won't get dropped? A couple of years ago I had several claims on my automobile insurance. One on my pickup truck and one on my car. I had been in a minor accident in my pickup truck and it was my fault. One of my kids had gotten into an accident with a city bus and the bus won that argument. About the third time in a year I had made a claim and I got a letter from my insurance company telling me they were reviewing my case and I might get dropped because of multiple claims. I couldn't believe it. I made the startling realization that insurance companies only want people who don't make any claims. I thought that's what I had been making deposits in all these years.

How simple could I be? This payment meant nothing. In fact, not too long ago this provoked my thinking. One author was actually dropped by his insurance company for similar reasons. What I liked was, I don't want to read you what he wrote, he ended up turning his letter from his insurance company that dropped him.

He turned it around and he imagined what it would sound like if the Lord did the same thing to us. Dear sir, we're writing in response to this morning's request for forgiveness. We're sorry to inform you that you've reached your quota of claims. Our records show that since employing our services you've aired multiple times in the same area and have a tendency to repeat the same misjudgments. At the same time, we've noted that your prayer life is substandard when compared to others of similar age and circumstance. Further review reveals that your understanding of doctrine is in the lower 20 percentile.

You have excessive tendencies to procrastinate. Because your sins have exceeded the norm of high-risk claims, you can certainly understand that forgiveness has its limits. With that in mind, Jesus sends his regrets and regards and hopes you'll find some other form of coverage because ours is now suspended.

Don't we wonder if that would happen? Is that perhaps the reason that our confession is so often laced with apologies that we're coming again? When you join the family of God, you are guaranteed permanent coverage. Your claims are met by an unrelenting defender who is the head of the clan. You find in him unrestricted access to the Father. You find in him an untarnished, unsullied integrity.

And listen, you find in him an undefeatable record. He has never lost a case and he will not lose yours. Amen?

Are you sure about that? He will not lose your case. My little children, I'm writing these things to you so that you may not sin. That's your direction in life. And when anyone sins, here's your defense.

We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous, and he himself is the satisfaction for our sins and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. Stephen called the lesson you just heard speaking for the defense. Do you know anyone who would benefit from hearing the message you just heard? Please share it. If you go to, you'll find this lesson posted there.

You can listen to it again or send the link to a friend or family member who needs to hear it. Please do that. If we can help you today or if you'd like to support our ministry, please call us. You can reach us if you dial 866-48-Bible. We have staff and volunteers who would be delighted to talk with you. If they're speaking with other listeners, leave a message and we'll call you back. That's 866-48-Bible. Until today, then join us next time on Wisdom for the Heart. Thank you.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-07 07:17:24 / 2022-11-07 07:23:09 / 6

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