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. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins...1 John 2:1-2a
There is never any need to sin, but if we find ourselves doing so, we have a perfect defense available to us—a defense that the Father will gladly receive, one that He already assures us will be welcomed. We have an Advocate with the Father who will rush to our defense immediately, but His defense is of no avail to us if we are still defending ourselves. There cannot be two advocates in this case. You either rely on His defense of you—the manifestation of His work on your behalf, which has wiped away every stain, every sin that you ever will commit or ever have committed—or you must rely on your own defense. Here you are, standing before God, defiantly telling Him that you are not to blame, that you have a defense. You can explain all this by saying that you acted under the pressure of circumstances or by claiming that your sin is not what God says it is.
As long as you remain defiant or evasive, you are still justifying and excusing yourself, and therefore the judge can only permit the inevitable, built-in judgment that follows to upset you, overthrow you, harass you, baffle you, and leave you in weakness and folly. But if you will stop justifying yourself, He will justify you. The blood of Jesus Christ cannot cleanse excuses. It only cleanses sins. If you will say,
Yes, it wasn't the pressure, it wasn't the circumstances, it wasn't that these things are not as bad as you say they are; it's that I chose to be impatient or resentful. I decided to be worried and let anxiety grip me. If we come to that place, then we discover that there is one who stands before the Father and reveals to Him the righteousness of His life, and God sees us in Him, and we are cleansed and accepted. Strength again flows into the inner person, peace comes back to our hearts, we are cleansed of our sin, washed and restored to the grace of God. Then we can go back into the same circumstance, under the same pressure, and find our heart kept by the grace and strength of God.
Why does John say,
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world? The answer is this: It is to help us see ourselves. Why is it that these others, whose sins have already been atoned for on the cross, are living in estrangement and hostility to the God who loves them and who seeks after them? The answer is, of course, because they will not believe Him. They will not accept His forgiveness. That is the same reason we Christians are not enjoying the full flow of the Spirit of power, life, love, and wisdom in our experience. It is all available to us, but we will not receive it. Like the world, we are turning our back on it. We are saying to God,
I'm not interested in cleansing, because I really don't need it. After all, this is not a sin; it is simply a weakness. I can't help it. That kind of thing is cutting the ground out from under the whole redemptive work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Though His power is all-available, we do not experience it because of that.
Father, search my heart. Make me open and honest. Teach me to stop excusing myself and accept completely the work of my advocate, Jesus Christ.
When we sin, what happens when we justify our actions or make excuses for our disobedience? Do we have God's forgiveness for our past, present, and future sins?