Sermon 515. The Sinner'S Advocate
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JUNE 21,1863, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father,Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1.
THE Apostle John presents us with a very clear and emphatic testimony to the doctrine of full and free forgiveness of sin.He declares that the blood of Jesus Christ, God's dear Son, cleans us from all sin, and that if any man sins, we have an Advocate.It is most evident that he is not afraid ofdoing mischief by stating this Truth of God too broadly. On the contrary, he makes this statement with the view of promotingthe sanctity of his "little children." The object of this bold declaration of the love of the Father to His sinning childrenis, "that you sin not." This is atriumphant answer to that grossly untruthful objection which is so often urged by the adversaries of the Gospel againstthe doctrines of Free Grace-that they lead men to licentiousness.
It does not appear that the Apostle John thought so, for in order that these "little children" should not sin, he actuallydeclares unto them the very doctrine which our opponents call licentious. Those men who think that God's Grace, when fully,fairly, and plainly preached, will lead men intosin, know not what they say, nor what they affirm. It is neither according to nature nor to Grace for men to find an argumentfor sin in the goodness of God. Human nature is bad enough-and far be it from me to flatter that leprous criminal, that reekingmass ofcorruption-even a natural conscience revolts at the baseness of sinning because Divine Grace abounds!
Shall I hate God because He is kind to me? Shall I curse Him because He blesses me? I venture to affirm that very few menreason thus. Man has found out many inventions, but such arguments are so transparently abominable that few consciences areso dead as to tolerate them. Bad as human nature is,it seldom turns the goodness of God into an argument for rebelling against Him. As for souls renewed by Divine Grace, theynever can be guilty of such infamy. The Believer in Jesus reasons in quite another fashion. Is God so good?-then I will notgrieve Him. Is He so ready toforgive my trans-gressions?-then I will love Him, by His Grace, and offend no more. Gratitude has bands which are strongerthan iron, although softer than silk.
Think not, Sirs, that the Christian needs to be flogged to virtue by the whip of the Law! Dream not that we hate sin merelybecause of the Hell which follows it! If there were no Heaven for the righteous, the sons of God would follow after goodnessbecause their regenerated spirit pants for it. Andif there were no Hell for the wicked, from the necessity of his new-born nature, the true Christian would strive to escapefrom all iniquity. Loved of God, we feel we must love Him in return. Richly, yes, Divinely forgiven, we feel that we cannotlive any longer in sin. Since Jesusdied to rid us from all uncleanness, we feel that we cannot crucify our Lord afresh, and put Him to an open shame.
We need no nobler or more cogent arguments to lead a man to thorough consecration to God's cause and detestation of all evilthan those fetched from the Free Grace of God. And what if some men do pervert the doctrine? Do not wicked minds corrupt everything?What Truth is there in Scripture withwhich a man may not ruin himself if he wills? Did not the prophetic eye of our Lord anticipate this when it was writtenthat to some the Word of God is, "a savor of death unto death?" Have there not been in all ages men who hold the Truth ofGod in licentiousness? When were therenot evil men to wrest Scripture to their own destruction? Shall we keep back the children's bread least the dogs shouldsteal the crumbs?
Shall we destroy health-restoring drugs because fools may poison themselves with them? Shall all the trees be cut down forfear the owls should build their nests in them? Shall the sea be dried up because sharks swim in it? Shall the pure virginTruth be condemned because gross villains have forgedher name and abused her character? God forbid! Let us never blush to preach the whole Gospel and to preach its full forgivenessof sin in the boldest and baldest manner, believ- ing that the naked breasts of Truth are her best armor, and that she isleast protected when she isencumbered with a coat of mail of human reasoning and prudence.
As God shall help me, then, believing that the doctrine of Free Grace and of God's infinite love to His people is a doctrinewhich will lead the "little children of God" to avoid all sin, I intend this morning to preach that doctrine. May God grantthat the result may be according to His mind andwill.
I. We commence our exposition of the text with the remark that THE SAINT IS STILL A SINNER. Our Apostle says-"If any man sins."The "if may be written in as small letters as you will, for the supposition is a matter of certainty. "If any man sins"? Althoughthe gentle hand of the beloveddisciple uses such mild and tender terms, putting it as a supposition-as though it were an astonishing thing after so muchlove and mercy and kindness, that we should sin- yet John very well knew that all the saints do sin, for he has himself declaredthat if any mansays that he does not sin he is a liar, and the Truth is not in him.
Saints are, without exception, still sinners. Far be it from us to deny that Divine Grace has worked a wondrous change-itwere not Grace at all if it had not. It will be well to note this change. The Christian no longer loves sin. It is the objectof his sternest horror. He no longer regardsit as a mere trifle, plays with it, or talks of it with unconcern. He looks upon it as a deadly serpent whose very shadowis to be avoided. He would no more venture voluntarily to put its cup to his lip than a man would drink poison who had oncealmost lost his life through it. Sinis dejected in the Christian's heart, though it is not ejected. Sin may enter the heart and fight for dominion, but it cannotsit upon the throne. It haunts the town of Mansoul and lurks in dens and corners to do mischief, but it is no longer honoredin the streets, nor pampered inthe palace. The head and the hands of Dagon are broken, although the stump remains.
The Christian never sins with that enormity of boasting of which the unregenerate are guilty. Others wallow in transgressionsand make their shame their glory, but if the Believer falls he is very quiet, mournful and vexed. Sinners go to their sinsas children to their own father's orchard, butBelievers slink away like thieves when they have been stealing forbidden fruit. Shame and sin are always in close companyin a Christian. If he is drunken with evil he will be ashamed of himself and go to his bed like a whipped cur. He cannot proclaimhis transgressions as some doin the midst of a ribald crowd, boasting of their exploits of evil. His heart is broken within him, and when he has sinnedhe goes with sore bones for many and many a day.
Nor does he sin with the fullness of deliberation that belongs to other men. The sinner can sit down by the months togetherand think over the iniquity that he means to perpetrate, till he gets his plans well organized and has matured his project.But the Christian cannot do this. He may put thesin into his mouth and swallow it in a moment, but he cannot continue to roll it under his tongue. He who can carefullyarrange and plot a transgression is still a true child of the old serpent.
And again, the Believer never chews the cud of his sin. For after he has sinned, however sweet it may have been in his mouth,it becomes bitterness in his heart-and glad enough is he to be rid of it altogether. The retrospect of sin to a convertedman is nothing but blackness and darkness inhis heart. The Christian, unlike other men, never finds enjoyment in his sin. He is out of his element in it. Consciencepricks him. He cannot, even if he would, sin like others. There is a refined taste within him which all the while revoltsat the apparently dainty morsel of sin.The finger of Divine Grace, with its secret and mysterious touch, turns all the honey into gall, and all the sweetness intowormwood.
If the Christian shall sin, and sin, I grant he will, yet it shall always be with half-heartedness-still he clings to theright. The evil that he would not, he does, while the good that he would do, he fails to perform. You will notice, too, howdifferent the Christian is as to the habit ofsin. The ungodly man is frequent in overt deeds of rebellion, but the Christian, at least in open acts of crime and folly,rather falls into them rather than abides in them. The swallow dips with his wing the brook and then he is up again into theskies, soaring toward the sun. Butthe duck can swim in the pool or dive under the water-it is in its element. So the Christian just touches sometimes withhis wing-alas, for him-the streams of earth, but then he is up again where he should be.
It is only the sinner that can swim in sin and delight therein. You may drive the swine and the sheep together side by side.They come to some mire and they both fall into it, and both stain themselves. But you soon detect the difference in naturebetween them-for while the swine lies andwallows with intense gusto-the sheep is up again, escaping as soon as possible from the filth. So with the Christian. Hefalls, God knows how many times, but by His Grace, he rises up again-it is not his nature to lie in sin. He abhors himselfthat ever he should fall tothe ground at all-while the ungodly goes on in his wicked way till sin becomes a habit and habit like an iron net has entangledhim in its meshes.
There are all these degrees of difference between the Christian and the ungodly man and far more, for the Believer is a newcreature-he belongs to a holy generation and a peculiar people. The Spirit of God is in him and in all respects he is farremoved from the natural man. But for all thatwe must come back to that with which we started-that the Christian is still a sinner. He is so from the imperfection ofhis nature. His nature is such that he cannot but sin until the old Adam shall die in him-and that will not be till the funeralknell is tolled forhimself.
Sin, by reason of his imperfection, pollutes the best thing the Believer does. Sin mars his repentance. There is filth inour tears and unbelief in our faith. The best thing we ever did apart from the merit of Jesus only swelled the number of oursins, for when we have been most pure in our ownsight, yet, like the heavens, we are not pure in God's sight. And as He charged His angels with folly, much more must Hecharge us with it, even in our most angelic frame of mind. The song that thrills to Heaven and seeks to emulate seraphic strainshas still mortal infirmity in it.The prayer which moves the arm of God is still a sinful prayer, and only moves that arm because the Sinless One, the greatMediator, has stepped in to take away the sin of our supplication.
I dare to say it-the best faith or the highest degree of sanctification to which a Christian ever attained on earth, has stillso much of the creature's infirmity in it as to be worthy of God's eternal wrath. In itself considered, there is so much sinabout the highest and loftiest thing towhich the creature can attain, that we mournfully confess-"We are altogether as an unclean thing and all our righteousnessesare but as filthy rags."
As the Christian thus sins in his devout performances, so he constantly errs in the everyday tenor of his life. Sins of omissionto wit-how many of these may be compressed into a single hour? Oh, what multitudes of things we have left undone! Rememberthat these make up a very great part ofthe sins which brings the curse. "I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, sick and in prison and you visited Me not." Havewe no sins of commission? Our thoughts, our imaginations, our words, and must I not say our deeds-have these been what theyshould be? If any man dare totell me that he lives for a single day without a sinful deed, I will dare to tell him that he never knew himself.
Do but look at your own chamber. If you disturb it I see but little dust floating about in it, but if a stray sunbeam shallenter through the window I see millions upon millions of little motes dancing up and down! And I discover that the whole ofwhat I supposed to be clear, pure air, is filledwith innumerable atoms of all sorts of things, and that I am breathing these even in the purest atmosphere. So is it withour heart and life. When the Spirit shines into us, we see that the atmosphere of life is as full of sin as it can hold. Aman may sooner count the hairs of hishead, or the sands upon the seashore, or the drops of the dew of the morning upon the grass, than count the sins of a singleday.
O Lord, You know us, but we know not ourselves. Yet this much we know, that we are a people full of sin and laden with iniquity.You will tell me these are little sins, but I remind you that a multitude of grains of sand may overload a vessel quite assurely as bars of iron-and thereforethese daily iniquities should be confessed with care and repented of with sincerity. The Christian, then, from the imperfectionof his nature, sins. The old unchanged fountain of Harah must send forth bitter water. The old Adam can do nothing else butsin.
Fire can do nothing but burn. Water can do nothing but quench fire. Everything acts according to its nature. The new naturethat is in us cannot sin, because it is born of God. It is so heavenly and Divine that it never stoops to anything like sin.There is a spark of the celestial and of theperfect within every Believer which never can be quenched. But the old Adam, that which made Paul cry out-"O wretched manthat I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"-must sin and as certainly as sparks fly upward, so certainlythe old nature will commitiniquity.
Moreover, many Christian people sin from certain peculiar infirmities. You know, each of you, what your own infirmity maybe, at least I hope you have been watchful enough to discover it. Some sin through shortness of temper. They are not long-windedin patience with their fellow creatures. Theyare vexed. They grow hot-perhaps they imagine some cause for anger where there is none-and they wax warm and speak unadvisedlywith their tongue. This gives much trouble to many of the most gracious of men. A hasty temper is a perpetual temptation.
There are others who have a high and proud spirit and if they fancy they are a little snubbed or put into the back ground,at once they feel inclined to resent it. There-listen to him-I am not to be thus trod upon! Who dares to treat me thus?" Manywho have done good service for Christhave had to carry that thorn in their flesh even down to their graves. Sensitiveness, a high spirit, a suspicious temperament-theseare like blisters to the feet of a pilgrim-he will always walk painfully, if not slowly. Some of us have to contend with sloth.Perhaps weare afflicted with a torpid liver, and the physician has never been able to touch the complaint.
God help the man thus afflicted, for he will need to whip himself every day to his duty. And often he will feel so dull andsleepy, that he will wish for Cowper's "lodge in a vast wilderness, some boundless contiguity of shade," that he might hidehimself in quiet from the toil of the spiritualharvest. How many we know, dear Friends, who have to contend with constant unbelief brought on through depression of spirits.Their nerves, perhaps, have experienced a great shock at some period in life and, constitutionally, they look always at theblack side of affairs. If theysee a grassy knoll they suspect it to be an extinct volcano. And if they happen to be in a green valley where the mountainsfrown like the battlements of Heaven, they are dreadfully afraid that an avalanche must certainly come down and destroy them.
They cannot help it. It is a peculiarity of their constitution, but it leads them into much sin, and should cause them muchrepentance before the face of the living God. So I might go on to mention the peculiarity of some who are suffering from bashfulness.They will often be tempted to hold backwhere they ought to go forward-and if not to disavow their Master-yet not to proclaim their love for Him as boldly as theyshould do. The Christian, when he reads this verse, "If any man sins," may well say-"Ah, indeed I do. Through these infirmitiesI constantlycommit iniquity."
And then, dear Friends, we all sin from the assaults of evil. There are times when we are not watchful, and as Satan is alwayson his watchtower he is sure to attack us just then. We wear our visor up, and then in flies the stone from the infernal sling.We have forgotten a piece of our armor andthe enemy spies our nakedness and cuts us deep, leaving a scar for years. The temptations of the world, when we are thrustinto ungodly company, and the trials of business, and even of the household-all these in unguarded moments may take the Christianoff his feet.
Ah, my Brothers and Sisters, Paul, who was not a whit behind the very chief of the Apostles, yet called himself the chiefof sinners. And we with far inferior graces must take the lowest place, acknowledging that in us, that is in our flesh, theredwells no good thing. Sinner is my name, sinner mynature, but thanks be to Him who came to save sinners, I am a sinner saved by Free Grace.
II. I now leave that point for a second one full of comfort. OUR SINS DO NOT DEPRIVE US OF OUR INTEREST IN CHRIST. Note thetext. "If any man sins we have an Advocate." Yes, we have Him though we sin. We have Him still. It does not say, "If any mansins he has forfeited his Advocate," but, "we havean Advocate." Sinners though we are, all the sin that a Believer ever did or can be allowed to commit, cannot destroy hisinterest in the Lord Jesus Christ. Into whatever he may be suffered to fall, yet none of these things can by any possibilitytouch his title deeds. Indeed, insome characters Jesus is only mine when I can claim the name of sinner.
I cannot have an Advocate unless I do sin, otherwise I do not need one. Who wants an advocate to plead his cause in a courtof law if there is no suit against him? Sin is a charge against me. I am a sinner. I have an Advocate. I have today a Brotherin Christ. "Go, tell my Brothers and Sisters,"said He. And yet they had all forsaken Him, and therefore were all sinners-but He was their Brother still. I have a Husbandin Christ too, though I sin. "Israel has forsaken Me," says God, "and played the harlot. She has gone whoring from Me, butreturn, return, for I ammarried unto you." She is His wife still, you see, though she had gone into adultery.
The Christian, even when he has stained and fouled himself, is the spouse of Christ still for all that. We are members ofHis Body, and if so, the members cannot be removed or taken off and on-limbs are not so easily removed. Did not Christ washPeter? Peter was a member of Christ's own Body,and yet Peter wanted washing. O blessed picture, the Head washing the feet. So at this day, stained though we are, we areclaimants of Christ as Head of our body. And, Beloved, we know that notwithstanding all our sin we are perfectly justifiedin Christ, for He justifies theungodly. We know, too, that we are perfectly accepted, for we are accepted in the Beloved, and not in ourselves.
Notwithstanding all our iniquities we are pardoned, for the fountain is opened for sin and for all uncleanness-not for righteousnessand purity-but for sin and for uncleanness. Therefore we conclude that all our sins do not deprive us of that which Christis to us, namely, the Fountainof Life and light and purity and safety. Oh, my Brothers and Sisters, if our first title to Christ had depended on our goodworks, then it would fall when our works grew bad, but He loved us when we were as bad as we could be-
"He saw us ruined in the Fall, Yet loved us notwithstanding all."
He chose us when we were sinners. He bought us when we were sinners. He loved us when we were dead in trespasses and sins.And if we are as bad as that today, He loves us still.
If our right to Heaven rested on the Covenant of Works, that unstable tenure, it would soon fail us. But seeing it rests onthe Covenant of Grace, which has no conditions in it, but which is of pure Immutable Grace from first to last, therefore beit known unto you, O sons of God, thatnotwithstanding all your faults and failings, wanderings and back-slidings, He is your God and you are His children. Hewill be your God to all eternity and you shall be His children world without end. "What a bold thing to say!" says one. Yes,and did I not tell you that I meant tosay it to the little children, that they sin not?
I believe that the bold open statement of the fact that all the sin that a Believer can commit cannot mar his interest inChrist, though it may mar his enjoyment of that interest for the present. Believing, I say, that this doctrine, instead ofdriving men to sin, will draw them to love thatgracious and immutable God, who notwithstanding all our sins and cares and woe, will never suffer us to perish.
III. Now let us change the note a little. Our third point is THAT THE ADVOCATE IS PROVIDED ON PURPOSE TO MEET THE FACT THATWE ARE STILL SINNERS.
If I am a sinner, then there is a court. And there is one who sits as Judge-the Father. There is a charge against me, otherwiseI should not want an Advocate to meet it-and this implies that I have sinned. There is an adversary to press his suit againstme, and he would hardly ventureto do this if there were no sin. There must be a right of reply on my part. I must have the right to put in a disclaimerin court, and to stand up and plead before the bar of justice. He who has a right to plead in court is the man who is accused-theman who has some offense.If I were neither accused nor had been a sinner, then I should have no right to occupy the time of the court. But beinga sinner, and being brought up upon that charge and having one who presses the charge against me, I have a right to replyand that reply, through God's good Grace,I have a right to make through my Advocate.
Let us say, concerning our Advocate, that He is ordained with a special view to sinners. All His names and attributes proveHim to be a suitable Advocate for such. You and I, who though saved, are still sinners, may safely put our case into His hands,for look who He is-"Jesus Christ therighteous." "Jesus." Ah, then He is an Advocate such as I want, for He loves me and takes an interest in me. Jesus is thename of one who became Man for my sake. He knows what sore temptations mean, He understands what trials mean, what afflictionsmean. I am glad I have One whowill be interested in my welfare, and will plead for me as a Friend for a friend, and as a Brother for a brother.
I thank God, that though I sin, I still have Jesus who is my, "Brother born for adversity," the Friend of sinners, and will,therefore, plead the sinner's part. Is His name Jesus? Then He is sure to succeed, because, "they shall call His name Jesus,for He shall save His people from their sins."His very name implies His success. Is His name Jesus? Then if He does not succeed in my case, His honor is compromised.He is called Jesus because He does save sinners-if He does not save me-He is not Jesus. If I, a sinner, trusting in Him, giveHim my cause to plead asmy Advocate, and I am tried, and the verdict is against me, He is not Jesus. He may lay down His claim to be Jesus, forHe does not, and cannot save His people from their sins.
Beloved Friends, do you not see how the saint is regarded as a sinner because He who is his Advocate is the appointed Saviorof sinners? He is put down as their Advocate, I say, because He is the sinner's Friend. I never heard of His pleading forthe righteous. I never dreamed of His being theFriend of the sinless. I find Him always on the side of publicans and sinners-offenders, and those who have gone out ofthe way. And therefore I conclude, that sinner though I am, continually sinning as I am, I may leave my case with Jesus, forHe is just the advocate thesinner wants.
Notice, next, it is "Jesus Christ"-Christos-the Anointed. This shows His authority to plead. There are only certain gentlemenwho can plead in the Court of Chancery. And only certain others that can enter the Common Pleas, or the King's Bench. JesusChrist has a right to plead, for Heis the Father's own Appointed, the Father's own Anointed. My Soul, you have a good Pleader, One whom God Himself has chosento plead the sinner's cause. If he were of your choosing, he might fail. But if God has laid help upon One that is mighty,feel safe to put your trouble whereGod has laid His help. He is Christ, and therefore authorized.
But I add, He is Christ and therefore qualified, for the anointing has also qualified Him for His work. He can plead betterthan Jacob pleaded when he spoke for Benjamin. He can plead so as to move the heart of God and prevail. What words of tenderness,what sentences of persuasion will He use whenHe stands up to plead for me! But more, He is Christ-that is, He is God's Messiah. Therefore God would not send Him unlessHe guaranteed Him. If God should send into this world a Savior who could not save, then God would have no mercy. God's appointingand sending Christ is aguarantee of Christ's success. Oh, my Soul, you have One well fitted to be your Advocate and One that cannot but succeed!Leave yourself entirely in His hands.
Notice next, it is "Jesus Christ the righteous." This is not only His Character, but it is His plea. It is His Character,and if my Advocate is righteous, then I am sure He would not take up a bad cause. I do not know, it may be right for a lawyerto plead for a villain when he knows him to be avillain. But this I think, the greater villain the lawyer is the better qualified would he be to do it. But my Lord andMaster, the great Advocate, would not plead a bad cause, for He is Jesus Christ the righteous. Therefore if I sin, if I amput down among the many men thatsin-if He pleads for me, my case must be good-for He would not take up a bad one.
But how can He do this? Why, because He meets the charge of unrighteousness against me by this plea on His part- that He isrighteous. He seems to say to the great Father in the day when the sinner stands arraigned-"Yes, my Father, that sinner wasunrighteous, but remember that I wasaccepted as His Substitute. I stood to keep the Law for him, and gave My active obedience. I went up to the Cross and bled,and so gave My passive obedience. I have covered him from head to foot with My doing and My dying. I have so arrayed him thatnot even the angels are adornedas he is, for though they may be clothed with the perfect righteousness of a creature, I have given him the righteousnessof God Himself. I am become unto My people the Lord their righteousness.
"Look, I have taken the jewels out of My crown to bedeck them. I have taken the garments from My own back to cover them, andthe blood from My own veins to make the dye in which I have dipped their garments, till they are purpled with imperial glory."What can there be asked more for the sinnerthan this? Jesus Christ the righteous stands up to plead for me, and pleads His righteousness. And mark, He does this notif I do not sin, but if I do sin. There is the beauty of my text. It does not say, "If any man does not sin we have an Advocate."But, "if any man sins we havean Advocate." So that when I have sinned and come creeping up to my closet with a guilty conscience and an aching heart,and feel that I am not worthy to be called God's son, I still have an Advocate, because I am one of the many men that sin.I sin and I have an Advocate.
Oh, I know not how to express the joy I feel in my soul to be able to put it so! It is not, "If any man is righteous, we havean Advocate." It is not, "If any man is prayerful, and careful, and godly, and walks rightly and in the light," and so on,but, "If any man SINS we have an Advocate." Oh, mySoul, there is the music of God's heart in those words! Music such as the prodigal heard at the festival which welcomedhis return. "If any man sins we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
IV. And now we turn to our fourth point which is that THIS TRUTH, SO EVANGELICAL AND SO DIVINE,
SHOULD BE PRACTICALLY REMEMBERED. It should be practically remembered, dear Friends, at all times. Every day I find it mosthealthy to my own soul to try and walk as a saint, but in order to do so, I must continually come to Christ as a sinner. Iwould seek to be perfect. I would strain after everyvirtue, and forsake every false way. But still, as to my standing before God, I find it happiest to sit where I sat whenfirst I looked to Jesus, on the rock of His works, having nothing to do with my own righteousness, but only with His.
Depend on it, dear Friends, the happiest way of living is to live as a poor sinner, and as nothing at all-having Jesus Christas All in All. You may have all your growths in sanctification, all your progress in graces, all the development of your virtuesthat you will. But still I doearnestly pray you never to put any of these where Christ should be. If you have begun in Christ, then finish in Christ.If you have begun in the flesh, and then go on in the flesh, we know what the sure result will be. But if you have begun withJesus Christ as your Alpha, let Himbe your Omega. I pray you never think you are rising when you get above this, for it is not rising, but slipping downwardsto your ruin. Stand still to this-
"Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Your Cross I cling. Still a sinner. But still having an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous-let this be the spirit of youreveryday life. Make this essentially the rule of your life on particular occasions. Here let me say a word that may at once comfort andenlighten some here who are in darkness. When the Spirit of God gives you a clearer view of your own depravity, mind thatyou hold to this-"If any man sins we have an Advocate with the Father." Perhaps when you were first converted you did notsuspect the depth of wickedness that lay in your heart. Perhaps you did not believe that you could be so unutterably bad asyou really were. But lately the fountains of the great deep have been broken up and you have been horrified. You are almostdriven mad, or else into despondency and despair by this discovery of your innate corruption, until you fly to this-"Sinneras I am and never more consciously so than I am now that God's Spirit has enlightened me, I yet know that if any man sinswe have an Advocate with the Father and I, black, foul and filthy-more foul and filthy than I ever thought myself to be- putmy case into the hands of my Advocate and leave it there forever."
When after this you have fallen into sin, and oh, I may address some member of this Church who has done this though the pastorknows it not-you have fallen into some sin that pricks your conscience. You carry about with you a something that will notlet you sleep at night. There is a sin thatdisturbs you, and you wish you could forget that you had committed it. You have gone before God as David did. You have usedthe language of the fifty-first Psalm, but you cannot get rid of that sin. You believe you are a child of God sometimes, butthat sin has got into yourconscience and, like a cancer, is eating into your comfort.
My Brother, now is your time-"If any man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father." Jesus Christ is of no use to you if Hewill only save you when you have no sin. Let me repeat it-now you are a sinner. Now you are condemned by the verdict of yourown conscience. Now you have sinned,sinned willfully and foully-and God forbid that I should extenuate your sin. Yet, let your sin be as gross, and black, andhellish as it may be, if you believe in Jesus Christ you have an Advocate with the Father. And through that Advocate yourcause shall rest and your sinshall be put away.
Perhaps you will tell me that your sin has had some gross aggravation about it. If you are a Christian it has, for a Christianalways sins worse than other men. If the sin is not in itself so bad as other men's, it is worse in you. For a king's favoriteto play the traitor is villainy, indeed. Forone that has been highly favored, as you have been, with visits of love from Jesus-to be false to Him-oh, this is shame,double shame to Him! For you who have been washed in His blood to crucify Him afresh, what shall I say to that? You deservethe hottest wrath of Godand the deepest Hell. But thus says the Lord unto you-I have blotted out your sins like a cloud, and like a thick cloudyour iniquities. Return unto Me." "If any man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father."
It does not say, "If some men sin we have no advocate." Or, "If some men sin in an aggravated way." No, it is not put so.It says, "If any man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father." So that though you have heaped aggravations one upon another,and your crime has been as foul as any that couldhave been committed, still you can say, "we have an Advocate." Fly with a humble, contrite heart, and throw yourself atthe feet of that Advocate, and by His blood, and by His wounds He will plead for you, and you shall prevail.
What if I add to all this that you have so sinned as to bring a scandal upon the name of God, upon His Church, and upon Hiscause? Oh, my Brothers and Sisters, you may well weep in secret. You may weep tears of blood for having done this. But still,for all that, I cannot shut the gate where Godsets it wide open. I have not a thunderbolt for you. If you are a child of God, mercy is still free, and still it is preachedto you-"If any man sins," publicly, like David, so as to make God's enemies to blaspheme, yet still, "we have an Advocatewith the Father, Jesus Christthe righteous." Oh, what splendid mercy is this! Archangel never dreamed of such mercy as this to sinners, to real sinners,to hugely vile sinners, to black, hellish sinners, to devilish sinners, to such as no adjective can be found to describe them!Yet, if they believe in Jesus,sin as they may, they still have, "an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
I wish I could meet the case of that Brother yonder, who has long given up all hope of ever being restored. He has been excommunicated.He has been driven away from the society of the godly. He thinks, though he is in this house this morning, he has no businesshere. And sometimes the devil hastempted him to make away with himself, and he has said, if I must be lost I may as well be lost at once. Ah, but, my Brother,you dare not do it with such a text of Scripture as this before your eyes! The Lord loves you still, and if He ever lovedyou, all your sin cannot wean Hisheart from you. You may have gone to the utmost length of your tether, but He has so tied you that you can never go beyondit! You may have gotten to the very extremity and edge of the precipice, but over that edge you must not, and you shall notgo!
This day He sends me to stop you. Return! Return! Return! A Father bids you return! You are feeding swine today, and all fouland filthy as you are, you would desire fill your belly with their husks. But you cannot-you have a hunger that husks cannever satisfy. Your Father waits to receiveyou. Come, He will meet you. He will fall upon your neck and kiss you. He will set you at His own table and there shallbe music and dancing for you. The best robe awaits you, Prodigal! The fatted calf is killed for you! Come! O believe it! Believethat God is able to do this greatthing for you. "As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are His thoughts above your thoughts, and His ways aboveyour ways."-
"What though your numerous sins exceed The stars that fill the skies, And, aiming at the Eternal Throne, Like pointed mountains rise," yet still the red sea of Jesus' blood shall cover the tops of the mountains of your sins,till, like Noah's ark, that floated twenty cubits upwards, the tops of the mountains shall be covered. "If any man sins"-here,you see, there is nothing said about goodness, nothing about virtue, or tenderness of heart-it is only put, "If any man sins,we have an Advocate."
O you that believe in Jesus, pray for those who believe not, that they, too, may have an Advocate. If you and I have comeand put our trust in Him, and found a shelter in His wounds, let us never be satisfied till we see our children, our brothers,our sisters, our friends, our kinsfolk brought tothis Advocate. Go and tell it wherever your voices can be heard, that Jesus Christ receives SINNERS, and that He eats withthem. Go and say that He is the sinner's Friend, and that He is willing to take them as they are and wash them and make themwhiter than snow.
Since you have proved it yourself, and need to prove it every day, try and bring others to the conviction of it, that they,with you, may sing to the praise of that Divine love which has given the Advocate to every Believer, whatever his guilt andcondemnation may have been. The Lord bless you now,for Jesus' sake. Amen.