“He seems to say to the great Father in the day when the sinner stands arraigned—“Yes, my Father, that sinner was unrighteous, but remember that I was accepted as his substitute; I stood to keep the law for him… I have covered him from head to foot with my doing and my dying; I have so arrayed him that not even the angels are adorned as he is, for though they may be clothed with the perfect righteousness of a creature, I have given him the righteousness of God himself…” ~ C.H.S.
Is God so good?—then I will not grieve him. Is he so ready to forgive my transgressions?—then I will love him and offend no more. Gratitude hath bands which are stronger than 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 merely because of the hell which follows it! If there were no heaven for the righteous, the sons of God would follow after goodness, because their regenerated spirit pants for it; and if there were no hell for the wicked, from the necessity of his new-born nature the true Christian would strive to escape from all iniquity. Loved of God, we feel we must love him in return. Richly, yea, divinely forgiven, we feel that we cannot live any longer in sin. Since Jesus died 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 evil than those fetched from the free grace of God.
The Christian no longer loves sin: it is the object of his sternest horror; he no longer regards it as a mere trifle, plays with it, or talks of it with unconcern. He looks upon it as a deadly serpent, whose very shadow is to be avoided. He would no more venture voluntarily to put its cup to his lip than a man would drink poison who had once almost lost his life through it. Sin is dejected in the Christian’s heart, though it is not ejected. Sin may enter the heart, and fight for dominion, but it cannot sit upon the throne.
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 to-day, 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 on the covenant of grace, which has no conditions in it, but which is of pure immutable grace from first to last, therefore be it known unto you, O sons of God, that notwithstanding all your faults and failings, wanderings and backslidings, he is your God and you are his children; he will be your God to all eternity, and you shall be his children world without end.
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 be righteous then I am sure he would not take up a bad cause… therefore if I sin, if I be put down among the any men that sin, yet 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 is righteous. He seems to say to the great Father in the day when the sinner stands arraigned—“Yes, my Father, that sinner was unrighteous, but remember that I was accepted 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 that not even the angels are adorned as he is, for though they may be clothed with the perfect righteousness of a creature, I have given him the righteousness of God himself; I am become unto my people the Lord their righteousness; see, I have taken the jewels out of my crown to bedeck them; the garments from my own back to cover them, and the 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 sinner than this? Jesus Christ the righteous stands up to plead for me, and pleads his righteousness; and mark, he does this not if I do not sin, but if I do sin. There is the beauty of my text. It does not say—“If any man do not sin we have an advocate;” but “if any man sin we have an 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 have still an advocate, because I am one of the any 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 be righteous we have an advocate;” it is not—“If any man be prayerful, and careful, and godly, and walk scripturally, and in the light,” and so on, but “If any man sin we have an advocate.” Oh! my soul, there is the music of God’s heart in those words; music such as the prodigal heard at the festival which welcomed his return. “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Every day I find it most healthy 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. I would seek to be perfect; I would strain after every virtue, and forsake every false way; but still, as to my standing before God, I find it happiest to sit where I sat when first 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 Christ as all in all.Charles Haddon Spurgeon