When I first got overwhelmed with the grace of God, I was a burned out Christian. I had tried and tried to live a good and successful Christian life, and the more I tried, the more I saw my failures. I felt like a failure as a Christian, felt it was hopeless that I could ever succeed in being holy, and I just quit. I truly burned out and gave up on trying to be a good Christian. Then I was introduced to the idea of God's grace, something I had never really grasped before! And my life was changed! One book I read back then when God first taught me about grace was the wonderful book Classic Christianity, In it, author Bob George say that "Grace is the unconditional love of God manifested to us in the midst of our sinfulness." This really stuck with me because I felt so sinful and like I was always failing in what I was 'supposed' to do as a Christian, and I really wondered how God could ever love or accept me when I failed so much. And then I found out that God really does love me, even when I'm sinning! I found out about grace!
Grace is God's love that is undeserved. That means it comes to us even when we don't deserve it, that is, when we sin, fail, disobey, doubt, rant and rave, rebel, struggle, crash and burn!! THAT is when grace comes into its own! Grace is love for the unlovely, acceptance for the unacceptable, friendship with the unfriendly! I think this is my favorite thing about grace and what makes grace so wonderful and important in our lives - grace comes to us when we're hopeless failures, and when we're hopeless failures is just when we need grace the most!
It's when we fail that we feel so weak, start to have negative thoughts about ourselves and get down on ourselves for being such dirty, rotten failures. Satan often comes and attacks at those moments of failure with thoughts of guilt, condemnation, self-loathing, shame and worthlessness. He tries to tell us there is no way God could love us, that we are far from God, that God is disgusted and disappointed with us, that God is angry and wanting us to 'shape up or ship out', and on and on.
And right then, in that place of feeling like such a failure and feeling so far from God, so displeasing in His sight, so unacceptable and out of fellowship and 'not right' with Him, right at that moment is when we so desperately need the message of grace and often is when God reveals it! It's like a little voice saying, "I love you right now, as you are, where you are. I love you, I love you, I love you." And it is unbelievable! It brings such relief to know He loves us and accepts us and speaks to us, is close to us, even in the midst of our sinfulness!
1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2
Let's look at these verses to see God's attitude toward us when we sin. First, what are we called here? We are called dear children! That's a term of love and affection! Next, what does the verse say we have if we sin? We have an advocate with the Father. What is an advocate?
Here is a definition for an advocate from the King James Version Dictionary:
One who defends, vindicates, or espouses a cause, by argument; one who is friendly to; as, an advocate for peace, or for the oppressed. In scripture, Christ is called an advocate for his people: "We have an advocate with the father." 1John, 2.
Here we see that Christ is our defender who comes to our aid when we need help. He espouses or takes up our cause for us. He is our friend who comes to help us when we fail and need support and encouragement. He is an advocate defending our position of peace when we are oppressed. Christ is an advocate with whom? With the Father. Notice it doesn't say against the Father! The Father is not against us! The Father is for us! Notice that in the next verse it says that Christ is what for our sins? He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, the propitiation - which just means satisfaction. In other words, God is satisfied with the sacrifice of the Son for your sins! He isn't mad, at odds with you, against you or judging you! He is satisfied with the work Jesus did to take away your sins, and He was the One who sent Jesus in the first place, because He loved you and was on your side and wanted to get rid of your sins and the ruin they caused in your life! So notice that, that the Father and Jesus are on the same side in this verse!
Jesus is an Advocate WITH the Father for us! Jesus isn't defending us against the FATHER'S accusations! The Father isn't the accuser! Who is the accuser of the brethren? The devil! We see that as an Advocate, Jesus stands up for the peace of the oppressed. The Father isn't an oppressor! Who is the oppressor? Once again, it is our enemy, the devil! So in these verses, Jesus joins the Father in standing up for us against the accusations and oppressions that Satan tries to put on us, thoughts of guilt and condemnation and shame, feelings that the Father is angry or distant, feeling we are not accepted or loved, feelings we deserve punishment and God is going to 'get us.' All these are accusations the devil throws at us, and Jesus and the Father are on our side as our Friends to defend us, stand up for us, help and comfort us, and support the fact that 'we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
After we sin, when the enemy may be attacking us with feelings of failure and shame and estrangement from God, Jesus and the Father are right there with you saying, "This beloved child is in total peace with Me because of the blood shed by the Son! There is nothing wrong in our relationship! We love and accept this one and nothing is between us, because the Son's death cleared away all this one's sin and guilt and punishment!"
Right when you sin, hear the message of grace - there is no condemnation on you, God loves and accepts you, and the work of the Son is effective on your behalf and has taken away your sin, God is totally satisfied with Jesus' work, and there is complete peace between you and God! You are loved, you are supported, you have a friend on your side right when you sin! Every time you sin! No matter how often, and no matter how many times you do the same sin over and over, it doesn't matter, He is still your Advocate (Supporter, Helper, Friend, Comforter) with the Father - so that means God loves you, is your Friend and is accepting toward you, helping and supporting you even when you fail. When you fail, God isn't standing by to yell at you! He is standing by (another meaning of the word Advocate) to comfort and help and heal! "With grace, failure doesn't make any difference." (David Seamands) Our failures don't affect His love for us!