Jesus, Our Advocate

The book of Hebrews starts by presenting Jesus as greater than the angels, greater than Moses, and all other mortals. The purpose of Hebrews is to help the Church transition from the Old Covenant of law to the New Covenant of grace. Under the Mosaic Law, the priests would continue offering sacrifices for sins. That is no longer necessary, because Jesus died once for all our sins (see Hebrews 7:23-24, Romans 6:6:10).

What is Jesus doing now? “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” (1 John 2:1). What follows is the testimony of someone who transitioned from the Old to the New Covenant.

 “For as long as I can remember I have struggled with extremely low self-esteem and a crippling lack of confidence. I remember writing several times in my diary when I was 15, ‘I hate myself. Why can’t I be like . . . [anyone other than myself]?’ I had a bleak outlook on my future and just figured I would never change. This entire time I was a born-again Christian and knew Christ had saved me at age seven. I was raised in a Bible-believing Christian home and church.

When going through the Steps to Freedom in Christ, I finally stepped back and saw that one of the major root causes of my horrible sense of embarrassment, crippling regret and shame was the legalistic form of Christianity in which I was raised. The difficult thing about legalism is that grace can appear to be preached, but what is acted out is judgmental, critical, perfectionistic and performance-based living. Finally, I began to understand that my relationship with God was not based on how early I got up in the morning to pray, or how well I knew my Bible, or how sin-free I managed to keep myself, or how committed I was to church activities.

“I had grown up with no comprehension of how to feel accepted by God just as I was, without having to first fulfill an impossible list of requirements. The whole thing was one big guilt trip. I was racked by guilt for not being able to pray the way I knew I should, for not feeling like God was hearing me, and for not enjoying reading the Bible. I felt obliged to be at every service, and I eagerly wanted people to think of me as holy, spiritually minded and a strong Christian, even though I wasn’t any of those things.

“The teaching I had received as a teen convinced me that God had abandoned me because of my struggle with particular sins. The verse, ‘If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18) rang in my ears every time I tried to pray. That left me in limbo-land: unable to pray and unable to stop sinning. Everyone was keeping up the pretense of perfection and holiness. No one let on that they were struggling with sin, or experiencing any lack of closeness to God.

She was a testimony to what Paul wrote in Galatians, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse” (verse 3:6). Thankfully, she became a living testimony that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us” (verse 3:13).

Dr. Neil

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