Very early in my pastoral ministry I was struggling with feelings of guilt and shame over the things that I had done in my life before I knew the Lord Jesus Christ, even things that I had done after I became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Before I knew Jesus I was not a very nice person. Not only did I use drugs but I also sold drugs. I was a user of people and very much fed my fleshly lust. In fact, when I started my pastoral ministry there were days when I was trying to study when I would be completely overwhelmed by a sense of guilt and shame over the things that I had done. Spiritual forces were present pointing out that I had no right to preach when I had done such awful things. It was so bad at times that I would break out into sweats and experience what I would now call an anxiety attack over my sins before I knew Jesus. It was guilt and shame over things that I had already confessed to God. But one day in my study I came across a very interesting word picture that spoke very forcefully into my heart and life is forever changed my response to these episodes. In 1 John 2:1 – 2 we read these words, “My little children, and if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world”, (NASB). These verses are chock-full of really good stuff. But what struck me the most was this word “Advocate”. It is the Greek word “Paracletos” and it means “one called alongside to help”. It is a similar term that is applied to the Holy Spirit. It really has the idea of us having an attorney present alongside of us to defend us. As I contemplated the significance of this judicial term I realized something that became very helpful to me when Satan would come to accuse me of things that I had done in the past. You see if you were in a court battle with someone and they were suing you certainly would not talk to that person what if they called to talk with you about their case. You would simply refer them to your attorney because he’s handling your case. When I started to apply this statement- “talk to my attorney”, I stopped experiencing these episodes of shame and guilt that had so overwhelmed my early days of ministry.
There is a very clear picture in the Old Testament of how Satan is in fact the accuser of the brethren. We read in the third chapter of the book of Zechariah these words, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy close”. Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you. Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head”. So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by”, (v.1-5 NIV). This passage clearly illustrates for us the battle that is going on in the heavenlies between Satan and our Advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember we are told in that first epistle of John’s that, ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”, (1 John 1:9 NASB). So if the devil accuses us of our past sins or other people so well it is important for us to refer them to our attorney who is handling our case. It’s also important for us to realize the importance of confession. If we haven’t confessed our sin and we’ve harden our heart to the Spirit’s conviction then we cannot call our attorney to our side. It’s imperative that we confess our sins to God and then as John tells us all of our sins will be cleansed away. Remember in the passage that was quoted earlier that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who has made propitiation for our sins. That means that He paid the penalty for our sins therefore removing the wrath of God by offering the gift of His blood on our behalf. He satisfied the wrath of God. Jesus died the death that was the just reward for our sins and therefore we can experience forgiveness because when Jesus’s blood is applied to any sin God can cleanse it and remove all unrighteousness from our lives. So the next time the old devil accuses you of some sin that you’ve already brought before the Lord Jesus Christ remind him that he may have a good case but he needs to “talk to your attorney” because He’s handling your case.
All praise to our Great Savior,
Pastor Rich Sivo