The Advocate does two things: He pleads with the Father for us; He applies the word to us. The one maintains our cause if we sin, before the Father, against the accuser; the other brings up our practical state to our standing, which is always maintained without sin by the righteous Advocate, who has made propitiation. The failure in our practical state is from the fact of our having two natures in one person. “With the mind I myself serve the law of God, with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:25.) And though by faith, and in spirit, we are no longer in the flesh, yet actually it is in us (though by faith we reckon it dead), hence the failure. There is no excuse, but the fact is, we fail. Our standing as children ever remains the same, even though we sin, owing to the righteous Advocate who has made propitiation.
“If any man sin, we have an advocate.” But we have failed in our practical stat—we are defiled. Our bodies are washed with pure water, this is true (Hebrews 10:22); we have had once the washing of resurrection (Titus 3:5); we are born again (John 3:3); we need not then be put into the bath over again.
But we have sinned, we have got our feet defiled, as it were, in passing through this sin-defiling world. This will not do for the Father’s presence. What does the Advocate do? He applies the word to us, washes our feet, and leads us to confession and self-judgment. The remembrance of our Advocate, who made propitiation, leads us back on our knees to our Father, who forgives us, and cleanses us from all our unrighteousness. We are cleansed according to what He is as the righteous One in the Father’s presence. This is cleansing by the water of the word, not by blood, which is never repeated. It is the application of the death of Christ, through the word, to moral defilement from the root of sin. Thus, the blessed work of the Advocate is, on the one hand, to plead for the children before the Father if they sin; on the other hand, to wash their feet with the word, to bring their practical walk and state up to their standing before Him.
How happy for us to be associated with the blessed Advocate! On the one hand pleading for our brethren if they sin; on the other hand, carrying the word to them and washing their feet. May the Lord grant increasingly this grace, so that the saints may see their blessed privilege of love to cover sins (Proverbs 10:12), plead for their brethren if they sin, and act in faithfulness to them, in carrying the word to them, washing their feet, so that they may be cleansed from the defilement; these last, overcoming the accuser by the blood of the Lamb, on the one hand, if they sin, and on the other hand, openly resisting him by the word of their testimony, like the blessed Lord Jesus Himself. He answered the devil when tempting Him to sin, by saying, “It is written.” So should we. If we sin, thank God, we can always answer Him by the blood of the Lamb, which is the balm for every wound.
The blood of the Lamb and the word, the sword of the Spirit, are our instruments against the devil down here, whilst the Advocate maintains our cause before the Father up in heaven. Thus, in every case we are maintained, and are overcomers, “more than conquerors through him that loved us.”