"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. 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." (1 John 2:1-2)Sinlessness is within our grasp! Prior to Jesus, sin had dominion over us and we were slaves to its will. We were given to sin in obedience to it and, by it, handed over to death. Jesus came to set us free from our bondage to sin, to give us the power to say "No!" to sin, and by our freedom from sin to find new life with God in Christ Jesus. Paul put it this way, "You are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:16-18) Previously, we couldn't help but sin, now we have the freedom to chose righteousness. Previously, righteousness was impossible, now sinlessness is possible. For those struggling in sin, this is great news!.
However, achieving sinlessness is a process and it doesn't happen in a day. Along the way we will all stumble and fall many times, but, by the grace and power of God, we will learn to stumble less and to rise up after falling in a shorter period of time. Through all this, we have Jesus to help us. The Greek word for "advocate" can also mean a layer; one who pleads the case of one before another. When we do sin, Jesus advocates for us before the Father, securing our forgiveness and continued acceptance and right standing before God. He can do this because He alone is righteous and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins. The word "propitiation" simply means to atone, appease, or to satisfy the requirements of judgment. Jesus paid the price for our sins so He is worthy and able to plead our forgiveness before the Father. His life was the full payment for the full penalty of our sins and His propitiation leaves us righteous before God. His righteous life and sacrificial death covers all sin and guilt in our lives.
In the Jewish Tabernacle there was the Arc of the Covenant and above it, where the glory of God rested, was what was called the "Mercy Seat". The writer of Hebrews describes it as, "the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat." (Hebrews 9:3-5) The term "Mercy Seat" could as easily be translated as "the place of propitiation." Jesus is our mercy seat, the place where the glory of God rests and where His mercy triumphs over judgment. Inside the arc is, among other things, the law contained in ten commandments, but over the arc is the mercy seat where mercy and forgiveness reign. The law stands to judge us but Jesus sits to show us mercy and forgiveness.
The goal is sinlessness and the process is towards sinlessness, but along the way we will all stumble and fall. In times like these we must not be discouraged nor fear the face of God. Rather we must see Him sitting on His Mercy Seat, ready to forgo judgment in favor of mercy and forgiveness. For all who chose to draw near to Him, they shall find Him full of mercy, lovingkindness , and acceptance.