I watched a TV show recently about a highly ambitious man in the legal field.
The man, let’s call him Mike, worked in the District Attorney’s Office, which is supposed champion justice and uphold the highest laws of the land.
In pursuit of his blind ambition, Mike begin to call in favors and got on the radar of some very dangerous people. He ended up endangering his family – his wife and his daughter.
I enjoy watching mysteries, crime dramas and serials, so this was totally up my alley.
What really fascinated me though, was Mike’s response to his wife’s attempts to fix their problems. Their daughter had been kidnapped, and his wife frantically ran around doing what she could to piece together the story and rescue their daughter.
How did Mike respond? He blamed and accused his wife for her efforts, as though she were at fault for everything falling apart.
Even though Mike started the chain of events due to his greed for power, and his unhealthy ambition endangered his family, he could not recognize or accept that. Mike refused to take responsibility and blamed people, lashing out angrily at everyone but himself.
Prosecution seeks punishment
The Defense Attorney’s Office is primarily about prosecution. Prosecution is about seeking punishment for the guilty at whose feet lies the blame for an offence or criminal conduct.
Under the law, to prosecute is, according to the Webster’s 1913 dictionary:
To pursue with the intention of punishing;
To accuse of some crime or breach of law, or to pursue for redress or punishment, before a legal tribunal…judicially…
To prosecute a man for trespass…
The goal of prosecution is to redress and punish some wrong; to carry on a judicial proceeding on behalf of a complaining party; it is the process of exhibiting formal charges against an offender before a legal tribunal, and pursuing them to final judgment on behalf of the state or government, as by indictment or information.
Mike’s greed, personality and unhealthy, out-of-control desire for power, led him to lose his family and ultimately his own life. From a spiritual perspective, Satan caused Mike to stumble because of the unquenchable need in his life for power.
What may have looked like a blessing turned out to be his downfall where the enemy actually used that to put him in a position where he could actually destroy his family.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. John 10:10
Now, I’m not taking a cheap shot at lawyers – they already get quite a bad rap even when they do a good job. And there are good, healthy and positive kinds of ambition.
God is a Good and Just Judge
God is, after all, a judge. Importantly, God is not a crooked judge.
He does not looks the other way and pretends that the crime didn’t happen, or that the punishment for the crime doesn’t need to be served. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God approached them.
Even though God knows everything, He connected with them and asked them what had happened.
God didn’t show up guns blazing, ready to destroy humanity. He came with compassion and justice, but He didn’t hesitate to address the problem that had crept in with the serpent.
When Adam and Eve were hiding, God confronted the problem. He dealt out the penalty that justice required, but He gave them hope, a promise of how the price would be finally and fully paid.
God didn’t just leave them naked and ashamed. He killed the first animal, and covered their shame and nakedness. God is a judge who doesn’t look the other way when there is a price that needs to be paid.
Judgement Demands the Price of Justice
The story is told of a judge whose son breaks the law, committing a terrible crime.
Pained as he is, the judge is firm in following due process and upholds the full extent of the law, passing the guilty verdict on his son and pronouncing the due penalty. There is a fine, a price that needs to be paid.
After passing the verdict, the judge steps out from his chair of judgement, and removing his robe, goes into the box with his accused son and says, I will pay that price, you take my innocence instead.
The judge pays the full penalty to fulfill the demands of the law his son has broken.
It’s a beautiful illustration of the righteousness and mercy of God. He is loving and just. He is a just judge and a loving father.
Only God is Good
But also note this: the son did not become a judge in that story.
God (the judge) could take the son’s place but the son was it no position to take God’s (the judge’s) place as judge and jury to his or anyone else’s sin.
Humanity often attempts to rewrite the law in our fallen image, to reshape the demands of truth and justice.
But only God is good, Jesus said in Mark 10:18. No one and nothing can take the place of God. Only He is truly honest, justice-seeking, loving and merciful.
The Bible contains a lot of courtroom imagery, ideas and language – talking about the courts of heaven, and Jesus as our advocate. When sin is committed, the law is broken. it’s the principle of sowing and reaping. Where there is sin, there is a penalty due – the Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death.
Christ is our advocate
What does an advocate do? An advocate is one called to another’s aid.
pleads in favor of;
defends by argument, before a tribunal or the public;
supports, vindicates, or recommends publicly.
The Webster’s 1913 further defines advocate as Christ, considered as an intercessor.
Jesus stands in our place and makes our plea before God. He declares that, yes, we have sinned. He does not ask the father to overlook our sin – Jesus asks God to look at the price that has been paid for our sin.
He himself is the evidence that the price has been paid.
So we have an advocate in Christ, in the heavenly courtrooms.
But we also have, as in standard court proceedings, a prosecutor.
Satan, the accuser of the brethren, comes forward to condemn, and to accuse. He comes to complain, to put forth formal charges against us, the offenders of the eternal law of God, and to seek punishment for the crime – the sin, the missing the mark and the falling short – of which we were once guilty.
Jesus is our advocate who defends us in the heavenly court and covers our sin with his blood.
The penalty has been paid
The penalty has been paid to the full extent of the law. The wages of sin is death, and Christ paid with His life, divinely exchanging our sin for his innocence.
Therefore, the Bible tells us, God rebukes Satan and refutes his accusations and condemnation against us.
This is the right standing that we have in Christ – that in Christ, God refuses to acknowledge Satan’s accusations against us because our sin was nailed to the cross with Christ.
Satan the prosecutor no longer has a case against. The judgement was passed and justice satisfied, therefore his case is thrown out because the price has already been paid.
We often vacillate when it comes to our sin and God’s grace and forgiveness, wondering:
Have I really been forgiven?
What does God really think of me?
Am I accepted?
Am I forgiven?
Playing the devil’s advocate
The principle behind being “the devil’s advocate” is about looking at an issue from multiple angles and different sides.
It isn’t about denying the existence of the problem, but challenging conventions and seeking creative solutions.
God looked at the problem of sin as the eternal and holy judge. Sin was a problem that He could not just let slide.
And then, God switched perspectives. Looking at the problem of sin from the point of creation, He recognized that there was no way that humanity could pay the price for the sin. No way to bridge the divide, to pay the price of rebellion and sin against God, His authority and His law.
Jesus is sympathetic to our cause
God stepped out of his position, and came into ours, sympathizing with human frailty and weakness. The word became flesh, and dwelt among us. John 1:14
We can take comfort in this – that we are fully and truly forgiven.
God doesn’t vacillate and think twice about whether we are forgiven or not, because it’s already done – the price is already paid! Christ already died. He already lost His life for our sake. He has already triumphed over sin and death. God dismisses Satan’s claims and accusations against you, as you stand in Christ.
We are completely covered by His blood. Romans 8 declares that no who can condemn you. The only one who could is Christ Himself, who now stands at the Father’s side, interceding for you.
If God is for us, who can be against us? Jesus, our advocate is right there interceding for us, and bringing our case before the courts and the throne room of heaven. Jesus declares us cleansed and whole and set free from sin, guilt, shame and the price tag that came with our sin bill.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
God the good, just and divine judge is looking at your case with favor.
Jesus the advocate is interceding on your behalf, sympathetic to your cause. His wounds are the receipt for the price paid for sin. Amends have been made.
God Himself is rejecting Satan’s accusations in the throne room of heaven. Satan has been cast down. The time is coming swiftly, when he will be completely cast out and thrown into the pit of fire.
This is the good news: God isn’t thinking twice about our salvation. Satan, sin and death have been defeated. No one in heaven is playing devil’s advocate about your salvation, your calling and your identity. There stands only Christ our advocate in the courts of heaven.