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September 12, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world."—1 John 2:1–2 (NLT)
Have you ever seen those memes that show “What my friends think I do,” “What my mom thinks I do,” “What I think I do,” and “What I actually do”? At its core, these memes are all about expectations vs. reality.
I truly believe the war between expectations and reality is killer. With my kids, I’m very good at telling them what I expect them to do and how I expect them to behave. I’m also very good at sharing expectations, but I’m not as good as dealing with reality when it inevitably comes and they start fighting at the dinner table or throwing a tantrum in public. Am I alone in this? I don’t prepare them as well for how to react and recover when they don’t meet those lofty expectations.
I also do this with my own life, too. I expect to look like Thor by January, but what happens when the reality hits and I’m still rockin’ a dad bod come New Year’s Day?
As believers, I think we make this mistake a lot with both ourselves and fellow Christians. We say, “As believers, we shouldn’t sin, we should live like Jesus did, we should be pillars of holiness like Paul and John and James.” That’s the expectation . . . but what happens when we don’t meet it? What happens when we find ourselves daily failing to live up to these expectations? How do we react? How do we recover? For many, discouragement, cynicism, and apathy take over. But according to John, they don’t have to!
In today’s verse, the apostle shares the expectation: “I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.” But then he shares this amazing, beautiful piece of reality we can all cling to: “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins” (1 John 2:1 NLT). Wow!
We strive to live like Christ, to be holy, righteous, and perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). But, as Paul writes in Romans 7, our sin nature still exists and fights against our new nature, and we fail. We can be encouraged the Lord still loves us, that we have an advocate who intercedes on our behalf, who has covered us with His righteousness and His holiness. This should compel us and inspire us even more to live for His glory and to walk in His light!
DIG: Have you ever had expectations that weren’t met? How did you react? What did you do to recover from it? How did you adjust to reality?
DISCOVER: How has the advocacy of Christ impacted the way you view your own walk?
DO: Thank the Lord for the advocacy of Christ Jesus in your life, and ask Him to search your heart for any areas that need intercession.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.