Richard Lovelace, Renewal as a Way of Life, 160:
“Often [Satan] first tempts us to walk in the flesh and then holds this up to us in accusation to drive us into despair. This strategy is transparently simple, but maddeningly effective.”
Here it is. Satan’s simple, but maddeningly effective strategy in two steps:
Step 1: Get Christian to sin.
Step 2: Get Christian to despair about it indefinitely. Certainly don’t let him see that the cross is there for this very reason.
No one is surprised by the first step. Of course he wants us to sin. But the second step is where we’re often deceived.
But 1 John 2:1 gives us an alternative here. “I’m writing these things that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” God’s simple, but joyfully effective strategy in this verse has two parts.
Part 1: “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” That’s not a surprise. But Satan’s strategy is for us to think this is simply the whole of God’s message to us. It’s easy for us to think this is the sum of the Christian life. Don’t sin. But what if Satan’s first step is successful (it often is, of course)? He takes us right to his own second step of despair and leaves us there. But to stay in despair is to pretend there’s no cross, no advocate.
Thus, Part 2: “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” No need to despair. No need to feel like a sinful slug the rest of the day. Or, if you do, you can be a happy, redeemed, sinful slug with an Advocate. I’ll take that.