“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” I John 1:9
Perhaps this verse is one of the most quoted verses by Christians (after John 3:16) from the bible. One of the strange interpretations believed by so many is , according to this verse, If I sin, I merely go to God and say “I’m sorry” and my sin will be pardoned. It leaves us with the impression that “I can continue in this sin and all I have to do is practice this formula each time. This verse is my authority for believing such.” Unfortunately that is not what the verse means.
The context of that verse is found in verses 5-10, and it deals with the subject of walking in the light. Walking in the light means, walking in unbroken fellowship with God. Enjoying His presence, feasting on His word and speaking to Him in prayer. Verse seven says “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanseth us from all sin”. That word” cleanseth”, speaks of something that continually is happening as we walk in fellowship with Him.
Another marvel about this section is how it deals with the sin nature problem that never goes away. That being so there is the possibility that we may fail. Another verse in this book is found in chapter two verse one. We have the words, “My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not, (That is the ideal: do not sin.) And if any man sin, (But in case we do) we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous one”. Think of it like this: When we sin we are guilty of breaking the law, Jesus becomes our attorney, the one who never loses a case, and He pleads for us. We then receive forgiveness on the basis of Jesus being the one who is our advocate (attorney). God then declares us righteous. (That’s the meaning of the word Justification). Now back to the message.
Forgiveness has three important facets found in chapter one which are not obvious if you don’t read it carefully. The first part of forgiveness deals with the matter of confrontation. Usually when sin is committed guilt tales place. Thank God for the presence of guilt. Pity the man who never feels guilt over wrongdoing. The Holy Spirit uses guilt to remind us that some area of darkness has entered to hinder walking in the light. Guilt drives us to so something. It caused Adam to make fig leaves to cover himself. After guilt, God confronted him about the problem. The word confess means to say the same thing or agreeing with God. In Adam’s case, a lot of denying and making excuses preceded confessing that God was right. That’s what we do. We excuse our sin or blame someone else for it or even ignore it at times. When we do this forgiveness is not possible. We know that Adam eventually did the right thing because God forgave him, and the coats of skins were proof. David did the same thing .It was the Prophet Nathan, who was sent by God to confront him about His sin. David did not engage in making excuses. He confessed immediately and was forgiven, (there were serious consequences that followed...( He didn’t get off lightly with a mere slap on the wrists.) Guilt is the method used by the Holy Spirit to confront us about our sin. Its like watching a football game.. Everything goes smoothly until a foul has been committed and the whistle blows. It is then that the foul is dealt with, the penalty assesed, and the game continues.
The next part of forgiveness involves the word Confession. As we have mentioned, it means to agree with God. Admitting that He is right and we are wrong. This is where true repentance and sorrow for our sin takes place. It is where we come to understand the gravity of our ways. It means to see our sin with the way that God sees them. This is far from the meaning of reciting some formula to make the guilt go away. When we fail to confess, the feeling of guilt may disappear but the fact of guilt remains and peace will not come until true confession takes place.
We now come to the third part of forgiveness and it is described by the word determination. Once sin is confessed it should be accompanied by the determination to not go there again. “He that covereth his sin shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall find mercy. Proverbs 28:13.
True forgiveness involves all three aspects to become a reality. Consider David and His great sorrow over his sin, found in Psalm 51. Consider also the great freedom that came to him when he was forgiven. You can read this in Psalm 32.
God’s ultimate desire is for you to experience the Joy of unbroken fellowship. Don’t hinder that by taking forgiveness lightly. It cost Jesus His life and God did not take sin casually. Neither should we.