Friday, 13 March 2020
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
In the previous verse, John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” There the word is in the singular. It is speaking of the state of man in a general sense. Now John says, “If we confess our sins.”
This verse, 1 John 1:9, is strategically placed between two antithetical proclamations –
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10
The premise of coming to Christ is that a person is acknowledging he is a sinner. There is no other need to call on Christ. Thus, a person who does so is admitting he has sin – exactly as 1 Corinthians 15 states. Paul says in his description of the gospel “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” In believing the gospel, we are confessing our sins, and in doing so, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”
The state of man is one where he is born into original sin, and as soon as he is old enough to think, he begins to sin in his mind (lust, coveting, etc) and then in his actions (lying, stealing, etc). This state of sin forms a wall of separation between us and God. However, in believing the gospel, meaning that Christ died for our sins, we are acknowledging this state and believing that God sent the remedy for it. In our belief and acceptance of this message, God faithfully and righteously grants us forgiveness for our sins – all of them.
From there, John says that He does this, but in His righteousness, He will also “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is the state into which the believer is brought. God judicially declares man to be free of the guilt of sin, but he also cleanses us from the stain of that sin. This continues forever due to the non-imputation of further sin as Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 5:19.
In Christ, the believer is forgiven and cleansed. However, though not imputed sin, we still err while in these bodies, and we need ongoing cleansing from our sin for right fellowship with God. We have sinned, we continue to sin, but Christ has forgiven us, and Christ continues to cleanse us. This is the marvel of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.
Life application: We can compare 1 John 1:9 with other verses in the Bible. Here are two of numerous verses that state we have been forgiven in Christ –
“For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” 2 Peter 1:9
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” Colossians 2:13
Therefore, what John is speaking about in this verse is the complete forgiveness which comes at the moment of confession of Jesus as Lord, and an acknowledgment of our inability to save ourselves. The moment we do this, we are forgiven for all sins – past, present, and future.
We cannot look at this verse as an indication that a saved believer will remain unforgiven if he doesn’t acknowledge a sin after coming to Christ. Having said this, it is wholly appropriate to continue to confess our sins after salvation and to ask continued forgiveness, even though it is already granted. Our health, relationships, and general life can suffer from a lack of confession and a generally unrepentant attitude, even if our salvation remains unaffected.
Remember to have balance in your walk with the Lord, understanding that we are saved despite ourselves, but we should never flaunt our salvation and treat it as license to live in sin, thus bringing discredit upon His name. Continued confession and repentance are signs of a healthy spiritual life in Christ.
Heavenly Father! We thank You for the eternal forgiveness we were granted when Jesus first came into our lives. Because of His magnificent work, give us wisdom to remember to call on Him in repentance as we fail Him in our daily walk. We know that through this, we will be sound, responsible, and effective witnesses for Him each day. Amen.