1 John 1:8-10, NASB, “8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
How would you respond to a person who purports to “have no sin”? Or who insists that he has “not sinned”? Evidently, such claims were being made in John’s day – ‘I have no sin; I am not, by nature, a sinner’ (v.8). And, in v.10, ‘I have not sinned in my actual behavior.’ And the apostle’s warnings are clear. Those who say they have no sin are deluded, and the truth is not in them. Those who say they have not sinned are blasphemous, and God’s word is not in them. Strong words, but true. For we are all sinful, both in our nature and in our behavior. And any assertions to the contrary must be firmly rejected.
Most of us are probably not tempted to make such outlandish claims as those addressed by John in vv.8 and 10. Most of us are probably not deluded enough, in other words, to deny our sins or our sinfulness wholesale (although if the shoe fits, receive John’s rebuke). But let us beware of the lesser (but still serious) folly of trying to deny, excuse, or explain away certain particular sins in our lives and/or sinful propensities in our natures.
And let us notice that, tucked in between these two warnings against the denial of sin, is a wonderful promise for the person who confesses his or her sins to the Lord; for the person who repents of them and seeks cleansing in the blood of Christ! What blessing flows to the one who says, ‘Yes, Lord, I am a sinner; a breaker of Your law. I “fall short of the glory of God” and, Lord, here are the ways I have done so. Forgive me, Father, in the name of Your Son. Wash me in His blood.’ Such a person will be forgiven of sin and cleansed from all unrighteousness (v.9)!
And observe that the forgiveness and cleansing are grounded in two marvelous attributes of God – His faithfulness and His righteousness.
God, who is always faithful to His word and His people, will be “faithful” (v.9) to the person who offers up repentant confession! He has promised to forgive and to cleanse those who come to Him in repenting, believing confession of sin. And will He not follow through on that promise?
“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
(Numbers 23:19, NASB).
Of course not! And so we can be sure that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful … to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (emphasis added).
And not only is God faithful to forgive and cleanse the penitent, but He is also, says John, “righteous” in doing so! He is not like the shady store clerk who doesn’t charge you sales tax and winks to let you know you’re getting away with breaking the rules. No! The God of heaven is “righteous” when He forgives and cleanses repentant sinners! He’s doing right when He lets them go free. He’s upholding His justice, not breaking the rules. And how can forgiving a confessed sinner be commensurate with God’s justice? Because Christ has died to pay that sinner’s debt! And, his or her sin debt having been paid, it is only just that God forgives that debt! He could not do otherwise and still be just!
Is this not wonderful news? That God is both faithful and righteous to forgive and cleanse those who confess to Him with a heart of repentance and faith?
So I ask you, reader: Are you among those who have come to God confessing your sins, and seeking cleansing in Christ? Do you continually confess them? Is there any sin that you need to confess and repent of, even today, perhaps even at this moment? Take God at His word, and do so! “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org.