9 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–ESV)
This ninth verse is the antidote for the sins which Christians commit. Since we cannot achieve perfection before we die there must be a means to deal with our very real shortcomings. When we stumble into sin and out of fellowship the Holy Spirit will bring conviction. The right response to conviction is confession. When we take our sins to God, we will find that he has not changed, but is faithful to what he has promised.
John couples the word justice to that of faithfulness, which, at first glance, it may seem odd. We must not forget that long ago God coupled sin to death. Do one and get the other. God’s cannot just reverse his proclamations. The blood of Jesus Christ addresses the issue of justice. Penalty paid, justice maintained, and forgiveness can be granted.
10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:10–ESV)
The final falsehood John folds into this section addresses Christ claimers who are sin deniers. Some will come along who report that their fellowship with God has never been tarnished because they have not even sinned. In John’s day, some people would divorce the spiritual world from the physical world. They categorized the material/physical world as evil and the spirit world as good. By this approach, they split their sins into the physical world eliminating its implications for them.
God does not grant such divorces, however. The heavens, the earth, and all that is in them are of his making. He makes the rules and regulations and eloquent human beings have no means to re-write them. When people do so, they imply that God lied. They say that God’s descriptions and solutions are in error. That will never work out too well for them.
Granular view of how people see their sin
Everything boils down to this: people want to do things their own way. When God declares one behavior as evil people make excuses. Look at how John shows them. Some go on about their evil deeds denying it has any impact on their relationship with God. That is verse 6. Others report that they have finished sinning. Those are over and done with residing in the past. That is verse 8. A final group of people, those of verse 10, discards the sins by placing them beneath them.
What about you and I? Do we claim our sins are irrelevant, or behind us, or beneath us? If we do, we are in hot water with God.
Here is something that should be a truism: the right approach is to accept God’s approach.
- That we have sinned real sins
- The penalty of sin is a real death
- Justice is satisfied since God has paid the penalty