When I was in high school, I busted out the rear glass of our truck. I played dumb. At the heart of it was that I was believing a lie about my dad – namely that he wouldn’t forgive me for what I had done. The reality was that I had ADVANCED forgiveness from my dad … that there was nothing I could do that would ever lead him to love me any less.
By virtue of who he was as my father, and because of his decision at the very beginning of my life to cancel any debt that ever existed between us, I had forgiveness in advance, if I would only go in and experience it.
Today, I want to affirm something absolutely critical about God for us, namely that we have advanced forgiveness. I want to show you that in 1 John. I want to show you why it’s so important and beautiful to live according to this truth. And I want to show you how that forgiveness is made possible.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous one. 2 He himself is the atoning sacrifice, for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world. – 1 John 1:9 – 2:2
Verse 9 begins, “If we confess our sins.”
You might be of the mindset that balks at the idea that you would need to confess sin at all. That is to say, you may question the very premise that a human being falls short of some standard that he or she is to live up to. This is an important thing to understand about the Bible’s view of the nature of man.
The Latin phrase “incurvatus in se” is often attributed to Augustine. It means “”turned/curved inward on oneself,” referring to a life lived for self rather than for God and others.
We don’t sin and therefore are sinful … we are sinful and therefore sin. By nature, this is what all human beings are, so there is sin to confess … sin that we do because sinful is what we are.
You may be of the mindset that confession of sin is just a one time thing. As in, “I confess I’m a sinner and have done terrible things, and now God I seek your forgiveness for it all.” There is certainly a first time this occurs, but it is not the only time this occurs.
To be a Christian is to grow in the awareness of the depth of one’s sin, grow in the awareness of the greatness of God’s holiness, and thereby grow in one’s understanding and gratitude for the cross of Jesus who reconciles sinful people with a holy God. By the grace of God through the power of the Spirit, we strive to sin less and be more like the One who saved us, but our awareness of our sin problem only increases as we mature, thereby leading us to confess our sin and give thanks for Christ.
So, authentic Christian living is an honest and ongoing acknowledgement of one’s sins.
This leads us to the next question that comes from the text: Why do we confess? We’ll look at that in our next post.
Rob is Teaching Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.