In our last post, we looked at confession based on 1 John 1:9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The point of confession is not to inform God of who we are and what we’ve done.
The point of confession is to experience who God is (faithful, righteous) and what He has done (forgive and cleanse).
This is what I meant earlier when I was talking about advanced forgiveness. The Bible tells us exactly what we will find and experience if we confess.
Holly and I are planning on going on a vacation for a few days for our anniversary, and we’re going somewhere neither of us have ever been. Before I reserved anything, you’d better believe I spent precious hours on Facebook pages, YouTube videos, Google reviews, and the like … trying to verify what the experience will be like if we go there. And it would appear, based on most accounts, that we’re going to have a great experience.
This is, in a way, what John is doing for us in our letter. He’s simply promising us, based on God’s word and his own experience as well, that to go to God in confession is to experience God as faithful and righteous and be forgiven and cleansed.
Now, let’s break all of those things down for a minute. We’ll start with what God does (forgive and cleanse), and then we’ll look at who God is (faithful and righteous/just).
According to this verse, there are two aspects of God’s response to people who confess their sins:
- God forgives our sins and
- God cleanses us from all the filth associated with it.
God’s forgiveness means that he no longer holds our sins against them; he cancels their ‘debt.’ God’s cleansing us ‘from all unrighteousness’ means that he removes the filth which our sins have produced.
Super cool fact here: Both verbs, being aorist subjunctive in form, portray forgiveness and purification as complete, rather than ongoing actions.
So here is the dynamic of the Christian life: Authentic Christian living is an honest and ongoing acknowledgement of one’s sin, coupled with the permanent and complete, once-and-for-all forgiveness and cleansing in Christ.
We’re not going into confession in order to get what we do not already have, but to experience what we already possess. This is what I meant earlier by advanced forgiveness. If we go in there, forgiveness and cleansing are guaranteed, so we effectively have it in advance.
So God forgives and cleanses. The debt is paid, and the filth is removed.
One of the things that’s super-important to me when it comes to a house is water pressure. I understand why plumbers and the government want to put a pressure valve on my house, but I also don’t care. I want water coming out of my shower head so hard that I have to lean in and brace myself a bit to take a shower.
And I’m the kind of father who, when my children were very little, when I had to get involved with washing their hair and what-not in the bath … I was the father who used mounds of shampoo and body wash on them just to make sure they were good and clean.
As a result, there is NO CHANCE that my kids are coming out of that shower dirty. NO. CHANCE. By virtue of the fact that the shower exists with amazing water pressure, all the tools and substances required for cleanliness, and my helicopter parenting, they are essentially clean before they even get in. They shower not to get what they do not have, but to experience what they already possess.
That’s what John is showing us here when it comes to confession. There is NO CHANCE we go into confession and come out still owing a debt or having a bit of “dirt” on us.
That’s what God does, but John also tells us who He is. He is FAITHFUL and RIGHTEOUS.
God is faithful to believers in that he is carrying through on his commitment to forgive and purify those who confess their sins. We’ll talk about HOW that happens in the next verses, but that’s what John means here when He says God is faithful. God is faithful to believers in that he is carrying through on his commitment to forgive and purify those who confess their sins.
God is not only faithful but also ‘righteous’ or ‘just’ (dikaios) when he forgives and cleanses those who confess their sins.
When John says that God is righteous when he forgives sin and cleanses us sinners, he means that in doing so God is acting righteously.
What seems to lie behind this is the problem of how God can be said to be righteous when he forgives the guilty. How can he be said to be righteous if He doesn’t punish sin?
The explanation to that is coming in chapter 2, so we’ll get there! But John just states it as a matter of fact here for us.
Rob is Teaching Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.