1 John 1:8-10 ( NKJV ) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
As we have been studying how to maintain a sense of right standing with God in the face of sin, we have learned some powerful things from 1 John chapter one. We have looked at two of the steps laid out in these verses. Number one we must take responsibility for our sin. We can’t hide it or rationalize it and we can’t ignore it. Second we must confess our sin to God. I believe that this involves speaking the confession with our physical mouth. When we say it “in our head” I believe we have not released the sin to God. Confess means to agree and concede. We are agreeing with God that we have sinned and conceding that His way is right and ours is wrong.
The third step involves what God says His response to our confession will be. He will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. It doesn’t say we need to pay a price or do penance. It doesn’t say we have to suffer for a time or prove that we really mean it. It says that He immediately forgives the sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. This seems to good to be true but it is the Word of God.
Unrighteousness is the sense of guilt we carry that separates us from God. Our confession needs to be genuine. There needs to be some kind of remorse. It is not that we go to God and say, “Gee sorry about that.” There has to be more to it than that for it to be effective. The first two steps should lead us to the point that we see we are really wrong and God is really right. We are not “sorry we got caught” but sorry for the sin itself. We must have a desire to overcome this thing. We must desire to never do it again.
When our confession is genuine we must take God at His word. We are once again right with Him. He says we are. There may be feelings that say something else. We may want to try and pay for the transgression in some way. Don’t try. You can’t pay for it because the blood of Jesus already did. Instead step three is that we must receive by faith what God says He did. When the thoughts of guilt return you need to go back to this scripture and thank God that He is faithful to His word. Say, “I have been cleansed from guilt and condemnation by the Word of God.” You have done your part in taking responsibility for and confessing your sin. You need to believe that God will do His part.
What if we do the same thing again? You take responsibility and confess it to God. Doesn’t that mean I didn’t mean it in the first place? Only you know if that is true. If you are looking for a way to get away with sin you were never forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness. We all know, however, that there are times when stress, discouragement or any number of other things weaken our spiritual immune system where sin is concerned. When this happens the thing you are most likely to do is what you are familiar with. It is a lie of the devil but at the moment it seems familiar and welcoming.
Sooner or later you will come to your senses and you will feel the unrighteousness and you will feel separated from God. Let me ask you a question. Is it really somehow different if the sin you commit is a new one? Sin is sin. If your heart is honest it makes no difference at all. Every time you come to God with that sin is the first time if you have genuinely received the truth of this verse. You were forgiven and God chose to forget it.
It can seem like this is a way to keep sinning, but it is not. Every time you go through the process it weakens the grip of this thing. You are required to recognize it as wrong. As that truth grows so will your desire to overcome it. Don’t give up. Keep fighting. This is one more weapon that God has given you. The reason He has done so is that He loves you so much and can not bear to have you separated from Him.
Let me say once more that if your heart is to continue in sin, none of this applies to you. You need to genuinely repent. You need to get into God’s presence and into His word to learn how to overcome. You need to be with other believers who can inspire you to grow up in God. This is for those who really want to deal with the separation that sin causes. If that describes you, begin to apply this truth to your life and see how great a God we truly serve.
(I am in Indonesia for the month of March, so I am not sure how often I will be posting, but check back and see. I will try to share some of what God is doing as time and internet accessibility allows.)