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
Christ was made sin for the world, taking the punishment we deserve in His body on the cross, and the veil of the temple was rent in two, from top to bottom, removing forever the barrier that separated sinful man from a holy God. Christ’s sacrificial death opened up the way for all who believe on His name, to approach God’s throne of grace and enjoy sweet fellowship with the Father.
Although union with the Lord can never be broken, lost or removed for all who are in Christ Jesus, fellowship with God and sweet communion with Him can be broken, when sin rears its ugly head in our lives. Each time we sin, fellowship must be restored and John outlines his “fellowship formula” at the start of his first epistle.
But ingrained, religious tradition often causes us to misappropriate John’s teaching, or self-imposed perceptions of what John writes can result in incorrect application. Verse 9 outlines the condition for regaining our lost fellowship: If we confess our sins… If we honestly confess our sins to the Father, He will forgive us and restore our fellowship.
The whole of first John chapter 1, is moving towards this vital point. If we honestly confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. If we confess our sins, He is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we confess our sins, God us faithful to re-establish fellowship with His children.
But what does it actually mean “to confess” our sin? Well, confess means name them. All we have to do is name our sins, and by His grace, He will forgive our sins and restore us back into fellowship with Himself. But think about it.. there is one great big, huge stumbling block. What do we mean by sin. What is sin, and how can it be measured in a world of slide-rule relativity?
One denomination sees sin as non-compliance with their self-imposed regulations. Another meets out punishment or penance on a sliding scale of bad to very bad. Legalism says do this, or do that, or you are not acceptable to our congregation, or by God. License says you do as you please for the more we sin the more grace is displayed. A seared conscience makes excuses for a selfish attitude, thoughtless words, displays of anger. Reason justifies behaviour as morally acceptable – arguing a right principled course.
But there is only one standard for sin and that is God’s standard, which is His Word – and Jesus is the perfect example of His standard. For the Christian that standard in generally laid out in the Pauline Epistles. Scripture is our standard and Christ is our example. When we do sin we need to confess our sins by God’s standard and then leave them behind. When we sin we need to confess our sins and then trust His word and accept His grace – for if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – and to restore us back into fellowship.
Man’s standard for sin will keep believers bound by sin, indifferent to sin or ignorant of sin, while God’s standard for sin is out of our reach. But God sent His Son to pay the price for our sin, so that all who believe on Him would have their sins forgiven forever. The sin barrier that separated us from God is removed forever, to those who are in Christ Jesus. Let us keep a short reign on the sins we do commit, by confessing them to our Father, so that we may maintain sweet fellowship with Him, every passing moment.
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