Comfort From 1 John

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)

This verse is a beautiful, comforting and assuring promise from God. To appreciate its value you must sit and reflect on what it is telling us. For it to be comforting you must believe that God will fulfill His promises. Let’s take a closer look at this verse and unlock its power in our hearts. 

This verse is telling us God will do two things; forgive us and cleanse us. Why?  God’s word tells us that we are “unrighteous”. This is the first part we must believe to be comforted by this passage. We have to believe that we are unrighteous, sinful, unclean, dirty or whatever other adjective that you want to use. If you do not believe that you are a wretch and stench before the eyes of God, this verse will not be helpful. If you do not believe that your actions are disobedient to God and that you are not “good” before God, then this verse has no value. We must come to the realization that we are prideful, arrogant, selfish, etc. and deserve hell for our punishment. Our opinion of ourselves should be truthful and honest. Once we have this realization then we can see the necessity for this verse. If we think we are good or decent or not that bad, then this verse will be pointless to you. 

Next, we will look at what God will do...forgive and cleanse. But why both of these? Why forgiving and cleaning? Why is that so important? Could He not just say, “Don’t worry about it?” or “You didn’t kill anyone, your good.”? The forgiving is because our sin is against God. Every selfish action, word or thought is a direct assault on God’s character and command. When we sin, we are not just disobeying Him. We are being faithless, unloving and calling God a liar. Whenever we do something wrong, we seek forgiveness from the one we offended or wronged. So He is the one we need to receive forgiveness from. 

But more than forgiveness, we also need to be cleansed. This is to give us a visual of what affect sin has on us and how we look to God in our sinful state. Too many times we think of sin as our actions. Yet sin is a nature, it is who we are, we are sinners! We are born with the inkling, the desire, the will to do what we want and to drive God away. As such we are dirty before Him. Even if we are doing absolutely nothing, we are still detestable in His sight. If we reduce our sin to just actions we are doing , then sin is something we can correct and change. But if it is a nature, if it is deeper than just our actions. If it is who we are, then we can’t just change ourselves. We need God to transform us i.e. cleanse us!

Now after having a sober look at our true self, it is sometimes hard to believe that God would ever do anything for our benefit. So John makes sure to remind us of two things that we must not forget...He is faithful and just. We often need to be reminded of His faithfulness. Christians may not say God is unfaithful but we do at times doubt what is promised. There are definitely moments where we are not confident He will follow through. How many times do you pray and get the answer we don’t want? Or instead of an answer to your prayers you receive silence? How many times do you wonder if He is there? If He is listening? How many times do you doubt His power as you struggle? Because of these doubts John reminds us He is faithful. He promised to cleanse and forgive you, so He will. There is no need to doubt, there is no need to wonder. There is no reason whatsoever to question or hesitate about this. He will forgive! You don’t have to prove yourself. You don’t have to change and be good enough beforehand. He will forgive. 

He also is just. John is bringing to our attention that He is the judge of the universe. As such, God always does what is just and correct. That is part of His character. He cannot do otherwise. So when He forgives us He is not doing something sneaky or underhanded. We will be more than just forgiven, we will be legally justified i.e. we will be righteous. While we realize how wrong our sinfulness is, it is important to remember that we will be justified in Christ. 

How is all of this accomplished? By simply asking God! It is as easy as it sounds. So many times we think it is more than just that. We tell ourselves we have to really mean it, or we have to have tears in our eyes, or we have to go to an altar call, or we have to be prostrate on the floor etc. But all of this is accomplished in Christ, not us. Therefore we just simply have to ask and He promises us to forgive and cleanse us. 

Now, instead of looking to yourself; instead of reflecting on your actions; instead of assuming anything about your relationship with God; instead of going by your feelings; instead of focusing on your failures and shortcomings...focus on Christ. Believe this promise in 1 John. Find freedom, joy and relief in what God is saying. Think about this; if you already asked God to forgive you then you are forgiven and cleansed. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t think God is mad at you. Don’t think you don’t deserve His blessings. Don’t think about anything! Instead, believe that He has forgiven you and you are as white as snow because God is faithful and just.

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