1Jn 1:8-10 “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.”
In the seventh verse of this letter, John has just declared to us that it is Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all sin. Other than Jesus, no man has ever been conceived who was not guilty of sin. Sin is an inherent part of our human nature (Rom 8:3). David declared that we are conceived in sin (Psa 51:5). If we claim that we have no sin (notice the present tense), we are fooling no one but ourselves. We cannot recognize truth until we acknowledge that we are sinners. As long as we continue in the delusion that we do not need redemption from sin, we cannot confess our need and love for our Savior.
There is no greater sorrow in a believer’s life than to come face to face with the truth of his or her own sin. I know in my own experience, my heart was completely broken when I was made to see my sinful nature. In that vision, I also saw the great suffering of a man named Jesus so that I would not be chargeable for that sinful nature. On the heels of this great sorrow came the greatest joy any sinner could ever have; the knowledge that his sins are forgiven.
My confession of my sin did not cause me to be a sinner; I was already that by my nature. My confession of my sin did not cause Jesus to forgive me or cleanse me; He has already done that according to His nature. The confession of our sins does not cause His forgiveness and cleansing to be effectual. When we confess our sins, we then experience the truth that we are forgiven and cleansed. Only by keeping certain basic truths firmly in view can we rightly understand this teaching.
We were already chosen in Him before the world was made (Eph 1:4). He has made us accepted (Eph 1:6). He loved us before we loved Him (1Jn 4-19). He died for us while we were yet in our sins (Rom 5:6). We cannot come to Him on our own; we must be drawn by the Father (Joh 6:44). We cannot approach the Father without Jesus (Joh 14:6). Without Him, we can do nothing (Joh 15:5), and that includes confessing our sins. By the same token, with Him I can do all things (Php 4:13) including confessing that I am a sinner and undone without Him. The fruit of confession is the peace in knowing He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us.
I must recognize my present state of sin, and I must recognize that I have always been a sinner. If I say that there was ever a time when I was not a sinner, then I make Him a liar. Again, we know that no man can truly cause God (who cannot lie) to tell a lie. So we do not make Him a liar in any factual sense. John is, again, describing the state of our experience. Can you imagine calling the Creator of the universe a liar? Yet, until we recognize our own sin, that is exactly what we do.
Beloved, we should be so thankful when the Holy Spirit convinces and convicts us or our sinful nature. Then we can begin to hold the truth of God in our hearts. We can speak His words of life because we know that He has saved us from death. The wages of sin is death, but since Jesus destroyed sin there is no wage due sin. His word is life and joy! Do you believe that those who live and believe on Jesus will never die (Joh 11:26)?
May we, with contrite hearts, confess that we have sinned and remain sinners today so that we may truly rejoice in the manifest work of Jesus Christ in our lives!