An eighth-century Christian named Alcuin of York prayed: “Almighty and merciful God, the fountain of all goodness, who knows the thoughts of our hearts, we confess that we have sinned against you, and done what you see as evil. Wash us, we implore you, from the stains of our past sins, and give us grace and power to put away all hurtful things so that, being delivered from the bondage of sin, we may produce the good fruits of repentance.”
Today’s passage frames repentance in terms of three key truths. First, a foundational truth: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (v. 5; see 1 Tim. 6:16). What does this mean? He is holy; in Him there is no evil at all. He is truth; in Him there is no falsehood at all. He is perfect; in Him there is no flaw of any kind.
Second, an applied truth: We must walk in the light (vv. 6–7). Our lives are the evidence of our faith. If we claim to have a relationship with God but do not choose holiness and truth, we prove ourselves liars. Being God’s children means we need and want to be where He is and where fellow believers are. If we claim to have a relationship with God, it will also be seen in our unity and fellowship with one another.
Third, the truth of grace: Confession is an essential spiritual discipline (vv. 8–10). On our earthly pilgrimages, we’re unable to walk in the light perfectly. We still sin, and if we think otherwise we are self-deceived.
Thankfully, when we confess, He forgives, always! He is faithful and never gives up on us. He is just—Christ already paid the price. When we stray, He restores us and brings us back into the light (v. 9).
Are you regularly in the habit of confessing your sins? If yes, give thanks for God’s gift of forgiveness in Christ. If not, begin this spiritual habit. God already knows everything about us. Confessing and accepting His certain forgiveness is about removing all barriers to intimate fellowship with Him and with fellow believers.