We are all sinners. We all need forgiveness. “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean,” David prayed. “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice” (Ps. 51:7–8). This psalm shows how God views sin, as well as the joy we experience at His forgiveness. When our sins are forgiven, we are relieved of their weight. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:12).
John teaches that, as believers, we walk in the light. But that doesn’t mean we’ll never sin. In fact, we definitely will sin (v. 8). Again, this fact is framed as a conditional for emphasis: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves.” Yes, we’ve been saved from the power of sin, but no, we’re not perfect yet.
What should we do when we sin? Confess and repent (v. 9). Those who walk in the light don’t simply admit their sin to God. We grieve over it and turn forcefully away from it, hating our sin as He does. When we do so, God is “faithful and just” and forgives us—”faithful” because His love is unconditional, and “just” because Christ has already paid the price. When God forgives, He not only chooses to forget the sin (Isa. 43:25) but also purifies and cleanses us as part of His work of sanctification.
To declare we never need forgiveness would be to call God a liar (v. 10). Notice the repetition of the word “if” in these three verses. It’s a certainty that we will occasionally stumble and fall. To claim perfection shows that “his word is not in us” and that we’re not really part of His family.
>> The forgiveness we first received in Christ is the same forgiveness available to us today, whenever we sin. Thank God for this and make confession a daily part of your time with Him.
Holy Father, thank You for Your unfailing forgiveness and love. Diminish our pleasure in wrongdoing and make us grieve over our sin. In all ways, help us turn away from evil and pursue good.