By Pastor Michael Harman
St. Johns Lutheran Church and School
There is great Christian comfort in First John 1:8-9. “If we say we have no sin, then 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 we have no SIN.” What is sin? Is it something defined by John? By the reader? By the sifting-sands of society or culture? No. The Writer who inspired John, the Holy Spirit, defines sin as unbelief. Unbelief that God is in charge and He makes the rules. Sin says, “I am in charge. I make the rules.” Like a pane of glass shattered by a rock that you can’t duct-tape back to its original beauty, when the very First Commandment is shattered, all nine follow.
“Then we deceive ourselves.” We feel we’re good enough. Maybe perfect. “It’s the OTHER people who sin,” sin says. Oh, really? “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time,” Abe Lincoln may have said. And you cannot fool the LORD – ever. To say we have no sin is like a stage IV cancer patient dying on a hospital bed saying he has no cancer. Perfectly holy God knows you are sin and do sin. By saying you have no sin there is no Truth, no Jesus, in you. No heaven for you.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just…” Even one spot of sin would keep us out of heaven! Will His divine justice CONDEMN us all? No! “He is faithful and just to FORGIVE us our sins!”
Why? Jesus. Jesus is why the Father forgives. Jesus, as true man, lived a flawless, sinless, faithful life in your place. He faced all the challenges, hurts, insults, loneliness, and other consequences of sin in your place without sinning Himself. Then He took all the penalties for all the broken-glass commandments you’ll ever shatter and suffered the Father’s wrath on a cross. He has to be 100% man to take our place under the Law, suffer, and die. He is also 100% God so His life and death would be a sufficient ransom and overcome death and the devil for us. He exchanges all your brokenness for His wholeness.
“And cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” ALL? The good you’ve failed to do? All forgiven. The hurts you’ve done to others in your self-righteous un-faith? All forgiven. The sins and rebellions you’ve done in secret? All cleansed. All the past? 100% cleansed. All the future? Perfectly pardoned. That treasure is yours by His grace through the gift of faith given by the Holy Spirit. No matter what you feel or don’t feel; or think or don’t think God’s treasure is there in the cross. Salvation, forgiveness, eternal life, and all the rest depend on Jesus Christ, not you. He works the faith in you to believe all this!
His cleansing gives comfort and spurs us to faith-filled, walking in the Light living!