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Confession is Good for Your Soul

15 Jan

We tend to have a love/hate relationship with sin. Some declare that what they do in private is none of your business. Others keep copious notes documenting every last fault and failing. Some think God winks at sin. “He knows I’m human and is ok with my behavior,” is their refrain. Others think God’s standards are impossible to meet and give up trying to live a holy life.

There are those who reduce the Christian life to a bumper sticker or slogan. “Love the sinner; hate the sin.” “Christians aren’t perfect; just forgiven.” “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

Some fall on the side that they are good people and don’t need forgiveness. Some err to the other extreme and conclude that they don’t deserve forgiveness.

In 1 John, the apostle John stresses that if we want a close relationship with God, we have to deal with our sin. He argues that if God is light (1:5) and desires our fellowship (1:6-7), we must acknowledge our sin (1:8-10) and receive God’s provision (2:1-2).

In 1:6-2:2, John makes six “if … then …” statements to describe how to have a close relationship with God. Three are phrased in a negative manner; three are positive. Three express our words; three express our actions.

“If we say”

“If we do”
1:6 If we say, “We have fellowship with God,” yet walk in darkness … 1:7

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light …

1:8

If we say, “We have no sin” …

1:9 But if we confess our sins …
1:10 If we say, “We have not sinned … 2:1

But if anyone does sin …

Negative statements

Positive statements

Words

Actions

On the one hand

On the other hand

In order to deal with sin appropriately, you must:

Recognize who you are (1:8-10). Some make the claim that they do not have a sin nature. If we deny our own depravity, we are merely deceiving ourselves. Such a claim may deceive other people, but it certainly cannot deceive God. If we do not admit our sin, it remains unconfessed and unforgiven.

Instead of denying sin, John commends owning up to it. When we confess our sins we agree with God that we have done wrong and owe him an apology. But far more is involved than a “please excuse me.” Confession comes out of repentance, a desire to turn from sin to righteousness. If we confess, God is faithful to his word to forgive.

In verse 8, the person said he has no sin; in verse 10 the person says he is not a sinner. In so doing, he makes himself equal to God, the sinless one. If we claim to be sinless, we reveal that God’s Word is absent in our lives. People who talk this way are not Christians, whatever they say.

Recognize who Jesus is (2:1-2). To John, sin is serious business. John writes to encourage his readers to avoid sin. He knows that they want to live a holy life, but occasionally they sin. Because Christians aren’t perfect, God has provided the help they need for daily life as they try, fail, and seek to get up and try it again.

Jesus Christ is our advocate or defender every time we sin and need forgiveness and cleansing. We stand as prisoners before God’s bar of justice, but Jesus comes to speak in our defense. He makes intercession for us at God’s right hand, making sure no charge will ever stick.

Jesus is both the advocate and the atoning sacrifice. What he pleads on behalf of sinners is what he himself has done on their behalf. He died to pay the price for our sin. It is this that constitutes him a righteous advocate for them.

Confession is good for your soul. If you have not done so, acknowledge your sin. Recognize that God is righteous. Ask God to forgive you. Turn away from sin and turn towards God. Only then can you enjoy a close relationship with God.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on January 15, 2017. It is part of a series on The Letters of John. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

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