9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
John continues his discussion of the differences between those who walk in the light and those who do not in verse 9. In this verse, we find a conditional statement that ought to help us to see how we can walk in the light.
What does John identify are the benefits of complying with the condition? He says that because of God’s character, namely his faithfulness and justice, we can know that our sins are forgiven and that all of our unrighteousness is cleansed. This is an astounding promise.
However, what does this require? What is it going to take for me to receive these benefits from God? I have to confess my sin. I have to acknowledge my brokenness before God. And I have to do it not on my terms, but God’s. God is the one who must define what is and is not sin and why I should confess it.
Even as I write this I know that this is not all that simple. At least in the American context, it has become inappropriate to talk about sin. To talk about any kind of brokenness, spiritual or otherwise. And, if we do talk about it, it is not so that healing can take place, but rather for the purpose of some kind of retribution.
If we are going to help people who walk in the light, we have to understand that sin is, by definition, darkness. To remain in sin, to ignore it is to willfully walk in darkness. This is the inherent danger with wanting to experience God’s grace and yet, at the same time, be unwilling to confront our own sin. If the world is going to heal from the dastardly effects of sin, we have to stop pretending that the spiritual condition of every person is not as bad as it truly is.
Our sin is a terrible problem. It is not something that we can turn a blind eye to. We have to allow the light of God, found in the life of Jesus and in the truth of God’s written word, to shine into our lives and expose sin for what it is. We can diagnose the problem, but if we are unwilling to take the medicine that will provide us with the healing we need, what good is knowing what the problem is? In practical terms, it is no good at all.
In order to experience the benefits of God’s grace, we must do two things. First, we have to agree with God that our sin is a problem. We cannot minimize the problem if we are going to enjoy the benefits of the solution.
Second, we have to confess our sin to God. The purpose of our confession is to commit to the solution that God has provided. When we confess our sin we are taking a step of trust toward God. We acknowledge the problem, but we are also rejecting our wisdom and strength to get out of the mess we are in.
Why do you think Christian’s have a hard time with confessing sin?