“If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9)
I find it interesting that many Christians struggle with the whole idea of God’s forgiveness. Biblical forgiveness is pretty simple: God draws us to understand that we have sinned against Him (this is conviction), we come to God, we confess our sins to Him, and (because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross) God forgives our sins.
Maybe we struggle because that just sounds too good to be true. How could God be that nice (considering all the bad things we have done)? Or maybe, it is because we just find it all a bit too simple. Our entire role is to come and confess… God does all the work (the dying and the forgiving). And He forgives us from the very moment we confess our need for His forgiveness. There is no delay, no reservation, no caveats, and no lectures on getting our act together. We confess. He forgives.
Our verse for today tells us why God forgives us… He is both “faithful and just.” Forgiveness is never about our ability to ask, or even deserve, God’s forgiveness. It is always a demonstration of God’s Own character. God always responds to our faith with a demonstration of His faithfulness. We tend to make a big deal out of our asking, or our confessing, or our believing – but our answered prayers, our forgiveness, and God’s working on our behalf are ALWAYS because He is on the other end, eagerly desiring to show His faithfulness. He is the Star of the story.
And hardly any area is more important than His faithfulness to forgive our sins. We can’t ever step into any kind of real or meaningful relationship with God if we have sin between us and Him. And that was always the problem for humanity. We always wanted to know God. We always desired to have a relationship with our Creator. But sin was always in the way. “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, He has turned away…” (Isaiah 59:2)
So step one, God had to make a way to take our sins out of the equation.
But, here’s the problem… Because God is also “just,” He couldn’t just let us off the hook. The guilty must pay for their crimes – or justice is not served. The payment for our crimes, against God, deserved the fullness of justice. God tells us what this fullness actually is: “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23) It’s a lesson He had been teaching His people ever since the first sin was committed (see Genesis 3:21; where did the animal skins come from?!). So every sinner is guilty. Every sinner deserves death. Justice requires the price to be paid. And God IS just.
This brings us to another problem… WE couldn’t pay the price for our sins (that is, and enjoy the benefits of being set free from our guilt – being dead, and all).
But the faithfulness of God comes to the rescue. His plan was ingenious, if not totally unexpected. He decided to become one of us, live among us, show us what He was really like… and in the ultimate declaration of His loving nature, He took all our sins and sorrows upon Himself – and died horribly, in our place.
Forgiveness is not about God letting us go free because He wanted to do so… It is about the price being paid by One Who died for those who deserved to die. Jesus, the perfect God-man, paid that price perfectly – the innocent for the guilty – “so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (from Romans 3:26)
Our forgiveness is not based on God feeling sorry for us, or wanting to have pity upon us, or even because He just wanted to show His kindness. We are forgiven because our guilt has been properly punished, the price has been paid – and because of Jesus, we are no longer required to carry (or pay for) our sin and guilt.
All we have to do to know the fullness of God’s act of forgiving us is to “confess our sins” and receive everything Jesus has done for us…
Prayer Focus: God, today I receive the fullness of Your forgiveness for me… I didn’t earn or deserve Your forgiveness, but I AM forgiven because of what Jesus did for me!