Some feel sure that they are. Some aren’t too sure. But how can we know? John helps us to answer this question (1 John 1:5-9).
John first reminds us of the holiness of God. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (v. 5). Light is a symbol of absolute sinlessness, truth and life (cf. John 1:1-9; 3:19-21; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35-36). God is separate from all evil, every falsehood and death. He is holy (cf. Psalms 99:3, 5; Hosea 11:9, 12).
John then points out the obvious, that we cannot be right with the sinless God if we ourselves are willfully living in sin. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (v. 6). It is absurd for us to think that we can knowingly and purposefully turn away from God and continue in sin and still be right with God. Such a heart of rebellion against God will cause us to fall into condemnation (cf. Numbers 15:30-31; Hebrews 10:26-31; 2 Peter 2:1-2, 20-22).
Next, John tells us that if we are making a sincere effort to live in the holiness of God we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus from all sin. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (v. 7). We all sin inadvertently, in moments of weakness, out of negligence and in ignorance, but if we want to stay right with God and keep fellowship with other Christians we must always strive to keep ourselves separate from the world of sin by following Christ and trusting in the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (cf. Numbers 15:22-29; Psalms 19:12-14; 1 Peter 1:13-19; 1 John 2:1-2).
Finally, John teaches us that in order to do this we must be honest about our sinfulness, confessing our sins. “If we say that we have no sin, 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” (vv. 8-9). To “confess” literally means to “agree” with God concerning our sins; to see sin as a violation against God Himself; to be truly sorry for having displeased God. Such a one is sorry for the ruin and destruction he has wrought in this world and upon his relationship with God (cf. Psa. 51:3-4, 17; Isa. 57:15; Jam. 4:9-10). God is “faithful” to forgive our sins because He always keeps His promises (cf. Hebrews 8:12). He is “just” to forgive because He has provided a sacrifice for our sins through the death of Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 3:19-26).
Christian, are you right with God? If so, continue to believe on Him living in the assurance of eternal life and rejoicing in the Lord for His love and grace (1 John 5:13). If not, don’t hesitate any longer to turn back to God, confessing your sins so that you may be saved from eternal condemnation (cf. Acts 8:21-24).
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Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135