“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
The apostle John, in his first letter to the Christian Church, is leading us through a consideration of the results and changes that come when we accept a relationship with God. The first thing that happens is that Jesus steps forward to begin the process of cleansing our sins away with his own life’s blood. Yesterday, we considered one of our possible responses to this offer of cleansing, that of denial.
Given the state of our lives it seems ridiculous that we would offer this kind of response but it happens all the time. “I’m not that dirty, Jesus. I’ll take care of that myself.” “Really, Jesus. There’s nothing wrong with me the way I am.” “Yes, Jesus, I want to follow you but I don’t need to change anything in order to do that.”
We could extend the string of possible rejections for the cleansing offer to fill any number of pages and the result would have the same affect. We reject, on the grounds of not being sinful, the cleansing necessary for us to even begin a relationship with God.
But there’s a second response. One that’s only partially understood by many Christians because we all too often lift our focus text out of the context in which it was written, and read it by itself.
Our focus text reveals the second response with these words, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Taken on their own, these words appear to be giving us a key to unlocking heaven’s janitors closet so that Jesus can come and clean up our sins.
Such an understanding has sent many Christians on a never ending quest to discover all the sins buried deep within themselves so that they can receive the depth of cleansing the Bible says we need. But it’s an impossible quest for us. Our sinfulness is too pervasive, and we’re too often blind to it. Eventually such a quest leads us to give up our initial admission of honesty regarding our sins and return to the other option in responding to Christ’s offer of cleansing, that of denial of need.
But John isn’t telling us to confess to Jesus the sins we’ve uncovered. He’s telling us that we need to agree with Jesus, and confess the sins that He has revealed in our lives.
Heaven’s janitors closet is standing open. Jesus is already prepared to begin the task of cleansing. He’s pointing to your filthiness and he’s saying, “Won’t you let me take care of that for you? Please let me clean you up.”
We don’t ever have to look for sin in our lives. Each day we simply need to renew our acceptance of Christ’s offered relationship with him. Each day the accepted light of his presence will reveal more cleansing that needs to take place. And each day, like the days before, we simply, humbly, and gratefully say, “Yes Jesus, you’re right, that needs to be washed away. I can’t do it, Jesus. I need you to take care of this one too.”