Dealing With the Biggest “If” in Life
January 10, 2019
By Elaine Friedrich
In partnership with Seedbed, Mt. Bethel brings you the Seedbed Daily Text: a study on 1 John.
1 John 1:8–10
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
If yesterday’s lesson was “Self-deception makes us immune from the truth,” today’s lesson is “Self-awareness opens the way for the truth to set us free.”
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
John is giving us a major insight into both the broken nature of people and the merciful nature of God. The nature and character of God is beautifully and perfectly seen in Jesus Christ. He is “faithful and just” and forgiving in a way that actually changes us.
We simply cannot purify ourselves from “all unrighteousness,” but Jesus can. While we cannot purify ourselves, we do have the power in our will to prevent it from happening. Perhaps the most critical word in today’s text, from verse 9, is “if.”
“If we confess our sins.” Everything hinges on this massive “if.” Of course, we learn in verse 8 that the reason we fail to confess our sins is because we have lost awareness of them. They are who we have become. Over the course of long periods of time, we ever so slowly walk away from God. The gospel of Jesus Christ says that even if we are a million miles away, one simple act can restore us to the immediate blessing of fellowship with God. “If we confess our sins.”
It’s a catch-22 though. How can we confess our sins if we have no sense of them? How can we confess our sins if our hearts have become hardened to them? Here’s my take: Confession doesn’t begin with naming our sins. It begins with claiming the truth that we are sinners. Remember: we aren’t sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners. That word “sinner” is loaded with all kinds of shame-filled baggage. To identify myself as a sinner is not to heap shame on myself. It’s the only way to become free of shame. To identify myself as a sinner is the first step on the journey to becoming aware of my sins. Finally, to identify myself as a sinner is the only way to be not only cleansed from sin but progressively set free from it.
Because of the finished work of Jesus Christ through his death, resurrection, and ascension, sin has lost its power. Be clear, though: sin will not go away quietly. It’s no match for the power of the grace of God in Jesus Christ, but we have a clear role to play in the process. It will come down to one big “if.”
Lord Jesus, help me understand that I am not a sinner because I sin but that I sin because I am a sinner. Humble me with the self-awareness of the brokenness of my identity that I might learn to humble myself and so rise up into the wholeness of who you say I am and are making me to become. In your name, Jesus. Amen.
What difference do you think it makes—this notion of sinning because we are sinners rather than the other way around? Why does this matter?
P.S. The Daily Text is written by John David “J.D.” Walt, who is the Sower in Chief of Seedbed, a twenty first century publishing, media, and movement platform. Learn more at Seedbed.com.