Text: 1 John 1:5-22
The basic difference between the christian and the non-christian, between a saved person and a lost person, is not the absence of sin but rather is THE ATTITUDE TOWARD SIN.. When God saves a person this does not necessarily mean that this person will no longer make any mistakes. This does not mean that the sinful nature has been eradicated and that he will never sin again; it simply means that his attitude toward sin is going to be changed.
In these verses John establishes the truth that all of us sin and then he says that if we do sin and confess our sins to God. He is faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us.
Perhaps someone hearing him thought, “well, if human nature is as it is and it is impossible for us to live above sin and we are going to sin anyway and God will forgive us all our sins, why worry about them?” We sometimes say, “God made me like I am, everybody is this way and it’s just a part of human nature and I can’t help it.” John is anticipating that some of us might think this and says, “these things I write unto you THAT YOU SIN NOT.” This is the christian ideal and standard which we are to aim for.
As long as we fall short of that standard, we have no right to be content with our life. Not one of us can say that we are all right, that we have reached the apex or arrived where God wants us to be.
Notice in the next verse that John comes down to reality, to where we live and says, but if you do sin, there is a solution to it, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Fellowship with God means that God shares all that He has with me because when He saved me we began to share in a common life and everything that God possesses is mine. This fellowship also means that we have fellowship with one another….there is a kinship, there is a spiritual relationship between those of us who are saved. This also means that our joy is complete because of my fellowship with God.
But there is one thing we need to say about this fellowship. It is a holy fellowship, maintained by my holiness. If I leave the light and walk in darkness, if I allow sin to come into my life, if I do those things which are contrary to God’s will and nature, then my fellowship with God is severed and my fellowship with other christians is severed and my joy as a christian is also annihilated
This is the reason that some christians’ prayers are never answered. God cannot share with them all the things He has because sin has come into their life.
This is the reason some don’t attend church very often and don’t get very much out of it if they do. They don’t enjoy it because sin has severed their fellowship. This is why some have lost the joy of their salvation and are not the happy christians they used to be. They have allowed sin into their lives.
There is a three-fold attitude toward sin that you and I ought to have to maintain our fellowship with God, our fellowship with the church and our joy as a christian. First of all John says there must be a:
l. CONSCIOUSNESS OF OUR SIN.
He says in the 8th verse, “…if we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Then in the 10th verse he says, “if we say we have not sinned we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.” Now what is the difference between verse 8 and verse 10? In verse 8 he is talking abut the principal of sin….the sinful nature. Here is a man who denies that he has a sinful nature. David said, “in sin did my mother conceive me and I was shapen in iniquity.” The bible says that a baby is born speaking lies. It is our sinful nature, I am not a sinner because I sin, but I SIN BECAUSE I AM A SINNER. In Ephesians 2 we are told that “by nature we are the children of wrath.”
Notice in verse 8 he says we deceive ourselves…we don’t deceive anybody else. Two preachers met on the street one day and one was of the faith that believe you live above sin and said that his sinful nature had been eradicated and he hadn’t committed a sin in a year. His wife was with him and she said, “Don’t you believe a word of it!” We can deceive ourselves, but we can’t deceive other people and we can’t deceive God.
One of the first prerequisites for my maintaining my fellowship with God is having a consciousness of my sinfulness. This is why he says that we must walk in the light. God is light….God is holy, there is no darkness at all in Him. There is not even a shadow of sin in God. This means that I am to live where God lives. I am to expose myself to the light of God to reveal the dirt that is in my life. I could turn out all the lights in this building and I could say I don’t see a bit of dirt on my hands. But as one light comes on, a little dirt is seen, another light is switched on and gradually all the lights are turned on and I see clearly and unmistakably the dirt on my hand.
The person who says they don’t see anything in their life that needs to be repented of or mourned over is the person who is walking in darkness and is so far from the light of God that he cannot see his own spiritual condition. The closer you get to God and the closer you come to the light, the more sin in your life is revealed. If you are walking in the light, it means you are exposing every act, exposing your daily behaviour to the light of God’s holiness and you are judging your life, your character and your behaviour by God Himself, by His holiness, by His standard of truth.
There has never been a great movement of God in the church unless it was preceded by a great consciousness of sin. We have allowed the devil and the world to brainwash us so that no longer are things black or white, but they are kind of a muddy grey. We have lost the distinction between right and wrong. We’ve given birth to the theory that morality is relative and it all depends on where you live…..if others are doing it, it’s all right. The bible says God is light, He is moral perfection, and He is the standard by which we are to judge ourselves. There comes a time in the life and experience of every christian when he must mourn over his sin.
It is an astounding thing how the heart gets hardened. I remember as a little boy how I always looked forward to the summer because I could take my shoes off. Those first two or three days were mighty tough on those tender feet that had been protected by shoes all winter long. We lived in the country and didn’t have sidewalks and paved streets, they were dirt or gravel roads and you were always looking for the grass to walk on. Gradually the soles of your feet were toughened up and by the end of the summer you were running down that rocky road and never even realizing you had your shoes off. It is the same way with the heart. You begin to slight God a little bit, then you begin to leave God out of your life a little more. But, now you have been doing it so long that you don’t even notice it. The pathetic thing is that some of us are so far from God that it is nearly impossible to see the light and we are not even aware of it. We need a re-birth of the consciousness of sin in our life.
The second thing there must be is a:
II. CONFESSION OF OUR SIN
Notice what he says in the 9th verse, “….if we confess our sins.” The word confess means to “say the same thing”, to agree. Confessing my sin is to agree with what God has said about me already. He has already said that I am a sinner. But we are like the birds who shut their eyes when someone shines a light into them. When we get a little close to a conviction, we run from it. We have never agreed with God. Do you notice that the word “sins” is in the plural and not the singular? That is significant. To confess our sin (singular) would be to confess the fact that you have sinned. But He is saying, “Don’t be general and vague in your confession, be specific and particular…name them one by one.” You committed them one by one, confess then one by one.
This means dragging them out into the light and examining them. The best way to get victory over our sins is to face them in God’s presence and come clean with God about it. Some live your days criticizing and harming others with the words that you use and the language you speak and need to call it “my critical tongue” or “my gossiping tongue” in the presence of God. To have the blessings of God on your life, you must confess your sins daily.
There must also be:
III. CLEANSING FROM OUR SIN
He says that “God is faithful and just, not only to forgive us but to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Not only does God forgive our sin, but He also wants to CLEANSE our sin. What’s the difference? A little boy is dressed for church in his Sunday best, he goes out and plays in the mud puddle, cones back in and is covered with mud. His mother is angry but he stands there and looks at her with those angelic eyes and says, “Mommy, I’m sorry.” She tells him she forgives him, but now go take off those dirty clothes and get in the bathtub to get clean. The little boy says, “No, I’m sorry I got dirty, but I want to stay this way, I don’t want to wash and put on clean clothes.” That’s just like us!
We get convicted of our sin, God gets hold of us and we are miserable and want relief, so we take a spiritual Alka-Seltzer. We walk down the aisle, shake the preacher’s hand, shed a few tears and feel a little better, the guilt is gone the old conviction of sin is gone. We go back and each day live the same kind of life we lived before. We asked God to forgive us of our sin, but aren’t willing to let God CLEANSE US FROM THAT SIN….that means to take it away and get rid of it. He wants to throw away the dirty rags. He is not only going to save us from the PENALTY of our sin, but also from the POLLUTION of that sin.
This is the only way our fellowship with a holy God is maintained.
Someone asks me every once in a while if I believe in eternal security, “once saved, always saved.” They will pose the question, “What if a christian committed a sin and then died before he had a chance to confess that sin and to ask forgiveness, would he be saved?” I think the first two verses of the second chapter of John give to my own heart one of the greatest evidences for my salvation being eternal and my salvation being secure. What happens when a christian sins? He says we have an advocate with the Father….that is the solution to the christians’ sins. Advocate is just a fancy word for defense lawyer, one who is called alongside to plead your case. Sometimes it was a friend of the family, sometimes it was the head of the family and he was bound by family ties and family honor to stand by your side and speak to the judge on your behalf. God says that our advocate, our defense lawyer with the Father is Jesus Christ, the righteous and he is constantly in the presence of my Heavenly Father to plead for me. He is righteous so he is in good standing with the court. He intercedes for me.
In John 14:16 the word “comforter” is the same word for advocate. While on earth I need help to live my christian life. Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to be my advocate here on earth and he helps me day by day. But I also need someone to help me up there in heaven when I sin, when I offend the Father, when I transgress against God. So, as the Holy Spirit is my defense attorney on earth, so Jesus Christ is my defense attorney in heaven and he pleads my case before the Heavenly Father. He is my advocate, my salvation, my forgiveness. My cleansing from sin does not depend upon anything except the advocacy of Jesus Christ the righteous as He stands in the presence of the Heavenly Father and pleads my case. And notice he says He is the PROPITIATION for my sin….that means the covering for sin. It takes a blood sacrifice to cover the sin from the eyes of God and Jesus Christ is the covering for my sin so that God cannot see it.
Notice that is doesn’t say He WAS our covering, or He WILL BE, but it uses the present tense…He IS, constantly covering for sin. As long as Jesus Christ is in the presence of the Father and as long as He is pleading my case, as long as His blood is effective before the Heavenly Father, that long my salvation is secure.
One last important thing…down here on earth when you hire a lawyer to defend your case, he defends you. He calls in some character witnesses and they testify of your good moral character and good reputation and the case is built on YOU. But not so with our heavenly lawyer. He couldn’t find a character witness that would plead for us and when Jesus our heavenly lawyer pleads before that court in heaven, he does not plead my innocence, HE ADMITS MY GUILT. But, He pleads His blood, and He says, “Father forgive him, not because he deserves it, not because he is innocent, but FOR MY SAKE, because I covered his sins with my blood.”
That is why I am constantly secure, and if I were to commit a sin tonight and before I had a chance to confess it were to die and go out into eternity I believe that I would still be saved because Jesus IS the covering for my sin in the eyes of God and He is my heavenly advocate, always there constantly in the presence of my Heavenly Father to plead my case. This is how my fellowship with God is maintained.
© Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2005