I confess to God that I have missed His goal for my life (aka sin). That has me walking in the light. Jesus cleanses me from my sins. That is such a huge deal. I don’t have to pay the price because He did for me.
I am clean.
I am pure.
That is worth a big shout out. Wow! Imagine that.
God is not angry with us. How do we know. The Bible reassures us that “God so loved [not hated] the world” that He gave His Son Jesus to purify us from missing God’s goal.
“God is light” (1 John 1:5) and, therefore, He cannot close His eyes to sin. But “God is love” (1 John 4:8) too and wants to save sinners.
How, then, can a holy God uphold His own justice and still forgive sinners? The answer is in the sacrifice of the Messiah Jesus. At the cross, God in His holiness judged sin. God in His love offers Jesus to the world as Savior. God was just in that He punished sin, but He is also loving in that He offers free forgiveness through what Jesus did at Calvary.
The Messiah is the Sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, but He is Advocate only for believers. “We [disciples of Jesus] have an Advocate with the Father.” The word “advocate” used to be applied to lawyers. The word John uses is the very same word Jesus used when He was talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit. It means, literally, “one called alongside.” When a man was summoned to court, he took an advocate (lawyer) with him to stand at his side and plead his case.
Jesus finished His work on earth — the work of giving His life as a sacrifice for sin. Today He has an “unfinished work” in heaven. He represents us before God’s throne. As our High Priest, He sympathizes with our weaknesses and temptations and gives us grace. As our Advocate, He helps us when we sin. When we confess our sins to God, because of Christ’s advocacy God forgives us.
What does it mean to “confess”? Well, to confess sins means much more than simply to “admit” them. The word confess actually means “to say the same thing [about].” To confess sin, then, means to say the same thing about it that God says about it.
Confession is not praying a lovely prayer, or making pious excuses, or trying to impress God and other Christians. True confession is naming sin—calling it by name what God calls it: envy, hatred, lust, deceit, or whatever it may be. Confession simply means being honest with ourselves and with God, and if others are involved, being honest with them too. It is more than admitting sin. It means judging sin and facing it squarely.
When we confess our sins, God promises to forgive us. But this promise is not a “magic rabbit’s foot” that makes it easy for us to disobey God!
Of course, cleansing has two sides to it: the judicial and the personal. The blood of Jesus the Messiah, shed on the cross, delivers us from the guilt of sin and gives us right standing (“justification”) before God. God is able to forgive because Jesus’ death has satisfied His holy Law.
But God is also interested in cleansing a sinner inwardly. David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God”. When our confession is sincere, God does a cleansing work in our hearts by His Spirit and through His Word.
The great mistake King David made was in trying to cover his sins instead of confessing them. For perhaps a whole year he lived in deceit and defeat. No wonder he wrote that a man should pray “in a time of finding out”.
When should we confess our sin? Immediately when we discover it! “He that covers his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). By walking in the light, we can see the “dirt” in our lives and deal with it immediately.
- 1 John 1:7 (NASB) —But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
- Hebrews 7:26–28 —For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.
- Hebrews 9:26–28 —Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so the Messiah also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
- Hebrews 10:10 —By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus the Messiah once for all.
- Hebrews 10:14 —For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
- 1 John 3:4–6 —Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.