God has made us a grand promise.
And, He is true to His word. We know that we’ve missed God’s goal in our life. God doesn’t see that. He sees Jesus taking that burden off of us.
Once we come clean, he completely purges us from that way of seeing things. It is all washed away as if it was never there before.
I need to remember that and change my mind about how God sees me. I can achieve the goal He has in mind for me. I am His child. God is my heavenly Father. That is worth a shout out!
If we claim that we’re free of sin (i.e., missing God’s goal), we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit we miss God’s goal—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive us for missing His goal and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never missed God’s goal, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.1 John 1:8-10 (The Message Bible)
Can a holy God uphold His own justice and still forgive us for missing God’s goal [aka sin]? The answer is in the sacrifice of the Messiah. Here is the good news! 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.
Jesus is the Sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Jesus is an Advocate 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. Jesus has defeated death. 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 miss God’s goal. When we confess our sins to God, because of the Messiah’s advocacy, God forgives us.
The Old Testament contains a beautiful picture of this. Joshua (Zech. 3:1–7) was the Jewish high priest after the Jews returned to their land following their Captivity in Babylon.
Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! May the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Isn’t this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
3 Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 So the angel of the Lord spoke to those standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes!” Then he said to him, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with festive robes.”
5 Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So a clean turban was placed on his head, and they clothed him in garments while the angel of the Lord was standing nearby.
6 Then the angel of the Lord charged Joshua, 7 “This is what the Lord of Armies says: If you walk in my ways and keep my mandates, you will both rule my house and take care of my courts; I will also grant you access among these who are standing here.
The nation had sinned. To symbolize this, Joshua stood before God in filthy garments and Satan stood at Joshua’s right hand to accuse him. God the Father was the Judge; Joshua, representing the people, was the accused; Satan was the prosecuting attorney. (The Bible calls him the accuser of the brethren.)
It looked as if Satan had an open-and-shut case. But Joshua had an Advocate who stood at God’s right hand, and this changed the situation. The Messiah gave Joshua a change of garments and silenced the accusations of Satan.
This is what is in view when Jesus is called our “Advocate.” He represents believers before God’s throne, and the merits of His sacrifice make possible the forgiveness of the believer’s sin. Because Jesus died for His people, He satisfied the justice of God. (“The wages of sin is death.”) Because He lives for us at God’s right hand, He can apply His sacrifice to our needs day by day.
All He asks is that when we have failed we confess our sins.
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 disciples. True confession is naming how we have missed God’s goal — 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!
Cleansing has two sides to it: the judicial and the personal. The blood of Jesus, 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” (Ps. 51:10). 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 (Ps. 32:6) 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 who confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). By walking in the light, we are able to see the “dirt” in our lives and deal with it immediately.