Monday, September 27, 2010


1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

9 ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας.

This is one of those verses that just about every Christian either has memorized or is very familiar with.  If he isn't, he should be.  I remember that this is one of the first verses I ever memorized.  It's one of those great verses which summarizes the gospel beautifully.

What is John telling us here?  It seems absurdly simple, doesn't it?  We confess our sins and He forgives us.  I don't think that he has the sacrament of penance in mind here either.  I don't think that this is an ongoing process either.  When God saves us He cleans us from all unrighteousness.  We become white as snow as we are washed in the blood of the Lamb.  It all starts with admitting our guilt before God.

Note that all the verbs are in the subjunctive.  The construct with ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν is a third-class condition.  This means that the fulfillment is uncertain, but likely.  John is saying that he doesn't know if the reader is necessarily going to confess his sins, but he does know that if we confess our sins we can be sure that God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  This is because He is both faithful to His promise and He is just in not putting us under double jeopardy for the crimes for which Jesus was already convicted.

Where are you?  Are you trying to live life as a good person?  Do you hope that someday your good works will outweigh your bad on some divine scales of justice?  If so, admit that you are a sinner before God because all it takes is one bad work to tip the scale.  Once you've sinned you can never make up the lost ground.  But Jesus came to offer Himself as a ransom for the penalty we deserve.  Confess to God that you need His salvation.  He is faithful and just and will forgive you.

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