I think we’re clear on the fact that we are sinners by nature and by choice. Enough has been said about that. The trick is to determine where we go from there. I believe that every Christian needs to be familiar with this important verse in the Bible.
“But if we confess our sins to him he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9, NLT).
Let me unpack this for you. The word confess means “to agree with.” When we confess, all we are doing is agreeing with God that what he calls sin is sin. If you are accused of a crime and the police arrest you and accuse you of a crime you have committed, your confession is nothing more than your agreement with the charge. But here’s the good news. If we agree with God about our sin, his faithfulness and justice requires him to forgive us of our sin. It is God’s nature to make promises that he intends to keep. To say that God is faithful and just to forgive is a promise to you and me that God will keep his word.
Forgiveness is a bookkeeping term, which means to cancel a debt or release one from the obligation of a debt. But God doesn’t stop with a promise to release us from a debt. He goes on to say that He will cleanse us from all wickedness. The word cleans is the same word we discovered in chapter one verse seven. It’s the same word that was used to describe Jesus’ healing ministry in the gospels.
When we confess our sin, God’s covenant promise is two fold. He deals with the fruit of sin and the root of sin. Let me illustrate it this way. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said that the people had always heard that “Thou shalt not commit murder.” That’s the fruit. “But I say to you that you should not become angry.” That’s the root. He adds, “You have heard that your should not commit adultery.” That’s the fruit. “But I say you should not have lust in your heart.” That’s the root. When we sin, God promises to provide forgiveness for the fruit of our sin and to help us with the root of the sin.