“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” I John 1:9.
We must always have the right starting-point in life, young people, in all our considerations concerning the deepest problems of life. The deepest problem of life is the sin-problem! If we did not have sin in our members and in our life, we would not have any vexing problems of conscience, which can be so disturbing and upsetting, would we? If it were but a skin-problem we could go and see a doctor, a dermatologist. But sin-problem are deeper and different altogether. They are the deep consciousness that God is light and that there is no darkness in Him at all. Even this thought makes the very devils to tremble and quake. (James 2:19; Luke 4:33,34)
The correct starting-point in each step of the way for us is to listen to the “message which we have heard from Him, and we declare unto you, that God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all”. I must here notice that John speaks of “the message”. It was a message, which John must relate and declare to the church from God. Now this message we must receive in childlike faith. This is God’s message to you, dear young people. Someone once told me that he used to sit in church and in catechism saying: does God really mean me? Well, “get with it”, that is the truth! David was slow to hear once too, until Nathan said, “Thou art the man”. David did not come to himself even though he roared in the disquietude of his heart. He knew all the while that he was really dealing with God, who is light and in whom there is no darkness. (Psalm 32:3,4) But all the while he was thinking, “If only Joab does not tell the real happening, how Uriah was killed”. He does this even though it thunders in his heart. “But the thing that David did was evil in the eyes of the LORD”, before whom all things are naked and opened! Often we are like this David, this man of God!
Wondrous starting point: God is light and there is no darkness of sin and evil in Him at all!
That is the message, which you and I heard from our mother’s knee in thousands of forms and in as many situations, where sin did so easily beset us. And when we are young these are “the sins of youth”. When we grow older sin still besets us on every hand. We have a constant battle with our sinful nature, our flesh; sin is in our members, our hands, our eyes, our ears, our mouth, and in our deepest and secret thoughts of our sinful hearts. That is what we see, and we learn to know, when we have come to fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. Then we begin to learn to see the sinfulness of our sin.
Everybody in this world talks about sin. Not all say the same thing about their sins, however. Nor do they all call it “sin”. The world of sinful men have a way of trying to cover up their sin, and they ever attempt to reason away their sin. They flatter themselves that under the cliché: the times have changed, they have license to walk in the present-day immorality; they prate about “new-morality”! Now they have license to sin; they all do! Young people fall for this “line” now as they did fifty years ago when I was one of the young people. Meanwhile everybody must and does talk about their sins and about the sins of others – especially the latter. Yes, that is why God can judge the world righteously. Even the pagan world of our day – pagan America – on radio, television and the printed page talks about sin. Their mouth is full of it! They speak from a conscience that is always judging and accusing. They shew the “work” of the law written in their heart, but they do not have the “law” written in their heart by grace. And so everybody talks about it, and holds the truth down in unrighteousness, and, thereby, become inexcusable before God. Hell will not be full of good, innocent people, who have not known the way. It will be full of unrepentant sinners, who may have experienced “remorse” for their sins, but not godly sorrow which works repentance not to be repented of (II Cor. 7:10). There are many Judas Iscariots, who go out and hang themselves! But nowhere in all the world of sinful, unrepentant men, is there peace. Many are like Saul who went to the witch of Endor, and here hear their doom declared.
Yes, everybody talks about sin. He may call “drunkenness” with the cover-up term, alcoholism. He is called by everyone but the Bible, and he who preaches and believes the Bible, an alcoholic, a man addicted to sexualism, a man or woman who is a victim of society! But in his deepest heart he is a liar! He deliberately says: God is not light, and there is darkness in God, too. He makes himself a “god” of his own imagination! Be not deceived, young people, God is not mocked. He stands back of the message which was declared unto you: God is light! God is light! God is light! With this God we have to do, and not with the lie of the sinner, who would speak of sin and cover it up, gloss it over with lying speech.
John knew such people in his day already. Yes, he knew that we are “by nature” inclined ever thus to speak of our sins. We deny them as did David for a season. Yes, then we “say” something about our sin. We say that we have no sin. We are already perfect, somehow. At least we blissfully are living in sweet (?) ignorance that to lust is sin. We never went beneath the surface a bit, and have not understood the cry of the Psalmist “…cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Psalm 19:12). Never have you and I then cried “who can understand his errors”! And then John thunders in our ears: you deceive yourselves, and the truth: God is light; God is light is not the ruling principle in your life! You then have never stood next to the Publican in the temple, and confessed in unison with him: God be merciful to me the sinner!
Yes, and John also knows another state of mind. It is that of us when we “say”, when we merely allege something concerning our “sins”. Then we look back across our twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, seventy, eighty years of our life, and we say: I have not sinned up to the present moment. I plead innocence. But the mouth of such is stopped before God by the spiritual nature of the law! In every syllable of it shines forth the truth, in indelible truth: God is light, is light. Of that truth God registers in every man conscience, which conscience – books will be opened when the entire world shall stand before the great white throne to be judged. That will be the self-vindication of God in all His holiness and righteousness and truth. God is light!
But if we are not in the class of those who merely “say” something about our sins, but humbly and truly “confess” them, all is different. The confessing saint really walks in the light, as God in Christ is light. Then we listen to what God says of us in our sins, and how He has come to save us, His people from our sins in JESUS! Immanuel God-with-us! God says: I am light. We say: Yes, Lord, we humbly adore thee, who are light and in whom is not darkness at all. We believe this message with the heart and confess it with our mouths. That Word is nigh to us, even in our hearts! Thou hast translated us from the kingdom of darkness. We are light in the Lord! That is confession of faith. And there is no confession of sin, without confession of faith! Let this sink deep into your heart and into mine.
Yes, then we confess our sins: root, branch and all. Not a bit of piece-meal confession. Yes, we may start as did David with one sin. He says: Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight. Yes, yes, it was adultery and then murder. In that order. And the last sin was to cover up the first. It was a sin that would be punished in his house, and we heard the deep feeling of pain and guilt in David’s outcry: O Absalom, my son, my son…And no Joab will show us any pity.
But meanwhile everyone who confesses his sins is assured of forgiveness. Notice, we are to confess our “sins”. Notice the plural. Sins refers to sins which we have done, which we can really remember and recount so very vividly. Many an elderly man or woman has spoken to me of their sins, sins of youth, which somehow pained them all through life. They had not really “confessed” them, so that they cried out, “O the blessedness of the man whose sins are covered and forgiven. Yes, covered by the blood of sprinkling, the blood of atonement. But when they saw that God is “faithful and just” in forgiving, they had peace. Yes, they say that forgiveness was not merely the washing away of sinful acts, but that it was also a forgiveness of the sinful nature against which we ever have to struggle till we die; then they had peace and cried out aloud upon their beds: O it is wonderful, it is wonderful, it is all of grace, which is far greater than all my sins. God is just in forgiving me in the blood of the Lamb of God. Hallelujah! And God is faithful He keeps and kept His word of the Gospel unto me in forgiving me. He does not ask payment twice.
Yes, Christ paid it all. And this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, like me! Sin is sin indeed. The cross is real, it is real: the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. And the confessing sinner knows that God has cast his sins in the sea of everlasting forgetfulness. They will not ever be remembered against him anymore.
The former things will not be remembered anymore.
Yes, not even my sins.