Last week I started making some basic observations about 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Let me summarize quickly what I talked about. First, I saw that John states forgiveness is asked, received and practiced within a community, specifically, that is the Church. Second, I pointed out that each of the main verbs in the passage; confess, forgive, and cleanse; each are in the present tense. Simply, there is a continuous, ongoing connection between confession, forgiveness, and cleansing.
Now, my third (and new this week) observation about the passage. Let me restate the words in a literal manner:
He is faithful and just (dikaios) to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (adikaios).
In Greek, the word “just” is the word dikaios. The second word “unrighteous” is called an “a” privative, where the word, righteous is negated by placing the letter “a” in front of it. We do that in English as well, with words like a-historical (non-historical) and a-theism (world view without God). Listen very carefully to the implications of John’s statement. Jesus is faithful and just/righteous and He offers to us the same thing. In our forgiveness and cleansing, He wants to remove from us all that is “not-righteous.” Let me put it another way; salvation is about cleansing from us all that is “not-Jesus.” What Jesus is offering is far more than a “sin-management” program. It is a cure for sin itself. His desire is to transform us to be just like him; a state of righteousness. So maybe we should stop using “forgiveness language” and instead adopt “re-creation” language (cf., 2 Cor. 5:17) as He restores the broken “Imago Dei” to look just like Him.
There is a deeper and more foreboding application to this passage if you dare to follow me. This week I would like for you to ponder your answer to this question, “Have I accepted the first half of the verse; ‘forgiveness of sin’ yet have for some reason said, ‘No’ to the offer to be cleansed from all unrighteousness?” And if you have said no, why? Are there limits to work that Jesus can accomplish in your life?
May we first and foremost look to You for our understanding of forgiveness.
May we take hold of You, who are faithful and just.
May that truth take hold of us.
May we sense grace in the midst of confession.
May we grasp the power of not just forgiveness but transformation.
May we experience the fullness of your gift.
Now, Go with God.