8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
John wrote his letter to Christians who were dealing with false teachings. The opening verses of the letter (1:1-4) show us that one of those false teachings centered on Jesus. The false teachers had gotten Jesus wrong, denying his humanity, and John wrote his letter in order to set the record straight. Another falsehood coming from these teachers was the belief that they were without sin. They were denying the reality of sin in their nature. They claimed to have no sin (verse 8), and they also claimed to have committed no sin (verse 10). And so again John writes in order to set the record straight.
One of the interesting things we see in this scenario is how a faulty view of God is tied to a faulty view of ourselves. This highlights an important truth…If we get God wrong, everything else falls apart.
In verse 9 John points to the importance of honesty about sin, and where to go with that reality. John points them to the gospel, and in verse 9 we read of the power of God’s grace. When we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. God is faithful and just. God is able to do what He promises He will do. In Jeremiah 31:34 God promises to forgive the iniquity of His people and remember their sins no more. Forgiven. In Isaiah 1:18, God promises that although the sins of His people were like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Cleansed.
God kept His promise in sending His Son, and in Christ all God’s promises are fulfilled (2 Corinthians 1:20). So for all who come to Jesus, all who stop denying, pretending, and hiding, they are forgiven and made clean.
But this is not just truth for the unbeliever. This is good news for all who belong to Jesus. Because when we fall into sin, we know where to go. We run to Jesus, confess our sin, and cling to Him as our Rescuer.
To deny the reality of sin is to deny the power of the gospel. To deny the reality of sin is not a virtuous pursuit, rather it is the path of death. Instead the path to life is to confess that we are sinners in need of rescue, and cling to our only hope. The hope of the gospel…The good news that God saves sinners in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.