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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cleansed from Unrighteousness

I am forgiven by the blood of Jesus. His work on the cross granted me forgiveness for all time. So, do I still need to confess my sins if they are forgiven whether or not I have confessed?

There is a difference between being forgiven and knowing forgiveness. A parent can forgive his child after the child has run away from home. The child can live a life away from the parent without knowing that forgiveness. In fact, that child may even exclaim that the parent has never forgiven him. It won't be true but the child has never known that forgiveness.

Confession is not telling the parent what was done was wrong. It is not informing the parent of something that was wrong. Confession is an admission that it was wrong. It is heartfelt. It is remorseful. It is painful. It puts the wrong into the open so that it can be dealt with. John uses a conditional verb when speaking of this confession.

Confession is not merely a objective statement. It has the condition of really meaning it. The words of confession mean nothing by themselves. True confession is feeling the pain it caused to God (or whomever was hurt). It is more than admitting it was wrong. It is knowing it was wrong deeply.

John gives the results of such a confession with two other conditional verbs. These words forgive and cleanse. The forgiveness of sins is not conditional because of what Jesus has done on the cross. That is guaranteed. The condition is within the person who is being forgiven. It is tied together with cleanse.

Forgiveness means that the sin will no longer have its control over the one who committed it. This comes when the person has also been cleansed of that sin. Most people are sorry they were caught in sin. They believe that others are obligated to forgive them if they simply say the right words. These people who forgive them should do so again and again without fail. They are shocked when others decide they want nothing to do with them after they have committed the same sin for the umpteenth time. They claim that others are worse because of their failure to forgive. The truth is that the person was never cleansed from the sin because it still has a power over them to continue in that sin. This forgiveness is both a restoration of the relationship and the power over that sin.

I borrowed a friend's power washer to get the mold that was growing on the north side of my house. It did an excellent job of removing all of it. It soon grew back because I did nothing to prevent it from coming back. So often people confess in such a way that they know they are forgiven but do not know cleansing. They look clean at the moment but the same exact sin comes back. It still has a power over them.

Cleansing is very conditional. It is conditional on the confession. It is conditional on what is being done to prevent it from happening again. You don't take a bath in the middle of a pigpen. Why should you expect to be clean if you stay in the condition which caused the sin. There is no real confession that neglects prevention. The person may be sorry to be caught but will soon continue in the sin.

Forgiveness is an act of God. Cleansing is also an act of God. The one who is cleansed puts himself in the hands of God when he confesses. He accepts God's forgiveness and God's condition for continuing to be cleansed.
Otherwise, unrighteousness will continue to haunt us. It will make us feel like failures. It will cause us to say that we are rotten sinners for life rather than called out saints of God. It will diminish our forgiveness and raise our sin to a higher level. It will deny the power of God to change us.

This is not God's intention for us. He wants us to know forgiveness and cleansing. He wants us to live our lives in freedom. He wants us to have victory.

Have you truly confessed your sins? Do you know you are forgiven? Have you been cleansed from all your unrighteousness? You can if you will.

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

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