If We Confess Our Sins - 1 John 1:8-10

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8-10). The word sin is at the heart of this section of John’s letter. It is used eight times in six verses. Sin is an attitude or behavior that is a departure from God’s standard of uprightness, and John wanted the readers of his letter to know three key facts about sin.

John wanted the readers of his letter to know about the reality of sin. He had written that “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7). Opponents were professing that they did not need that cleansing because they were without sin (1 Jn. 1:8, 10). They were, perhaps, arguing that had not sinned since they had come to know God. John did not accept their claims. He is uncompromising concerning sin. He wrote, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin” (1 Jn. 2:1). Yet, at the same time, John acknowledged that believers will depart from God’s standard of uprightness. Understanding that reality will help us take the right steps to correct our ways and seek God’s forgiveness.

The second key fact concerning sin that John wrote about involves confession. One lexicon defines to confess as “to express oneself openly and firmly about a matter.” When John the Baptist was asked about his identity, John wrote, “And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed…” (Jn. 1:20). John the Baptist expressed himself openly and firmly about his identity. This definition and example helps us understand what it means to confess our sins. We express ourselves openly and firmly about our guilt of departing from God’s standard of uprightness. The words “admit” and “acknowledge” are sometimes used in the context of confession. For example, the Psalmist wrote, “I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not cover up; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh;’ And You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Ps. 32:5). Confession involves admitting the reality of sin in our lives.

Finally, John wanted believers to know the blessings of confessing sins (1 Jn. 1:9). We can be forgiven and cleansed by our reliable and trustworthy Father. Denying that we have sinned or remaining neutral about sins do not lead to the blessings of forgiveness and cleansing. Rather, humbly admitting that we have departed from God’s standard of uprightness is the first step to healing.

How do we respond to sin in our lives? Do we deny that we have committed sin? Are we comfortable with it? Let’s confess our sins to our Father and seek that forgiveness and cleansing that He provides.