The Faithfulness of God and the Forgiveness of Sin.
1 John 1:5-10
“He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins”
How does sinful man stand in the presence of a holy God? This is perhaps the most fundamental question of all religions and faith. Universally there is the acknowledgment that God is perfect and holy. But the question that mystifies religions and philosophers is the evil of humanity (not that we are as evil as we can be, but that we have all committed acts of sin and broken God’s moral law). If God is holy, then how does a holy God accept people who are imperfect and marred by sin? It is this very question John seeks to answer. John begins with the affirmation of the holiness of God by comparing his righteousness with the absolute brilliance of light. With God there is no hint of darkness, there is no presence or hint of sin.
In contrast to the absolute holiness of God is our own sinfulness. John points out that the only way we can have fellowship with God is that we are holy even as he is holy (7). But herein lies the great dilemma, for we are inherently sinful. To deny this is the ultimate self-deception and reveals that we have rejected the truth of God (vs 8). The flow of John’s argument is this: 1. God is holy, 2. We can only have fellowship with God if we are holy, 3/ We are all sinners and therefore unholy. If he stopped there, we would be hopelessly lost in our sin. But here is where John provides for us both hope and assurance which serves to answer the question perplexing all humanity. The way we stand before a holy God is by confessing our sin before him. To confess, is not merely to acknowledge our sin, the word means to admit and acknowledge that we are indeed lawbreakers who are deserving of judgment. It is to recognize that we deserve punishment and to accept that Christ paid the punishment for us (2:2).
However, even then our hope for forgiveness is not grounded in our own actions or intrinsic goodness, rather it is in the faithfulness and righteousness (or justice) of God. The word translated in the NASB as “righteous” refers to what is legally or ethically right. In other words, because Christ paid the penalty of our sin, the justice of God has been satisfied enabling us to be free from the judicial penalty of our sin. But this brings us to his faithfulness. As we have seen throughout our study of God’s faithfulness, this refers to God’s faithfulness to his word and promises. Because God has given his promise to forgive us because of the death of Christ if we accept his forgiveness, we now have the assurance he will be faithful to fulfill this promise. This is why we can have confidence before God and the assurance our sins are forgiven, no matter how great our sin. If our standing before God is based on our actions, then we are hopelessly lost, but because it is based on God’s actions and his promise then we have the absolute joy and confidence of our acceptance by God because he is always faithful to his promise. We are no longer under the guilt of our failures. We no longer need to fear God. We no longer need to try and earn God’s favor. All that is required of us is to simply accept his forgiveness and rest joyfully within his assurance. If you still feel the weight of guilt for your past, all you need to do is to confess what you have done and ask God’s forgiveness and his faithfulness provides the bedrock of assurance that he will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.