1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
The more complicated the product you purchase, the longer and more detailed the manufacturer’s instructions that come with it. And what could be more complex than a human being? The Manufacturer didn’t produce us and then abandon us to figure out how best to operate the product. No, He provided a manual for the way we work best, how we can fulfill and enjoy the purpose of the Manufacturer’s design.
That revealed will of God is His law. We call it law because it isn’t optional if we want to find God’s highest and best purpose in creating and redeeming us. And God didn’t make laws because He is a bully or a capricious potentate. It was because He loves us and wants the best for us. That’s what every law in God’s Word was designed for — our best.
God communicates His will in a number of ways through His Word. I would list direct commands — more than one thousand; scriptural principles; biblical examples — good examples to follow, bad ones to avoid; and our paramount model, Jesus. Would you list conscience? A Spirit-sensitized and Scripture-informed moral judgment is a prime source of guidance. But it isn’t infallible, so we must make sure our conscience is renewed and transformed by exposure to God’s Word. So there are many ways to find God’s will in His manual.
Like our first parents, we have decided to ignore or water down God’s laws and write our own rules. Today the only universally accepted law seems to be the evil of intolerance. But believers are responsible to accept God’s laws as commands, not suggestions or guidelines, and to obey them. Do they seem to you a dreadful litany of Christian failure?
God’s law is not full of dread for us, because Jesus took the blow of the law and cleared us of guilt. Marvelous grace! The law is no longer a bright light in the interrogation room to amass evidence that condemns me. It’s a bright light in the surgery room to reveal the malignancy that hinders spiritual healing and health.
When the law spotlights a malignancy, what will we do about it? We can cover it, or we can expose it to the light. We can cover our failures with denial, calling them mistakes instead of sins. We can cover them with rationalization, inventing an acceptable reason to explain our failure. Or we can cover them with faulty doctrines of cheap grace. And what will result? “The one who conceals his sins will not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13).
A cover-up artist says, “The commandments? Those are Old Testament legalism.” Hold on! The consequences of sin in the New Testament are fairly severe as well; believers who sinned sometimes experienced illness and even death (see Acts 5:1-10; 1 Cor. 11:29-30). Covering our sin will shut us off from all the glorious promises of Holy Spirit empowerment. That’s why we begin the pursuit of an obedient relationship with God by examining the law, allowing the Spirit to shine the bright light of His revealed will into the inmost recesses of our hearts. Then we are eager to open the door to His treasure house of spiritual guidance and blessing.
How do we open the door? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confessing our sins means agreeing with God about them, uncovering them, exposing them to the light of His Word. Remember, no excuses, no rationalizing — full disclosure. And no generalizations either. We need to be specific.
Think about your shortcomings in keeping the commands. Pause and pray. Thank God for a law you have studied that will help you realign your thinking or behavior. Confess and repent of any offense against God’s law of which you have been convicted, if you have not already done so. Thank God for His promise of overcoming power through His Holy Spirit. Commit to trust Him for that.