By Kenny Bruce
Pastor Emeritus, Leawood East Baptist Church, Memphis
Focal Passage: I John 1:5-2:2
God’s desire is to fellowship with us and to fill us with His joy. To experience this a person must be saved. John wrote I John so that every Christian could know for certain that he has been forgiven, saved, and is heaven-bound.
- To maintain fellowship there must be a consciousness of sins (I John 1:5-10). Because God is light (v. 5), we are to walk in the light by pursuing holiness. The result is fellowship with God. Sin breaks that fellowship. To maintain that closeness, we must continually be aware of our sins. According to Psalm 51:5 we were conceived in sin. David added in verse 3, “… my sin is ever before me” (NASB). If a person denies that there are sins in his life, he is deceiving himself (1:8) and calling God a liar (1:10). Because of our knowledge of sin in our lives, we should pray daily for God to examine us, try us and test our minds and hearts (Psalm 26:2). As soon as He points out a sin in our lives, we should confess it.
- To maintain fellowship there must be a confession of sins (v. 9). To confess means that we agree with God about our sins. Sometimes we may know that we are sinning, but we may not confess the sin because we haven’t agreed with God about the sin. For example, even though we know that worry is a sin, we keep worrying. It is not until we agree with God that our worrying is a sin that we confess it and He forgives and delivers us. The word “confess” in verse 9 is in the present tense. We are to be continually confessing our sins throughout the day and night.
- To maintain fellowship there must be a cleansing of sins (1:9-2:2). God promises to forgive and cleanse, and there is a difference as illustrated with the following story: A mom dresses her 4-year-old son for church. He slips outside and falls in a mud puddle, then comes back into the house and asks his mother to forgive him. She forgives and then instructs him to go into the bathroom, take off his clothes, get in the bathtub and wash the mud off. He replies, “I don’t want to wash off.” He wants forgiveness but not cleansing.
Too many Christians are like that. They want God to forgive them, but they don’t want God to take away their sin. We know for sure we are forgiven because we live our lives according to God’s promises, and I John 1:9 promises forgiveness and cleansing. Second, we are confident of our forgiveness because we have Jesus Christ as our advocate (2:1). Jesus intercedes on our behalf, reminding God that He shed His blood for all of our sins.
When God forgives us, we are set free from our sin (John 8:36). Fellowship with God is restored, His joy is made full in us, and times of refreshing return from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).