"That which we have seen and heard we declare unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ. And these things we write unto you that your joy may be full. This, then, is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, That God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son cleanses us from all sin. 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 just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Part 1 - I John 1:3-9
I find it intriguing that John desired for people to experience joy. Because of this, he shared what he knew about Jesus with the people in his life so that they could have a mature relationship with god that would result in joy. John knew that He was loved by Jesus and he loved people. His greatest desire seems to be the desire to relate to others around things that had eternal value. He also wanted them to experience true joy through an intimate walk with Christ.
One of the things that John wanted us to understand that was that we don't want to deceive ourselves in to thinking we no longer have the propensity to sin; we still have a bent to do wrong. Some people call it the flesh, some the old man, and some people call it the sin nature. John points out that if we deny our sinfulness, we are essentially calling God a liar rather than resting in His grace on a day by day basis. In fact, the closer our fellowship is with Christ the more aware we become of His holiness and of our own sinfulness. It is important to recognize our sinfulness, because if we aren’t we can begin to sin in small ways, which has the propensity to drive us towards sins that have much more serious impact and consequences. For example, a man who commits adultery does not wake up one morning and decide to go out and commit adultery. A drug addict did not wake up one morning and decide to become an addict. A girl involved in a premarital sex does not wake up one morning and decide to find a guy to have sex. Instead, it comes about through many small decisions.
John desired for his friends to have complete joy in Christ. He pointed out that to have joy they needed to confess their sins and be able to walk in the light. Confess in its original language means to agree with God about it. That means naming the sin specifically to God. It means statements like, "Father, I have been involved in gossip. I have lusted after a guy, etc." It would also include things like unholy thoughts or hateful attitudes. God forgiving our sin is not something that we should view as a license to keep on walking in a sinful path, but to agree with God about sin means that we also take it as seriously as He does, because it impedes our fellowship with him and hinders our ability to love as He loves. Grace is free to us, but we need to remember that definitely it cost God. It cost Him His Son. If we really believe that Christ took the wrath of God for our sin on the cross, why would we want to continue to play with that sin? When we sin we are sinning against a holy, righteous, faithful, and very loving God.
The rest of the story is that when we agree with God we also have to agree with God that it is forgiven. Some of us hold on to our sin and/or look for ways to punish ourselves when Christ already took our punishment for us when He died on the cross. If we are focused on past sin that we have already confessed we will be more apt to repeat that same sin. Change does not come from our beating ourselves up, it comes from the renewing of our minds with God's word and our focusing our minds on Christ. Christ did not die so that we would continue dwelling in our shame and guilt -- He died so that we could be full of the joy that comes from knowing we are completely forgiven and completely and forever loved and accepted.
It is good for us to pause and think about where we are in our relationship with God? Are we able to experience joy because we are honestly confessing our sin to Him and basking in His grace? Or, are we abusing God's grace by purposely choosing to in sin? Are we finding joy in His forgiveness or are we continuing to dwell in the shame and guilt? Are we spending enough time in His word to allow Him to transform our minds and place His Godly desires in us? Do we have the same heart towards our friends that John had towards his? Do we want them to have the joy that comes from knowing the Lord and walking in His truth? Oh that we would truly recognize all that Jesus has done for us and come to know His heart intimately so that we would not be able to stop talking about Him.
Prayer: Father, thank you that it is Your desire for us to experience joy in our relationship with You. Your holiness exposes our sin and we ask you to search our hearts and reveal the deceptive parts of them. Help us to remember that when we confess our sins You are faithful and righteous to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We bask in your grace and Your love. Please transform our minds and conform our wills to walk in obedience to your word. Give us the heart that John had towards his friends. Give us the desire to see them walk in truth and to have the joy that comes from confessing their sin. Give us the boldness to share Christ with unbelievers and confront sin in the lives of our Christian friends. Amen.