If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9—NKJV)

Sin is the great disqualifier of mankind and prohibits man from any and all entrance into the holy presence of God. One of the telltale signs that a man is engulfed in his sin and dead spiritually, is his willingness to allow his elementary consciousness of his sin problem to be satisfied by ritual, excuse, sophistry, or custom. He takes only passing note of the biblical truth found in Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.” Man’s spiritual darkness is such that as long as he is making an effort to take steps in the right direction, then God is under obligation to be pleased with him and make allowances.

This failure to identify that acts of sin come from a sinful heart that is inextricably amalgamated with our fallen nature, leads to many false conclusions that substitute for biblical doctrine. It also excuses man from fully recognizing the “breadth, length, depth, and height” of the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:18) in His sublime sacrifice, the Just for the unjust. It further allows man to sidestep his obligation to Jesus’ rightful claim of Lordship over all men as their Creator and their Redeemer.

When a man chooses to deal with his sin problem with any poor substitute rather than through the application of the precious blood of Jesus Christ through faith, it is as if he is falling into the false doctrine John was fighting against. Substituting ritual satisfaction of the sin-debt, and thinking that through some form of self-effort you are a free man, is the problem addressed in 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin (not I have not sinned, but there is no sin in me—the denial of the indwelling sin nature and its consequence of death), we deceive ourselves (for no one else is deceived about it), and the truth is not in us.” Disqualification and banishment from the presence of the holy God are our just deserts; there is not, nor can there be, leniency precisely because God is holy and just.

However, if by the grace of God, a sinner is awakened through the Holy Spirit to see the reality of the yawning chasm between God, good, and life on the one hand, and himself, sin, and doom on the other, then he begins to comprehend the meaning of being “lost.” In the panic of dread for his condemnation and realizing the uselessness of self-effort to escape the quicksand of his just punishment, he can only cry out for rescue to the only One who is a fit Savior. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived a sinless life, fulfilled the whole law so that He could die as your substitute, bearing your sin upon Himself, and paid your penalty in full so that the just wrath of God for your sin was satisfied. His sacrifice cleared the way for God to declare you free of penalty and grant you the declaration of being justified in the righteous presence of the heavenly Father.

If you have received a biblical understanding of your sin’s pervasiveness, penalty, cost, and only remedy, you are fit to begin to comprehend the preciousness of verse 9. “Confess” means to say the same thing that God does about sin, to agree with God as to your sin’s high-handed offense to Him, your well-deserved guilt, full admission of the truth, and unconditional embrasure of repentance. God’s promise is that despite your unfaithfulness, He is faithful, and despite your unrighteousness, He is just. His faithfulness and His justness are active in order that He may forgive (to send away, dismiss, remit a debt) your sins on each occasion and keep on cleansing you from every defilement (effect of twisting and deforming of righteousness). Fellowship is restored as between a father and a son.

Are you allowing your guilty conscience to be quieted only by the death of Jesus Christ, or by some ritualistic substitute? Do you keep a short confession account book with your heavenly Father? Trust and obey.