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 (ESV)
All of us have need of forgiveness and cleansing. We came into this world with inherent sin and even since becoming Christians we find ourselves doing things we don’t want to do and not doing the things we should. Even though the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us (2 Corinthians 5:21) it seems that our flesh is in constant war against our spirit. With the apostle Paul we declare, Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25a ESV)
It is in Jesus Christ we find the remedy for our sin; the forgiveness we desperately need. He himself said that the blood he was to shed was being poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). The message of forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ was profoundly prevalent after the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38; 5:31; 10:43). We find the same message in Paul’s epistles (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). Because of God’s faithfulness to his covenant and through the redemptive work of Christ we have this great promise that if we acknowledge our sins God will forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. To forgive and cleanse us means that God sends forth our sins or puts them away and then purifies our souls.
Though we desperately need forgiving and cleansing, God has a much bigger plan in fulfilling this promise to us. The psalmist wrote, If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (Psalm 130:3-4 ESV) God forgives and cleanses us so that we would fear him; so that we would both be frightened of him and hold him in reverence. Should we be frightened of God? Jesus said, And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 ESV) The psalmist wrote, Serve the LORDwith fear, and rejoice with trembling. (Psalm 2:11 ESV)
I am not saying that Christians should go about life being afraid that God will cast you into hell. The writer of Hebrews wrote that with confidence we can enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19). With confidence we can go to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16), like when we need to confess our sin. Though we can go to the throne of grace with confidence, we should never go with the attitude that we have earned the right to be there. We go in reverential fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). When we fear and reverence God we give him his rightful place. God told Isaiah not to fear what other people fear, but honor the Lord as holy, let him be your fear and him be your dread (Isaiah 8:13).
Us being forgiven and cleansed is much more about God being faithful and just than about us being forgiven and cleansed. It is about the praise of God’s glorious grace and him receiving the glory due his name. It is about God being seen as infinitely glorious and the supreme treasure of the universe.
Have you been forgiven and cleansed? Have you seen God for the infinite treasure that he is?
Scriptures for meditation:
Acts 13:38; 26:18