Hercules was perhaps the greatest of the heros of Greek mythology. He was the strongest man on earth. Besides tremendous physical strength, he had great self-confidence and considered himself equal to the gods. If you know the story of Hercules, you know that he was given twelve difficult and dangerous tasks to accomplish in order to atone for his guilt at having killed his own wife and children. These tasks became know as The Twelve Labors of Hercules. The hero's fifth task was to clean the Augean Stables in one day. King Augeas, the son of the sun god Helios, had great herds of cattle whose stables had not been cleaned for over thirty years. Hercules accomplished the task by diverting two mighty rivers and redirecting them toward the barn. The rivers flowed through with a great rush and the barn was sparkling when he was finished.
The ancient Greek myths sometimes provide us good illustrations of biblical truths. Hercules’ fifth labor reminds us that confession of our sin directs the rivers of God’s grace and mercy through our hearts and cleanses them of the filth that builds up. Unconfessed sin, like the manure of the Augean Stables, builds up in the believer’s heart, layer after layer creating an unsightly mess and releasing a huge stink until it is mucked-out by our confession and repentance.
Our central text for the morning is 1 John 1:9—“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NIV84)
John writes this passage because there were those who, though they professed to know God, were spreading some really bad theology about the nature of sin and how a believer should deal with sin.
- Some said that they were above sin and no longer sinned.
- Some said that sin didn't matter.
- Still others said that they didn't have a sin nature anymore.
John refuted all three and calls us to deal Scripturally with our sin. He does this by addressing the nature of God as light and then calls us to walk in that light. He then describes how to do this. Walking in the light means regularly confessing our sins to God that we might experience his cleansing.
Three points this morning: 1) The Purpose of Confession, 2) The Power of Confession, and 3) The Promise of Confession.
I. THE PURPOSE OF CONFESSION —"If we confess our sins… “
- the Apostle tells us that we cannot walk in darkness while claiming to have fellowship with God
- if we do, we’re living a lie
- walking in the light means that we will have a Biblical understanding about sin
- the Apostle tells his readers that if we confess our sins ...
- in that simple statement he is attempting to help his readers—and us—correctly deal with the sin in our lives
A. THE INCORRECT WAYS PEOPLE DEAL WITH SIN
- 1ST, people deal incorrectly with sin through compartmentalized faith
- “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6–7, NIV84)
- one of the false teachings John is having to correct is the idea that if one knows and believes in the right things, that they have a relationship with God regardless of the way they are living
- how does this attitude toward sin manifest itself?
- this is the person who says, “I’m not a bad person. I live a pretty good life. I believe in God, but my life is my life, and no preacher or organized religion has a right to tell me how to live. Besides there are a lot of people who do worse things than I do.”
- ILLUS Their motto is, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The problem is many Americans are living their faith this way. When you compartmentalize your faith the slogan becomes “What happens at church, stays at church” or “What happens away from church, stays away from church.” Many Christians are living out their faith only Sundays at church. And when they don’t feel like being a Christian, they stuff their church selves away until Sunday when they need to be good again.
- if you claim to be in fellowship with God, but your life is characterized by an unregenerate walking in unrepentant sin, John says, You’re a liar—you really don’t know God despite your protests to the contrary
- “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8–9, NIV84)
- a second false teaching the Apostle John is dealing with is the idea that once we have a right relationship with God, we will be free from all sin
- how does this attitude toward sin manifest itself?
- this is the person who says, “I’ve been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. All my sin has been atoned for so I never worry about my sin. I know that when I do sin, that God takes care of it.”
- ILLUS. Their motto is, “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.”
- “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:1–4, NIV84)
- positionally, your justification in Christ has atoned for—all your sins, past, present, and future—they are indeed covered by the blood of Christ
- practically, your sanctification in Christ requires continued repentance and confession of sin as you strive to conform your life to the life of Jesus
- “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14–16, NIV84)
- "If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:10, NIV84)
- a third false teaching the Apostle John is dealing with is the idea we really have not sinned at all
- how does this attitude toward sin manifest itself?
- this is the person who says, “I’m not a bad person. I live a pretty good life. You know, there are a lot of really bad people in the world. Compared to them, I’m a pretty good person. When it comes right down to it, most people are pretty good at heart.”
- ILLUS. Their motto is, Sin? What sin? I ain’t got no stink’n sin. What we’ve done is merely amended our language in regard to sin. Many folks will admit to committing “errors of judgment” or “making mistakes” or “struggling with inner demons”, but God forbid we call it what the Bible calls it—SIN.
- everyone ever born is a really bad person
- I’m a sinner
- You’re a sinner
- “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6, NIV84)
- ILLUS. How bad is that? Well, we’re like rags used to clean up the foulest of messes. We’re like a leaf in the fall of life that has dried up, and curled up, and shriveled up—there is no life or beauty or usefulness. We’re like a wind-blown landscape were the breeze blows us from one place to another and scatters our lives.
- the Apostle Paul tells the Ephesian Christians that before they came to faith in Christ that they were darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts (Eph. 4:18)
- simply because you deny your sin by calling it something else, doe not mean that you are not a sinner
B. THE CORRECT WAY CHRISTIANS DEAL WITH SIN
- in order to understand the purpose of confession we must first understand what John means by the word confession
- what does it mean to confess our sins?
- the word confess is from the Greek verb homologeo, meaning to say the same thing or to agree with
- to confess means to say that same thing about something that God is saying about it
- when God in His Word says that the thing you did is sin, you are to agree with God’s way of looking at it
- you are to say, “You are right, Lord, I agree with you that this thing I did, or this thought I had, or this word I said is sin.”
- that is what it means to confess your sins
- this is the correct way for a Christian to deal with sin in his own life
- when God calls something “sin” we are not to obfuscate, deny, or argue for a lesser charge
- we acknowledge the reality of our transgression and plead the blood of Christ
- if we look at our text we will see some practical clues as to how confession plays out in our lives
- "If"—suggests that confession is an act of free will and not forced upon us by God or man
- God does not coerce us or pressure us into confession
- “If” means that we will openly and honestly face sin without hiding it or finding excuses for it
- "We"--"Our"—means that confession is for everyone; all have sinned and are responsible for their own sin
- it’s always easy to see the other guy’s sin—it’s harder to see the sin within
- “We” means taking a deep, introspective inventory of our own sin
- "Sins"—at the root of confession are our transgressions against God
- our disobedience against the commands of God are not “errors of judgment" or "mistakes" or "struggles with inner demons”—they are sin, and we’re usually guilty of multiply ones
- "Confess"—means admitting wrong doing, and taking personal responsibility for our sinful choices
- we confess our sins to show repentance and renewal of life, and we keep on confessing
- the verb confess is in the present, active tense which means confession is not a one-time event, but something the believer will regularly do as we become conscience of our sins and seriously attempt to deal with them
- confession, therefore, is admitting and taking responsibility for our sin by an act of our own free will
- Confession humbles us—it shows us who we are and who God is
- Confession is God's tool for changing us
- confession is not for God’s benefit, but for ours
- confession says that I’m in a love relationship with God and I won’t attempt to hide anything form Him or from myself
- Confession allows God's grace to be activated in our lives
- we are never closer to God than when we are on our knees confessing our weakness and His strength
- Confession allows us to be free
- the purpose of guilt is to drive us to Christ in confession and repentance
- once we do that we are free from it's power over us
II. THE POWER OF CONFESSION —“ ... He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
- how many of you know there is power in confession?
- the key to understanding this power is found in vs. 9
- "He"—God is the justifier of those who sin against Him
- He is willing to do so because He is abundant in grace and mercy demonstrated through the atoning sacrifice of His only begotten son
- “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive withChrist even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4–5, NIV84)
- “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23–24, NIV84)
- “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:9–10, NIV84)
- there is no “maybe” here
- "Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NIV84)
- the question many believers ask is “Does the author of 1 John refer here to an initial confession of sins at conversion (when a person becomes a believer), or to ongoing confession of sins in the life of the believer?”
- the author is not worried about the initial justification of the people to whom he is writing
- he regards the members of the community who have “remained” and not “gone out” (1 John 2:19) as genuine believers
- the author points out that if Christians confess the sins they are aware of, they may be sure that God will forgive their sins
- forgiveness is perhaps one of the sweetest words in any language
- the verb forgive in this passage describes the act of canceling a debt and the restoration of the debtor
- today do you desire forgiveness of your sins? —today are you heavy laden and burdened?
- here is a way to begin to heal
- find a quite place
- speak your sin out loud
- believe and receive the promise of Christ when he says he will forgive you
- experience the powerful cleansing of Christ's forgiveness
III. THE PROMISE OF CONFESSION —“ ... and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- John does not give us a command only but also a promise
- the promise begins by forgiving us but it ends with purification
- "And"—shows us that forgiveness itself is not the end of God's promise to those who humble themselves
- the glorious promise of the gospel is the free and gracious forgiveness of sin given to everyone who truly repents and believes in the person and work of the Son of God
- that divine pardon is so comprehensive that God removes all believing sinners’ defilement, guilt, and punishment and replaces those things with righteousness, sanctification, and heavenly reward
- "Purify"—means to free from sin, guilt, or other defilement
- true believers are habitual confessors who demonstrate that God has not only pardoned their sin and is faithfully cleansing them daily from it, but has truly regenerated them, making them new creatures with holy desires that dominate their will
- “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1, NIV84)
- one of the things I find interesting is that even many non-believers will recommend confession because confession is good for the soul
- what they mean by that is that confession is psychologically and emotionally therapeutic
- weather-or-not there is really a God who really forgives sin is irrelevant
- it is an act that helps people feel good about feeling bad, ensuring that they “feel” forgiven and experience emotional and psychological healing
- the difference between therapeutic confession and biblical confession is that when the believer confess sin, an actual spiritual transaction takes place
- God really and actually restores the relationship and cleanses our conscience
- the Apostle is telling us that forgiveness in and of itself is not the end product of confession
- in Christ all sin is forgiven
- perhaps the most erroneous view of confession some believers gain from this passage is that believers are forgiven of only those sins they confess
- if that were correct, it would mean that unconfessed sins remain with believers until the judgment seat of Christ, at which time they will have to give an account for those iniquities
- but such is simply not the case
- no one will enter heaven with a list of unconfessed sins still hanging over his head because the finished work of Jesus Christ completely covers all of the sins of those who believe, including those that remain unconfessed
- but our regular confession of sin results in regular cleansing of guilt that in turn aids us in living in a regular relationship with God
- the promise of confession is that we will be cleansed and feel cleansed
The Apostle John would have us know ... 1. The purpose of Confession: To humble yourself before God. 2. The power of Confession: The forgiveness of Sins through Jesus Christ. 3. The promise of Confession: The cleansing and washing away of ones guilt.
As we come to our invitation time where I ask you to make a public commitment to Christ, let me ask your: 1st, Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? Has there been an initial conversion experience in your life where the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit has saved you and caused you to repent of your sin and confess Christ as Savior and Lord?
2nd, Are you, as a Christian, biblically dealing with your sin? Do you regularly and consistently ask God to show you your sin? Do you confess and repent of the sin he show you is a part of your life?