Now let’s look at 1 John 1 and then we’ll sum up this study. In 1 John 1:7 John says that if we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ continuously cleanses us from all sin. This is a description of believers. John had earlier said in verse 3 that our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul asks what fellowship righteousness and unrighteousness can have with one another. The implication from the passage is that they cannot. But here John is saying we have fellowship with both God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. If we are to have fellowship with God or better if God is to have fellowship with us, we can’t be unrighteous. But why aren’t we unrighteous? Because we have been cleansed by the blood of Christ and our sins have been removed from us and the cleansing is ongoing and continuous.
So 1 John 1:7 is speaking of believers. If on the other hand, we walk in darkness, or deny that we sin, or deny that we have a sin nature, we are lost (1 John 1:6, 8, 10). So we’re not talking about two kinds of Christians here but the difference between believers and unbelievers.
In the middle of these verses we come to 1 John 1:9 which most of us are familiar with. In my opinion, this verse is primarily a verse contrasting believers with the unbeliever mentality mentioned in verses 6, 8, and 10. It is not primarily a verse about daily confession of particular sins. Please don’t read this statement as though I am saying we don’t need to confess sins. I’m not saying that. But this verse is primarily a verse that tells us the contrast between an unbeliever who doesn’t admit he is a sinner and the believer who confesses that he is a sinner.
If we walk with God in humility, acknowledging our situation as sinners, God is faithful and just to continuously forgive us of our sins and to continuously cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Notice the word “all”. His forgiveness and cleansing are continuous. It doesn’t get applied to each particular sin but His blood stands as the continuous cleansing agent for all of our sins, past, present and future, recognized and unrecognized, thoughts, attitudes and actions. We walk in the blaze of his all-seeing holiness and we have fellowship with him because our sins have been removed from us.
Sir Robert Anderson said, “It is not in order that it may thus cleanse him that the believer confesses his sin; his only right to the place he holds, even as he confesses, depends on the fact that it does thus cleanse him.”
Jesus Christ is our advocate or attorney pleading our case continually because his blood is the propitiation (continual satisfaction before God) for our sins (1 John 2:1-2).
So we can see from Scripture that God has provided for every aspect of our sin problem. He accepts Christ as our head and sees us as saints rather than sinners. He resurrects our dead spirit and provides the motivation to follow him. And finally he completely and totally forgives and removes all of our sins on a continual basis based on the sacrifice and continuing advocacy of his Son, Jesus Christ.
“According to this gracious covenant (the new covenant of Hebrews) the Lord treats His people as if they had never sinned. Practically, He forgets all their trespasses. Sins of all kinds He treats as if they had never been; as if they were quite erased from His memory. O miracle of grace! God here does that which in certain aspects is impossible to Him. His mercy works miracles which far transcend all other miracles. Our God ignores our sin now that the sacrifice of Jesus has ratified the covenant. We may rejoice in Him without fear that He will be provoked to anger against us because of our iniquities. See ! He puts us among the children; He accepts us as righteous; He takes delight in us as if we were perfectly holy. He even puts us into places of trust; makes us guardians of His honor, trustees of the crown jewels, stewards of the Gospel. He counts us worthy, and gives us a ministry; this is the highest and most special proof that He does not remember our sins. Even when we forgive an enemy, we are very slow to trust him; we judge it to be imprudent to do so. But the Lord forgets our sins, and treats us as if we had never erred. O my soul, what a promise is this! Believe it and be happy.”
You may be thinking, “Yes, that’s all well and good but we do sin. How do we overcome this sinful tendency?” That’s a topic for another day. But the short answer is that as we live by faith in the truth of Scripture, and meditate on his Word, God’s Spirit will gradually make us more like Christ:
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18
Sanctification — growing in Christlikeness, including the desire for such growth are all part of what Christ purchased for us on the cross and provided in the New Covenant. He gives the new life and the desire to grow.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Ezekiel 36:27
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 1 Corinthians 1:30 (Christ is our righteousness and our sanctification.)
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:3 (The question expects an answer of “No”.)
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