Confessing leads to being credited
Because God is holy and because we would be lying if we say we are without sin, we need some way to have access to God, thankfully He provided that way for us in the cross of Christ.
v.9 tell us:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The word for confess means to speak something plainly with no hiding. When we confess our sins, we acknowledge how bad we have screwed up and that we can do nothing about it in and of ourselves.
One of the coolest things I found when looking at the Greek of this text and researching the way people interpret this passage is that when you look at the literal translation of this verse after we confess “our sins,” they are referenced as “the sins.” Once they have been confessed to God, He forgives them and they no longer belong to us anymore. They have become the sins and no longer our sins.
Again, John uses the word for all that speaks to every kind of unrighteousness there is. We see God as being righteous, which means that He can cleanse unrighteousness. That is a different term than sin. It speaks more of an overall situation, everything that does not meet God’s standard.
When going through this passage, it is important to remember that our walk is not what cleanses. Even our confession is not what does the job. If we confess, it happens, but the confession is not what does it. Confession only removes the barriers to allow God to credit to us His righteousness. This is a common theme through out the Bible.
2 Corinthians 5:21 reads:
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Romans 3:21-24 says:
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 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.
James, Galatians and Romans all quote Genesis 15:6: “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
There are so many people through out history and today that struggle with this concept, the idea of grace and righteousness being granted to us apart from our works. Martin Luther was one who struggled and worked for over 30 years trying to do the impossible – earn grace.
There is nothing we can do to earn God’s righteousness. We all “fall short.” We all need help. God is the one who provides that. We simply must confess our need for Him, which frees Him to credit our faith in Him as righteousness.
Unfortunately, there is another side of the coin which John discusses in consequence number 5.