If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NASB)
“If we” is a conditional statement. There is a requirement on our part. “We”, those who put their faith and trust in Jesus the Messiah, must make a decision.
“Confess” means to say the same. Confession is not just an acknowledgement of sin, making a list of our sins, but it means to change our attitude. To confess means to say the same thing that God says, to have the same attitude towards sin that God has. It means more than simply understanding the Old Testament Law and the Prophets. It means accepting and agreeing with God’s point of view, what God taught about the Law through the Prophets. It includes the understanding that sin must be atoned for, individual sins as well as our sin nature.
“He is faithful and righteous.” God is always faithful, even when we are faithless. The difference is that His standards are righteous. God in holy and just. He must judge sin in righteousness.
“Forgive us our sins.” Jesus taught us in the model prayer, sometimes called the Lord’s Prayer, to pray And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. Luke 11:4
This is teaching us that our confession of sin will allow, permit the God of love to apply the covering for sin which He has already provided to our sins. This covering for sin is known as atonement. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for those who put their trust in Him. It means to put the sin as far away as the East is from the West.
“And to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” An atonement for our sins is essential. But in addition to atoning for our sins, God is changing us, making us new creations. This process includes cleansing us from sin. He changes our desires, what we want. He is cleansing our character. He is not simply covering sin, which must be done, but he is removing sin from our very being.
The ISV translates the first phrase. make it our habit to confess our sins. Applying the atonement takes place once, the new birth. But cleansing, becoming Christlike, is a process. Every time we yield to temptation we loss a battle.
Our entire spiritual warfare here on earth is an endless series of decisions to accept or reject the direction of God’s Holy Spirit as given to us in His Word. God is faithful and righteous.
Are we making it a habit to allow the Spirit of God to control us?