I’ve been going through a Bible study by Kelly Minter called “What Love Is: The Letters of 1, 2, 3 John.” As you could probably tell by the title, the study is dedicated to 1, 2, and 3 John, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. (You can purchase the workbook here for only $12.99.)
In the study, Kelly has her readers going through John’s letters just a few verses at a time, trying to look in-depth at what John wanted to say. Yesterday, as I read, the study hit on 1 John 1:9.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
After having me fill in the blank with the two words in bold, the study had a “Personal Take” question for me to write down my thoughts. The question was this: “Why do you think that John used these particular two words in relation to God’s forgiveness toward us?”
“Faithful” was pretty easy for me- God is constant, trustworthy, not going to withhold his forgiveness once we’ve messed up too big or too often. But when I realized I was going to have to explain “just” in light of God’s forgiveness, I had to pause. I deserve punishment for my sins, and “justice” should equal me being punished for my sins, not being forgiven.
“For the wages of sin is death“ (Romans 6:23a)
As I sat, slightly perplexed, I said a quick prayer to ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand how justice correlates with God and our forgiveness. Now, the Spirit doesn’t always answer my prayers for understanding immediately (or even at all), but after praying I instantly had understanding, and it blew my mind. Here’s what I realized:
Jesus already paid for my sins, so even though justice orignally demanded my life, in Christ justice demands that I go free.
The wages of sin is death, so Jesus died to pay for my sins. By accepting Jesus as my Savior, I accepted his payment for my sins. So it is now “just” that I am forgiven. It would be unjust for me to pay for a sin that was already paid for, when God, who is always truthful, said that accepting Christ gives me the free gift of forgiveness. I don’t know how to stress eloquently enough how amazing this is, so I’m just going to hope that you get it. God has used to Christ to make it just that I, a sinner, receive forgiveness!
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
It blows my mind that the use of one word (in some translations, the word is “righteous,” but the meaning still stands) can pack such an incredible theological punch. And it blows my mind that it is now just that I walk free because of Christ. How can I not be humble and grateful after realizing that? How can I wallow in shame or regret instead of living freely?
God has used Christ to make it righteous, just that I am free from my sins, and he has done the same for you. Can we mar God’s justice? No. We are truly free.
If you do not know Christ, but you want to, please send me a message! He wants to know you too, and I’d love to help you come to know him however I can.