It could not be admitted to be good news that we still sin. It is the daily burden and grief of the Christian that he must still wrestle with that indwelling sin which is so offensive to God, and so offensive to his heaven-born nature. Nevertheless, we find in this confirmation that in our flesh there dwells no good thing. Moreover, we are preserved from despondency in this battle, because of the comfort that John hastens to provide us. Yes, the apostle has reminded us that we still contend with sin, and too often fall before it. But he also reminds us that there is forgiveness with the Lord. He points us to the glorious principle of Proverbs 28:13, that he who confesses and forsakes his sin will find mercy. Those who recognize their sinfulness, and come to God in full and frank confession, hiding nothing, will find Him not cold and harsh, but graciously accepting our repentance, and cleansing us with the blood of His Son.
John would emphasize to us here the absolute necessity of perfect frankness with God. That verse from Proverbs mentioned above begins with the warning, “He that covereth his sin shall not prosper.” We cannot afford to be duplicitous with God. It is useless to attempt to conceal anything from Him, for He sees all and knows all. Since He knows every sin we have committed, even the ones which may have escaped our notice, it behooves us to acknowledge His omniscience by humbly confessing all the sins of which we become cognizant, admitting their guilt and ill desert, and imploring always fresh mercy. Those who come to God in such a spirit of humility and contrition never fail to be accepted, and all because of the work of the Mediator on our behalf. God delights in mercy, and thus He delights to wash away the guilt of those who confess their sins to Him.
God is both “faithful” and also “just” in forgiving our sins. How might this be? Is it not a breach of justice for Him to overlook the sin of one guilty party, while imputing the guilt and exacting the full punishment upon others? Not at all. The genius of the Gospel is that it makes God to be both just, and the justifier of Him that believeth in Jesus. God overlooks no sin. Every sin that has ever been committed in His universe will be equitably punished. The sin of impenitent men and fallen angels will plunge them into the abyss of hell for eternity. Those who arrive safe in glory, to enjoy the new heaven and the new earth, will do so not because God has conveniently overlooked their transgressions, but because their guilt was imputed to Christ, Who suffered for it on the cross, bearing the full penalty in His own body. This is the only way guilt can be removed short of hell. No other religion in the world provides such a remedy for guilt. This is the one sacrifice that can truly take away sin, and it will do so forever for those who trust in the sinner’s great Substitute.
Not only is God just to forgive those who confess their sins and plead for mercy, He is also “faithful.” This word points us to the promises of God. The Scripture is full of heavenly oracles which pledge forgiveness even for the wicked, if they will confess and forsake their sins, and seek the Lord. If the wicked man will forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and turn unto the Lord, they will find Him a God Who abundantly pardons. The Saviour Himself offered the promise that He will receive the weary and heavy laden, those crushed under a burden of guilt, desperately seeking a remedy before they are plunged into the regions of woe. He pledged His own character upon the promise, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” Many more promises could be multiplied, but the point is sufficiently made. The God that cannot lie has given His word that all sinners, no matter how black their record of crime, who turns to him in genuine repentance, seeking His mercy, will surely obtain that for which they seek. Through Jesus Christ, God’s promises are yea and amen. Through Christ, our God is both faithful and just to forgive us our sins. This is the comfort of the sinner who first comes to Christ, and it is the comfort of the Christian who still wrestles with those malignant foes, the world, the flesh, and the devil.