Confession brings cleansing (1.9). “If we [as Christians] confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
This is a third class condition in Greek. That is, we have the potential to confess or not confess. If we do, we are forgiven and cleansed. We are now real when it comes to our sin. If we don’t, we won’t experience forgiveness of cleansing even though we are still children of God.
What is that we confess? Sins …specific ones that we sin every day. We say what God says about our sins (homologeo – speak same word), but we take responsibility for our sins too. We don’t deny our guilt (1.8) or disagree with God about sin’s presence in our lives (1.10), but we acknowledge that we are guilty before Him …that we have willfully sinned. Our confession is heartfelt and specific.
It’s not enough to say, “God, I’ve sinned today many times, please forgive me.” Instead, we confess all known sins. By the way, it would be impossible to confess every sin. When we confess our known sins, God is faithful and just. He keeps His promises without compromising His justice or righteous requirements punishing sin. This is possible because Jesus satisfied them!
God forgives us. He releases us from our debt. He does so because Jesus took our guilt upon Himself and shed His blood for us on the cross (cf. 2 Corinthians 5.21). God also cleanses us. He makes us morally pure. The cleansing we are given every day is accomplished through Jesus’ blood. Notice too that the verse tells us that God will not only cleanse us from the sins we confess but from all unrighteousness. Every shred of darkness and gloom dissipates and is removed from us when we confess. We may know enter the sphere of God’s glorious light!
As one man put it,
Though Jesus’ work on the cross is the basis of all cleansing, “we must be willing to confess our sins. God’s provision and man’s responsibility go hand in hand” (Kistemaker on 1 John, 247).
Be real about your sin before God. God will respond faithfully to your honesty.
With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; with a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; with the pure You will show Yourself pure; and with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks.” (Psalm 18:25–27)