My youngest son just walked in soaking wet from the belly down. Not even seeming to notice (or hoping I wouldn’t) he said calmly, “Hey Dad, can I get my swimming suit on and go in the stream?” We have a small stream behind our house that our kids love to play near and around, but hardly ever IN. So, his request came as a bit of a surprise.
I asked, “Hey Hudson, did you go into the stream with your clothes on?” (Playing dumb.) The response came back, “Ummm….no.” I pressed on, “Then how did you get all wet?” “Ummmm…….I dunno…….Hey Dad, can I put my swimming suit on and go in the stream?” Clearly we had quickly come full-circle on this conversation.
I said, “Hudson, you’re all wet.” He looked at his clothes momentarily, raised his head to look at me and said, “That’s no problem.”
What is it about doing the wrong thing that messes up our thinking? Since it’s terribly hard to accidentally do the wrong thing, most of the wrong things we do (like going into the stream with our clothes on) are thought out, even if the thinking starts and ends nanoseconds before the wrong thing is done.
But we know when we’ve “stepped in it”, don’t we? We have that sense of “uh oh” and sometimes we have the crazy audacity to come to God the Father dripping wet and acting like we’re bone dry. We sometimes completely skip over the step of talking with Him about why we’re dripping on the carpet and go right to making our requests. We do that because confessing our sins to God isn’t very comfortable. We rationalize our behavior with thoughts like, “God already knows what I’ve done wrong, so it really doesn’t need to be brought up or discussed.” and “God knew what I was going to do before I did it, and He already forgave me so I can just forget about it.”
But let’s allow God’s Word to speak here: 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
The word “confess” is “homolageo” and means literally “to say the same”. When we see sin in our lives, our confession is when we say the same thing about it that God says about it. Essentially, confession is agreeing with God that a sin is a sin. We don’t sugarcoat, we don’t gloss over, we don’t sweep under, we don’t dismiss. We face it, and SAY THE SAME as God says about it. Only then can we rightly partake of the forgiveness that is ours by the blood of Jesus’ death on the cross. Our confession triggers His faithful response of justice—wait a minute here—justice?!? The verse says that God is “faithful and JUST…” Where in the world is the justice? How do forgiveness and justice go together? In human terms, forgiveness and justice don’t seem to be anywhere near each other. You either forgive OR you dispense justice. If you punch me in the face, I can either forgive you OR dispense justice by punching YOU in the face. So, how can the concepts of justice AND forgiveness be found together in apparent harmony in this verse?
It’s because Jesus on the cross satisfied once and for all the justice of God’s holiness. God’s holiness demanded a holy sacrifice. Jesus was that supply. Jesus was that sacrifice. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit…”
So, when we confess (say the same as God about) our sins, the forgiveness (made possible by the satisified justice of God through Jesus on the cross) is applied to that sin and we are purified from all unrighteousness. Now, if you read that verse again, you’ll read that God does “purify us from all unrighteousness.” That means that every sin, every flaw, every decision we’ve made, every word we’ve said, and every thing we’ve done is purified by the hand of God.
But it all begins when we confess. I know this may not be a pleasant illustration, but I’ve always felt that vomiting is a great illustration of confession. You see, vomiting happens when your body rejects something that has been put into it; either by something you ate, or by virus. Just like that, your spirit knows when something has entered that doesn’t belong there, that isn’t part of God’s will and plan for you. And the only way to get rid of it is to confess, to vomit, to expel it from your life. Have you ever noticed that you usually feel better after puking ? When all of that virus, that food item, that whatever-it-is is gone, you have a sense of relief.
What sin are you holding in? Are you coming before God in dripping wet clothes but pretending you’re dry? Puke that thing out, call it what it is, and allow God to purify you from all unrighteousness.