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Author: Ron Graham

1st John

Forgiveness of Sins
—What John says about Sin~2

This lesson continues to look at what John says about sin. In this lesson we concentrate on how Jesus provides the way to be forgiven of sin and to conquer it through him.

1 Jesus provides the way to forgiveness of sins

Jesus is our advocate and the means of atonement for our sins, and no sin is unforgivable. "The blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanses us from all sin" (1John 1:7). "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins..." (1John 2:1-2).

Jesus came to save us from our sins. "He appeared in order to take away sins" (1John 3:5).

2 Jesus was without sin

John describes Jesus as "Jesus Christ the righteous" (1John 2:1). "In him there is no sin" (1John 3:5).

This fact made it possible for Jesus, and Jesus alone, to be the propitiation or atonement for our sins. The darkness in us can be taken away through him who had no darkness in himself.

3 Sins need not lead to death

John makes a distinction between "a sin unto death" and "a sin not unto death" (1John 5:16). "All unrighteousness is sin", however, a Christian is different to a godless person whose sin leads to more sin, entrapment by the evil one, and spiritual death.

In the Christian, sin is out of character, is recognised as such, and dealt with —the sin is confessed and forgiveness sought. The sin does not result in spiritual death but is remedied. By this process, a person can "overcome the evil one" (1John 2:13).

This process does not rely on our own strength (for example whether we can perfectly account for every sin we commit). It relies on our placing ourselves in God’s  strength.

When John says, "You are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one" he has in mind that "you abide in him" and that's what makes the overcoming possible (1John 2:14,27).

4 We can pray for forgiveness of sin

When we are aware of sin in the lives of those who are abiding in God and walking in the light, we should "ask of God" (1John 5:16).

There is no reason why we should not do this for ourselves as well as others. "We shall assure our heart before him, in whatever our heart condemns us... whatever we ask we receive from him..." (1John 3:19-24).

So let us confess our sins to God, and ask forgiveness, for we know it is "according to his will" to grant it (1John 5:14-16).

Jumping In and Out of Grace?

We Christians should also understand that we don't jump in and out of grace and condemnation. We are not one moment in a “state of grace” and the next in a state of condemnation having to jump back into grace.

When John says that Christ's blood "cleanses us from all sin" (1John 1:7-10) he speaks of a continuous process in which we deal with our sins within God’s fellowship and protection.

Only if we persist in sin willfully and unrepentantly do we lose our fellowship and forgiveness with God, and no longer walk in his light.

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