Teaching Point Three: If we confess, God forgives and cleanses us.
As important and helpful as it is to confess to other human beings, ultimately each of us has to confess our sins to God. He is the primary one we have offended, and he is the only one who can do something about it.
- [Q] John says that if we confess our sins, God will do two things (v. 9). What are they?
- Leader’s Note: First, he will forgive us. To forgive someone is to release them from their debt and obligation. When someone forgives a loan, it means you no longer need to make payments on that loan. When God forgives you for your sin, it means you no longer need to pay for that sin. You don’t need to punish yourself. You don’t need to do penance. You’re off the hook. The second thing God will do is cleanse us: “and to purify us from all unrighteousness.” That word purify could just as easily be translated cleanse. To purify something is to remove what doesn’t belong there. To cleanse something is to get rid of the dirt.
- [Q] Forgiveness releases us from guilt. Cleansing removes our shame. Forgiveness takes care of our past. Cleansing makes possible our future. Why are both necessary for us to go deeper in the Christian life?
- [Q] Read 1 John 2:1–2. How do these verses explain how God can both forgive and cleanse us and still be a just God?
- Leader’s Note: God can forgive our sin because Jesus paid for it by his death on the cross. God can cleanse our sin, because the blood of Jesus washes it away—no matter how deep the stain.
Optional Activity: You will need index cards or sticky notes, a fireplace, fire pit, or fireproof metal bowl, matches or a lighter. Read the following: Christ died for us while we were still sinners, before we even knew that we needed forgiveness. But we experience the deep sweetness of God’s forgiveness when we confess our sins and when we forgive others.
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
—Study by Bryan Wilkerson, with JoHannah Reardon
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