Saying What God Says
1 John 1:9
On a hot summer day, you glance out the window just in time to see your six-year old son angrily whack his buddy with the nozzle end of the garden hose. With a bandage applied, you walk the friend home and apologetically explain to his mom what happened. Back at home, you know your son was at fault, but there’s something he needs to learn—how to confess.
“Billy, tell me what happened,” you begin. “Sam wouldn't let go of the hose, and it was my turn to squirt the kids,” he offers. “What about the cut on Sam’s forehead,” you continue. “The hose hit him,” Billy suggests. It takes a while, but once Billy realizes that you saw everything that happened, he is finally willing to confess: “I got mad and hit Sam with the hose.” Up until that moment, he had not confessed. Instead of a pilgrimage for absolution, he had been on a fishing trip, looking for the lowest common denominator between you and him. Only when his words matched what you saw did confession occur. Once he confessed, he was ready to seek and receive forgiveness—but not before.
Many adult Christians lack the skill of confession mentioned in 1 John 1:9. An easy was to understand confession is to understand two things: First, God sees everything. Second, we have to say the same thing he sees and says. The Greek word for confess mean to “say the same as.” When John says, “If we confess our sins...” he means, “If we say the same thing about our sin that God says about it...” When we agree with God’s assessment of our sin, God is “faithful and just and will forgive us... and purify us...”
When we ask God to forgive us for something that is different than what he saw and heard (“I was mistaken” instead of “I lied”) we are fishing, not confessing. God knows what he sees and hears, and expects us to confess the same thing. When forgiveness is the result, why would we say anything less?
God’s Promise to You: “If we can agree about the presence of sin, we can agree about its removal.”