If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
What do you do if you have confessed your sin and received God’s forgiveness but continue to be afflicted with the after effects of your transgression? The after effects are the stain of sin – the residual vexation in your soul over what you have done. The stain of sin often is the shame, embarrassment or feelings of failure that continue to plague you. It can be a self loathing and inability to forgive yourself for the stupid choices that you’ve made. The stain of sin can also be an obsessive preoccupation with reliving your sin, which dangerously can become the tool of the flesh and the devil to subtlety lure you back into sins lair.
The quintessential verse in the Bible promising God’s unmitigated forgiveness process for repentant sin is quoted above from the first epistle of John. As an apostle, John had been privy to Jesus’ many teachings on the forgiveness of sin. He had been a witness at the foot of the cross where Jesus paid its awful price through the shedding of His blood. (see 1 John 1:7) And after the resurrection, he had seen first hand Jesus’ merciful forgiveness completely restore his buddy, the repentant denier, Peter.
It is important to note from John’s verse that forgiveness of sin has two key aspects. They are the forgiveness of sin and the cleansing of sin.
In simple terms, the forgiveness part is God forgetting our sin and the cleansing part is God helping us to forget it even as He has.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah, speaking prophetically on God’s behalf reiterates this same two part process. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25 NIV) The reference to “blotting” here means to literally wipe away any vestige (or stain) of the sin. To “remember no more” means to forget.
David deals even more specifically with the cleansing part of forgiveness in his prayer in Psalm 51. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (vs. 1-2 NIV)
There are a number of references throughout the Bible to God’s forgetting our sin. One of the most picturesque is the verse out of Micah: “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” (7:19 NLT) Who cannot help but love the image of our sins being buried in the depths and vastness of the sea?
So God forgiving and forgetting our sins when we repent and ask forgiveness is an established fact. But where we often get hung up is in our forgiving and forgetting our sin. That is why the second part of the 1 John 1:9 promise is so important. God is also committed to cleansing us from the stain of our sin, enabling us to forget it as well. Getting hung up on our shame, self hatred and/or obsessing about it rob us of our confidence in God. It keeps us from moving on in God and living in a place of victory.
There is a familiar detergent ad for stain removal that encourages us to “Shout it out!” That is also one of the best, sure-fire remedies I know for spiritual stain removal. Sometimes the only way to silence the voices of the stain (self, sin and Satan) is to shout it out with the Word of God.
The stain of sin needs to be treated like a temptation. Every temptation Jesus faced was met by His proclaiming the truths of the Word of God. (Luke 4:1-13) He literally drowned out the Devil’s lies with the truth. Every lie and subtle temptation radiating from the stain of sin needs to be addressed the same way and with the same persistence. Shout it out with the truth! He promised to “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Profess and proclaim that cleansing. Stand firm on that cleansing. Defend your spiritual life with that cleansing. As you shout it He’ll be faithful and just to do it!
Comments are always welcome!
Click Here for an email subscription to this blog.