iPad Bible Study: Holiness, Confession, & Self-Righteousness

In our previous Bible Study, John goes after anyone who says they know Jesus better than himself.  It’s hard to believe there were actually people going around – WHILE JOHN WAS STILL ALIVE! – claiming that their version of Jesus and Christianity was more legitimate than the apostles’ testimony, but the same thing is still happening today.  The apostles’ testimony is recorded for us in the Scriptures, but there’s no shortage of false teachers claiming they have a better, more “authentic” version of Jesus than the Jesus John preached.

In these next verses, John gets to the issue of so many false teachers.  They screw up sin.  They don’t get the doctrine of salvation right.  Their version of Jesus makes the REAL Jesus sound like a liar.

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People want to believe they have Christian fellowship without dealing with their sin?  They don’t.  Churches like that are no different than any other worldly social-institution.  Unless we walk in the light (holiness before God), we don’t have genuine fellowship with one another in Christ.  And our salvation is a joke, too.  The call to salvation demands repentance…turning away from sin!

Skip verse 8 and come back to it.  Verse 9 ties the message of “confession” to the “cleansing” from sin in verse 7.  I highlighted the word “cleanse” in both verses.  “Walking in the light” (repentance) requires “we confess our sins” (confession).

Bringing us to verses 8 and 10.  If we pretend to be self-righteous people – people who have no sin – there’s not an ounce of spiritual truth in us.  SELF-DECEPTION.  And it’s even worse than self-deception, because the gospel of Jesus requires us to recognize our sinfulness.  So when we pretend we don’t have any sin, we make Jesus out to be a liar!

Christian people had better be people who work to walk in HOLINESS.  We better be fighting sin in our lives, while at the same time, owning up to it when it makes an unwanted appearance. But here we can be relieved on this point:  when we DO confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

How can God be “just” while forgiving sinners?  What kind of a judge let’s the criminals off the hook?

That question leads us, once again, to the cross of Jesus.  On that cross a debt was paid.  And on the grounds of that payment, God is JUST to forgive our sins when we acknowledge them before Him in faith that he will, indeed, forgive – because of Jesus.


  1. “How can God be “just” while forgiving sinners? What kind of a judge let’s the criminals off the hook?

    That question leads us, once again, to the cross of Jesus.” ……I have been pondering just this idea a lot over the last few weeks. It struck me that there on the cross every aspect of God’s character was fully satisfied. It is ONLY at the cross that this could be true. I am in awe of the creativity, the sacrifice, the completeness of all that God committed to achieving a way forward which did satisfy completely His character. It has challenged me to consider how quickly I default to satisfying only one aspect of God’s character (and often not actually doing that either.) I am tired and my child misbehaves…I will be gracious ( I don’t have the energy to discipline.) I am tired and my child misbehaves…I will be just (I am too tired to control my anger.) I believe in diligence and responsibility…I won’t give to those in need. I want to love those who suffer…I will give money to the homeless man, knowing he will just spend it on alcohol, rather than seeking to meet his real needs ETC. ETC. ETC. What would happen if I was convinced that just as God was able to act in complete consistency with His character, at the incarnation, the cross and the Resurrection, He has provided means for me to act in a way that fully reflects His character in every situation I face. What if I took the time to think and pray and was willing to sacrifice to act on it. I’m pretty sure I still wouldn’t come very close to reflecting His holiness, love, justice, mercy, diligence, humility, meekness, creativity,…. to those around me but perhaps I would come a bit closer than I am now. I am so very grateful for His grace and mercy!