How have you sinned recently? Are you uncomfortable with that question? Do you have a hard time admitting that you sinned recently? Do you think that Christians aren’t supposed to sin? It is hard to admit that we still sin. We want to be perfect and not struggle with sin, and we will once we reach heaven, but until then the truth is we still do sin. Even I have to admit that I still sin, and far more frequently then I want.
John reminds us in his letter that as Christians we are purified by the blood of Jesus and righteous in his sight. However, he is quick to remind us in 1 John 1:8, 10 that we still sin, and to think or say or act otherwise is to deceive ourselves and treat God as a liar. This applies to us not only in our personal lives, but also to how we present ourselves to the other people in our church or youth group. How often do you act as though everything is perfect in your life even though you know that you sinned just before you came to church or youth group? That doesn’t mean that you need to go around telling everyone about your sins; that leads to pride and a false sense of spirituality. However, do be willing to admit that you sin when the subject comes up and be honest with your friends or leaders when you are struggling with a sin. I still find this difficult to put into practice consistently, but I’ve found that once I do it, it becomes easier the next time.
We also need to apply the truth that we still sin even as Christians to how we think about the other people in our church or youth group. We, or at least I, tend to think that other people are perfect, or at least that none of them are struggling with the same sin that I am. However, just as it is true that I still sin, it is true that they still sin. Instead of reminding ourselves of that truth, we tend to compare ourselves to them, and when we don’t measure up to the perfect life that we think they are living, we get discouraged. However, that is the wrong focus. We should be comparing ourselves to God who really is perfect rather than to other people who still sin.
So if we still sin, and the people around us still sin, what difference does it make to be a Christian? John answers that with 1 John 1:9, right in the middle of reminding us that we still sin. The difference is that even though we still sin, God forgives us. All that we must do is to confess our sin to God, literally that is honestly call it for the sin that it is. We don’t need to pay for the sin; that was already done by Jesus on the cross. We don’t have to stop sinning or do better next time, God promised that all we must do is confess it to him and it is forgiven.
As we think and live honestly about our sin, it gives us a proper perspective on life. It leads us to be more charitable toward others when they sin publicly, because we recognize that we still sin and need to be forgiven. It also helps us to not idolize other people, because we recognize that they are still human and still deal with sin, even though we may not see it most of the time. And it serves to continually remind us of God’s grace toward us by forgiving us without requiring us to pay for it.