What to do about your sins

Text 1 John 1:9, 2 Time 25 11 00 Place Childs Hill Baptist Church

(1 JOhn 1:8-10) 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. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
There are many famous verses in the Bible. Among the most famous is 1 John 1:9. It is one of the most quoted and best loved. Many of you here know it off by heart. I’ve never preached on it. In fact 1 John is a difficult book in some ways and so I may never have preached from it. Whatever, this is a great text and one not to be neglected by me or any preacher or by any of us, whether we are Christians or not. Most books of the New Testament are written by Paul but there are also other books by Luke and Matthew and Mark and Peter and James and Jude and may be someone else. There are five books written by John.
Besides the Gospel of John there is Revelation at the very end and then three letters we know as 1-3 John. They are what we call ‘General epistles’ – not written to specific churches but general letters to all Christians. John’s letters were written at the end of the first century AD when the church had been around for some while. There were problems with heretics and apostates and many believers were in need of help in knowing the truth and being sure about the truth. The teaching in 1 John is both simple and profound; both basic and fundamental and of the deepest and most difficult sort. We will just concentrate tonight on one verse, or rather the three verses 8-10.
1. Sin - The great problem that confronts us all
Sin is mentioned in all three verses – sin, sins, sins, sinned. Now what is sin? Different people have different ideas. For many sin = serious wrongdoing. For some it equals the sin of fornication or adultery (living in sin). For others religious word for doing wrong or religious wrongdoing. But what does the Bible say?
It is a big subject but, thankfully, in two places in this little letter John tells us what he means by sin.
1 John 5:7 All wrongdoing (unrighteousness) is sin.
1 John 3:4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
The Shorter Catechism 14 says: What is sin? Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the Law of God. Not doing what God commands or doing what he forbids. Disobeying or not conforming to God’s Law in any way. Examples would be not honouring your parents (not conforming to/neglecting to do what God requires) or adultery (disobeying, doing what God forbids).
To sin is to break the Law of God then in any way – falling short or going over. God has given us his Law, summed up in the Ten Commandments. Whenever we do anything or say anything or think anything against the letter or especially the spirit of the Commandments then we sin.
For example stealing; using God’s name in an unthinking way; coveting something.
Not honouring God on one day in seven; Lying, hateful thoughts.
It can eb summed up as Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind {Deut. 6:5} and, Love your neighbour as yourself. {Lev. 19:18}. Wherever we fail to do that we are guilty of sin.
2. How to deal with sin – the two alternatives
So that is what sin is. Now in the light of this there are really only two possible ways of dealing with sin.
1. The wrong way – Claim you have no sin
That is the first alternative. We can claim to be without sin, that we have not sinned. Now there are various ways of doing that. In John’s day some said there was a great difference between body and spirit – what the body does has nothing to do with the spirit so even though the body may commit adultery, it is not a sin as it does not affect the spirit. Only the spirit can sin. Over the centuries there have been many other people, especially religious people, who have claimed to be perfect. Now it sounds rather difficult and it is. What you need to do is to redefine your definition of sin. Most ‘perfectionists’ claim that they are guilty of ‘no known sin’ which is not nearly the same as no sin at all. More common is to redefine sin as only serious wrongs – really bad things. Some are more sophisticated and say there is no God to sin against or no Law of God to break. However you attempt it, this is a hopeless way of dealing with sin. It is what psychologists call denial. Being in denial is when you live and act as though something were not true. Your best friend dies but you go on as if they were still living. Along with this we find some of the other defence mechanisms psychology has labelled, repression pushing down those feelings of guilt you have; distortion reshaping reality to suit your ideas; rationalisation justifying sinful behaviour or thinking by blaming others; blame-shifting which is similar, etc.
Anyone here doing that? You know you have sinned. You know you are guilty of breaking God’s Law but you will not admit it.
2. The right way – Confess your sin to God
That is the answer – confess your sin. Own up. Acknowledge your sins. Say ‘Yes, I have sinned’. More specifically not to men but to God. Most people find it very hard to bottle up everything and never to admit their sins. So instead what they often do is to confess it to men. Many go to men who claim to be priests. You know it is an important part of Roman Catholicism, confession is one of their seven sacraments. Done in various ways (not always in a box sometimes more like group therapy). Others go to modern gurus like psychologists and psychiatrists and various other therapists who, although they may deny the very existence of sin are nevertheless father confessors to their ‘clients’. Similarly there are group therapies that involve similar things. ‘My name is Gary Brady and I am an alcoholic/gambler/sex addict/shopaholic, etc’. Some never go anywhere near such things but they still have a best friend who they confess to. You may have heard someone say ‘I just had to tell someone’.
Now what John is talking about here, of course, is not human confession but confessing to God, owning up to sin before him. Never easy but absolutely vital for us all to do. Without defending ourselves or justifying ourselves we need honestly and openly face up to our sins. We need to say ‘Yes, there are no excuses. I have broken the Law of God and I deserve to be punished. I am guilty.’ The word sin is in the plural – our sins are many and we need to confess not just the general fact that we have sinned but the specific sins we have committed. We will not remember them all but those that are particularly on our consciences should be confessed first. We need to dig a little too. Go through the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes – soon you will think for sins you have committed but have forgotten about. We need to confess them all. Easy to say ‘I’m a sinner’ but what sins? Obviously when we are in public we confess in a more general way but in private we ought to be specific. It literally says If we keep confessing our sins …. It should be a daily (even hourly) part of life.
Are you confessing your sins? Have you ever? Some of us find saying sorry very difficult. To admit we are wrong is very painful indeed. But the only alternative is to deny reality, to pretend we are not guilty. Suppressing guilt cannot be good for you. Even the world acknowledges that.
3. What happens when you deny your sin
Verses 8 and 10 remind us of the consequences of denying our sins. If you pretend not to be a sinner …
1. You deceive yourself and the truth is not in you
You say ‘I have never sinned’. Such a person can’t see how proud and foolish he is. Another says ‘there is no such thing as sin’. Such a person is very ignorant indeed and is sinning in the very statement he is making. To say you are not a sinner is to fly in the face of one of the plainest truths in all the universe. It is to argue that black is white and yes is no. Utter nonsense. Yet so many do it. Have you been doing it? Saying ‘I’m not so bad’, ‘I’m not a real sinner’, ‘I’m not guilty before God’.
2. You make God out to be a liar and his word has no place in your life
Worse, people who claim to be without sin make God out to be a liar and his word has no place in their lives. To confess sin is (literally) to say the same thing about it as God. Not to confess is not only to deny it but to say God is a liar. God says ‘You have sinned’ but you say you have not. Is God a liar? God says ‘That is a sin’. You say ‘It is not’. You are making God out to be a liar. You are rejecting his word. It has no place in your life. You are rejecting it.
Don’t you see what you are doing? Not to confess your sins is a great blasphemy against God. Go to God like the six burghers of Calais went to Edward III and pleaded for their city.
4. What happens when you confess your sin to God
You may wonder how confessing sin to God can make a difference. Because he is faithful and just - that is the key thing here. All the way through the Bible far from suggesting that God is a liar (he cannot lie indeed) the Bible is clear that God is faithful and just – he keeps his promises; he is absolutely fair. Now because God is like that, if we confess our sins he (in faithfulness and justice) will forgive and purify. NB faithful and just not faithful and merciful. The word just comes in because God forgives on the basis of what Jesus has done. By his death he has secured a just salvation for all who trust in him. Cf 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1. He will forgive you your sins
All God requires is that we own up to our sins and he will forgive them. If we deny them they cannot be forgiven but if we will own up them and say ‘ Yes, I have sinned’ then we can be forgiven. We do not forgive ourselves; we do not receive absolution from a man but God himself forgives. He cancels the debt outstanding. He wipes the slate clean of every sin we confess.
2. And purify you from all unrighteousness
More than that he purifies from all unrighteousness. Whether we remember certain sins or not he still purifies – he washes clean. Every stain is removed. No man can do such a thing.

The word if is important in these verses – these are conditional sentences. What you do makes all the difference. What will you do? Deny or confess. Think of a man who owes a thousand pounds slowly agreeing he does (a hundred, two hundred, three and so on). That is not a great illustration perhaps but we must admit our sn.

Peace, contentment and boasting of hope in Jesus Christ

Text Romans 5:1, 2 Time 09 07 17 Place Childs Hill Baptist Church

I want us to consider this morning the matter of peace and contentment and abounding hope. Now these are subjects that we are all interested in. We all want to be at peace. We all want to know health and blessing. We want peace. We also want contentment. We want to know grace resting on us and giving us a sense of well being. We want to know that all will be well. Similarly, confidence is something that concerns us all. We want to be hopeful. We want to be confident bout the future.
Now the great question is, of course, as to how these things can be experienced. There are various ideas about as to how these things are gained. Some are very vigorous and active. They throw themselves into life and they believe that they have the means thus to make themselves healthy and contented and confident. Others take a much more cautious approach. They believe that a slow and careful approach is by far the better way to attain such things. Others simply throw up their hands in despair and say 'How can anyone know with these things? Peace and grace and confidence are such elusive things. What guarantee is there that this road or that will lead to them?'
So what is the answer? What is the way to peace and contentment and confidence? Well, the answer to that question is found in the text I want us to consider today, although that is not really the way the matter is tackled. The text is Romans 5:1, 2 and whereas I suppose the text might have said we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand and boast in hope of the glory of God because we have been justified by faith it is actually the other way round
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, … we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we now stand and we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Paul does not begin his great letter to the Romans by talking about peace and grace and hope and how we can know these things. Rather, he begins by showing us that we lack those things because of sin. What fear and what evil and what discontentment there is in this world and it is because of sin. It is because no-one seeks God, not one. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death. However, the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul explains that this gift is received from Christ by faith in him. It is only when he has set out the way to be justified by faith that Paul comes, in Chapter 5 to say that because we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we now stand and we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
So the first thing we have to say about this important subject is obvious
1. Recognise the basis of all lasting blessing – justification by faith
One of Paul's favourite words in Romans is the word Therefore, and as I have said many times before to you, when you see it you need to ask yourself 'what is the therefore there for?' Clearly what Paul says in Romans 5:1, 2 is dependent on what he has been saying in the previous chapters where he has been demonstrating that justification before God or being right with him is not a matter of what we do. It is not a matter of law. It is a matter rather of faith in Jesus Christ.
So when Paul says Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we now stand, etc he is saying that it is on the basis of what he has already said that he can speak of the peace and grace and hope that he has known in his life. If you said to Paul 'You seem to be a man at peace with God, a man of grace, a man who is always confident, why is that?' Paul would be in no doubt whatsoever. 'It is because I have been justified by faith' he would say. 'Though I am a sinner by nature and deserve God's wrath and I have no hope of establishing my own righteousness, I have put my faith in Jesus Christ. Like Abraham and David and all those who have gone before, I have not sought to set up my own righteousness but have looked to God for his righteousness. By trusting in Jesus Christ and what he has done in living and dying as he did I have found a way to be right with God. My sins no longer count against me. I am forgiven and that has changed everything.'
Perhaps the passage that sums it up most succinctly is 3:21-26
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets (the OT) testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace (a free gift) through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. He then explains redemption (the buying back) of the redeemed briefly God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, (a propitiation to turn away his wrath) through the shedding of his blood - to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, (in that he does deal with sin) because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished - he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Now the obvious question here then is, are you also justified by faith in Christ? Have you put your faith in Jesus Christ and what he has done? There is no other way to be right with God. It is the only way. Furthermore, none of these blessings that I want to speak about is available to anyone except those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other way to them. You know the expression 'to put the cart before the horse' well, to think about peace and grace and hope before thinking about faith in Christ is just that – to put the cart before the horse. These other things cannot be known without this first. It is like the way into the upstairs of a house. Before you can go upstairs in most houses you first have to come through the front door. So if you want to know joy and peace in Christ, you first have to trust in Jesus Christ, believe in him. Until you do that, none of these other blessings can follow on. It is like the foundation. When a building is being put up then nothing can be built until the foundation is laid. In the same way, it is not until the foundation of justification is known that the peace and the hope and contentment can follow on.
2. Consider the peace with God that belongs to all who are justified by faith
So let's look at these blessings then that follow on from justification. We want to ask two questions really. If we say we are Christians then do we know these blessings? If not, then either there is something wrong with the way we are living the Christian life or we are not Christians at all. If we are not Christians then I want you to see what the gospel has to offer for all who are justified by faith. So first Paul says Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. What we actually have here is Therefore, having been justified by faith, have peace with God (command rather than the indicative) but the context suggests we need to understand it as indicative. If justified, we have peace that is to be enjoyed.
Perhaps this is the most obvious and immediate effect of justification. By nature we are not at peace with God and he is not at peace with us. Indeed, God is angry with us, whether we realise it or not. It is only when we are justified by faith that we can find peace with God or any sense of true and lasting peace. Cf 9, 10 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Isaiah 32:7 The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
James 2:23 "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.
John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Of course, peace means much more than a cessation of hostilities. Peace stands for all sorts of blessings that come also from God.
So if you are a believer, be thankful that your war with heaven is over. You are at peace with God. Without that sort of peace no other lasting sort is possible.
Ephesians 2:13-17 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
Finally here, do note that through our Lord Jesus Christ. Just as justification is possible only through Jesus Christ so is the reconciliation and the peace that follows from it. He himself, as we have just said, is our peace.
3. Consider the access to God's grace that belongs to all who are justified by faith
Paul goes on through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. The Christian, the person justified by faith, is not only at peace with God but he is, as we say, in a state of grace. He knows God's favour. The believer has been introduced to God's grace. It is only to those on whom God's favour rests that peace is granted. They are no longer beaten down by Satan and by sin and by fear and degradation but they now stand up because of God's grace.
How does one have access to this grace? How does one receive it or get introduced to it? It is just like justification itself which precedes it. On one hand, on God's side, it is through Jesus (through whom we have access ...). He is the way, the truth and the life no-one comes to the Father and his blessings except through him. On the other, on our side, it is by faith, by looking to him.
True contentment is no easy thing to find but if we are in God's favour, if his grace is on us and we are standing and so all is well. God's grace comes to all who are justified. It comes through Jesus Christ and all he has done and like other blessings it is received by faith in him.
Are you standing by God's grace? Through Christ and through faith in him are you under God's favour? Are you standing strong because of him? Then praise God it is so!
4. Recognise the blessing of confidence arising from the hope of God's glory, the right of all who are justified by faith
The third thing Paul adds here is and we boast (or rejoice) in the hope of the glory of God. Not only peace and grace but also the hope of glory is the right of every truly justified believer. The believer is a confident person particularly in the hope of the glory of God. Faith leads to hope and that hope will lead eventually to glory in God and with God and to God. In the succeeding verse Paul has something to say about the struggles of this life but for the moment his focus is on heaven and the glories of that place. Oh what a glorious hope is stored up for the believer. No wonder he is confident. Cf 1 John 3:1-3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

There is an ebbing and flowing in the confidence of the justified believer but he has a hope that cannot be taken from him and that goes on forever.