1 John 1:9 and what precedes it….
For a Lutheran Pastor, one of the key passages to have handy when someone walks into my office is 1 John 1:8-9. I like the way Peterson translated in the Message:
1:8 If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. 9 On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. 1 John 1:8-9 (MSG)
Yet many of us struggle with the idea of our sins being forgiven, not necessarily because we want to continue to live in the guilt and shame and anxiety than sin causes, stresses that can dominate our lives, but because we are afraid of dealing with the sin, of letting others – even our pastor or priest – realize that we are… sinners. Kinda silly- but the cure seems more painful than the disease, or that is what we allow ourselves to think. ANd we become paranoid… scared of what will happen if “they” find out!
But the verses prior to this great passage also bear on this…it actually has the same promise, but instead of being able to make it an individual issue, we see the context of God purging our sins is communal, corporate – part of what will bind us together….It removes the “they” and leaves “us”
1:6 If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. 7 But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin. 1 John 1:6-7 (MSG)
We aren’t in this as individuals – we all need our sins purged, the forgiveness which Christ commands the church to speak (see Matt 16 and John 20) and empowers it to speak – You are forgiven – your sins are purged – rejoice! This is no little thing! CLeansed of sin we are formed into a community, one where each can remind the other of God’s love, His mercy shown to us in Christ, the comfort and presence of the Holy Spirit – who will continue to testify to and through us, that we no longer suffer in darkness, hiding from the world, but live in the light.
It’s one of the reasons I love our service – we precede it (technically speaking) with the assurance that as you have confessed you are a sinner, God has cleansed you – now it is time for rejoicing, for relaxing and celebrating the love of God who causes us to “experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges ALL our sin.”
Come rejoice with us!