“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)
The puppy looked up at them with big sad eyes and let out something between a yelp and a yawn. When he opened his mouth, a well-chewed science book fell out and thudded on the floor.
“Aw, who couldn’t forgive a face like that!” Lizzy leaned down and rubbed his ears.
Jacob bent over and grabbed his puppy’s collar.
“That’s it, Charlie. You’re sleeping outside tonight!”
Lizzy used a sock to wipe the puppy-slobber off Jacob’s science book, while he wrestled Charlie out the back door and into his doghouse.
“Don’t be so hard on him, Jacob,” she said when he came stomping back into the kitchen. “Charlie’s just doing what puppies do. They chew things and make messes. You’ve heard people joke about telling the teacher ‘the dog ate my homework.’ It’s just his nature.”
Jacob got a glass down from the cabinet. “My teacher isn’t going to believe me when I say that my dog ‘ate my science book’!” He slammed the cabinet door shut and threw open the refrigerator. “I’m sure she will just nod and smile and say, ‘Oh, that’s just fine, Jacob. You know that’s just what puppies do.'”
As it turned out, Miss Albert was surprisingly understanding when he told her what had happened to his science book. She did not say “that’s just what puppies do,” but she did nod and smile knowingly. Jacob wondered if Miss Albert might have had a puppy sometime in her life.
Animals do crazy things sometimes. Well, they do things that might seem crazy to us humans. You might get angry when a cat scratches your arm or when a dog makes a mess or when a parakeet will not be quiet. If you want to keep a pet, though, eventually you get over annoying animal habits, because, after all, they are just being what they are!
We humans have a lot of habits, too – things that we are and do because we are human. We like to eat several times a day. We like to sleep, usually at night. We tend to hate pain. We like to have friends and family who care about us. We like to think about things, and we like to have fun hobbies. There is a famous saying that “to err is human.” That means all humans make mistakes.
Not only do we make mistakes, but all of us are born with a sinful nature that we inherited from Adam. To sin is to do something much worse than just an accidental mistake. To sin is to do anything that falls short of God’s glory. We are all born sinners, which means that our natural tendency is to disobey God, to sin against Him. Those of us who trust Christ as Savior get a new nature, and they have a growing desire to live without sinning, like Christ lived. But since we are all still human, none of us are able to be that perfect yet. Even Christians who love God fail Him. When we sin against God, we need to repent and ask Him for forgiveness.
God has certain characteristics about His nature, too. Because He is God, He is perfect in His holiness – He never breaks His own laws! Because He is God, He is powerful and wise – He never messes up! Because He is God, He is good and gracious enough to help us sinning humans – He forgives us when we ask Him!
You may have heard this verse many times before, but have you really thought about what it means that God is faithful and just to forgive us? That means that, no matter what we do to make Him mad, God has promised to forgive us of that and of all our sinfulness – so long as we confess our sins to Him.
Charlie did a puppyish thing when he chewed up Jacob’s science book. He was doing what puppies do, but one thing puppies do not do is ask forgiveness. Jacob lost his temper when he saw what Charlie had done. To lose your temper when something bad happens is a natural human reaction, but it is also actually a sin against God. Jacob is a sinner because he is human. That is how humans are. If Jacob is a Christian, he should try not to sin, and if he does sin, he ought to confess it and ask God’s forgiveness.
If Jacob does confess his sin and ask God to forgive him, God will. That is what this verse teaches – that forgiving people who ask is part of God’s nature. He does it because His nature is to be faithful to His promises. He does it because His nature is to be just and righteous. That is the kind of God we have.
Because of Who He is, God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse sinners who trust Him.
» Am I trying not to sin against God?
» When I do sin, am I making it a habit to go to Him and confess and ask Him to forgive me and to cleanse me from all my unrighteousness?
» Do I have faith that He will do what He has promised?