But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. What a wonderful truth! How do we continue walking in the light over the course of our lives? By absolute moral perfection? There’s no one like that. We stay in the light by the ongoing moral cleansing of our sin and guilt by the atoning merits of Christ on the cross.
The verb here for cleansing doesn’t mean one time. It means continual cleansing. The blood of Jesus continues to morally scrub our hearts. He will describe this further in verse 9 with confession and forgiveness, but here’s the reality. When we believe, we are saved and declared righteous, but our lives continue to struggle with sin. What keeps us from walking in darkness and keeps us in the light is God’s work in us to continue to purify our hearts—progressive sanctification—ongoing repentance and cleansing. Salvation isn’t a one-time cleansing; it is an ongoing cleansing which keeps us in the light and in fellowship with one another.
“Christianity is the only religion which, by emphasizing that God is light, first insists on taking sin seriously and then offers a satisfactory moral solution to the problem of sin. The way to have fellowship with a God who is light is not to deny the fact or effects of sin, but to confess our sins and thankfully appropriate God’s provision for our cleansing.” (John Stott, The Message of John’s Letters, p. 79)
It is like taking care of a car. You wash it. You wax it. It looks great. What happens? It rains or snows. Imagine a guy taking his new car to the junkyard:
“Here you go, you can have it.”
“Sir, that is a 2013 model, why are you junking it?”
“It got dirty.”
“Sir, you have to continue to clean the car.”
God has made provision for the ongoing cleansing from our ongoing struggle with sin. Verse 9 says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Hiding; walking toward darkness—that’s what unbelievers do and what Christians in name only do. An evidence of God’s true saving work in us is that we own up to our sin, seek his forgiveness and cleansing, and continue to walk in the light of God’s holiness, love, and favor.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2012 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here