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Rooted in Christ

Confessing Christ

When we sin, our relationship with God is not broken.

“if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1) 

“Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Rom. 6:1) That was a rhetorical question posed by Paul following his explanation that a person is justified not by works but by faith in Christ. It is a natural question to a proper understanding of the gospel. If salvation rests upon what Christ did and not what I do, then I can sin with abandon. Can’t I? 

In Romans 6-8, Paul explains that our obedience and growth in holiness are not contributors to our acceptance by God but consequences of it. The Spirit who unites us to Christ for salvation forms Christ in us for sanctification. Sin is inconsistent with our new life in Christ. We who were dead in sin are now dead to sin and alive in Christ. That shows up in a changed life. 

In like fashion, John reminds us that our freedom from sin’s penalty does not promote license to sin but prompts disdain for sin because of our new identity in Christ and our new relationship with God. The more we love God, the more we will lose our love of sinning. 

When we do sin, our relationship with God is not broken. Rather, our fellowship with Him is interrupted as we turn our back on God to follow after idols (see 1 John 5:21). We remain, as John puts it, “little children” (2:1) of the Father. Just as our relationship with our children remains the same even when they disobey us, our fellowship with them is affected and must be addressed. When they act inappropriately, we might respond, “That’s not the way we do things.” When we repent of our sin and turn back to God, we discover that He never left us; rather, we strayed from Him. 

While we are in this world sin remains in our mortal flesh, as John has reminded us twice (1 John 1:8, 10). Yet if we confess our sin, God will forgive us, not merely because we confess that sin but because we confess Christ as the end of sin. Jesus is our “Advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:2). He represents us before the throne of judgment, having atoned for our guilt and suffered the wrath of God for it on the cross. 

John calls Him “Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:2). He was God incarnate, born without sin. He accrued righteousness by His perfect obedience to the law. He was the sinless one who became the sin-bearer. In Him we receive the righteousness of God. 

John reminds us that Jesus is the propitiation not only for us but for the whole world. That means there is no other way, no other name given by God for salvation, whether for Jew or Gentile. Only in Jesus is God’s justice met and His wrath satisfied (see Rom. 5:8-9). 

Why does God want us to confess our sins?

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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