Our God, the Faithful and Just One

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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

Our family tries to do nightly family bible time. It doesn’t happen every night and we often get out of the habit of doing it, but our goal is to gather as a family and spend some time in God’s word at the end of each day. The way we do it is pretty simple. We chose a book of the Bible and read a chapter each night, dad asks questions to the kids about that chapter, then the kids ask mom and dad questions about the same chapter trying to stump us. These are wonderful times, but we as parents know that the children are getting different things out of family bible time. Autry (10) can remember yesterday’s chapter, can follow not only the flow of the chapter, but also the author’s argument thought the book. This is vastly different to Gibson (5) who is simply trying to sit still long enough so he can throw out a list of people, “Jesus!? God!? Man!?” or bible words “Sin!? Love!? Grace!?” I think he probably knows the difference between God and Man or Sin and Love, but in the moment his mouth is going faster than his brain.

I wonder if we don’t do similar things when we read the Bible. When we read that we should present our bodies as living sacrifices in Romans 12 and Paul writes we should present them “holy and acceptable,” do we make distinction between those words or do we just read them quickly and mentally toss them into a general category of “good things?” Are there distinctions between Holy and Acceptable? Is there a reason Paul didn’t say Good and Acceptable or Holy and Sufficient?

If we believe the biblical authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit (by God himself), that in the bible we can find the very Words of God, and if these Words have proved to be reliable, we probably should pay much closer attention lest we drift (Hebrews 2) from the meaning of the words God intended.

In John’s first epistle, John writes:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This is an “If, Then” format which the bible is full of. The second part, our sins being forgiven and our unrighteousness being cleansed, is dependent on the first part, if we confess our sins. Or in other words, there is no forgiveness without repentance.

This then is a very basic gospel presentation: Repent and be forgiven. Both liberal and conservative Christians believe this. The breaking point comes in why God will forgive our sins if we repent. John says God forgives when we repent because he is Faithful and Just. Don’t steamroll past these two precious terms. These words are jammed with meaning and significance that, when understood, can give joy, confidence, and hope to a believer and can bring even the most harden sinner to his knees.

Faithful

The fact that God is faithful isn’t terribly difficult for us to understand. If God is good than he would not lie and if he does not lie he will be faithful to do what he has said he will do. But in what way is God faithful? The problem with our understanding of God’s faithfulness seems to be in the extent or duration of the faithfulness. I would hope most people know that God will accept the long lost sinner, but what about a normal sinner sinning for the umpteenth time? How many of us wrestle with an unbiblical lie that God is somehow surprised with our sin? How many of us have been sold a bill of goods that God rewards us for our good works or how much faith we have or how much money we give, only to punish us when we sin? This is not the God of the bible. The God of the bible allows the sacrifice of his son to pay for the sins of humans so that we can be adopted as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). Once sons, that same God is not looking to find reasons why he made a bad choice. He is a faithful father who will always be so.

Just

Justness and fairness are closely tied together when properly understood, though the word Fair has been hijacked by children. In grade school the rule was, if you want to bring something to share with kids in the class you have to bring enough for everyone. This is not the fairness or justness that John the Apostle is ascribing to God. John is saying that God is Just in a legal sense. God is just (think justice) in that he will always render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury (Romans 2:6-8). This is very, very bad news.
The good news though is that Jesus was made to be sin though he knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:25). God’s wrath has been satisfied against those who believe and follow Jesus. God’s justness comes into play here in that, since his wrath has been satisfied through Christ’s sacrifice, he will never again bring those crimes agains us. Our sin is paid for. Our account is void of the debt we owe and that debt has been replaced with the credit Jesus earned with his perfect life.

What else could we do but to respond to these two gloriously rich words that the Holy Spirit penned through the direct will of Himself and the Apostle John, but to praise our Just and Faithful God, in whose presence we have access to by Jesus Christ our Lord?

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Jude 24-25

 

 

 

 

 

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