The first letter of John is about life and light, as indicated in 1 John 1:1-2:2. He begins, “This life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father” (v. 2). Contending against the Gnostic heresy that condemned flesh and blood realities and sin, John acknowledges sin and proclaims, “We have an advocate with the Father ... he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2). Jesus Christ came to reveal God to us, and to provide for us a means to be reconciled to the Father, to overcome the barrier our sin has created between God and us.

In these verses, we receive insight into how Jesus Christ can transform our lives. Let us begin by:

Recognition of sin leads to confession, as revealed in verses 8-9. Doctors tell us that some forms of pain are actually beneficial because they alert us to medical conditions we might otherwise overlook. A problem is rarely solved before it is recognized as a problem. That is why the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, so that we realize our need and will be open to a solution. And the solution to the sin problem begins with confession, acknowledging our own sin, our own weakness. Confession requires laying aside pride and recognizing our own unworthiness next to God’s holiness.

Confession of sin leads to forgiveness as indicated in verse 9. God is eager for us to confess our sins because he is eager to forgive. Jesus gave us a wonderful picture of God’s forgiving nature when he told the parable of the prodigal son. The watching, waiting father stands ready to receive and forgive the wandering son, if only the young son will take that first step back home. When we acknowledge our sin and confess it, God is ready to forgive our sin and transform our lives.

Forgiveness of sin leads to cleansing in verse 9. No matter what your sin, no matter how great or small, God is willing to forgive you and to cleanse your life. God’s cleansing is not superficial but complete. If you have surrendered your life to Christ as Lord and Savior, from that point forward when God looks at you, he does not see the sinful acts you have done, but he sees the sinless purity of Jesus Christ who stood in your place, when he died on that old rugged cross.

Christ removes the power of sin. Before sin held us in bondage; Christ freed us from that slavery. The devil did not make you sin, you yielded to sin. Sin has no dominion over us, except what we allow it to have. As we walk day by day with Christ, sin has less and less place and influence in our lives. Christ removes the penalty of sin. In the Letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “The wages of sin is death,” utter and total separation from God.

But through the power of Christ, we have been released from that inevitable penalty and have been set on a new path that leads to the eternal presence of God. Here is one of the great promises in all of scripture, but it demands a response on our part. Are you willing to reach out in faith and allow Christ to transform your life?

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J.B. Morris leads the St. Andrews United Methodist Church.