Last week I told you about losing my temper in pride and allowing my tongue to burn with the fire of hell. I could have excused and justified my behavior saying it was weakness and part of my human condition. But God’s Word says it’s sin, and I can’t justify my sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)
The world ruled by the deceptive prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:1-3) would tell me that I can justify sin and call it weakness, but “this wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” (James 3:15-16).
We must have God’s truth in us, and admit when we sin, and this requires us to “humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10). We can’t exalt ourselves; He alone can do that because of Christ’s righteousness in us, not our own. As I write these words, a veil was just removed that this is one of the ways Satan has deceived me over and over again. Pride was his downfall, and he seeks to devour me by appealing to my pride. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (1 Pet 5:8-9)
Satan is the “the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night” (Rev 12:10). If I justify my sin, then I am not humbling myself and confessing my sin, therefore I’m not being cleansed from my unrighteousness. But if instead of justifying my sin, I confess it then God promises, “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).
Here’s what Ray Steadman says happens if we do not confess our sin: “We have a perfect defense available to us—a defense that the Father will gladly receive, one that He already assures us will be welcomed. We have an Advocate with the Father who will rush to our defense immediately, but His defense is of no avail to us if we are still defending ourselves. There cannot be two advocates in this case. You either rely on His defense of you—the manifestation of His work on your behalf, which has wiped away every stain, every sin that you ever will commit or ever have committed—or you must rely on your own defense. Here you are, standing before God, defiantly telling Him that you are not to blame, that you have a defense. You can explain all this by saying that you acted under the pressure of circumstances or by claiming that your sin is not what God says it is.”
He continues: “As long as you remain defiant or evasive, you are still justifying and excusing yourself, and therefore the judge can only permit the inevitable, built-in judgment that follows to upset you, overthrow you, harass you, baffle you, and leave you in weakness and folly. But if you will stop justifying yourself, He will justify you. The blood of Jesus Christ cannot cleanse excuses. It only cleanses sins.” “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 Jn 2:1-2)
Ray Steadman gives us the good news about our cleansing in a nutshell: “If we come to that place [humility and confession of our sin], then we discover that there is one who stands before the Father and reveals to Him the righteousness of His life, and God sees us in Him, and we are cleansed and accepted. Strength again flows into the inner person, peace comes back to our hearts, we are cleansed of our sin, washed and restored to the grace of God. Then we can go back into the same circumstance, under the same pressure, and find our heart kept by the grace and strength of God.” [emphasis added]
Ray Steadman asks why John says, “He Himself is the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world”. He says it is to help us see ourselves. Why is it that these others, whose sins have already been atoned for on the cross, are living in estrangement and hostility to the God who loves them and who seeks after them? The answer is, of course, because they will not believe Him. They will not accept His forgiveness.
He says, “That is the same reason we Christians are not enjoying the full flow of the Spirit of power, life, love, and wisdom in our experience. It is all available to us, but we will not receive it. Like the world, we are turning our back on it. We are saying to God,
I’m not interested in cleansing, because I really don’t need it. After all, this is not a sin; it is simply a weakness. I can’t help it. That kind of thing is cutting the ground out from under the whole redemptive work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Though His power is all-available, we do not experience it because of that.”
I must continually lay down my pride and humble myself before the Lord. I must continually pray: Father, search my heart. Make me open and honest. Teach me to stop excusing myself and accept completely the work of my advocate, Jesus Christ. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Ps 51:10) I can remain joyful in the hope of what my Lord, Savior and Advocate has done on my behalf. Thank you, Jesus! “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” (Prov 10:28)