I COME today to begin to consider the first part of the Text. I John 1.9. The first part of the Text is: “If we confess our sins.” In the future, it is my intention to consider each of these Words. Why should I skim through? These are GOD'S Words. They abound with the best instruction. Yet in today's Sermon, I aim to speak about the general drift of the Words. I. I shall show the importance of the first part of the Text. II. The particular Truth that is in these Words. III. How this Truth is reflected in Scripture.
I. The importance of the first part of the Text. I grant, the first part of the Text is short. In Fact, it is the shortest part of the Text. But consider this. The first part of the Text is still the first part of the Text. If you consider the King James Version or the Greek, this part is in the same place. This part appears at the beginning. First things are important to GOD. In Matthew 6.33, JESUS said: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” In Matthew 22.38, JESUS said: “This is the first and great commandment.” Which speaks in JESUS' mind, “first” and “great” are somewhat synonymous. Therefore if THE GOOD LORD put this phrase first, there must be some priority in it.
II. The particular Truth that is in the first part of the Text. So what is this Truth that is so important THE LORD put it first? When the first part of the Text is considered in the place where it is, the important Truth that stands up out of the Words is the Forgiveness of sins hangs on the confession of sin. The Text may be looked on in two broad parts. The first is: “If we confess our sins.” The second part: “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Now what is in the first part? In the first part, there is the Way into Forgiveness. The Text distinctly says that to receive Forgiveness, sin must be confessed. In the second part, there is the Glory of Forgiveness. In Forgiveness, what does GOD do? Look what He does. “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is Glorious. Yet when both parts of the Text show up side by side, there comes an adjustment. In this circumstance, the first part now does not only relate the Way into Forgiveness. Then it becomes apparent that the Forgiveness of sins itself hangs on the confession of sin. For the Text does not straightway burst forth speaking of GOD'S Forgiveness. The Text treads with care. There is a prior condition. By the first phrase merely standing there, it comes to Light that the Forgiveness of sins can only be received by the confession of sin.
III. How this Truth is reflected in Scripture. When you leave the Text—when you look through the rest of Scripture—what do you see? It becomes conspicuous that the Truth in the first part of the Text is not obscure. It is a central Truth that runs throughout GOD'S Word. In the Old Testament, one of the greatest Forgivenesses spoken of is the Forgiveness of King David. Complete Chapters and Psalms are used speaking the one Story of this Forgiveness. And what happened in this Forgiveness? Did GOD suddenly thrust Forgiveness on the King? No. In Psalm 51, there is the extended confession the King made of his sins. By the confession of sin the King received the Forgiveness of sin. In the New Testament, one of the great Forgivenesses is the Forgiveness of the Prodigal Son. In Luke 15, this Son left Home. He rebelled his Father. He dove headlong into a life of sin. But while he was in this sad state, JESUS said “he came to himself.” When he came to himself, he began confessing his sins. Through confession, he received Forgiveness.
From today's Sermon, there may be learned three instructions. 1. The first instruction: see the Way into the Forgiveness of sins. In today's Text, the Forgiveness of sins is seen gloriously. It is mentioned as the Work of GOD. In Forgiveness, the Text says sin is washed away. But, say, how do you get into Forgiveness? This is the all-important question. There's no need to be in the dark. In the first part of the Text, GOD Himself shows the Way. GOD says: “If we confess our sins.” Here, in a concise phrase of merely five Words, GOD Himself with the brightest clarity speaks the Way of Forgiveness. This puts an end to all sensible doubt.
2. The second instruction: how simple the Forgiveness of sins is! When you think about GOD'S Way into Forgiveness, what is the first thing that stands out? The first thing that stands out is how simple it is! When you think about the Forgiveness of sins, at the outset, it seems complicated. There are all these sins. There is all this guilt. Besides this, there are many theories in this world that complicate the matter further. Whereas it is striking that GOD'S Way into Forgiveness is simple.
3. The third instruction: the confession of sin is indispensable. It is true, GOD'S Way into Forgiveness is simple. But this does not mean there is no requirement. Just because GOD is simple in Forgiveness does not have in it that you may do in this matter as you please. When GOD put the confession of sin at the front of this Verse which is one of the finest in Scripture that speaks about Forgiveness, the instruction is clear. The confession of sin is indispensable. Confession cannot be laid aside. There is no way into Forgiveness without the confession of sin. Amen.
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