Verses 8 and 9 say, “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.” Even in the Apostle’s day, some were saying that once they were saved they no longer sinned. This is a deception. The reality is that we still have sin in us.
How do you confess your sins? There is a confession according to knowledge. You realize you have offended people, so you ask the Lord to forgive you. Your conscience is not touched, you have no feeling of regret, and you shed no tears. This is a confession outside life, with your real situation not exposed to the light. Whether God recognizes such a confession which is only according to knowledge I dare not say, but I can tell you it has no effect on your life.
CONFESSION IN LIFE
There is a confession which changes your life. While you are in the fellowship, the light shines penetratingly through you, exposing your true condition. You are filled with regret, the tears may flow, you confess, and the blood of Jesus cleanses you. True confession comes from the exposure of the inner light.
If you confess only according to knowledge, you may pray, “O Lord, forgive me for gossiping,” but within a short time you will find your loose talk continuing as before. But if you confess in life, with the light shining on your gossiping, such a confession will seal your lips, and it will be a long time before another vain word crosses them.
Notice that both sins and unrighteousness are mentioned in verse 9. When this light exposes, it has no regard for your person. Your actions may not have been sinful, but under this light you will see that you have wronged this brother, you have cheated that sister, in this matter you were unjust, and in that matter you were unrighteous. Your confession will touch the very depths of your being, not just your conscience, and it will transform you.
The final verse in 1 John 1 says, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” We not only “have sin” (v. 8), but also “have sinned.” If we are in the fellowship, we shall be fearful and trembling in the realization that we not only have sin but that we are also sinning.
THE WAY TO ABIDE IN CHRIST (1)
What is the way to abide in Christ? First John 1 tells us that we must come to the light and be fully exposed, with no sin or unrighteousness hidden. We must recognize that we both have sin and do sin, that we are guilty of both sin and unrighteousness. We have no escape but to confess and be cleansed. By this way we abide in Christ.
If you are abiding in Christ, you will sense a light shining over you and within you. Be faithful to this shining. It will expose, not your wife’s mistakes, but yours. You may feel you have only a little offense compared to your wife’s, but if you complain to the Lord that He should deal with her as well, you will be out of the abiding. If it is during the night that the light comes, you can tell the Lord you will make things right with your wife first thing in the morning. By taking care of every matter in such a tender way, you will be kept in the abiding. Keep yourself fully clear under the exposure of the inner light.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)