“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, NKJV, emphasis mine –
It’s not often that a verse that I’ve read a million times, heard all my life, comes out at me in a new light.
But today it did.
I was listening to the Word of Promise Bible on my computer, following along in my own Bible. 1 John began and the words flowed along quickly, chapters filling my ears.
And somewhere in the second or third chapter, I was still scribbling in my journal about 1 John 1:9.
So familiar it’s almost trite. It’s the verse of assurance, an appendix to the Romans Road.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive them.
Simple as that.
Confess and He will forgive.
But those two adjectives that describe Him—why haven’t I stopped to see before?
Faithful. Well, that’s not surprising. If there’s anything I rest my life on, it’s my God’s faithfulness.
But the other trait—justice.
Not only is He faithful, but also just to forgive our sins. Yes, merciful, but the very noble, unswerving justice of His nature means He cannot do other than forgive our sin.
He cannot, will not deviate from the path of overwhelming grace—Jesus came down, stepped right into abominable, writhing humanity.
If He pressed on in joy to His cross, will not God also give us all in Him?
The King of heaven bowed His bloodied head and then with the greatest outpouring of grace-power cried,
“It is finished!”
Yes, gone. Done. Accomplished. Finished.
So it’s not just a merciful impulse or a split personality idiosyncrasy that insists on forgiving desolate sinners in spite of stern justice.
But here, His justice forgives.
In Christ, there is no wall between justice and mercy.
That wall crumbled in that earth-quaking noon darkness, when God bowed and the universe’s Ruler subjected Himself to death. When the last breath rushed from bruised lungs, even the rocks cried out and trembled at the dying breath of their Creator.
And that justice-mercy barrier shattered to pieces.
And there’s nothing else that will satisfy God’s justice than to look on me with favor.
To do less, when Christ has offered so great a ransom price, would be to deny His own justice.
Nothing else will be true to His character, nothing else in line with both bottomless grace and flawless integrity.
This sin-laden girl will live, and live abundantly, because God laid Himself down and died.
I will rejoice, because Jesus swallowed up my oh-so-deserved sorrow.
Mercy looks on me and smiles.
But Justice—what will it declare to this trespasser who dares run into the throne room?
Unlike Esther, not uninvited.
What response, to a trembling soul on its knees? The King on His throne rises, looks on with love.
And the soul that dared throw itself on this Ruler’s mercy, who knew like that Persian queen of old that this was the only chance for life—to throw herself on the mercy of that great One on the throne.
And Justice holds out the scepter of welcome and declares life to the suppliant.
And on my knees, I lift up trembling fingers and touch the extended hand, the hand of a King bearing the eternal scars of a criminal.
A sinner’s hand touches that of the Sinless King.
Justice and Mercy meet there, in a faith-touch that takes power right from Him. But He does not ask who touched Him, not this time. He looks down with eyes I can’t fathom, love I can’t measure. By His touch, sees all of me.
Yet I am forgiven, invited into His fellowship.
Made joyfully alive, unconditionally accepted, completely whole.
At His feet.