What happens when a believer sins? Why does Apostle John tell us in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”? When a believer sins, it doesn’t change his standing with God; he remains in right-standing with God (righteous) because righteousness is a gift from God and is not the product of our performance (Romans 5:17).
LOSS OF CONFIDENCE
What do we lose when we sin that needs to be recovered, if we haven’t lost our standing with God? We lose a “clear conscience and confidence before God.” Apostle John again writes, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:21). When a believer sins there is now a sense of guilt and shame that hinders our faith and undermines our boldness to stand in the authority of Christ. When we confess (acknowledge) our sin, God assures us we are forgiven and cleanses our conscience by the Blood of Christ, so that there is no sense of unrighteousness in our heart and mind.
PROVISION THROUGH FAITH
“Sin consciousness” is like a smoke screen between us and God, because He is Holy and we now have a sense of unworthiness again due to the act of sin we may have committed, even though we are still accepted by God. God has made provision through 1 John 1:9 for us when we err so that we can regain confidence and boldness in prayer and spiritual warfare. We need faith and boldness to live this life (Romans 1:17; Proverbs 28:1) on Earth. Even when sin has not destroyed our standing with God, it still is a destructive force that debilitates the believer in their pursuit of victory over the problems we all face from day to day.
Keeping a clear conscience is vital to confident living as Paul attests in 2 Corinthians 7:2: “Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted on one, we have cheated no one.” Notice now confident Paul was in presenting himself to the Corinthians – he had a clear conscience before God and men and was assured of his ability to be a blessing to them. We can all live in this glorious light of freedom through the Blood of Jesus, even though we all sin from time to time by “stepping out of love.” As E.W. Kenyon once said, “A step out of love is a step into sin.” The New Commandment, which fulfills all the commandments of the Old Testament, is to “love one another.” If we walk in love we will have a clear conscience, boldness in the face of the adversary, and faith towards God. If we lose that sense of righteousness through some sin, we can get our conscience cleansed again, through acknowledging it and applying the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ.