Sin and Forgiveness

Apr 22, 2003 01:45 PM EDT

1 John 1:8 -- 2:6 (NRSV)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth isnot in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just willforgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we saythat we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not inus.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you maynot sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father,Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for oursins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey hiscommandments. Whoever says, "I have come to know him," but does notobey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth doesnot exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the loveof God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are inhim: whoever says, "I abide in him," ought to walk just as he walked.

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

-- Psalm 32:1 (NRSV)

AS a young Christian, I found the church's endless talk about sin andforgiveness oppressive. I tried to be a good kid. I considered mysins minor and infrequent compared to the misbehavior of some kids Iknew. It didn't seem fair to me that those kids didn't attend churchand that they never had to ask for forgiveness. I kept waiting forGod to punish them.

In the meantime, I felt superior to the kids who misbehaved. Iwondered, Why do I have to concentrate on my own tiny sins? Why do Ihave to ask God for forgiveness?

Back then, I didn't read the Bible any more than I had to. It wasn'tuntil I began reading the Bible because I wanted to, because I came torecognize that it contained something I needed, that I began tounderstand sin and forgiveness.

Sin isn't what distinguishes the good from the bad among us. Sin iswhat separates us from God and unites us in our need for a Savior.The church's talk about sin and forgiveness isn't oppressive at all.It's eternally hopeful.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for gathering us to you even when we push youaway. Amen.


We need to see our sin in order to see our need for forgiveness.


Those who feel sinless

By Bob Tippee, Texas