If is certainly an interesting word, isn’t it? It’s a conjunction that means “on the condition that” a certain condition is met, then there will be a certain result.
In a Bible study I am currently leading I am expanding on a series I did a few years ago I called “Standing on the Promises.” Each week we are exploring and applying one of God’s promises to us in the Bible with the goal of being encouraged. Not all the promises are conditional, but the one I was considering earlier today is. And the conditional promise comes right in the middle of three if statements.
The three big ifs are in I John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
The results of the first and third ifs are not promises, but powerful statements about those who meet the conditions. Claiming to be without sin, or claiming not to have sinned, is both lying to oneself as well calling God a liar. Hopefully none of us meet those conditions, and are therefore not calling God a liar or lying to ourselves. We know better as we are well aware of many of our sins and freely admit them.
That’s why I am so comforted and encouraged by the middle conditional if in this trio: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
To whom are we to confess our sins to meet this condition? Perhaps, if it is appropriate, to the person or persons we sinned against. But especially to ourselves and to the Lord. Note if we fulfill the conditions of the first and third ifs, we cannot meet the condition of the middle one. One and three are the opposite of two.
In my experience I have found that the best time to practice the second big if is in connection with the observance of the Lord’s Supper. To my embarrassment, many times in my life I have found myself saying something along the lines of “here I am again Lord confessing the very same thing I have confessed before.” And I must be careful not to allow that realization to discourage me too much.
I’m not claiming the first or third if; I’m not saying I am without sin or that I have not sinned. But I am claiming the promise of the second if, that God is faithful and just and because I have confessed he will forgive me. And not only does he forgive me, the promise continues that he will purify (cleanse) me from all unrighteousness.
I remind myself that I have still have a long way to go in becoming the person God has called me to be; but with his help I am making progress. Thank you Father for the second big if in I John 1:9 and its promise.
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