Here’s a question I get quite regularly. If I’m forgiven of my sins when I’m baptized, what about sins I commit after baptism?
In John’s first letter, he clarifies for us a few things about this fellowship we now have in Christ. He makes a series of untrue statements followed with a response of the right way to look at it. The untrue ideas begin with the words “If we say.”
The first false statement: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 Jn. 1:6).
The correct response: “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7). We now walk in the light, which doesn’t mean we live sinlessly, but we live with a new purpose and walk in a new direction. In other words, it is direction, not perfection. How do we know this? Because he says if we walk in the light the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If it was sinless perfection, there wouldn’t be any sins to forgive.
In fact, this leads us to the next false statement: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (vs. 8). Those who think they are living without sin are deceived.
A better way to consider this: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (vs. 9). We must acknowledge our sins. How do I know God will forgive these sins? Because He is faithful and righteous.
Finally, the last false statement: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and the word is not in us.” If you think you haven’t sinned, you’re just fooling yourself and making a liar out of God and the Bible.
The old adage that “the Bible is from God, but the chapter divisions are of the devil” applies here. The response to vs. 10 is in chapter 2. Here’s the better thing to remember: His purpose for writing this letter is so we don’t sin. Then he adds, “And if anyone sins” or but when you sin – “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn. 2:1). Not only is He our advocate, He’s also the propitiation for our sins.