John tells Christians that we must not deny that we are sinners, but if we confess our sins, God will be true to His promise and “…forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:8). To confess is to “say with,” that is, to agree with God. But what if I do or say something inadvertently? What if I do something without realizing that I sin? Haven’t we all done things like that? How can I confess if I do not know I have sinned?
Very few Christians consciously, purposely enter into sin. Sin slips up on us – takes us by surprise. We blunder into it. We slip up or trip. We “miss the mark.” And sometimes – sometimes – we do things without ever realizing we have done them – a wrong thought or attitude, an unguarded word that hurts someone. Sometimes that thing may never be called to our attention by others. It may never dawn on us that we have sinned. We are like David, who in Psalm 19:12 asks, “Who can discern his errors?”
We are merely human. We would have to have perfect knowledge of all the possible ways we could be wrong. We would have to have perfect knowledge of our hearts and perfect understanding of all our motivations – the psychological workings of our inner mind. Most of us are not given to that kind of introspection.
In the “Prayer of Moses,” (Psalm 90:8), we are reminded that, no matter what they are, no matter whether they are known to us or not, all our sins are known to God, even those unrecognized by us or which we have hidden from others …
“You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.”
How can we confess what we do not know? We can’t, can we? So, are we lost because we can never confess? Of course not! While we may never be able to identify all the specific ways in which we do wrong, we can still rely on the promise of God, that if we confess our sins, “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
We can appeal to God in the way David did in the above quoted Psalm (19:2). The last part of that verse says… “Declare me innocent from hidden faults.” David was recognizing that he was a sinner. He was acknowledging his dependence on God’s forgiveness of even the things he had done of which he had not been aware. That is the attitude God expects us to maintain in our lives.
So, let’s “say with” God … “I am a sinner.” As long as we deny our sin, we say that God is lying about us when He says that we sin. If we agree with Him, He will “…cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Let God be true! I am a sinner!