John was saying that God is all good and only good. He was claiming that God was morally perfect, without any shade of compromise in His holiness.
John drew an important conclusion from this truth. He concluded that people who know God, or have a relationship with God, “walk in the light” (1:7). When someone walks in the natural light of the sun they can see physical things clearly. In the same way, when someone walks in the spiritual light of a holy and pure God, they can see moral things clearly.
There are people who claim that sin does not matter to God, or that they are not sinners, or that they have never sinned (1:6,8,10). These people are not Christians, whatever they might claim! As far as true Christians are concerned, they are aware of sin, admit their sin, and have an answer to it (1:7,9; 2:1-2).
The Christian is AWARE of his sin. He walks “in the light” (v.7). One of the evidences that a person has truly been saved and is now a member of God’s family is that they are conscious of sinning in a way they never were before. I remember almost despairing after salvation because my conscience was so very tender. Many sins I had committed previously without a thought were now troubling me greatly. My experience is certainly not unique, I have observed it in many other new believers.
While this heightened awareness of sinfulness is common to true believers in Christ, it can cause confusion for some. People wonder how they could be saved while having such thoughts or struggling with such desires!
Here is comfort and encouragement for you if this is your present concern. John regards a heightened awareness of sin as an evidence that a person is a true believer. Having a relationship with a holy and pure God, being born into His family, sharing His life, you can expect to be more aware of sin.
The Christian ADMITS his sin. He is marked by confession, “we confess our sins” (v.9). This is an ongoing feature of a true believer in Christ. The word “confess” means to “say the same as” or to “agree with”. The idea is that a Christian agrees with God about his sin and admits the sinfulness of his sin to God.
One new believer said to me, “I don’t know how I can be saved: I’m constantly asking God to forgive me for my sins”. Now, while this new believer had to learn that she was completely secure forever through faith in Christ, yet she was showing a feature of true Christianity. A true Christian is not only aware of his sin, but he admits it to God. He is not characterised by covering it all up and keeping it to himself!
King David tried to cover up his sin and managed to do so for a period but later wrote, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah” (Psalm 32:3-4). It was more than David could do to remain silent about his sins before God! He continued, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah” (v.5).
Once again there is comfort in this for every believer in Christ. Do you feel that when you sin it disturbs the enjoyment of your relationship with God? Do you feel you must confess to God? One mark of a true Christian is that he admits his sin to God.
The Christian has an ANSWER for his sin. Some new believer might say, “But I so wanted to be rid of this burden of sin and, in a sense, it seems greater! I’m more aware of it when I sin, and I feel I have to admit it to God. Is there no peace?” John gives us the answer: “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
John is saying that the answer to our awareness of sin and our admission of sin is our “Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ”. Being in the presence of the Father, He pleads a righteous solution to our sins. What is the solution? He is! “He Himself is the [satisfactory sacrifice] for our sins”.
What John is telling us is the greatest comfort of all. Every believer in Christ has an answer to the problem of his sins and that answer is in the very presence of the Father. The answer is Christ. His being there is a constant witness that all our sins have been righteously dealt with upon the cross. As the risen and glorified One, His presence before the Father attests to God’s acceptance of His sacrifice.
So, what is the answer to our sin? It is Christ and Christ alone in the presence of the Father.
Take comfort, young believer. Your awareness and admission of sin is a mark of true salvation. And take greater comfort in this: your sins are all finally and forever paid for by the “blood of Jesus Christ His Son [which] cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). As Robert Murray McCheyne put it, “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ”.