One of the Bible’s more famous verses is 1 John 1:9. It says, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I memorized that verse when I was a little kid, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually paid close attention to the words.
When I read that verse, my mind said something like, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful, loving, gracious, and merciful to forgive us our sins …” But that’s not what the verse says! It says that He is “faithful and JUST to forgive us our sins.”
Now, that’s an interesting statement if you think about it. God’s justice is what drives our forgiveness? I thought God’s justice drove His wrath, damnation, and hellfire! So how is it that God’s justice actually drives our forgiveness? Doesn’t it feel like God’s love, grace, and mercy should drive forgiveness?
Here’s how: at the cross, Jesus took the FULL JUDGMENT for sin. I John 2:2 says, “he is the [wrath absorbing sacrifice] for our sins …” At this point, the price of our sin was fully paid. It would be unjust and actually evil of God to demand payment from us.
Think about your credit card bill. You see the statement online and you go ahead and pay the bill. Then, your bank calls your spouse and tells her that she needs to pay the bill, so she does. You’d be outraged! What a bunch of lying cheats!
But here’s the thing: if God demanded payment for sin from you, after what Jesus did on the cross, He’d be doing the exact same thing. It would be completely unjust! The price was already paid.
So, does God’s love, grace, and mercy drive forgiveness? Yes. All the while, God’s justice gets a bad rap these days. But, His justice brings Good News, Gospel, because it demands forgiveness.
The whole thing is beautiful!! The next time you hear someone complain that God’s justice causes wrath, damnation, and hellfire, take them that 1 John 1:9 which points us to the Cross, showing how God’s justice drives forgiveness!
Question: How does this truth help you to trust God more? Answer in the comments!