John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
What a wonderful statement, that our God hears our confession, forgives and cleanses.
But has anything ever struck you as odd about this verse?
It was a thought today that the word ‘just’ in this statement seems out of place. Wouldn’t it make more sense to us if it said “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and merciful to forgive us…”? Justice is sin condemned and wrath applied, right? Mercy is when we are given what we don’t deserve, or at least not given what we do deserve.
So in what way can John say that God is ‘just’ to forgive our sins?
I believe it is the same way that Jesus is our advocate, our forever-high-priest in the way that supercedes even the perfect law given to Moses. Jesus lives forever to intercede for us – and I used to think that this was like him standing before the judge, pleading for us in our sin. Something like a lawyer throwing his client on the mercy of the court.
But perhaps it isn’t like that at all. Perhaps Jesus has already won the case, and is claiming justice. ‘Look,’ he might say, ‘this case has been won! I demand justice!’
And when he claimed justice, he pointed at his blood, poured out for the sin of each and every person who has put their faith in him, who is in union with him.
Mercy and justice kiss in the person of Jesus. And so in Christ we get justice. The justice of Jesus having won our case. The justice of Jesus having paid our sin, all of it, forever.
And it isn’t like God is an angry judge, looking to hurt; he sent Jesus! Yet his judgment on sin revealed through the law hangs over each of us. This is what we need deliverance from. This is what Jesus has done.
So our God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin. Because justice for the one hid in Christ is that your sin has been taken care of. It isn’t a constant plea of mercy; it is a settled claim of justice. In Christ alone.