Admitting Fault Isn’t Easy
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Like any married couple, my wife and I have our occasional disagreements which, if we’re not careful, can lead to a fight. In any conflict, I believe I’m right and, in my rightness, I often justify my anger and bad behavior. It’s possible that I was right to start with, but I become wrong in how I act and how I speak to my wife. Once we’re both angry, it’s profoundly difficult to admit fault. But I’m right! I shouldn’t have to apologize. She’s the one who should be apologizing to me! My refusal to admit fault, say I’m sorry, and ask forgiveness, maintains the conflict, driving us further apart.
It’s not a perfect illustration, but some of us struggle with this – admitting fault in our relationship with God. In the verse just prior to today’s passage, John explained that everyone sins and everyone fails God, thereby injuring their relationship with him. In today’s passage, he goes on to explain the blessed truth of Jesus’ sacrificial death – If we confess our failures and ask God to forgive us, he does. All our debt is washed away in one act of admitting fault, saying I’m sorry God.
The problem for many of us, is that we just don’t see the need for this. Like me in my marriage fight, we know we’re right and so, we don’t want or need forgiveness. I once met a man who dismissed everything he did as human nature. That’s just human nature. He just couldn’t fathom that he was a sinner because he was simply following his natural impulses. I was born this way. Never mind that he was sitting in jail. He was just doing what came natural to him.
I think John would say that is our entire problem. We do what comes naturally to us, which is often the opposite of God’s will. Because our world has been corrupted, we have corrupt natures, inherently desiring those things that aren’t good for us or our relationship with God. We hunger for unhealthy food, unhealthy relationships, or unhealthy chemicals. Yes, it’s our nature, but our nature is inherently self-destructive.
Daily, if we want to experience the lives for which we were created, we must go to God with yesterday’s failures, being honest with ourselves and with him. I confess. I was wrong. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. The blessed news of the gospel is that there is always forgiveness in Christ. We however, bear the responsibility to be mature enough to admit it when we’re wrong.