************ Sermon on 1 John 1:8-9 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 8, 2002
1 John 1:5 - 2:2
1 John 1:8-9
A young mother called me. She was deeply concerned about her teenaged son. He was moody, irritable, and always seemed so serious. He didn't enjoy life and wasn't having the fun a boy his age should have. His grades at school were starting to slip. He got into fights with his classmates and brothers and sisters. He laid awake at night and when he was able to sleep he tossed and turned. He began to lose weight.
You know what the problem was? This young man had done something wrong. As long as it remained unconfessed, it remained like a festering boil – bothering him his every waking moment.
Some of you, like this teen, might have a sin that is not confessed, a sin that is bothering you, a sin that keeps you from having peace of mind. I want to urge you, this morning, to repent and confess before it is too late and your life is ended and the Lord has called you from this earth.
I know a woman. She was in her 70s. She called up every afternoon at 2. Every afternoon it was the same story. Every afternoon she had to confess the sins of her youth: drinking, smoking, letting the boys have their way with her, lying to her parents. She had the opposite problem of the boy – she confessed her sin but didn't feel forgiven.
Some of you, like this woman, might lack the confidence and assurance of sin's forgiveness. I want to tell you this morning that sin confessed is, by grace, sin forgiven so you no longer have to worry about it.
A Let there be no mistake about it: every person is a sinner. There are no exceptions. John says:
(1Jn 1:8) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
(1Jn 1:10) If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
After examining ourselves this past week, everyone of us should see and know and realize the truth of this. You know, or should know, that sin lurks within the hearts of each and every one of us. The fact is, in this life, on this earth, and in this body there is not a single sinless, perfect saint. There are those who mistakenly claim that it is possible to be perfect as born-again Christians. But the church and Christian on earth is imperfect; the only place to find a perfect church and a perfect Christian is in heaven.
A young man once said to a preacher, "I do not think I am a sinner."
Then the preacher asked him if he would be willing for his mother or sister to know all he had done or said or thought, all his motives and all his desires.
After a moment the young man said, "No, indeed, I certainly would not like to have them know; not for all the world."
B The French philosopher, Pascal, once observed, "In all the world there are only two kinds of people. The vast majority are sinners who believe themselves to be saints, and the rest are saints who believe themselves to be sinners."
This is a reminder that most people delude themselves. They either underestimate their sin or overestimate their good. They don't recognize the sin and evil that is in their life. They fail to recognize that they are not as good as they think they are. They are not honest with themselves and don't see themselves in the light of God's Word.
Topic: Self-ExaminationThis man did not want to know or be shown or be told the truth about himself – that he was ugly. In the same way, many today don't want to know or be shown or be told the truth about themselves – that they are sinners.
British painter and engraver William Hogarth was once commissioned to paint the portrait of an exceptionally ugly nobleman. As was his custom, he depicted the subject with the utmost frankness and realism. When the nobleman saw the portrait, he refused to pay for it, and a bitter discussion ensued. Eventually Hogarth, needing the money, sent a letter to his client, saying that a certain showman who specialized in exhibiting freaks and monstrosities was interested in the portrait. Unless Hogarth received payment within three days, he would embellish the picture with a tail and other appendages and sell it to the showman for exhibition. The nobleman paid up, then burned the portrait.
I want to tell you, I need to tell you, congregation, the truth about you and me. I need to tell you that we all are sinners who deserve the everlasting fires of hell.
C Not only do people delude themselves about their sin, but they also pretend it is not all that serious. In the 1950s the number one problem teachers had in the classroom was gum chewing and whispering; today, they have to worry about guns, knives, drugs, and physical violence. In the 50s very few people got divorced; today, more than 1/5 of all marriages end up in divorce. In the 50s those who committed adultery kept very quiet about it; today it is flaunted and displayed for all to see. It isn't that there was no sin back then; it is just that today there is no shame and no fear associated with sin.
There should be shame and there should be fear when people sin. There should be because God has said sin must be punished with eternal damnation. There should be because God has said those who sin must pay for their sins.
As you eat the bread and drink the wine of the Lord's Supper I want you to remember that you are a sinner, a sinner who deserves to go to hell, a sinner who cannot pretend to be perfect, a sinner whose goodness is not all that good, a sinner whose sin is worse than you want to believe, a sinner who should be filled with shame.
II Grace and Faith
A I'm a sinner. You are a sinner. We cannot deny that. But there is also a message of comfort and hope in the Bible. John says,
(1Jn 2:1-2) ... if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (2) He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for sinners. This means He died in your place, if you believe. This means He suffered the damnation of hell in your place, if you believe. This means He was punished in your place, if you believe. This means Jesus experienced the wrath of God in your place, if you believe.
Jesus is the atoning sacrifice. So if you believe, your sins are washed away. If you believe, you are regarded as righteous – as clean and holy and perfect – before God. If you believe, your sins are not counted against you.
B When it comes to forgiveness, the point I need to stress is that it is only for those who, by God's grace, believe. You need to believe in Jesus. You need to confess faith in Him. You need to give Him your heart and your life. You need to live for Him. If you, by grace, are one of those who believe then this forgiveness is for you.
Topic: FaithIf we had been in the saddle at that moment, we would probably have concluded with Elizabeth that putting faith in "old Stumblefoot" was foolish and dangerous! Thankfully, as believers in Jesus Christ, we can be sure that our faith in Him is well placed.
Subtopic: In Christ
Joan Bradshall tells a story in Reader's Digest about a woman named Elizabeth who was descending by mule into the Grand Canyon. As she and her fellow riders descended the narrow trail, Elizabeth remained unruffled, ignoring the pebbles and small rocks that were loosened by her mule's hoofs and plummeted to the valley floor. But her courage disappeared when she overheard one trail guide remark to the other, while nodding at her mule, "I thought they'd retired old Stumblefoot."
As you eat the bread and drink the wine of the Lord's Supper I want you to remember God's grace that forgives you a sinner. I want you to remember that if you, by grace, believe then you are forgiven because of Christ's atoning sacrifice.
A Salvation and forgiveness is by grace and through faith. Salvation is not up to us but up to the Lord. But at the same time, sins must be confessed to God before they are forgiven by grace. John says,
(1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Confessed sin is, by grace, forgiven sin.
B So two things. First, if you have not already done so, confess your sins to God, confess them before it is too late and you are called from this life. Don't be like that teenager who did not confess his sins. Before you eat and drink take the time to confess your sins to God.
Second, believe that sin confessed is, by grace, sin forgiven. There is no need to be unsure of your salvation. There is no need to doubt that God has forgiven you. If you believe that Jesus has died for you then, by grace, the sins you confess are sins forgiven. Don't be like that old lady who couldn't believe God would not or could not forgive the sins of her youth. As you eat and drink, remember and believe that sin confessed is, by grace, sin forgiven.
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