The Forgiveness of Sins

by Josh Stone, Cuyahoga Valley Church Pastor of LifeGroups

As we continued in our “Because We Believe” sermon series, here’s all of Josh Stone’s notes from week 11 as a resource to you.


“The Forgiveness of Sins” from 1 John 1:5-10

Cuyahoga Valley Church | December 2, 2018

Intro: Fellowship with God Requires the Forgiveness of Sins

  • Good morning
  • My name is Josh Stone and I’m the Pastor of Community Life, and I will be continuing in our series on the Apostle’s Creed
  • We are getting to the end of the Apostle’s Creed where we transition from truths about God to truths about ourselves and the church, like “the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints” and, today, “The forgiveness of sins” from 1 John 1:5-10 which was read a moment ago
  • You will need your worship guide and a pen today, so grab that if you would.
  • We are looking at God’s forgiveness of our sins, but also how that frees us and implicates us to forgive others, even those who have deeply hurt us.
  • Big Idea for today: Fellowship with God requires the forgiveness of sins

Pray

God is Light

  • Throughout John’s writings he refers to God as “light,” as in verse 5
    • John 1 says “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
    • John 8, Jesus refers to himself as “The light of the world”
  • In our culture, it’s hard for us to understand the significance of this phrase because light is all around
    • It gets dark around 5pm, but if I want to have light, I flip on a light switch, or I can go to Target or the Mall and have all the light I’d ever want.
    • But that is not the case for so many people today, and for virtually all people throughout history
  • In history, when the sun went down, it was total darkness other than a campfire or a candle
    • Darkness meant:
      • Danger, boredom, anxiety, fear, being cold
  • God is light
    • Light = safety, purpose, warmth. Also, it is used to refer to wisdom, clarity, truth
  • Scripture is saying that there is no substitute for the presence of God
    • God is the source of life, of purpose, of peace, of truth, of goodness, of beauty, of all things that are good
  • When John says that God is light, He is saying that God is who we want to be with, the one we want to know, the presence we long to experience
  • It is that basis that John gives us three tests to know if we are living in the Light or in the dark
  • In the passage on your bulletin there are three phrases that start with, “If we say…”
    • Let’s look together at those phrases to see if we are in the Light and if not, what we need to do about it

 

We have Fellowship with God when we Walk in the Light

  • [vs 6-7]
  • Could you underline? “If we say we have fellowship with God”
  • We have fellowship with God when we walk in the light
  • Fellowship is a very churchy word.
    • I doubt many of you have ever exclaimed, “What great fellowship we have had!” after a productive meeting at work or game of tennis
  • Fellowship comes from the Greek word “koinonia” which means “together” or “in common”
    • It’s that which we share in common, or have together, and it expresses a two-sided relationship.
    • This concept of fellowship is unique to the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel had a bloodline and a history and a land they shared in common.
    • In the New Testament, we have fellowship with one another first through spiritual commonality, through sharing a spiritual family
  • We have fellowship, or something in common, with God. What could we possibly have in common with God Almighty? We have Christ in common
    • We share in common a relationship with Christ. God is light, and Christ is the light of the World. Through faith we have a relationship with Christ, which means we have fellowship with God if we walk in the light.
  • We are given two tests to see if we have fellowship with God

Test of Fellowship with Others

  • 1) Test of Fellowship with Others
    • This is surprising to me, because I would think that fellowship with God is about me and God, a private and personal relationship with God, but the first test for walking in the light of God is based on our relationship with others in verse 7
    • “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.”
  • Our relationship with God is personal but not private
    • A relationship with the Father is a relationship with the family
    • Last week Pastor Joe talked about the Communion of Saints, the Church. Being adopted into the family of God means we must have a relationship with the other adopted children
  • Test Yourself: How is your relationship with your spiritual family?
    • Do you have fellowship with other believers? Are you part of a Caring Community? Are you in a Lifegroup?
      • If not, get in one. You will see a number in your bulletin where you can get connected to a Lifegroup.
    • Is there estrangement between another person in our church?
    • Do you have unfinished business with someone?
    • Those who have fellowship with God our Father will have fellowship with God’s children.

 

Test of Accepted Sin

  • 2) Test of Accepted Sin
    • Last year Deborah and I had some brighter lights installed in our basement, and the first thing I thought when the new lights came on was, “Man, I need to clean this basement.”
    • It’s easy to keep the filth in the dark, but once it comes out in the light, it forces us to do something about it.
    • Is there a dark corner of the basement of your heart where you hide your sin?
    • Is there a sin in your life that you simply accept? Have you stopped fighting and have you given up?
    • Just as mold can’t grow in the light, neither can sin grow when it is in the light of God.
  • We have fellowship with God when we walk in the light.

 

We have Fellowship with God when We Say “I have sin”

  • Let’s look at the second “If we say…” statement
  • [read vs 8-9]
  • Underline “If we say we have no sin”
  • We have fellowship with God when we say “I have sin”
  • We have another test case with two options:
    • “I have no sin”
    • “I have sin”

 

Sin: Rejected by Culture, Gospel the Solution

  • In our culture today, it’s common to view sin as an outdated religious relic.
  • Today, sin has been substituted for words like “misunderstanding” or “disagreement” or “mistake”, all of which puts the blame not on an act but on unfortunate circumstances
    • Sin seems too uncomfortable a term, and I even find myself pausing before talking about sin.
  • But there are dire consequences for losing the concept of sin, both for an individual and a culture
  • We all see that our public discourse has become more and more polarized.
    • People view those whom they disagree as “evil” or “wicked” or “stupid” rather than as someone whom they simply disagree
  • Many cultural commentators from the right and the left note that we have switched religious ideas and political ideas where politics has become the religion of our culture.
    • We have become afraid to call out sin, but happy to call our opponents evil and our allies good, no matter what they do morally.
      • Without the concept of sin, moral right or wrong is not based on what someone does but rather which group they are part of
    • Have you seen this too?
  • The Gospel is the solution to this problem
  • The Bible says that we all sin and no one is perfect. God alone is perfect, and we need other people – even people we disagree with – in order to better understand what is right, especially in the arena of politics.
    • If you are a Christian, you may be utterly convinced of your political positions. But as a Christian, you also must believe that you are a sinner and you are regularly wrong.
      • The Bible calls this “humility”
  • As in verse 8, those who say they have no sin, that they are never wrong, deceive themselves.
    • If we look at our business, family, politics, money, or any other arena of life and say, “I have no sin. There is nothing in me that needs to change to be more like Christ.” Then we are self-deceived.
  • Followers of Jesus must hold tightly to the truth of God’s Word, and hold loosely to the belief that you or I have it all figured out
    • The fix to our polarization is an uprising of humble followers of Jesus
  • Those who say, “I have no sin!” are self-deceived.

Believe by Faith and Confessing your Sins

  • But there is a second group
    • Let’s read verses 8-9 again: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Christians must constantly be confessing our sins before God, because confession is a vital part of a relationship with anyone, especially with God.
  • Sometimes Christians think of the idea of “confession” as the Roman Catholic sacrament of confession.
    • But the Bible teaches that confession of sin should be a continual pattern in a Christian’s life, not merely something you do in a confessional booth to a priest
  • When a person receives Christ, when they get saved, they have what the Bible calls “Belief through faith” where they believe that the work done on the cross is sufficient to pay the penalty of sin
    • A necessary part of belief through faith is confessing that we are guilty of sin and in need of a Savior.
  • Belief through Faith changes our status from an enemy of God to a child of God
  • After you are saved, you never need to get re-saved to experience forgiveness. Christ has already forgiven you for all the sins you will ever commit.
    • Your status is secure.
  • Nonetheless, confession must be a regular part of the Christian life because it restores our relationship to God.
    • God’s heart doesn’t move away from us, our hearts move away from Him when we sin.
    • When we confess our sins we are taking ownership of our sins. We are saying, “I’m sorry.”
    • In confession our hearts are drawn back to God’s heart
  • If you have been spiritually born again through Jesus, then confession does not change your status but restores your relationship.
  • Illustration: Adoption
    • One of the illustrations in Scripture of our new birth is adoption, and adoption is also a major emphasis here at CVC. Three of our pastors’ families have adopted.
    • When a child is adopted, the parents commit to this child for the rest of their life.
    • When the child disobeys, and there is a distance in the relationship of the parent to the child, it does not mean that the child is less of a son or daughter.
    • No, when a child sins against his parent, his status is not at risk. But the health of the relationship and the intimacy with his parent is impacted.
    • Verse 9 says that God forgives us and “cleanses us from all unrighteousness”
    • In our confession, God cleanses us from the distance we have caused in our relationship with Him
  • Confession does not change our status but restores our relationship.
  • When we do confess our sins, God is faithful and just to restore us.
  • We have fellowship with God when we say, “I have sin! Here they are. Help me.”

We have Fellowship with God when We Ask Forgiveness

  • The final “If we say” statement is verse 10 and functions as a summary statement
  • [vs 10]
  • We have fellowship with God when we ask forgiveness
  • Maybe you are here today and have never asked for forgiveness from God.
    • If that is true, then you are saying that you have no need of forgiveness and you have no sin.
    • But God says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. If you have never asked God for forgiveness, then you are saying that God is spreading a false rumor about you and he is lying.
  • Here is some good news: The only relationship that will never require your forgiveness is a relationship with God
  • If you have never put your faith in Jesus by confessing your sins and trusting in the work of Jesus on the cross to pay for your sins, you need to do that today.
    • You do that by telling God that you have sinned, that you cannot pay God back for your sin, but you want to be forgiven through Jesus and you commit to living as a child of God
    • Mark on a response card to let us know you did that today

Review:

  • Fellowship with God requires forgiveness
    • Vs 6-7: We have fellowship with God when we walk in the light
      • We walk in the light when we have fellowship with others and reject hidden sin
    • Vs 8-9: We have fellowship with God when we say, “I have sin!”
      • We must confess our sins to God
    • Vs 10: We have fellowship with God when we ask for forgiveness

Application: Jesus Paid our Payment

  • For the rest of our time this morning, I want to get into your business a little bit
  • During my study this week, verse 7 stuck out to me and I’ve been chewing on it ever since
  • Verse 7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
    • The first consequence of fellowship with God is fellowship with one another.
  • Fellowship always requires forgiveness
  • Jesus took the payment for our wrongs done to him, he absorbed it on the cross, so that we could be forgiven. He willingly took on that punishment so that we could be reconciled to God.
    • That’s what forgiveness is: it’s taking the consequences for someone else’s wrong.
  • We may say, “That’s not fair!” That’s exactly right.
  • God will never need your forgiveness, but he has offered it to you because he loves you
  • And, as he has forgiven us, he asks us to forgive each other
    • Every one of us needs to be forgiven and to offer forgiveness
  • Fellowship with God requires forgiveness, God forgiving us and us forgiving each other.

Prayer and Card:

  • In the next five minutes, meditate on Ephesians 4:32 and ask God this questions, “Who do I need to forgive?”
    • On bottom of your prayer guide, you will see two boxes.
    • One box says, “Today I commit before God to forgive _______.”
    • The other box says, “Today, I commit before God to seek forgiveness from ________.”
  • I want you to meditate on Ephesians 4:32 and ask God, “Who do I need to forgive?”
  • Is it a family member whose decisions has irreparably impacted your life and the rest of your family.
  • It is an acquaintance that you knew for a time and did something to you that you will never forget?
  • Is it an organization? A Church? A boss?
  • Maybe the member of God’s family that you refuse to forgive … is yourself. Maybe today you will believe God that your sins are paid for and you have been given forgiveness
    • Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation, it’s not condoning or forgetting, and it’s not based on the action of others. Forgiveness is releasing that person of the spiritual payment that they owe.
    • If you are serious that today you will offer or seek forgiveness from someone, I want you to write that person’s name in the blank.
  • If you write a person’s name, you are committing to God that you will forgive that person.
  • Who is it that God wants you to forgive?

Time for Prayer

Resurrection

  • Forgiveness is extraordinarily costly, and it is extraordinarily painful. It’s like a death.
  • Jesus is our model for forgiveness. His forgiveness was extraordinarily costly to the point of death. But on the third day he rose again, and we get to reap the benefits of his resurrection.
  • Rom 6:4 says, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
  • Many of you have committed to God to do the hard work of forgiveness. God has promised you newness of life when you forgive.
  • That is my hope and prayer for you, that you will forgive as Christ has forgiven you, and you will walk in newness of life.

Let’s Stand and Sing