Monday, November 30, 2015


“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. But if [1] anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” —1 John 2:2

Carolyn reminded me this morning of a mutual friend who used to come home from work, walk through the front door and shout, “You’re forgiven!”

It wasn’t that family members had wronged him and needed his forgiveness. He was reminding them that though they had doubtless sinned throughout the day, they were, by God’s grace, fully forgiven.

Psalm 119 comes to mind, a poem in which the psalmist insists that he loves God and loves His word. Then I read the very last verse of the psalm, a text reminiscent of Jesus’ parable about a lost sheep:

I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
Seek Your servant... (119:176)

A man of God who has gone astray?

Then I thought of the tax collector in the temple who also characterized himself as a “lost sheep” and cried out for mercy, in contrast to the Pharisee who had it all together. Jesus said this man (the tax collector, not the self—righteous Pharisee) went home justified (Luke 18:9-14). 

John supplies this grace note: ”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 continually cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin (no inclination to 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” (1 John 1:7-9).

"Walking in the light" is a metaphor for our efforts to follow Jesus in the path of obedience. Obedience, John insists, is the sign that we have joined with the Apostles in the fellowship of faith. We are authentic Christians.

But, he continues, let’s not kid ourselves: We will go astray. Nevertheless, grace is given in full measure: We can take what forgiveness we need.

Not perfect; just forgiven! That’s my mantra for today.

David Roper

[1] The Greek conditional clause suggests inevitability

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