"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (NIV)
What is God saying?
God guarantees that He will forgive and cleanse us from all of our wrongdoings; all we have to do is bring our sins to Him so He can get rid of them.
What is God saying to us today?
Do you wonder why John didn't simple say, "Confess your sins and God will forgive them"? That's the main point of this verse, right? Why all of the extra words? Well there is a lot of good stuff packed into this one sentence! Not only does God faithfully forgive our sins, He does it in a way that is just. He doesn't merely sweep them under the rug, but He upholds justice. This highlights the importance of the atonement we find at the cross! But, He doesn't just forgive our sins, He also cleanses us from all unrighteousness. This two-step process totally eradicates our guilt. It's like getting a speeding ticket. First you have to pay the fine (forgiveness) and then you go to traffic school to get it off your record (cleansing). This highlights the work of Jesus as both our Sacrifice and High Priest! God has done and is doing all of this major work on our behalf, and all we have to do in order to take advantage is confess our sins to Him.
What is God inviting us to do?
When is the last time you openly and honestly admitted your guilt to someone? God invites us to share the darkest and most secret parts of thoughts and actions with Him. And when we do, He promises to not condemn us, but to totally forgive and cleanse us!