What Can We Do About Our Sins?

Bible Book: 1 John  1 : 8-10
Subject: Forgiveness; Cleansing; Sin, How to Remove

What Can We Do With Our Sins

Dr. J .Mike Minnix

What is the biggest little word in the Bible? It is the word, "If." We find it used three times in our text today and each time it relates to sin. Note how this little word is used.


It is the word of Revival - "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)


It is the word of Redemption - "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink." (John 7:37) It is the word of Responsibility, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)


It is the word of Rebellion - "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)

This is a big, little word. I know that is an oxymoron - it is like putting the two words "Jumbo" and "Shrimp" together. Can there really be a Jumbo Shrimp? Yet, the little word "if" is a mighty big word in the Bible. Hardly ever can the word be declared more important than it is right here in the passage before us. In our text today, the word "if" deals with the subject of sin.

The application for a new driver's license asked the following question: "Have you ever been arrested?" The applicant answered: "No." The next question was: "State why." The applicant was only to answer that question if he had been arrested at some point in his life. However, one applicant answered: "Never been caught." Be sure your sin will find you out! Actually, when the word “if” deals with sin, we have all been caught!

The word if in this passage deals with the question of what we are to do about our sins. There are three choices regarding this question.

I. The If of Covering our Sins

A. The Denial of Sin

We begin with the “if” of covering our sins. Is it possible for anyone to actually believe that he or she does not sin? Sure. I have talked with some of them. You see, the problem these people have with sin is that they do not understand what it is or they simply refuse to accept what sin is. People who deny that they have sinned are measuring themselves on a scale that they have created.

I heard about a man once who built his own golf course and made the par level on the course 110 strokes. He did that so he could shoot par all the time! If you make up your own rules, you can declare yourself a great golfer even when it isn't true.

A 51-year-old man in Jackson, Mississippi, was fined $25 by a district judge for trespassing. He had been arrested when a security guard discovered him under a car in an auto dealer's lot. The man insisted he was tightening all the loose bolts he could find in order to prevent motorists from losing their lives. He said he was "only interested in people's safety." How foolish to make lame excuses for our sins.

But you may be surprised to learn that even God's people sometimes deny sin. Look at David as an example. David committed adultery with Bathsheba, but he denied it. He began by denying it to himself. He then denied it before others. All the while he was trying to deny it to God. Of course, he never solved this problem until he admitted his sin to himself, to others and to God.

The Bible is clear reading sin - all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Denial does not make one guiltless!

B. The Danger of Sin

Most people in this room have not committed sins as grievous as those of David, but you can be just as guilty of not wanting to admit your sin. When you deny sin, you become a liar! You go even further than that, you call God a liar.

Look at Ezekiel 14:3ff. When you set up the idol of selfish sin in your life, and then pray or worship as if everything is all right. God states that He will answer you according to your idolatry. In other words, He will answer you according to the idol you have set up in your heart. That is why a person can be involved in sin and say, "Well, I have prayed about it and I feel it is all right." Such a person is getting the answer his wants and he will get God’s way of dealing with in the end - and that is something you don't want to face.

I once read somewhere that the late Jackie Gleason was asked in an interview if he was religious. He answered, "No, I am still looking for the religion that will tell me I can do anything I want to do and still go to heaven." Oh, the danger of sin and its power to mislead us!

But, remember, sin is destructive. What leprosy is to the body, sin is to the soul - it eats away the very life of the person!

Sin has brought spiritual death to all (Romans 6:23), but God offers us forgiveness through Jesus Christ. When a person is unwilling to accept responsibility for his sin, he is not simply denying sin - he is denying and rejecting God's Son. Christians who deny their sin are making a sham of their faith and damaging the witness and work for our Lord.

II. The If of Confessing our Sins

A. Confession

The Geek word used for “confess” in this passage is "homologeo". It means to say the same thing as another, that is, to agree with or give assent to a statement. It means to declare openly and speak freely in agreement with another statement.

What does it mean to confess our sins? It means to "call the sin what God calls it". You and I are to call sin what God states that it is. You are to view sin as He views it. You and I are to remember what it cost Jesus to cleanse us from our sins. In the light of His sacrifice, we are to confess our sins by calling sin exactly what He calls it and to confess our sins to Him!

A woman once said to a famous evangelist, "I'm deeply troubled over a problem that I know is hurting my testimony. It's the practice of exaggeration. I start to tell something, and then go on and enlarge the story until it's all distorted. People know that what I say is not true, and lose confidence in me. I wonder if you can help me?" The preacher looked at her and said, "Let's talk to the Lord about it." She prayed, O God, "Thou knowest that I have this tendency to exaggerate." At this point the evangelist interrupted, "Call it lying, Madam, and you may get over it!" The woman began to weep and finally made a full confession of her evil habit.

When we begin to call our sins exactly what God calls them, and to ask Him to forgive and deliver us, we find the only way to overcome them.

B. Cleansing

God promises that He will cleanse every sinner who confesses. He will forgive and He will cleanse. What do these two words mean? Forgive in this passage comes from the Greek word "aphiemi," which means "to send away". It means "to let go, to give up a debt, to forgive, or to remit". When Jesus forgives, He sends our sins away from us. He forgives us. He pays the debt we owe, the debt we could never pay ourselves. Oh, the wonder of forgiveness!

In seeking cleansing for sin, we must not only confess our sin, but we must also confess Jesus as Lord. You see, God does not merely wink at our sin when we call on Him for forgiveness. Jesus died for our sins and He offers forgiveness to those who accept Him and follow Him. Cleansing of sin does not come without price, and Jesus is the One who paid that price. In Him we find peace from the power and penalty of sin.

II. The If of Conquering our Sins

A. He Speaks TO Us when we truly Confess and seek to Conquer our Sins

In 1 John 1:10 we read that God's Word has no place in our lives if we try to cover up our sins. It is true that the very opposite occurs when we admit our sins. God's Word is open to us. Remembering that without a vision (Word from God) the people perish. We can see the need to keep the lines of communication open with God. In fact, as we have seen, when we are unwilling to confess our sins we end up with a false word based upon the idol(s) we have set up in our hearts.

Look at the Bible and you will see that those who confessed their sins were blessed with special communication from the Lord. Look at Ezra. Look at Isaiah. Look at Nehemiah. Look at Daniel 9:20.

The early days of computer technology illustrate how a small problem can lead to big complications. In the 1940s, men were working hard to get the first computer into operation. All of a sudden the room-sized machine broke down completely. A preliminary investigation into the problem left the technicians baffled. Finally, after a more thorough search, one of the scientists discovered the cause of the breakdown. Deep inside the computer, a moth had crawled between two electrical contact points and was stuck. The circuit could not be closed. As soon as the moth was removed, the machine began running again. That is where the term "bug" in the computer came from.

How about it? Has some little sin come between you and God to disrupt your fellowship with Him and your communication from Him? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you identify it. Then get rid of it. When fellowship is restored, you'll be glad you took the time to get the bugs out of the system. Only God can de-bug the human heart!

B. He Speaks FOR Us when we truly Confess and seek to Conquer our Sins

He is our Advocate. He speaks for us. He stands for us.

The songwriter penned:

"What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our griefs and sins to bear,
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to him in prayer." (Joseph M. Scriven, 1855)

You see, when we confess honestly to the Lord, the devil can no longer accuse us.

A preacher of the early 1900s said that when he was twelve years old he had killed one of the family geese by throwing a stone and hitting it squarely on the head. Figuring his parents wouldn't notice that one of the twenty-four birds were missing, he buried the dead fowl. But that evening his sister called him aside and said, "I saw what you did. If you don't offer to do the dishes tonight, I'll tell Mother."

The next morning she gave him the same warning. All that day and the next the frightened boy felt bound to do the dishes. The following morning, however, he surprised his sister by telling her it was her turn. When she quietly reminded him of what she could do, he replied, "I've already told Mother, and she has forgiven me. Now you do the dishes. I'm free again!"

My friend, when you and I deal with our sins honestly before God, we are set free. Satan cannot hold us hostage once God has forgiven and cleansed us.

The story is told of a convict who had been in prison for many years. Finally he received a pardon from the king. When the time came for him to be released, he walked boldly to the prison gate and said with confidence, "Me and the king say you have to open the doors and set me free." He then produced the papers signed by the ruler. His identification with the king guaranteed his freedom. That is what God is willing to do for everyone who comes to Him in full confession.

C. He Speaks THROUGH Us when we truly Confess and seek to Conquer our Sins

His desire is to reach the entire world with the message of divine love and grace. See that clearly in 1 John 2:2. If we would see our friends saved, we must clean the closets of our own hearts. If we would be a reflector of God's light, we must clear the reflector of our heart so the light can shine from it.

After F. E. Marsh preached on restitution, a young man came to him and said, "Pastor, you have put me in a bad fix. I've stolen from my employer, and I'm ashamed to tell him about it. You see, I'm a boat builder, and the man I work for is an unbeliever. I have often talked to him about Christ, but he only laughs at me. In my work, expensive copper nails are used because they won't rust in water. I've been taking some of them home for a boat I am building in my backyard. I'm afraid if I tell my boss what I've done and offer to pay for them he'll think I'm a hypocrite, and I'll never be able to reach him for Christ. Yet, my conscience is bothered."

Later when the man saw the preacher again, he exclaimed, "Pastor, I've settled that matter and I'm so relieved." He went on to say, that his boss had always thought that he was a hypocrite but had changed his mind due to the confession. In fact, the boss said that any man who would confess over stealing a few copper nails must have something real.


You might ask, "If I confess my sins, what will others think of me?" I am reminded of a story told by a preacher who was in a revival. In the middle of a sermon, a man jumped up. "Preacher!" he shouted, "I have been a miserable, contemptible sinner for years, and never knew it before tonight!" Before he could say any more, a deacon in the next pew announced, "Sit down, brother. The rest of us knew it all the time."

Don’t be afraid to confess your sins; you see, all of us here are sinners. The confession of one often opens up the way for many more who need to do the same thing.

In a cemetery not far from New York City, there is a headstone engraved with a single word: FORGIVEN. The message is simple and plain. There is no date of birth and no other epitaph. There is only a name and the one single word FORGIVEN. But that is the greatest word that can be applied to any man or woman, or written on any gravestone. If you died today, could that word honestly written on your tombstone? It can be.

We are going to sing an invitation hymn. I ask you to be honest with God. If you have never trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, now is the time. He died to save you and rose to justify you before the Father. Come to Him now.

Christian, are we failing to hear from God because of some sin, even a small thing, is blocking the way? Are we denied a clear and conspicuous witness because of some sin that is in the way. Let us call our sin what God calls us and confess to Him now. Now let us sing, and let us respond to Him as He speaks to our hearts.