Christmas is about Sin (1 John 1:8-9)
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ⁹ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:8-9
These verses are a timely, if unlikely, meditation for Advent.
I don’t think I’ve seen 1 John 1:8-9 on any of the Christmas cards we’ve received over the years. None have focused on our sin problem the way this week’s verses do. But maybe they should. That’s because amidst all the lights and evergreen boughs and candy canes, Christmas—like this passage—tells the truth about our sin.
Consider the purpose of the baby born in a manger and the work He was sent to do. Christmas is about Jesus coming to earth, and Jesus’ coming is about our sin. He was as innocent on the day He gave His life as He was on the day He took His first breath. Jesus was sinless. Yet the Romans scourged Him and crucified Him as a criminal.
1 John echoes Isaiah’s prophecy, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
Jesus lived, and died, to heal us of our sin sickness. If we say we have no sin, we make a mockery of His obedience and suffering. It's His cleansing blood that brings us peace.
Look Inward and Upward
These verses call me to honest self-assessment and active repentance. John urges us to agree with God’s verdict—guilty—and humbly receive His forgiveness and cleansing. His words are an honest answer that kisses the lips (Proverbs 24:26) and trustworthy wounds from a friend (Proverbs 27:6).
Christmas marks the in-breaking of God with us, Immanuel. Divinity took on humanity so that we would not be left in our sin, unable to heal ourselves. We don’t have to hide or excuse our sin by blaming it on others like Adam in the garden (Genesis 3:12), or boast despite our sin like the Pharisee praying in the temple (Luke 18:14).
Christmas means we can be washed clean. More than 700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophesied,
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53:11).
It is foolish to try and justify ourselves before a holy God because we can never be good enough in ourselves. But He has made a way for us to be justified apart from ourselves. The gifts of 1 John 1:8-9—forgiveness for our sins and cleansing from our unrighteousness—are gifts of grace. They are available for everyone who will believe in Jesus the Messiah. He is the greatest gift of all.
How might meditating on the gifts of blood-bought forgiveness and cleansing from unrighteousness change your perspective this Christmas season?
In what ways are you tempted to deny your sin?
Ask God to grant you godly sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10) and to let your highest joy this Christmas be that He is with us and has promised to never leave or forsake His own (Matthew 28:20).