Dr. Brian Goldman obsessively tried to be perfect in treating his patients. But on a nationally broadcast show he admitted to mistakes he had made. He revealed that he had treated a woman in the emergency room and then made the decision to discharge her. Later that day a nurse asked him, “Do you remember that patient you sent home? Well, she’s back.” The patient had been readmitted to the hospital and then died. This devastated him. He tried even harder to be perfect, only to learn the obvious: Perfection is impossible.
As Christians, we may harbor unrealistic expectations of perfection for ourselves. But even if we can somehow manage the appearance of a flawless life, our thoughts and motives are never completely pure.
John the disciple wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The remedy is not to hide our sins and to strive harder, but to step into the light of God’s truth and confess them. “If we walk in the light,” said John, “as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (v. 7).
In medicine, Dr. Goldman proposes the idea of a “redefined physician” who—in a culture where we are hesitant to admit our errors—no longer toils under the tyranny of perfection. Such a physician openly shares mistakes and supports colleagues who do the same, with a goal of reducing mistakes.
What if Christians were known not for hiding their sins but for loving and supporting each other with the truth and grace of our God? What if we practiced a risky yet healthy honesty with each other and with the watching world?
Father, it’s so difficult for us to share our faults with each other, but You call us to wholeness as Your people. Empower us by Your Spirit to live courageously in love and honesty.
Honesty with God about our sin brings forgiveness.
Verse 9 of today’s passage is one of the most well-known verses in the New Testament. It speaks of the faithfulness of God to forgive our sins when we confess them. But it is interesting to note that verses 6-10 begin with the condition “if.” The word if ties results to our actions. John is saying that our condition—walking in darkness or walking in light (vv. 6-7) and being deceived or being forgiven (vv. 8-9)—depends on the choices we make. Although in our standing with God we are eternally forgiven through Christ’s sacrifice, we will miss out on fellowship with God when we neglect confession of sin. J.R. Hudberg