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1John 1:5-9 (CEB)

This is the message that we have heard from him and announce to you: “God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.” If we claim, “We have fellowship with him,” and live in the darkness, we are lying and do not act truthfully. But if we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we claim, “We don’t have any sin,” we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.


This passage reminds me of the early days of my salvation, back in 2010. Although I grew up a Methodist and thought of myself as a believer, for me, it took a moment of grace when God rescued me and told me who I was. Now when I think back on those days, I also remember the missteps -when sometimes I found myself repeatedly asking for God’s forgiveness, even for something for which I had already been forgiven. Oh, how we really can be mired in our own shame! 

Sometimes the moments we can’t forgive ourselves are the biggest barriers to an honest relationship with Our Lord. Now, more than fourteen years later, I can smile at my own resistance. God doesn’t mean for us to stay so stuck. As this passage contends, God means for us to “live in the light in the same way as he is in the light.”

So just yesterday, in Women’s Bible Study, a few women and myself were talking about the Christian concept of “forgiveness,” I was then remembering my unwillingness to really accept God’s grace. 

And “sin” came up as one of our topics. One person was saying that she believed in the idea that when we ask God for forgiveness from our sin, then we are immediately forgiven. Another person commented and then said, “But what about “grace? I believe in a God that offers me forgiveness, even when I haven’t asked for it. Isn’t that what grace is?

Hmm, I think some more…. I really don’t know much, so I smile again at my naivete…. At least I have learned to laugh at my foibles. 

It seems to me that God’s grace and forgiveness are a “Yes-and-yes” kind of question. Surely God forgives us whenever we acknowledge that we somehow have messed up and ask for forgiveness. When I read verse 1 Jn 1:9, I am reminded that when we ask for forgiveness, God cleanses us of our sin, once and for all. 

But what about when we don’t even ask for forgiveness? Isn’t God’s grace sufficient? What if I never asked for forgiveness about something, and yet I am a believer? So when I read verse 7, I think of the fact that God and I have “fellowship with one another.” I think of the grace that God’s love provides. For me, this passage speaks to the multiple kinds of grace that God’s love provides. Sure, I ask for forgiveness and receive God’s grace in return. Yet, also through my relationship with Jesus, God’s love and grace remind me that once and for all, God is the One whose actions have changed my life. God is the One who’s actions have led to my salvation! I do not have to do anything but accept it.

by Barbara Carlson

For Pondering & Prayer

What are your thoughts on God’s grace and forgiveness? Have you ever felt held back, stuck in the ways that you couldn’t forgive yourself? How might you really accept God’s grace from within?


Loving God, You love me so much that you help me accept your grace and forgiveness. Even when I struggle to let go, you draw me closer. Thank you for all the ways you know me. Thank you for my life and salvation. I know I have not earned it, but you love me anyway and tell me I am saved, just as I am. Your grace is sufficient for me. Amen.