The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin
1 John 1:5 -- 2:1

“If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

To understand this verse, we must know what sin is, what its consequences are, how the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin, and what it means to walk in the light.


What is sin?

Sin is a thought, attitude, action or inaction contrary to the will of God. “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Such statements are not popular! Most people tend to think that sin is actually not all that bad, especially their own sin!

How often is the word “sin” found in magazines and newspapers? The bad consequences of sin are described in great detail, but (except in churches) sin is almost never acknowledged as a cause of human suffering. Sin has to do with one’s responsibility to God, and people prefer not to think about that.

A man went to church alone because his wife was ill. When he came home, she asked: “What did the preacher talk about today?” “Sin,” he replied. “And, what did he say about it?” “Well, he was against it!”

Although there is a conspiracy of silence in the press about sin, God has much to say about sin. When we study the Scriptures we discover how sinful we are!

Jesus teaches us to look at the inner causes of sin: “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:20-23).

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus emphasized that external sins begin with internal sins, for example, when He said: “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

In a popular song in the fifties there was a line, “You can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking.” On hearing the song my father commented, “But you can go to hell for what you’re thinking!”

In the New Testament there are several lists of sins that show us how sinful we are.

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21).

“Being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful” (Romans 1:29-31).

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:2-4).

“If you show partiality, you commit sin” (James 2:9). This means that looking down on poor people, racism, and all forms of prejudice and discrimination are sin, including favoritism, cronyism, tribalism, and blind patriotism.

And what about sins of neglect? “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). There are so many good things that we ought to do that we fail to do!

Even our good deeds are tainted by our sins: “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

Even those who sincerely want to do what is right, fall far short in actual practice, as Paul says: “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15).

The Bible is a spiritual mirror that shows us our sins (James 1:23, 24).


What are the consequences of sin?

“The righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5) requires the death penalty for sin. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). After listing a series of sins, Paul says that “the righteous judgment of God” is “that those who practice such things are deserving of death” (Romans 1:32).

In addition to bringing dishonor to God, our sin causes immeasurable pain, heartache and suffering to others. Only God knows how much harm is done by our sins and “each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).

Jesus warns us about eternal punishment in hell as the ultimate consequence of sin: “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire - where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’” (Mark 9:47, 48).


God provides salvation through the blood of Christ.

When we realize how sinful man is, and how destructive sin is, we could easily conclude that there is no hope for mankind.

But there is hope because God, in His great love and mercy, has provided the blood of Christ as the means of salvation. God is willing to forgive: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land’” (Isaiah 1:18, 19).

Water and many other solvents are used to wash away physical dirt, but only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin.

Many people do not understand how blood can take away sins. Briefly stated: Since death is the just penalty for sin, the only way God can preserve His righteousness when He forgives sin is if someone else, who is without sin, bears this punishment in the place of the one forgiven (see Romans 3:24-26).

Thus, God has given blood as the means of atonement by which sins are forgiven. In Leviticus 17:11 He explains: “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Atonement is satisfaction for an offense, resulting in the restoration of a broken relationship.

“According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).

Under the Old Covenant there was atonement through the blood of sacrificial animals. This prefigured the blood of Christ, who would bring the ultimate sacrifice for sin. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).

High priests in the Old Testament offered the blood of animals. Our High Priest, Jesus Christ, gave His own life as a sacrifice for sin: “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:12-14).

Christ could pay the penalty for our sin because He was without sin. Since He was not under the same condemnation, He could voluntarily take our place, He “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).

Thus God’s grace is granted through the blood of Christ. We are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith” (Romans 3:24, 25). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).


The blood of Christ is the blood of the New Covenant.

Jesus said something that was hard for His hearers to comprehend: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54).

This mystery was unveiled when Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’” (Matthew 26:26-28).


The blood of Christ shows God’s love.

“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:8, 9). Jesus “loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5).

God proves His love by the high price He was willing to pay for our salvation. “Conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:17-19).

As John the Baptist testified of Jesus: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).


Cleansing by the blood of Christ is offered to all.

The Old Covenant was given to the people of Israel. The New Covenant is for the whole world. To non-Jewish Christians Paul wrote: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

The blood of Christ is for everyone: “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation’” (Revelation 5:9).


The blood of Christ enables us to stand before God’s throne in white.

“Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:13, 14).

Now we can better understand John’s statement: “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).


How do we walk in the light?

“God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Through the blood of Christ, God has freed us from the power of darkness so we can walk in the light: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13, 14).

We begin our walk “in the light of the gospel” (2 Corinthians 4:4) when we believe in Jesus (Mark 16:16), repent of our sins (Luke 24:47), confess our faith in Christ (Romans 10:10) and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). We then rise from baptism to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). We strive not to sin, but when we fall short “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

Thus, to walk in the light does not mean “that we have no sin” (1 John 1:8) because then a continual cleansing by the blood of Christ would not be necessary. It does mean, however, that we are not walking in darkness!

We walk in the light by following Christ day after day and by coming together on the first day of the week to commune with the body and blood of Christ at the Lord’s table.


Let us walk in the light!

“If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)