“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” — 1 John 1:9
“He is faithful and JUST.” Oh, what a word is that! There is scarcely to my mind such a word in the Bible as that; so great, so glorious, so comforting—“He is faithful and just.” “Just?” say you, “why I know that God’s mercy and God’s grace can pardon sinners; but how can God be just, and pardon transgressors? Does not God’s justice demand the punishment of sin? Does not God’s justice blaze forth in eternal lightnings against the soul that transgresses his holy law? How, then, can it be true, that God can be just, and yet forgive a confessing sinner?”
But it is true, divinely True, blessedly, eternally true. And in it is locked up that grand mystery of redemption by the blood and obedience of God’s co-equal Son. It is locked up in this one word—“just.” “But how?” it may be asked. In this way. The Lord of life and glory became a security and substitute for those whom his Father gave to him. He entered into their place and stead. He endured the punishment that was due to them. For them he fulfilled the whole law by his doings and by his sufferings. For them he bled, and for them he died. For them he rose again, and for them ascended up to the right hand of the Father. And now justice demands the sinner’s pardon, and puts in its righteous plea. And see the difference. Mercy begs, justice demands—mercy says, “I ask it as a boon;” mercy, as a part of God’s character, looks down with pity and compassion on the mourning criminal; but justice says, “It is his due; it is his right; it belongs to him; it is his because the Redeemer has discharged his debt, because the Surety has stood in his place, because the Savior has obeyed that law for him which he could not obey in his own person.” So that when we can receive this blessed and glorious truth, that to those who confess their sins, “God is faithful,” and not merely “faithful,” but also “just to forgive them their sins,” how it draws out of the bosom of Jehovah a full, free, and irrevocable pardon of all transgressions, and especially of those transgressions that the sinner confesses at his footstool!