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STUDY SIX: THE BLOOD OF JESUS – 1John 1: 7 & 9; 2:1 & 2

© Rosemary Bardsley 2022

We have seen that walking in the light includes:

Having a right understanding of who Jesus Christ is.
Having a right understanding of our own identity as sinners.

In this study we look at a third significant component of walking in the light, that walking in the light means:

Having a right understanding of the death of Jesus Christ, and a right relationship to the death of Jesus Christ.

A. 1JOHN 1:7

In verses 6 and 7 John stated two contrasting truths:

On the one hand, there is walking in the darkness and not living by the truth. If we are doing this we do not ‘have fellowship with’ God, and cannot rightly claim to have fellowship with God.

On the other hand, there is walking in the light, having fellowship both with God and with each other, and being purified/cleansed ‘from all sin’ by the blood of Jesus, God’s Son.

Having fellowship with God is of necessity connected to being purified from all sin by the blood of Jesus, because sin separates us from God. If the problem of sin is not addressed there can be no fellowship with God. While the life, teaching and ministry of Jesus Christ addresses our problem of ignorance of God, the death of Jesus Christ addresses our problem of separation from God because of our sin by ‘purifying’ us from all sin.

Check these verses. What is accomplished by the blood/death of Jesus Christ?
Romans 3:25

Romans 5:9

Romans 5:10

Ephesians 1:7

Ephesians 2:13

Colossians 1:20 - 22

Colossians 2:13, 14

Hebrews 9:14

Hebrews 10:19

If we put all of these together we will gain an understanding of what being ‘purified’ from all sins actually means, and what the connection is between this purification from all sins and having ‘fellowship with God’.

Our sins meant that God’s wrath was upon us: but now we have ‘atonement’ – that is, the removal of God’s wrath – through Christ’s blood.

Our sins meant that God’s wrath (condemnation) was upon us: but now we have been ‘justified’ – that is acquitted – by Christ’s blood.

Our sins meant that we were God’s enemies: but now we have been ‘reconciled’ to God by Christ’s death.

Our sins meant that both our sins and their penalty held us captive: but now we have ‘redemption’ (release, freedom) through his blood, that is, the forgiveness of sins.

Our sins meant that we were far away from God: but now we are ‘brought near’ through the blood of Jesus.

Our sins meant that that we were alienated from God and enemies in our minds: but now God has ‘made peace’ through Christ’s blood, ‘reconciling’ us to himself through Christ’s death.

Our sins meant that we were hounded by our guilty consciences: but now the blood of Jesus ‘cleanses our consciences’.

Our sins meant that we were forever banned from God’s presence: but now, by the blood of Jesus, we have permanent, uninhibited, confident access into the very presence of God.

This is an amazing change in our relationship with God. But John does not explain here when this change took place, except that it is connected to the gospel proclaimed by the apostles:

That Jesus Christ is ‘the Word of life’, ‘the life’ and ‘the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us’ (verses 1 & 2).

And that ‘God is light’ and the right response is to walk/live in that light.

Later in his first letter John gives us more information, and we will get to that in due course.


B. 1JOHN 1:9

We have seen in the two previous studies that walking in the light means not only knowing who Jesus Christ is, but also knowing who we are: that we are sinners who sin. To claim that we are not sinners and that we have not sinned is to reveal that we are actually not walking in the light. By knowing God we now also know ourselves: his light reveals the sinfulness of our hearts and our actions.

About those who know and acknowledge that they are sinners by nature and sinners by actions John makes three powerful affirmations:

[1] God is faithful and just, and the result/outcome of that faithfulness and that justice, is

[2] that he forgives our sins, and

[3] that he purifies us from all unrighteousness.

Many Christians are so focused on the ‘if we confess’, thinking that that is the cause of the forgiveness, that they seem to overlook what John states is the real cause of that forgiveness: the faithfulness and justice of God.

What does this mean? How does this work?

B.1 God is faithful
When we read the phrase ‘God is faithful’ we need to remind ourselves that this faithfulness of God is not an arbitrary or disconnected thing. To be ‘faithful’ is to be ‘faithful to ...’ someone or something. So here we need to ask ourselves: who or what is it that God is faithful to?

There may well be several answers to this question:

God is faithful to himself. God will never be unfaithful to himself. He will never betray himself. And it is this central aspect of God’s faithfulness that is the support and guarantee of every other aspect of his faithfulness.

God is faithful to his eternal purpose. This is his purpose to send Jesus Christ to rescue us from the results of our rejection of God in Genesis 3. This purpose was fixed in a decision of God set in place before the beginning of time.

God is faithful to his word. What he has said he will do, he will most certainly do. He will not act contrary to his word.

God is faithful to the promises he has made concerning those who believe in his Son.

Check these verses. What do they say about God’s faithfulness?
Psalm 33:4

Psalm 36:5 – 7


Psalm 89:1, 2


Psalm 89:5 – 8


Psalm 119:90

Isaiah 25:1

Isaiah 49:7

1Corinthians 1:8 – 9

Philippians 1:6

1Thessalonians 5:23, 24

2Thessalonians 3:3

2Timothy 1:8 – 12


2Timothy 2:13 (where ‘disown’ is ‘deny’ in KJV)

Hebrews 10:23

Hebrews 11:11

In 1John 1:9 John’s reference to God’s faithfulness is in the context of God’s forgiving our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.

Look again at the verses above.
Which of them refer to God’s faithfulness in reference to our salvation?



Which of them refer to God’s faithfulness in reference to God accomplishing his will/purpose?


Now read these verses. What do they say about God’s will/purpose/promises concerning those who believe in Jesus Christ?
John 5:24

John 6:37 – 40

John 10:27 – 29

Romans 4:16

Romans 5:9 – 11


These are just four of the many New Testament passages that affirm the certainty of the salvation that God gives freely to those who believe in Jesus Christ. [See this study for an extensive list of verses. And these studies for detailed studies regarding various aspects of salvation.]

When John says in 1:9 that ‘God is faithful’ he is drawing our attention to God’s faithfulness in relation to his eternal purpose to save us, in an action of sheer grace, through the death of his Son, as revealed in his word. Our sinful nature and our sinful actions did not prevent God from saving us in the first place (Romans 5:8). God saved us, through Christ, when we were still sinners. As we have seen earlier, it is sinners that Christ came to save. It is sinners who are the recipients of salvation. It is sinners whom God has united to Christ and thereby applied the totality of forgiveness merited by his substitutionary death.

This God who has done all of this is faithful. Our present sinfulness and our present sin cannot undo or reverse the salvation he freely gave to us in Christ. That forgiveness, that salvation, is guaranteed (Romans 4:16) because it is not based on our worthiness or our sinlessness but is solely by faith and by grace. It depends on God and his faithfulness, not on us and our worthiness. God’s forgiveness is grounded in his faithfulness.

B.2 ‘ ... and just’
An aspect of God’s faithfulness is that God is faithful to himself – to his nature, including his justice. God is just – he does what is legally right. He always acts in strict conformity to his justice. He never acts contrary to his justice, which is grounded on his perfect and infinite knowledge and wisdom. Whereas our human justice is always potentially imperfect, because we don’t know everything about anything or anyone, God’s justice is pure justice. [Note: In both the Old and New Testaments the words ‘righteous’ and ‘righteousness’ refer to legal rightness.]

What do these verses say about God’s justice?
Genesis 18:25

Psalm 9:7, 8

Psalm 11:7

Psalm 31:1

Psalm 36:6

Psalm 40:10

Psalm 50:6

Psalm 89:14

Psalm 143:1

Isaiah 9:7

Isaiah 5:16

Acts 17:31

Hebrews 1:8,9

Revelation 15:3

Revelation 19:11


In some of the above verses both ‘faithfulness’ and ‘justice/righteousness’ are mentioned.

But why does John introduce the concept that God is ‘just’ in 1:9 of his first letter? What has God’s justice to do with assuring us of our forgiveness? Wouldn’t the fact that God is ‘just’ make us even more fearful that we would miss out on forgiveness? If God is ‘just’ doesn’t that mean that our sins must be punished in keeping with his justice?

How do we resolve this apparent tension between God’s grace and God’s justice that was expressed in God’s revelation of himself to Moses:

‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished ...’ (Exodus 34:6, 7).

John has already assured us in verse seven that ‘the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin’. In 2:1 – 2, which we will look at in the next study, John explains why forgiveness is our present and permanent possession, and why God in faithfulness and in justice will never hold our sin against us ever again. We will look at that closely then. For the moment, here is a thought to consider: if Jesus Christ in his death paid the full penalty for our sins, then God in his justice cannot hold those sins against us.

B.3 ‘... to forgive us our sins’
John is here referring to the same fact that he taught in verse 7 – that God has dealt with our sins. In verse 7 he used the concept of ‘purifying’ us from all sin, that is, erasing the record of our sins. In verse 9, the word translated ‘forgive’ means something like ‘send away’. It has the sense of removal of a barrier. This concept of taking our sins out of the way so that they no longer separate us from God is found in many of the images of forgiveness in the Bible.

What images are used to communicate this aspect of forgiveness in these verses?
Psalm 32:1

Psalm 51:9

Psalm 103:12

Isaiah 38:17

Micah 7:19

Colossians 2:13, 14


When God forgives our sins, the sin-barrier that has separated us from God since Genesis 3, is removed. We are no longer banned from God’s presence. We are no longer disqualified. No longer excluded.

For more on forgiveness go to this study and this one.


B.4 ‘and purify us from all unrighteousness’
In 1:7 John says that God purifies us ‘from all sin’. Now in verse 9 he says that God purifies us ‘from all unrighteousness’. He is not giving us additional truth, but additional insight into the same truth, expressing the same truth from a different perspective.

By referring to ‘unrighteousness’ John is talking about our legal guilt – our standing before God’s law, our standing before God as Judge.

In 1:9 John refers to God as ‘just’ – the word is dikaios.
In 2:1 John refers to Jesus as ‘the Righteous One’ – the word is dikaios.
In 1:9 John says that God purifies us from ‘all unrighteousness’ – the word is adikia.

This family of words is used by Paul to refer to God’s gift of ‘righteousness’ – of ‘justification’ by faith – in his letter to the Romans. There he told us:

‘There is no one righteous (dikaios), not even one’ (Romans 3:10),
But, through Jesus Christ’s obedience ‘many will be made righteous (dikaios)’ (Romans 5:19).

The cleansing from ‘all unrighteousness’ to which John refers in 1:9 is this same reversal that features in Paul’s teaching: that we who are legally guilty are declared legally innocent. The record of our guilt is erased. God, the just Judge, has pronounced a ‘not guilty’ verdict upon us, and erased all evidence of our guilt.

Consider these verses. What do they teach about this incredible gift?
Isaiah 61:10

Jeremiah 23:6b

Luke 18:14

Romans 1:17

Romans 3:21, 22


Romans 4:8

Romans 4:23 – 25


1Corinthians 1:30

2Corinthians 5:21

In some of these verses we have been given some insight into how God could purify us from all ‘unrighteousness’ – how God could declare us ‘not guilty’ – yet still remain ‘just’. In the next study we will look at John’s brief explanation of how that was accomplished.