So, go ahead and ask me: "Stephen, are you going to heaven?" I'll tell you: "Yes, I'm going to heaven." "But preacher, do you think you're good enough to go to heaven?" And my answer to that is: "Of course not, but my hope of heaven is not based on my goodness; it is based on (1) the grace of God, (2) the blood of Christ, and (3) the promises of the Bible." Just like Paul, I can confidently say - "I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (II Tim. 1:12).
But, someone may object: "How can we be sure that we are saved and going to heaven when we know we fall short in so many ways?" Or someone else might ask: "Don't you know that we all commit sin, and none of us is perfect? How can we ever be sure about our salvation?" One man went so far as to say that the only time one can be sure that he is right with God is when he is coming out of the baptistery! Another man took the extreme position that the only time that a Christian can be sure to go to heaven is if he dies at the very moment he is asking for forgiveness. This kind of thinking is a miserable view of religion. God never intended for us to be in a constant state of uncertainty. The hope we have in Christ is supposed to be a joyful hope, based on blessed assurances.
Consider these verses of assurance briefly that are directed to Christians: "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...If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness...If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins" (I John 1:7,9; 2:1,2). Aren't those encouraging?
But Stephen, if you read the entire context there is much written about man's sin problem. That is true, and John doesn't minimize the problem. Certainly there is a fleshly tendency to sin. I John 1:8 affirms - "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Again in 1:10 - "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." Yes, even faithful Christians commit sin, but in the midst of these verses God gives us some assurances about our salvation, which we will analyze in forthcoming lessons. This book wasn't written to a perfect people; it was written to people like you and I--people who are tempted, people who are weak, and people who sometimes fail. But God wanted them to have the assurance that He could handle their sin problem for them, and He wants us to have the same assurance today!
We will consider I John 1:7 in our next lesson.