“Arise my soul, arise, shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears;
Before the Throne my Surety stands . . .
My name is written on his hands.”(Charles Wesley, Trinity Hymnal, #223)
Most of us, as Christians, truly believe that God can and does forgive us our sin debt. But, sometimes, with some sins, we may feel like “hiding” a serious or recurring sin behind or under all the other ones that we’re fairly confident are “covered” by God’s mercy and grace. Maybe something from our past, or some particular sin from which we just can’t seem to “shake off (our) guilty fears.” Yes, it’s true from 1 John 1:7, 9 that God “cleanses us from all sin . . . from all unrighteousness.” Still, we think, “How can we ‘hide’ this ‘really big sin’ in with all the others” to convince ourselves that God forgives that one too? But, let’s look at the precise word usage from our two verses in 1 John. We’re more than accustomed to hearing the verses rendered in the following way:
“But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light. . . the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us fromall sin (πάσης ἁμαρτίας).” (v. 7)“If we should confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (πάσης ἀδικίας).” (v. 9)
Look at the highlighted Greek phrases that correspond to the English translations (which the New American Standard and the English Standard versions both render as above). In both instances: 1 John 1:7 and 1 John 1:9, the Greek construction utilizes a feminine singular adjective modifying a feminine singular noun. So, with full grammatical legitimacy, we can readily translate both of these phrases in an identical, more “singular” sounding, manner: ” . . . each sin (v. 7; “unrighteousness,” v. 9). Yes, when viewed as a collective group, God indeed cleanses us from “all sin (unrighteousness).” But, in an almost more convincing and comfort producing way, God specifically “cleanses us from each sin.” So, praise God, and “shake off thy guilty fears!”