Windshield Wiper Forgiveness

In the time of the apostle John, people who became Christians after living under the laws of the Old Testament were faced with an incredible amount of freedom. No more animal sacrifices. No more temple ceremonies and finding out what type of sin you’d committed and what to offer to a priest to satisfy the penalty for that sin. The miracle of the forgiveness of sins with no price tag for the believer to pay.

But though forgiveness no longer had a ritual-based price tag, it was because Someone had already paid that price. As a result, all those riches of forgiveness were in a heavenly bank account that waited only for a believer to ask for them and repent of the sins.

The Bible calls that account “being credited with righteousness.”  Romans 4:18-25 shows that belief in a Savior who was raised from the dead causes that bank account to become activated, ready for us to “withdraw” what we could never earn for ourselves, the complete approval of God regardless of our earthly sins.

But with freedom comes questions. If the gift is free, how do we access it?

First John 1 answers those questions. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (verse 9.)

But there are more questions. How often should I admit my sins? What about repeated sins? What about sins that I forget to ask forgiveness for?

First John 1:7 answers that, too.  “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

I call this verse “the windshield wiper verse.” That’s because the tense of the verb, “purifies” is not a one-time action. It’s like your car wiper blades — they keep pushing the water off your windshield continuously. You don’t have to turn them off and on for each swipe — they just keep doing their job. In the same way, Jesus’ blood just keeps purifying us from sin.

That’s hard for us to swallow. After all, we know how hurtful our sins are to each other and to ourselves. We have trouble believing that black and shameful deeds can be wiped away and never cost us anything.

This reminds me of one of my favorite stories about a woman who, upon arriving at heaven’s gates, argued with the gatekeeper who invited her in.

“What about the sins I committed?” she asked.

“All forgiven.”

She leaned over and whispered her secret sins into the gatekeeper’s ear.

“Oh, all those sins,” he replied. “God put them in a bag and buried them.”

“But where are they buried?” she insisted. “Where’s the hole where He buried them?”

“God forgot.”

That’s the double miracle of forgiveness:  first, that God would forgive our sins just because we confess them and ask for it; and second, that God would forget our sins in an unmapped landfill, as well.

Oh, praise for heaven’s forgetfulness!


  1. Jeannie
    Dec 20, 2010


    A short, but precise, summary of God’s grace – thank you for taking the time to write this. Jeannie

  2. admin
    Dec 20, 2010

    Thank you so much for the comment, Jeannie. I hope this is helpful to people.

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