One of the most used and misused verses in the Bible is found in 1 John 1:9. It reads: “If we confess our sins, (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness!
Let’s clear the air right away on one issue that is very easy to deal with and that is relating to the matter of being ‘born again’, the event when we were ‘birthed’ into the kingdom of God! When God calls us, draws us to Himself, He miraculously performs spiritual surgery on the sinner by bringing them to LIFE (Spiritual) from their Dead Status existing due to Sin!
When God does the work of bringing one to the Light (Jesus), He then gives them certain desires and gifts or abilities to engage in such matters as Faith, Conviction of sin, Confession of sin, repentance (turning from sin), and a desire to call upon the Lord and submit to Him totally! All of this happens at once, it is a transformation – from death unto life – spiritually and Eternal Everlasting Life with all of one’s sin(s) forgiven and never held against the person ever again, and God sees the new creation He made as Holy, Pure and Perfect IN Christ Jesus and because of HIM, they are now God’s children, and sons and daughters of God!
Now having stated that, where does this verse fit in we find in 1 John. It APPEARS there is a disconnect here concerning especially the fact ALL of our sins and God’s forgiveness was and is a Once-For-All- Forgiveness which took place at the cross for ALL of those whom He saves.
Most will agree of course that God through Jesus forgave us of all of our sins, but later on they will find that they are believing and exercising a belief system which teaches that Confession is needed all the time in order to CAUSE God to engage in this forgiveness you need again and again and again. The problem is both statements cannot be true, one has to go! Either we have been forgiven, or there is a Condition set up for us to be forgiven – that is – something we now have to do frequently. So, they use 1 John 1:9 as if it is a type of a bar of holy soap to maintain daily fellowship with God! And if one doesn’t then they are lost, or God is no longer with them.
Dr. A. Farley stated this: “…. the development of the use of terms such as judicial, patriarchal, and forensic are words used and they dance around the reality of once-for-all-forgiveness and push the idea of a two-tiered forgiveness system in which eternally God is satisfied, but Right Now, we somehow maintain our own daily cleansing through a confessional ritual.” I would add, more like the Roman Catholic system of Mass and Last Rites. Of course, we realize, if we sin against a brother or sister of anyone else of the human race, we are to ask them to forgive us! However, with God, we admit we have failed Him and that engaging in this sin which He has already forgiven by His work on the Cross, we ask Him to give us more grace to overcome the weakness of our fallen flesh and our person choice of allowing such to take place. But always remembering the Gospel is a 24/7 matter with us. We are Always forgiven every second of our life after being born again. We are IN Christ Jesus as forgiven, a new creation and a saint who is pure and holy and sacred in His sight. This humanly speaking seems to us strange but that is the way The Word presents all of this and so I believe it.
The following Epistles in the Bible knows nothing about such an IF clause existing; Galatians, Ephesians, Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians surely missed it if it is true!
I would ask this please; if crying, weeping, calling out to God through ongoing confession of sins for forgiveness (after being born again), exists would you not think God would have shown it to us through the writings of Peter and Paul? Did God make an error and leave it out? Well, no He didn’t!!
As I had stated earlier in one of my articles John was addressing that Jesus was really a human being in a real human body which the Gnostic heretics who had wormed their way into the local congregation did not believe and also, they did not believe they were sinners.
John in 1 John 1:9, was revealing to us and to the heretics and the local congregation of that day, words which proved Jesus was a REAL human without sin by speaking here of things like they had heard Him speak, saw Him, Looked at Him, Touched Him and Interacted with Him! He really was a human being and was also God!
The point in all of this is, we enter into the understanding of reality, and that is, we are a forgiven people, regardless of how we feel about it, God said it. If we realize this, we can go forward in faith without all of the uncertainties, guilt and lack of assurance knowing we are free indeed!
When we sin against our fellow human beings, we feel we are out of fellowship or that our relationship with them is not good, until we apologize, and are forgiven, or restored to our former status.
But Scripture never describes fellowship with God in this way or manner. For a person is either in fellowship with God and is saved, forgiven and born again, or he or she is out of fellowship with God and lost! Not once is there a moving “in and out of fellowship” spoken of in the Epistles due to our performance.
Certainly, we mature spiritually in our journey through life as God’s children, and when we sin various consequences hit us. The laws of our earthly communities and nation come into play, and because of such, all types of things can take place due to our choices. But none of that makes us fall out of fellowship with God. That is stable and sure and certain! When we Sin, HE is always there to help us learn from our mistakes, by His discipline and various methods of allowing the results of sin to take place.
Listen to Dr. A. Farley’s statement: “If we buy the lie that God sits in a swivel chair, ready to rotate His face away from us when we sin, then we proclaim a God of conditional Love and Conditional Fellowship. But this is to ignore the work of Jesus, who on the cross credit out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46. Jesus was out of fellowship with His Father so we would never be (out of fellowship).”
Also, we recognize that sorrow is normal when we do wrong and IS expected in our lives! Anyone that is not sorry they have committed a sin, I would think needs to “examine their life and to see if they really are in the faith.” Notice 2 Corinthians 7:10 – When we sin, we are not living out as we should what God has prescribed AS best in us during our time here. We will not be contented.
Someone may bring up the Lords Model Prayer which states, “Forgive us our sins….” – Luke 11:4. Let’s note the context, its content, and THE intended audience! Jesus is warning His followers to avoid meaningless repetition of lengthy prayers. In Matthew 6:7, He says babblers are not heard because of their many words. So many today use so much repetition and do not even realize what they are praying for really. Just words they have heard over and over again.
Jesus is letting His audience know that to ask God to forgive them ONLY TO THE SAME DEGREE that they have forgiven others. Note this; If you and I only want the SAME response from God to be just like ours is to one another, we are really bad off in our understanding. We wish God’s forgiveness to be greater and altogether holy and more just than the one we may grant to another. We can ask forgiveness but we not really mean it like the One we ask God for!
Notice Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our trespasses, AS WE ALSO HAVE FORGIVEN OUR Debtors.” What He is saying is God, examine my life and my track record as a Forgiver, then give me the SAME TYPE and AMOUNT of forgiveness that I have given to others.” Remember, also HE was under the Old Covenant Law and under the Law! NO one could expect the same level of Forgiveness that we as New Covenant people have toward each other and toward God! If a person operates under a Conditional Religious system, they can only Receive what they Earn or Give to others.
Remember no O.T. Covenant person would ever be able to measure up to the Law’s demands. The ONLY One’s saved under the O.T. Covenant were those who had Faith in the coming Messiah and the promised Savior! That is why Pharisee’s and Sadducees were not saved. It takes the Blood of Christ to provide the righteousness of God’s Law to be imputed to the individual person. Man, just could not get right with God practicing the Law by such works, which they could never actually be absolutely perfect in such an endeavor.