So! You think God forgives you because you confess your sin?
You have already been forgiven! Even those who do not believe in Christ Jesus have already been forgiven. We do not confess our transgressions to get God’s forgiveness. We confess our transgressions to remind ourselves that God has already forgiven!
I posted this statement on Facebook and I believe it with all my heart. I’m not asking you to agree, I’m not being ambiguous, in fact, I believe if we share this truth with new Christians it will help them and not harm them. I believe the root of the discourse is our misunderstanding of the word “Repent”. Many Christians believe that to repent means to “ask forgiveness for sin”. That is not what the word repent means at all. The word “Repent” simply means, “change your mind”, or “think differently”. The word repent very little if anything to do with saying I’m sorry for my sin.
Also, when reading most of the New Testament we must remember that we are reading letters written to a particular group of people. In other words, we are reading someone else’s mail.
Who is John writing to? Christians, living in a religious environment, most likely Jewish Believers. When we look at chapter 1 it is very similar in message to Romans 1through 3 which is challenging these Believers that they are not made righteous by living in obedience to the Law. The Law stated that if you sinned you would have to go and give a sin offering everytime you sinned. That is the mindset of the people John is writing to. They have been conditioned all their life that in order to clear their conscience of sin, they must do something. They must give a sin offering.
But by the cross of Jesus, all this has changed. We live under a better covenant. 1 John 1 is convincing these Believers that what they do does not make them righteous, but what they believe makes them righteous. Confession of sin is not a requirement for God to forgive you, you were forgiven, but it sure is beneficial to me to remind myself that God has already forgiven me. I don’t live in fear of God, because I have been forgiven.
Let’s take a closer look at 1 John 1:7-9:
The very first thing Johns writes is: “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from ALL sin”. The Greek word for “cleanses” is the word – katherizo – and it means to purge. Purge in the Webster’s means: to cause something to leave the body. It is interesting that before John makes the statement of “confessing our sin”, he has already told them that sin has left their body.
That seems to contradict verse 8 & 10, where John writes that if we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us. I have written how John was instructing these Jewish Believers that the Law is what makes you a sinner. However, John is leading them from Law to Grace.
In 1 John 2:1, John states his purpose for writing this letter. He now says, everything I just wrote, including 1 John 1:7-10, is so that you will not sin. But it gets even better! John tells them that if they do sin, they have a person working on their behalf declaring them “NOT GUILTY”, an advocate. This same person, Jesus, is also the propitiation for our sins.
STOP!!! STOP!!! Do you know that another word for propitiation is expiate? Expiate means “extinguish the guilt made by another; obsolete and put an end to”. What did Jesus put an end to and make obsolete? SIN!! Jesus extinguishes our guilt, but not only ours, but also the guilt of the WHOLE WORLD!!! That is not taught in most churches now is it? That the world is not guilty of sin before God.
Now look at the rest of 1 John. Chapter 2:12 “your sins have been forgiven”. That’s past tense. It’s already done. It is finished! Do you still sin? 1 John 3:6 says, “No one who abides in Him sins” and verse 9 “and he CANNOT sin”. If you cannot sin, what are you confessing?
Does confession have any benefits? Yes! But not for forgiveness. Confession convinces my heart that I have been forgiven. 1 John 3:20 “whatever my heart condemns me”. What condemns me? My own heart, NOT GOD!! The rest of the verse says, “God is GREATER than our heart.” My heart needs convincing that I stand, right now, forgiven. The old saying is true, confession is good for my soul. But confession does not give me salvation.
John even breaks down what the commandment of Jesus is. 1 John 3:23, “we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another”. That’s it!! That’s all your responsibility!
How about 1 John 4? What does it have to say? In verse 10, Jesus put an end to (propitiation) our sins. One of my favourite verses, 1 John 4:17, “as HE (Jesus) IS, so ARE WE”. Where are we like Jesus? “IN THIS WORLD” WOW!!
John is taking these believers on a journey. He is taking them from Law to Grace. Under the Law, we are all sinners. Under Grace, we have all been forgiven.
2 Peter 1:9 – “we have forgotten that we are purged (made free) from sin.