1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Confession is an ACTION of acknowledgement, not just in our thoughts but also with our lips. There it is again, it IS an action. To confess is an act that requires something to be accomplished. Many people today recognize in their hearts that they have sinned or at times continue to sin, but they do not always acknowledge it with their lips. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we must all kneel before a confessor and tell them everything that we have done wrong; even though there are denominations that adhere to that principle, it is not Scriptural to go to a “confessor” so that they may absolve us before God, our Heavenly Father.
1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,….”
Before I was saved, or born-again, I was conflicted with this situation for I knew that I had done wrong in the sight of God, but I never did feel comfortable telling another MAN the specifics of what I had done, no matter his station or office within the church. It was then that I was led to the Scriptures and shown WHO was truly ordained to hear my “confession” and thus my step of true faith in the redeeming power of Jesus Christ began. I know the arguments that some denominations make for this “necessity” of seeking a confessor, but I am here today to tell you that the Scriptures DO NOT lie and only ONE is able to redeem us or absolve us of our guilt of sin! It is not my truth, not my word, but rather it is God’s Word of TRUTH that has stood for millennia.
But concerning our confession; we confess to the Lord ALWAYS when we have done wrong by His Word, AND we confess towards one another WHEN we have wronged them directly. It is important that when we sin against a brother or sister, we confess that fact to them thus allowing them the opportunity to forgive us. The Lord knows our heart, but it is the action of confessing to Him and admitting, thus in effect, siding with Him, that we have sinned against Him and in turn that opens our hearts to the act of forgiveness that comes from Him.
I want to take a moment though to make a distinction here concerning “our sins,” as the Apostle is writing to us. Remember, John is already speaking to us as those who already WALK in fellowship with the Lord. Even though he doesn’t use the term, we can make the leap or assumption that his is talking to us as “Christians.”
Our sins, those sins that are inherent as well as our past deeds of unrighteousness, have been JUDICIALLY forgiven us by the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross as we accepted that sacrifice in faith for the penalty that He offered up for us. By judicially is meant that our forgiveness, our penalty paid for, is excepted and granted by God, Almighty, acting as Judge. God looks upon us, as we acknowledge our faith in the redemption of Christ Jesus, as bought and paid for with the price of His (Jesus Christ’s) Blood.
Now compare that once forever sacrifice for ALL of our sins, past, present and future, with the ongoing struggles and temptations that do at times produce sin AFTER our conversion. Remember, we are no longer SLAVES to sin, (Romans 6:16-23), but that doesn’t mean we still don’t sin, whether it is by commission, omission, in our thoughts, in secret or even in public. We must still confess those things to the Lord, for even if done in secret or in thought where no man may see, God sees as no man does, for He sees the heart!
But here is the thing; God Almighty, has become God, our Heavenly Father once we have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord and Redeemer. Thus, the confession we make AFTER conversion is as a wayward child to a loving and caring Father, or parent. I have read it somewhere long ago, that PARENTAL forgiveness, unlike the judicial, once given, always done, is ongoing and a means to KEEP our relationship fresh and clean, between our Heavenly Father and us as His children.
Remember what the writer in Proverbs says in Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” We NEED to continue to confess our wrong-doings, our mistakes (not all sin is willful), to receive mercy and cleansing! This is where the second part of verse 9 comes to bear, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It is not just the forgiveness, which we have received at the price of Christ’s Blood, but He is faithful and just to also CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness! What a promise; what an assurance within our relationship with the Father through Christ Jesus, to not just RECEIVE the forgiveness, but to be clean as if the sin had never, ever, even occurred!!
It is the unrighteousness, the lack of holiness that keeps us from the presence, from a perfect relationship with God Almighty, our Creator, as our Heavenly Father. Admitting our sins, our sinfulness through the act of confession is putting our faith in Christ Jesus to action by siding with His assessment of what is and isn’t sin! Thus re-establishing what was lost in the Garden, a RELATIONSHIP with our Heavenly Father. This IS the fellowship John talks about in his Epistle. This is the fellowship that begins IN the Father and extends to every brother and sister who shares in that fellowship with the Father!! We truly become, what we were created to be, a family, sons and daughters, heirs to the Kingdom of God!
1 John 1:10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
Here John is reiterating verse 8 as he is apt to do in his writings, but also going one step further. Verse 8 is attesting to the fact that man is a sinful creature, thanks to Adam whose legacy we walk in. Verse 10 is also stating that we have actively participated in sin as well. Notice verse 8 says, “if we say we have no sin,” which is a noun stating possession of something, but verse 10 states, “if we say that we have not sinned,” which is definitely a verb or an action. We have actively participated in sin, so Adam is not only to blame, but we ourselves then become accountable for our own actions. So it is not just the legacy left to us, but our own actions that attest to our guilt. This is another reason why we look at the forgiveness of sin judicially as well as parentally. As stated previously, God as our Judge has forgiven us the inherent sin which is in our nature through our faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. BUT – He also forgives our sins, as we confess them to Him, as our Creator/Parent, our Heavenly Father!
As John states, if we deny the truth of that statement concerning sin, we not only deceive ourselves as verse 8 says, but we in essence make God, our Father, out to be a liar. We CALL Him a liar! We don’t need to say it out loud, but we call Him a liar by the very act of denying the truth of our sinfulness. That old saying that “actions speak louder than words,” has never been more true in the eyes of the world then. In essence, as the world watches and sees our lives in action, they DO infer that first, we are hypocrites and second, by assumption we don’t believe God, thus making Him out to be a liar; if we live in accordance with denying the truth about our sinfulness.
There’s that old saying that Christians often use, that “we’re not perfect, just forgiven.” Though true at its core, we must not rely on something that to the world appears superficial, but since we have been freed from the SLAVERY to the bonds of sin, we must make every effort to walk in the freedom of what we didn’t have in those chains, and that is the freedom of righteousness. Righteousness, right-standing AND right-doing in the sight of God and man is no longer outside of our grasp, for we are no longer bound to unrighteousness! Yes we still fall to temptation from time to time, whether it be in our thoughts or deeds, secret or in public, for we ARE still a work in progress, BUT – we do so in the eyes of the world around us and this makes our confession of sin lining up with the Lord’s so much more important. We show the world, or we should be that the STIGMA of sin is no longer a burden to us, for remember what the Apostle Paul told us, “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,” – Romans 5:20b.
If we through our actions and lack of confession, deny our sinfulness we not only make God Almighty out to be a liar, but we also declare to all that His word does not abide in us despite what we say aloud. His Word is Truth, absolutely, and His Word is Life, absolutely, but if we do not believe that we have sin and do sin, that Life is truly NOT in us.
When you look at the simplicity of these scriptures, and the Apostle John truly did write them simply, they are very much black and white; there is NO grey area in these verses and thus it is very easy to see the difference between a true Christian who is WALKING in the Light of God’s Truth and one who only says they are a Christian but yet still walking in darkness. True fellowship, of which John is writing, whether with God, our Father, or one another as brothers and sisters is not a complicated thing. True fellowship is relationship, pure and simple and in any relationship, you KNOW who your family is; you KNOW your Father, you KNOW your brothers and sisters. Freedom from sin, agreeing with the Father through confession, frees us from the obstacles and blinders of not knowing who our family is!
We can see clearly and especially more so today due to the speed of all types of media at our fingertips what is happening today has happened even in John’s day, and his writings are a warning to us that human nature does not change outside of God’s help. Many false teachers and believers wanted to be associated with or acknowledged as Christians, most likely because of the growing prestige within the burgeoning Christian community, but they did not want to live by the truth of God’s word. Sadly, as I stated and as John warned we have the same thing today. Many people, for whatever their motives and reason, want to be acknowledged as Christians, but they do not want to live by even the simple precepts listed in Scripture; and believe me, they have all sorts of excuses to justify their beliefs. When you have been involved in any type of ministry long enough, you hear every justification of why they choose to live the way they do! The scriptures are outdated, they no longer apply to the century in which we live, the translations are all wrong and so we cannot rely on the truth or accuracy of them, and on and on and on!
However, the fact remains, we have sin, and we have sinned, and this is not meant to destroy us as the enemy would have us believe, because as the Apostle Paul reminded us, God’s grace abounds more and our Lord ALWAYS prepares positive way out of our situations. When the Holy Spirit, Whose job it is to convict us, NOT guilt us, but to CONVINCE us of the Truth, gives us a condition for why we should be punished or penalized, He ALWAYS gives us a way to avoid that penalty or punishment through Christ Jesus! God has ALWAYS worked with His creation this way; IF my people who are called by my name, should do this or that, THEN I will hear them, come to them, save them, heal them, and they WILL continue to be my people!
In Christ Jesus we now have an advocate, an intercessor, between us and the Father who is faithful to forgive us, AND cleanse us from ALL sin, and it is through Him and Him alone that we can have a relationship with the very Creator of all that is, which was the Heavenly Father’s plan from the very beginning. This part of being called His, is no secret, it is not complicated and it is available to everyone and anybody who so desires to have this awesome fellowship!