A question I’m often asked about total forgiveness of sins is, “What about the confession of sins spoken of in 1 John 1:9?” Don’t we have to confess our sins in order to be forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness?
Of course, the answer is yes, but let us take a look at this verse and break it down. If you have your Bible, turn to 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.”
Confess Our Sins Faithfully
I have shared on several occasions about my own past struggles trying to confess every sin and living so sin-conscious that I believed I had lost my salvation. Let us examine the word “sins.” Two instances where we see the word “sins,” which is the word hamartia in Greek, in 1 John 1:9, is used.
- A principle or source of action, or an inward element producing acts.
- A governing principle or power.
In other words, it refers to the sin principle or our sinful state. By using the noun form of this word, John was clearly not referring to our committing individual acts of sin.
In light of this, can you see how this verse is not talking about confessing our sins every time we sin in thought or in deed? John was speaking of the need to acknowledge and confess to God that we are sinners, as well as to receive total forgiveness for all our sins through Jesus’ finished work on the cross.
Must I Confess My Sins Every Time?
How often do we need to do this? Only once. That’s why 1 John 1:9 is primarily a salvation verse, one that encourages the sinner to acknowledge and confess his sinful state get born again by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and have his sinful state through Adam replaced with a new righteous state through Christ.
Let us again take another look at a part of this verse, “When we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” The promise that God says in this verse is not the “magic rabbit’s foot” that makes it easy for us to disobey God. Remember, God paid a very high price so that everyone’s sins are forgiven.
Forgiveness is not some cheap sideshow trick God performs for everyone’s amusement. God is faithful to His promises and is just because Jesus died for all sins and paid the penalty for everyone. Now, the next time you plan to sin, remember that you are going to sin against a faithful loving God!
Do I Still Confess My Sins As a Believer?
Now, what does John say then, about our committing of sins after we’ve become believers? John answers this question in 1 John 2:1, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
John is referring to believers’ committing sins in their sinful thoughts and deeds. What does John say regarding this? He reminds us that when we fail as believers, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ.
Because of what Jesus accomplished at the cross, we have forgiveness, and we stand righteous before God even when we’ve missed the mark. As the apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian believers who failed they were still the temple of the Holy Spirit, John reminds us of who we are in Christ and Who we have representing us at God’s right hand.
Can you see that the Bible’s answer to overcoming sin is always to remind believers of their righteous identity in Christ? This is not to encourage us to sin but to encourage us to look at Jesus. Seeing our sins punished at the cross, and living victoriously and gloriously for Him. Remember, that is what true repentance is all about—turning to the cross and returning to His grace!
When you fail, know that you can talk to God honestly, but do it with a revelation of the cross of our Lord Jesus. See your sins punished in His body and receive afresh His forgiveness and unmerited favor to reign over your sins, Amen!
I am Dale Van De Bogart and I approve of this message!
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