Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One John One Nine - Part Four

My main purpose for writing this series of posts was to expose how a huge and deceptive doctrine has been built in the church based upon one lone Bible verse, and it's a doctrine that is simply not supported in the rest of the New Covenant scriptures and in fact stands in opposition to them.  If we're honest with ourselves, where did we Christians get the idea that we need to confess our sins again and again in order to be cleansed and forgiven again and again?  Is it not from this solitary verse?  But if we've missed the point of this verse (and surrounding passage), then we're doing something that God never intended for us to do.

One might say, "What's the big deal with confessing our sins, even if we don't 'have' to?" Well, wouldn't it be a big deal if a man asked his wife every day if she would marry him?  I don't mean a romantic gesture in which he lets her know in a playful way that he loves being married to her.  I mean, what if a man seriously asked his wife to marry him every day, as if somehow they became 'unmarried' every day.  The whole idea of that is an insult to the union that became a reality once and for all on their wedding day.  The point of Part Three of this series was to show how we never become 'unclean' or 'unforgiven' before God, and we always remain in union with Him. Our attempts at trying to get Him to make us clean and forgiven again and again show that we don't understand the reality of what is already true of us, and is an insult to the Spirit of grace.

In reality, we have been separated from sin.  Our sin has been taken away.  A one-time event took place in which all our sins were dealt with once and for all.  What a wonderful thing that has been accomplished through the blood of Jesus!  Just think, if our daily sinful behavior negated the effects of that one time sacrifice, and made us unclean and unforgiven again and again, then Jesus would have to come back and die for our sins over and over again!  Our behavior didn't make us clean in the first place, and cannot make us unclean.  Only the blood of Jesus made us clean and has, in fact, cleansed us forever.  God does not see any sin in us.

So what do we do when we don't live according to the clean, righteous, forgiven people that we truly are?  Well, after several chapters of showing all that the one-time blood sacrifice of Jesus accomplished, the writer of Hebrews says this: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Heb 10:23).  He continues on with another highly decontextualized and misunderstood passage that begins with "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins..." (Heb 10:26-31).  The whole point of that passage is that there is no other sacrifice for sins other than the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus.  So when we do sin, let us hold fast the confession of our HOPE (not of our sins) that we have in the ever-cleansing blood of Jesus.

What if I don't feel cleansed and forgiven?  What if I'm carrying around the weight of my sinful behavior?  Some might say that confessing their sins makes them feel better or lifts that heavy burden. I do understand the idea of confessing sins making a person feel clean and forgiven, but I while I understand it, I want to strongly challenge that notion.  We're not meant to bear the weight of our sin.  Again, we have been cleansed and forgiven solely by the blood of Jesus - not by how we feel. I would say that if we truly want to feel forgiven and cleansed, then we must accept the truth, by faith, that even though our actions are sometimes contrary to our righteous, perfect, holy state, we are in reality always forgiven and cleansed.  Our feelings come and go.  The fact is that everything has been accomplished solely and sufficiently through the blood of Jesus and nothing less than that!  (Including, and even especially, our feelings).  The truth trumps feelings every time.

Back to the marriage illustration.  I've heard it said that in any relationship, it's good and healthy to confess to one another and to ask for forgiveness and to apologize when we've messed up.  And so it's said that in our relationship with God, it's good and healthy for the relationship if we confess and ask for forgiveness and apologize when we've sinned.  Well, human-to-human relationships are one thing, and sometimes those things may be good, healthy or necessary.  That's a whole 'nother discussion.  But based upon all that I've shared in this series about our union with God and with how He has taken away our sin and has perfected us forever, and on how our actions don't separate us from Him or cause Him to put us back into the 'unforgiven and unclean' category, it's my conviction (I'm convinced) that there is nothing to confess or to ask forgiveness for.

I see nothing wrong with acknowledging that what we've done does not line up with who we truly are, as long as we're not putting ourselves under condemnation and shame.  Self-pity, self-condemnation and a sense of guilt and shame are all contrary to what God wants from us!  Do we really 'get' this?  He has gone to great lengths to take our sin and guilt away!!!  His Blood... remember???  Have you ever heard people say that guilt is a good motivator?  They say that guilt helps drive a person to "do the right thing."  Please don't fall for that lie!  That is not the way of Christ!

But if we acknowledge our sinful behavior with a sense of something like, "I don't want to live like that; I want to live out of the life of Christ in me," and if we continue to hold fast the confession of our HOPE in the finished work of Jesus, then we're walking in grace. If we continue to trust in the fact that He never leaves us nor forsakes us and that even our fleshly thoughts and behavior never change who we truly are in Him, then we're walking in truth that will truly set us free. Instead of going around with a sin-consciousness all the time, we can go around with a righteousness-consciousness, because that is the 100% reality of who we are. That freedom will bring us to a place where we live from that place of righteousness and holiness, rather than trying to attain it.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4


  1. Amazing truth! Very exciting good news and it bears witness as the truth!

  2. Thank you Cindy! Yes indeed, it really is good news! :)

  3. This is the very scripture Joel I am sad to say has busted up the church family I had and my literal family. They are hanging onto the editorial 'we' in that verse as the sole reason for legitimizing continual asking of forgiveness. Very sad, but praise the Lord we have been set free.We have been blessed with new family and friends, and in the end eternal life spent together with our King.

  4. I'm very sad to hear that something like this has caused such division in your family. I understand how things like this happen in the church but indeed it is sad. Very glad, though, that you've found new family and friends! And of course nothing beats knowing the truth and being set free by it! :)

  5. I have a problem with this teaching. I came from a very abusive church where the elders were controlling, hostile, manipulative to the point that they were breaking up families, destroying people's faith etc. When anyone went to them with these sins, they ignored the pleas for them to stop, saying that they were right and the ones they were abusing were rebellious and wrong for going against them.

    Under these circumstances, are you saying that these men's sins were neither here nor there because God has already forgiven them therefore we just have to forgive them the rampant destruction they have caused and continue to cause in families of believers? They will not listen to reason, to repeated requests to stop, to scripture or to pleas to see the pain they are creating.

    Those who end up leaving are character assassinated, shunned and further abused, and their families are told to have nothing further to do with them.

    As a survivor of 15 years of this sort of abuse, how do I reconcile your interpretation of this passage with the fact that these men refuse to recognise their sin and deal with it. In the light of Matthew 18, where Jesus told us to take our offenses to our brother who has sinned against us so that he could repent, then take it to the church if he didn't do so, how do I make sense of the idea that all our sins are forgiven and we do not have to confess any of them.

    Please realise that I am not criticising you, simply trying to get my head around this.

  6. What you bring up is indeed a great concern, Annie, and by no means am I saying that we should be ok with that type of abuse or that God is ok with it.

    While the purpose of this series of blog posts is to show how 1 John 1:9 is not about Christians confessing their sins in order to be forgiven by God, that doesn't mean that the things that people do are unimportant or without consequences, and it doesn't mean that grievous and destructive actions/behavior shouldn't be addressed and dealt with.

    With all of that said, the truth remains that God doesn't forgive us over and over and over again, and His forgiveness isn't based upon us confessing our sins over and over and over again. Even under the Old Covenant, the people only confessed their sins onto a goat once per year, not every time they sinned. And now in Christ we have a far, far better sacrifice for our sins. The forgiveness of our sins, through the one sacrifice of Christ, was a one-time event, and it covered all our sins - past, present and future. Everything was secured by what Christ Himself did. Our only response is the one confession of Christ (see Romans 10:9-10), and through that we are assured of our salvation.

    Even after we're saved, all of us continue to do things that fall short of the glory of God. And here's the thing: Whether it's stealing a paperclip or telling a white lie, or committing adultery or murder or horrible abuse (and I'm not condoning any of it whatsoever), it's all wiped out by the Blood of Jesus. Even if we haven't committed the same heinous acts that others have committed, we're all equally as saved - and it's all because of the finished work of Jesus. It's never dependent upon us turning from sin. If it was based on us turning from sin, then we are adding our fleshly good deeds to the Blood of Jesus, which is an insult to the Blood of Jesus.

    Now I'll say again that this doesn't mean that we simply ignore various behavior issues. Things really do need to be addressed and dealt with at times. But the point of these posts is to say that God's forgiveness of us was a one time thing, and it's not something that we receive over and over again, when we "confess" our sins. The case I make in this series is that that's not what 1 John 1:9 is saying.

    I hope this addresses your concerns, Annie.

  7. "Our behavior didn't make us clean in the first place, and cannot make us unclean. Only the blood of Jesus made us clean and has, in fact, cleansed us forever. God does not see any sin in us." So well said! This verse (1 john 1:9) has caused so much division and confusion...I'm glad to read your position and believe it to be true. Thanks for helping us see through to God's amazing truth and grace in this!

  8. Thanks for your comment, Lynne! It encourages me when the truth shines through, and God's grace and truth are revealed and seen clearly. :)