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Gotta Confess!   Confess!  Confess! 
Confess!  Confess! 

If sins were forgiven at the cross and if God has forgotten them as He says, why does Scripture say confess our sins? What about First John 1:9? "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness?" 

We received Christ, all sins were forgiven and forgotten up to the point of conversion. The way to stay cleansed was by confession to God for each Sin. The sins must be acknowledged so that He would  forgive. The list must be cleared away with God and all sins must be caught in order to ask for forgiveness. If all were not confessed, guilt for the ones missed stops fellowship with God. Surely unknown sins would be automatically forgiven. This is what we have been taught, right?

Lets look at First John 1:7:  "But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."

Where are we walking? In the light! Listen to this! The blood of Christ keeps us clean as we walk with Him in the light. We don't get forgiven - God says He keeps us forgiven. It is a breath of fresh air to understand that Jesus keeps me clean, and I will never be out of fellowship with God again. We will see more about "to walk in the light" and the "confession of sin?" 


The book of First John is a the story of life in Christ. Its message takes away the bondage and depression of sin!  John wrote this first book at the end of the first century to shine light on "gnosticism" found in the Church. The Gnostics taught that Jesus was not really human. They said that Jesus could not be in bodily form and still he God. They taught against His preexistence, and taught that God created Jesus at a point in time. They did not believe that sin was real. They maintained the old Greek view of the inherent evil in matter. Thus, that which is material or physical is naturally bad, and that which is non-material or spiritual is naturally good. This not only capsized their view of sin as God sees it but it also meant that the person of Christ was split into a hopeless dichotomy, the spiritual part of Jesus, which was good, and the material portion of Jesus which was bad.(1)

1. What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld, and our hands handled concerning the Word of life—

2. and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—

3. what we have seen and heard— we proclaim to you also— that you— also— may have fellowship with us and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

As you read over the above statement describing the life which Jesus presents to us, notice how John points out the Gnostic problem. They needed the fact that Jesus existed forever, that Jesus was physically observable and that He is viewed as a totally constituted person— 100% Son of Man and 100% Son of God. Notice how John is laying the foundation from which to deal with gnosticism.

In First John 1:5 through 1:10, John begins contrasting using darkness and light. The same is done in other parts of the New Testament as we will see later. 

5. And this is the message which we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

6. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;

7. but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

8. If we say that we have no sin. we are deceiving our selves, and the truth is not in us.

9. If we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleans us from all unrighteousness.

10. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.


There are several New Testament passages which help us understand the meaning of light and darkness as used in First John. Listen to Jesus as He talks to Paul on the road to Damascus.

Acts 26:18, Paul is quoting from what Jesus said to him on the road to Damascus.. to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me." Turn (leave-move) the Gentiles from one kingdom or dominion to another, from the domain of Satan to the kingdom of God. Darkness is synonymous with Satan’s dominion, and light describes the kingdom of God. In God’s kingdom there is forgiveness of sins and the promise of an inheritance.

First Thessalonians 5:1-6. The day of the Lord - when it will take place. He starts out by assuring them that even though Christ will come without notice, the suddenness of that day will bring no fear for believers because, ". . . you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness."(3) We see that all believers are sons of the light. Christians have no part whatever in the darkness.

Colossians1:12,13 light and darkness: The problem of gnosticism: The Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son - It is God through what He does, and not we— through what we do, who makes us qualified to be with the saints in light. In verse 13 of Colossians one, both the words "delivered" and "transferred" are in definite past action. For you were formerly darkness but now you are light in the Lord (2) 

Listen! In First John the two groups in contrast are the believers and unbelievers;  those who are in the light and walking in the light, and those who are in the darkness and walking in the darkness.

Believers or unbelievers? Read on.

1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;

1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

2:4 The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him; [John 15:12] "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

2:9 The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.

2:11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

It is hard not to preach at this point. I will take a chance that you won't leave me when I say, "please listen" to what I am about to say.  To say that these passages refer merely to Christians who are out of touch with the Lord seems to me a denial of every other passage in the Scriptures that defines the character of life of a true believer. These, I believe, are unbelieving people, most likely Gnostic in persuasion, which have crept into the church not knowing Jesus Christ at all. John is making an appeal for them to admit their sins and believe in Jesus. John is also very concerned about believers under Gnostic influence.

First John 1:5-10 in today's language would be:  Here’s the word which we Christians have gotten right from Jesus and pass on to you, that God is light itself, and if we know Him, we’ll be out of the darkness for good. Now if you people say that you have fellowship with God, and at the same time walk in the dark, that makes no sense.  If you come into His kingdom of light, You’ll have fellowship continually with both God and us and the blood of His Son Jesus will constantly keep on cleansing you from your sins. If you insist on saying you have no sin you've been deceived. If you'll just come to God and agree with Him that you've sinned, and agree that He's forgiven you, God is faithful and righteous and He will forgive all your sins and cleanse you from every evil within you. But if you keep claiming you have no sin, my friends, you are challenging God and not taking His word for it. You're making Him a liar.

John appealed to the unbelievers to trust in Jesus.  The entire book was not to non-Christians. But John was speaking to the Gnostics that Jesus was their answer.  You don’t say to a Christian, "we proclaim to you also, that you may have fellowship with us. If he knows Jesus he has fellowship.

If First John is to believers, why would 1:9 be there? Why is Romans 10:9 is in Romans, Ephesians 2: 8, 9 in Ephesians, and Revelation 3:20 in Revelation. 

[Romans 10:9] "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;"

[Ephesians 2:8] For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

[Revelation 3:20] 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.

Are these verses just for non-Christians? They are many times used that way.

Let’s take Romans 10:9 for a moment: " The same root word for "confess" is used here as is used in First John 1:9. Now here’s the question. According to the Scriptures, how many times does one, in the context of Romans 10:9, need to confess Jesus as Lord to be saved? Only once. Then does that mean that the person involved, from that point on, never again confesses Jesus as his Lord? No! Every day we should confess that Jesus is our Lord but not to get  saved again. We confess Jesus as Lord because we are saved.

 Let’s look at First John l:9 in the same context.  If we confess our sins (or literally, if we are confessing our sins) He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Listen! Asking to be re-forgiven is not the same as confessing (which is a continual agreeing) with God. How many times does a person need to come to God and confess sins to be cleansed? Once.

Does this mean that you never again (confess) agree with God concerning, a sin. No. Why deny that I've sinned? I'm forgiven as it is and free to agree with God. Listen! Does this mean that I get "re-forgiven" if as a Christian I agree with God that something I do is sin? How could that be when everything was accomplished for forgiveness by Christ on the cross? Listen! To say that would be to try to crucify Jesus all over again.

The word "confess" means "to agree with God concerning," Concerning what, in this case? First, that it is sin; secondly, that it is forgiven already because God says it is! The passage says we will be cleansed from all unrighteousness. How many times can an absolute be repeated?

First John 1:9 is dealing with salvation, with forgiveness and total cleansing, it is dealing with the same truths that in other passages of the New Testament deal with the doctrine of salvation.

When we see that First John 1:9 is to the lost we see that Gods love for us provides a relationship that is without fear. His life in me causes trust in Him. My relationship with Christ is based with permanence upon His love for me not only produces a honesty and openness with Him if I do disobey, but it also motivates me to want to do what He says. There is no fear in love.(3)  

Unconditional love on the part of God and in our own experience, is not to play down the matter of sin. Love forgives sin, but it does not approve of it. God, in His love, paid the final price to forgive us.  Love gives and God gave His only begotten Son to forgive us and release us from our sins, The cost to Him was great. No playing down of sin here - just understanding God's forgiveness.

God not only forgives and keeps us clean.  First John 1:7 literally says He "constantly keeps on continually cleansing us from sin." No playing down of sin here - just understanding God's forgiveness. 

It is just like God to use a scripture like First John 1:9 to teach me the opposite of what most bible professors teach it says. One of you guys let slip the truth to me about forty years ago. I just wonder how many of you teach one thing in class and another in private as my professor did. You could be teaching in a private school unfettered by your denominations. 

It finally came to me that since I was walking in the light as He is in the light, and was having fellowship with Him, that His blood was constantly, completely cleansing me from my sin. What a fantastic truth. It is not up to me to get forgiven, but up to Him to forgive, and He has already done it! We are forgiven. Why make an effort to get out from under sin when Jesus says it’s already gone? Can you get from under something that you are not under? Can you get back in fellowship if you can not first get out? No playing down of sin here - just understanding God's forgiveness.

Now listen to First John 2:1 and 2 come alive. "My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." It is here that John turns directly to the believers the "little children." He says in view of what he has written in the first chapter, we no longer have to sin. Knowing we are forgiven, knowing that Christ is our life, sin is no longer inevitable. It goes back to this thing of not having a consciousness of sin. God wants us to be conscious of our Savior, not of our sins. He wants us to see sin as a closed case, never to be reopened by Him again.

God calls Jesus our advocate, or our defense attorney. You are a believer, and Satan just saw you break the law. He says to God here is the person you say is blameless, the one robed with righteousness. Look what he did!" Jesus immediately steps before the bench and says, "Father, You and I agreed together before the foundations of the world that my death on the cross included this sin as well as all others. I cite the fact I have already paid for it, the sin has been placed on My account, and it is marked paid in full."

God says, "Case closed!"  this courtroom scene took place just once, and you have been awarded the case with finality. You cannot come to trial again. Jesus Christ frees you from the curse, to live in goodness and power.

In First John 2:2 Jesus is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. It is He who covers our sins from the wrath of God. We stand as righteous in Him! We are also told that He is the mercy seat for the whole world. (That is what propitiation means.) God is not even keeping score on the world. All sin was dealt with at Calvary The only unforgivable sin is unbelief, or rejection of God's sacrifice.(4) The problem is many of us accepted but are not counting on His forgiveness, and thus are counting on ourselves. Your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake."(5)



(1) FOR A CLEAR DISCUSSION OF GNOSTICISM, Click on the following link. If clicking does not work please copy and past link into your browser.

________________________________________________________ (Back up to text)

(2) [Ephesians 5:8] for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (Back up to text)

(3) [1 John 4:18] There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (Back up to text)

(3) [1 John 4:18] There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, ad the one who fears is not perfected in love. (Back up to text)

(4) [John 16:9] concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; (Back up to text)

(5) [1 John 2:12] I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake. (Back up to text)


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