Confession of 1 John 1:9 – part 2

Confession of 1 John 1:9  – part 1 is here.

Teaching us that we have to continuously confess is contrary to Paul:

We are justified freely by his grace. Nothing we do. It is the gift of God.

(Romans 3:23)

Nothing we do, but ‘a gift of God’. How then can God’s forgiveness and our righteousness depend on our confession?

In fact, nowhere in all of Paul’s letters does he ever tell us we must confess our sin to come back into God’s presence. He says we are righteous by faith. Not by obeying the law. Nothing we do. It is the gift of God.

How clear could Paul be?

I wonder what John would say if he could see the modern translations of 1 John 1:9.

I think he’d be horrified. He’s pull his hair out and say “No! This is not what I meant at all! We are clean, we are pure, we have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all.”

I bet John didn’t expect us to adopt a never-ending legalistic ritual of sin / confess / forgive / sin / confess / forgive.

This is a form of legalism, a keeping up with the law.

God will not forgive us if we don’t confess our sin?

No way. He has already forgiven us once for all, 2000 years ago, on The Cross.

In fact ‘forgive’ is the same tense verb as the famous John 3:16 line:

‘For God so loved the world he gave his only Son.’

Loved here is an aorist tense meaning at a single point in time, forever.

God forgave us for all sin past, present and future on The Cross.

This is why Jesus said: ‘It is finished.’ 

Now, sin was either dealt with at The Cross or it wasn’t!

Remember later in his letter John says:

No one who is born of God continues to sin. He cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.

(1 John 3:9)

Now which is it? Either we continue to sin and must constantly ask for forgiveness or we are not able to sin.

It can’t be both!

1 John 1:9 has nothing to do with ‘confessing’ our sin over and over again.

In fact, John says those who are born of God ‘cannot’ sin.

This is because God doesn’t count our sin against us.

We have been forgiven once for all. 

We are the righteousness of God. Freed from sin.

If, as the church has been teaching, we’re to constantly ask God for forgiveness, we are literally rejecting the cross as not good enough to have cleansed us once for all.

We are rejecting the free gift of grace.

It’s like someone who loves you risking their life to give you a precious gift, and you toss it in the trash and say it’s not good enough.

How hurtful is that?

Except Christ didn’t risk his life, he died for us. And rose again. All of us who believe are righteous by faith.

We have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all.

No more sacrifice for sin is needed. Christ’s sacrifice was good enough for all mankind, once for all. We have been forgiven once for all. No amount of confessing will change anything. According to His word we are already holy. This is the amazing wonder of God’s grace.

This is the good news!

This is the gospel!

And yes, it is too good to be true.

This is why theologians translate 1 John 1:9 in such a way so as to keep us in chains of confession: “It can’t mean that. Surely? The good news can’t be that good!”

But it is that good.

We are free.

Because Jesus paid the penalty for us. 

Yet we, like that awful Anglican creed, insist on saying: “No, God, I am unholy, please forgive me. I am not worthy to eat the crumbs from under your table…”

That is not how God sees us at all.

We are not unworthy. In God’s eyes, we were worth dying for. That makes us precious. As precious as Christ’s sacrifice. God loves us and, thanks to the obedience of His Son, we are pure, beautiful and holy children of God.

And that is what we are!

If we reject his once for all forgiveness, we are rejecting His son’s sacrifice and…

“…treating as an unholy thing the blood of the sacrifice that sanctified us.” (Hebrews 12:15)

We are free.

We are holy.

Because of Christ’s sacrifice He will never count our sin against us.

Accept it.

Embrace it.

Thank God for it.

And next time you do something you might consider ‘sin’, remember, you are righteous, perfect and holy and have been forgiven once for all.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”

Once for all.


Steve Edwards


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