How to reconcile 1 John 1:9 with New Covenant confession.

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.” (NKJV)

The book of 1 John was written to counteract the beginnings of what evolved into Gnosticism. These teachers believed and taught that Jesus Christ was not the Messiah because God could not be contained in a human body. They taught that flesh was inherently evil and therefore the true Messiah could not have had a physical body. They also propagated that spirit was inherently pure and sinless.

This provided them with an excuse to sin and do as they please, because their spirit was still pure and sinless, despite their actions. John wrote to expose how wrong these teachings were. It is interesting to note that shortly after Christ’s time on earth, false teachers tried to prove that Christ couldn’t have been a man.

The raw reality of His miracles and teachings were fresh in peoples’ minds and hearts. How could a man do those things? How could God inhabit a human? Now, false teachings have reversed. False teachings now say that Christ couldn’t have been God.

They try and prove that the Bible is not the reliable words of God. Time has passed and His life and miracles are far removed from our memories.

Therefore, they teach that He couldn’t be God. These false assertions towards the Lord do not worry us, however. Scripture tells us that false teachers will come and teach whatever they please for their own gain. These false teachings can never wipe out the truth and reality that is Christ and the Scriptures.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matt 24:35) The Father has given to mankind a mirror picture of Himself in the earthly person of Jesus Christ. He has also given the incorruptible Scripture, so we are reminded of who the Father is, and what He is like.

God promises to completely forgive us of all our sins when we come to Him and receive Christ as our Savior and Lord. He says this in 1 John 1:9. Unfortunately, some teachings say that we still need to ask forgiveness for our sins after our conversion, or else we are not forgiven.

This, however, is not the case! We have already been forgiven from all of our sins (past, present and future) and He has made us the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Cor 5:21) What can we be forgiven of if we were already made righteous? A few verses earlier, John writes, “God is light and him is no darkness at all.” If we have fellowship with God and share in His likeness in our inner man, than there is no darkness in us! Can God fellowship with an unclean thing? Obviously, not!

Therefore, our confession is not, “God, please forgive me of my sins”, but it is “God, thank you that I have been forgiven and that I have been cleansed once and for all time through the blood of Your Son.” Hebrews 10:14, 17-18 says, “by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” and “their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”

We must remove from our heads and vocabulary that God is still holding our sins against us. God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus, so that His love and favor could be poured out on us! This was the great exchange! The only thing God is pouring out on His people now is love, favor and blessings. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation of shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that all we see in our lives is love, favor and blessings. However, if those are the only things that come down from above, than where do those other things come from? Does God punish or inflict his people with sickness and death? Do we get what is coming to us because we have sinned?

Surely, if we still lived in under the old covenant! But that chapter has been closed to make way for a greater covenant, the new covenant obtained through Christ’s blood. No longer is God imputing man’s sins to them, but through faith He changes our nature into His nature once and for all! So, sickness and death come from where? These were results of sin. Surely, they weren’t from God. It is clear they are from another source.

They originate from the sinful state of our universe and the devil, himself. Why is this important to know? Because a clean conscience towards God means that you are focused more on Christ Jesus and less on yourself and your shortcomings. Christ didn’t forgive us of all of our sins so we could worry and fret about them for the rest of our earthly lives, wondering if we are living pleasing to God, or not.

Paul says in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has made us free; stand fast therefore, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” 1 John 1:9 shouldn’t be hung over Christians’ heads as a constant reminder that our sins aren’t forgiven and of our need to remember all of our sins and confess them. You couldn’t remember all of your sins if you tried, even the ones that you committed today!

Sin-consciousness robs us from intimacy with God. Close the door on your legalistic faith (which is an oxymoron) and step into an appreciation of all that Christ has accomplished for you. For truly, a clear understanding of the grace of God is the key that unlocks the Holy Spirit’s power in you.

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