Why I don’t believe 1 John 1:9 is written to believers.

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Reason No: 1 You have to agree that a believer is still a sinner.

 

I find it strange that many suggest that when John wrote the words. “if you confess your sins,” he actually dedicated it to Christians in 1 John 1:9. Reading the text here, the Greek actually says “If you agree with God that you are a sinner, he will forgive your sins”. The word “confess” [homologōmen] does not mean declare that you have sin but agree what God says about what you have done. It is a complete different word from the word “confess” in James 5:16 which means “admit your sins” [exomologeisthe]. In the New Testament, Paul never refers a believer as a “sinner”. Neither does God, we are always referred to as “saints”. Even when Paul addressed Corinth, Paul addressing the believers of their sins, did not call them adulterous, murderers, or … when they were still in those sins. He reminded them “that is who you were”, and reminded who they really are “the Holy Temple of the Holy Spirit”. As such I am convinced that when John says you have to agree with God that you are a (still) “sinner”, he is not referring to a believer. A believers’ sins are not just forgiven, they are taken away. Once and for all. (see Hebrews 10:2) Note in 1 John 2, he tells “Children” that their sins HAVE ALREADY BEEN FORGIVEN. John was writing to 2 groups of people.

 

Reason No: 2 There is no distinction between parental forgiveness and judicial forgiveness

There is a teaching that there is a need to confess your sins because you need “parental forgiveness”. This view is propounded by William MacDonald. He argues while your sins are in fact “once and for all” forgiven, you are only forgiven judicially. Since you become a believer, you are God’s son. He argues you therefore need parental forgiveness. He argues while you are forgiven legally, you need to be forgiven relationally. He argues like any parent, if the son refuses to say “sorry” he should be chastened by his parents by his parents placing him in a corner until he admits he is sorry. So God withdraws his presence and fellowship with you. In extreme cases he refuses to bless you.

This is what he says “So now we move into the home for an illustration of parental forgiveness. God is the Father and the believer is the child. In an unguarded moment, the child commits an act of sin. Then what happens? Does God sentence the child to die for the sin? Of course not, because God is no longer the Judge, but the Father! What does happen? Well, fellowship in the family is broken. The happy family spirit is gone. The child has not lost his salvation, but he has lost the joy of his salvation. Soon he may experience the discipline of his Father, designed to bring him back into fellowship. As soon as the child confesses his sin, he receives parental forgiveness.”

He then argues the following: “there are other passages of Scripture that deal with parental forgiveness:

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt. 6:14, 15). Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven (Luke 6:37). And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any, that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (Mark 11:25).

Notice that in two of these verses God is specifically mentioned as Father; it is the Father’s forgiveness that is involved. Notice also that our being forgiven depends on our willingness to forgive others. That is not true of judicial forgiveness; willingness to forgive others is not a condition of salvation. But it is true of parental forgiveness; our Father will not forgive us if we don’t forgive one another.”

Let me disagree on 3 points.

Firstly, the Gentile, was never under the law. For a person who was never under the law, how can someone breach the law? (By this I mean the Law of Moses, which was given to the Jews) As such the Gentile does not need “Judicial Forgiveness”. Paul tells us in Romans 1 we have fallen short of God’s natural revelation of Himself. The Conscience. What we need is not judicial forgiveness. What we need is removal of guilty conscience, an “experiential forgiveness”. Hence for a Gentile there is no such thing as a distinction between “judicial forgiveness and parental forgiveness”. He needs forgiveness and that’s it. This goes the same for Jews which I will explain later.

My second point of contention is this. He argues that God allows the fellowship in the family to be broken so he may experience the discipline of his Father, designed to bring him back into fellowship. I have a real problem with this. Firstly God is not an earthly father. Secondly, my Bible tells me “it is the goodness of the Lord that leads me to repentance” Romans 2:24. (Note this refers to the unbelieving Jew, how much more his child). Secondly let’s look at the Old Testament, how did God treat his children before the Law of Moses was given? Let’s look at Adam. Adam sinned. Who withdrew from the fellowship? Adam. Who came to look for Adam to restore the relationship? God. Look at Cain. Who hid from the presence of God? Cain. Who came to look for Cain to restore the relationship? God. The notion that God will withdraw his presence if we fail to confess our sins is not biblical. God send His Son to us while we were yet sinners. While we were unconfessing sinners!

As such let’s look at the issue seriously. AND I MEAN SERIOUSLY! Who withdrew from the relationship? NOT GOD. In Hebrews 13 (yes the chapter AFTER the chapter which speaks about the chastening of the Lord Hebrews 12) God says “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” So who then? The answer is …… You. And Me. Here’s the million dollar question. Why?

The answer is given to us in Romans 1. Conscience. Let’s be honest here. I have been a frequent confessor before I knew that God had forgiven me of all my sins. So I confess my sins over and over in the past without knowing I have been totally forgiven. Today, when I do something wrong, I tell God I am sorry and thank Him for having forgiven me. I thank Him despite I have sinned, my relationship is base on Jesus’ obedience and not mine. I am still in His presence. You know why? Because He is in me and I in Him. I am seated next to the Father irrespective of what I do but totally respective of what Jesus did. I can never be separated from Him. Now does that give you license to sin?

Dear friends, that is probably the most stupid and carnal argument you can think of.  Let’s turn to the prince of preachers Charles Spurgeon:  “No doctrine is so calculated to preserve a man from sin as the doctrine of the grace of God. Those who have called it ‘a licentious doctrine’ did not know anything about it. Poor ignorant things, they little knew that their own vile stuff was the most licentious doctrine under heaven. If they knew the grace of God in truth, they would soon see that there is no preservative from lying like a knowledge that we are elect of God from the foundation of the world. There is nothing like a belief in my eternal perseverance, and the immutability of my Father’s affection, which can keep me near to Him from a motive of simple gratitude.”

The greatest weapon against sin is gratitude. Gratitude does not come from your obedience. It comes when you realized “some obeyed on your behalf”. It is the righteousness that God imputes in you that keeps you holy. Honestly you think by your obedience you can be made holy by yourselves?

When you confess your sins to be forgiven you are saying Jesus did not do a good job. Also you are coming and going away from the presence of God. You. My God is not a schizophrenic God. He does not come and go. He is here to stay. Jesus made sure of that. He will never leave nor forsake me. So who suffers when you come and go? God? You. And do you know why you do that? Because your conscience condemn you. That is the reason you keep confessing in order to stay in the presence of God. Your conscience is mired with guilt and condemnation.

Here is why you are not experiencing real forgiveness.

Now here’s the issue. Why is it that while we understand we have been forgiven, know that we have been forgiven, believe that we have been forgiven, preach we have been forgiven, yet still not experiencing forgiveness? 

The writer of Hebrews identifies the problem in:
Hebrews 10:1-2

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated ndlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.

The real problem here is not whether you experience the forgiveness or not. It is the problem with your own conscience. It is your conscience that condemns you. How does it condemns you? 

This is how, it keeps on reminding you that you still have to do something to acquire forgiveness. Hence the very thing you do to seek forgiveness becomes the very thing that reminds you of your sins. Whilst many would argue this is the way to grace, Hebrews 10 tells you it comes from the law. So the problem is created not by God but by your conscience. 

You may then argue and say “isn’t conscience something that God gave you to tell you what is wrong and what is right?” The answer is yes. However not only does it tells what is right and what is wrong, it also tells you “You are wrong. you are guilty, God cannot stand you”. Hence, it is your conscience that keeps YOU from God. It does not keep God from you. Had it been, God would not have looked for Adam. Adam was the one who hid.

Still not convinced?

Let’s read further on at verses 2 and 3:

2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins3But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins”

The writer states that the sacrifices could not make such people perfect because they felt guilt for their  sins. Why couldn’t it do so? Because they asked for forgiveness through the bulls and goats endlessly. In fact in verse 2, the writer offers a solution. If the sacrifice for forgiveness had worked. You need to only do it once. Why didn’t it work? Because he sacrifices brought could NOT TAKE AWAY sin. Note, I said said “TAKE AWAY SIN”. Not “covered your sins” or “washed your sins”.

See 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Here lies our problem. Many believers think that when Jesus offered his blood it was to cleanse of your sins or to cover your sins. It is not, he came to take away your sins. 

Some of you may quote Peter and say “its only your past sins”. Nah that’s not right. You see if that is true, then the problem of having to offer again and again comes in, cause only your past sins have been forgiven hence your conscience will still haunt you for your future sins. That doesn’t cut it.

Let’s read on:

Hebrews 9: 11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here,[a] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining[b] eternal redemption13The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,[c] so that we may serve the living God!

Let’s again look at the work Jesus did.

It was offered in an eternal tabernacle in heaven not on earth.

It was offered once forALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!

How all is ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL? Obtaining eternal redemption. What’s that again? EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEternal Redemption. 

How was it offered? Through the Eternal Spirit. Ever wondered why it was the Spirit of Jesus and not the Father who said “I remember your sins no more but the Spirit?”

Hebrews 10: 

15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

 16 “This is the covenant I will make with them 
   after that time, says the Lord. 
I will put my laws in their hearts, 
   and I will write them on their minds.”[b]

 17 Then he adds:

   “Their sins and lawless acts 
   I will remember no more.”[c]

Because the blood of Jesus was offered though the eternal Spirit when he said “Father I commit my Spirit to Thee”. It was a once and for all act that had eternal consequences.

The forgiveness that is never again repeated is to solve the problem of the conscience. It is your conscience that keeps you away from God not God’s unforgiveness. 

Hebrews 10:3
3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins,

So that’s why Christ died once and for all, he died to establish once and for all the fact that you are forgiven. This means there is nothing your guilty conscience can condemn you for, so that you may really experience experiential and relational forgiveness. 

Hebrews 10:22
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, havingour hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

How is this done? The answer is this 

Hebrews 10: 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.

Here lies the crux of the matter. The priests could not sit down because the sacrifices were not able to take away sins. They could not sit down. Jesus on the other hand TOOK AWAY your sins. How many times did he have to do that? Note, once and for all, he sat down.

As such the only way to really to experience real forgiveness is thanking God for his once and for all forgiveness.  The constant requirement of asking for forgiveness in order to be forgiven is merely a modern form of offering the blood of bulls and goats I may say. It gives power to the a conscience which does nothing for you to experience forgiveness. It in effect produces even less security in the finished work of Christ. 

Then what do you do then, continue to sin and don’t ask for forgiveness?

No. 1 do not presume I live a callous life when I say I live a carefree life. I already told you I hate sin. Note Hebrews 10;1 says it is not grace that requires this continual ritual of asking for forgiveness it is the LAW.

 

The power of sin is the LAW (1 Cor 15:56) and the only way you can escape sin is to make sure it is no longer your master. Romans 6:14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

 

As such let’s be honest with each other, we can coin up phrases like “experiential forgiveness” or “parental forgiveness”. To me, we are just not being honest with ourselves, the problem is not with God, the  problem is that we have to rid ourselves of the conscience that bothers us. Let’s face the biblical fact, your sins are taken away once and for all. God remembers your sins no more. The problem is not him. It’s you. Unless you know and believe God has  forgiven you “once and for all”, you will never feel forgiven. It’s your conscience talking it’s not God.

As for how you are kept in fellowship, don’t look to 1 John 1:9. Look to 1 Cor 1:9. 

1 Corinthians 1:9
9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

No.1,  it depends on God’s faithfulness not yours. No. 2 it is established in the same manner He has with His Son. Do you think God and His Son can be separated after the cross? Neither can you. Your conscience has been made clean.

When we believe that we have to confess our sins to be forgiven, we are doing exactly what the Jews are doing. AND We are doing it over and over and over and over and over again. How then is our conscience appeased? When God says “there is no condemnation”, we allow our conscience to condemn us with guilt… aren’t we now behaving like unsaved Jews?

My third issue is scriptural. Look at MacDonald’s basis and the verse he used. I will requote it: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt. 6:14, 15). Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven (Luke 6:37). And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any, that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (Mark 11:25).

His argument is based upon the alleged fact that “the Father” is mentioned is the above verses. He argues that the Father’s forgiveness is conditional.

Well let’s look at what Paul says.

Colossians 3:13
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave (Note PAST TENSE) you.

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Notice the difference? Jesus (seems to say) that if you do not forgive others, the Father does not forgive you. In Paul’s case, you forgive someone because God HAS and I repeat HAS forgiven you. This means even if you had not forgiven the person who wronged you, you are STILL and HAS been forgiven. Is Paul contradicting Jesus?

The answer is an obvious “no”. Why then the difference? It is because of the cross. Jesus was speaking to the Jews and was teaching them what the Law of Moses demanded. When he died on the cross, he fulfilled the Law of Moses and secured forgiveness for everyone who believes. So you are forgiven completely and unconditional by God on the account of Jesus. So because you have been freely forgiven, Paul says “forgive”.

As such MacDonald’s base for teaching this is faulty.

 

Reason 3: Let’s assume God does alienate Himself from you if you do not confess your sins to be forgiven.

 

Suppose what is being preached to us is true i. e. that God will withdraw His fellowship from you and refuse to bless you if you do not confess your sins. Then the logical thing that proceeds from this would be:

a)      God refuses to answer your prayers;

b)      The Christians in such a church will go wild in sinning;

c)      The church will not grow; simple no quality Christian no quantity Christians;

d)     No miracles in the church;

e)      No healings in the church;

f)       The church becomes religious. Why without God, what the church members would only observe the rituals without God;

g)      Attendance would drop;

h)      Meetings become dull;

i)        People begin to find fault with each other. Simple if God does not live in such Christians, they do not love.

 

I happen to believe in two churches who teach 1 John 1:9 does not refer to Christians and that they do not confess their sins to be forgiven but rather they admit their shortcomings and failings to God because they HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN. They are New Creation Church in Singapore and The New Covenant Church in Kuala Lumpur.

New Creation Church is one of the most vibrant churches in the world. They are now 25,000 strong. Let me share the church website to you and you read for yourself what God is doing in the church despite the fact that they do not confess their sins to be forgiven: http://newcreation.org.sg/resources/testimonies/healing/

Note these testimonies are updated on a weekly basis and they are selected. This means there are tons of testimonies that comes in which are not published.

Let’s look at a smaller church then. The New Covenant Church (TNCC) is now almost 3 years old. They started with 30 and within a short time of two years have grown to now almost 600! Let me produce some testimonies to you.

Lilian Lam 

I used to feel easily tired, and if I didn’t have enough sleep, I would feel faint. Whenever I felt faint, I would have to rest by lying down a lot during the day. My hands and my head would grow cold, my vision would be blurred and I would have mini blackouts. I didn’t understand why I was like that, so I attributed it to “maybe I need more rest than normal people”, and I didn’t dare exert myself.

In 2001, I did an executive health screening, and an ECG was done on my heart. The doctor then diagnosed me with “sinus bradycardia”. This meant that my heart beats very, very slowly, and if it beats any slower, I would faint and may even drop dead. In fact, my heart beats so slowly that when I exercise, it does not catch up fast enough and I will be out of breath very fast.

So the doctor advised me to never exert myself, to be real slow in getting out of bed and never have a sudden active movement. He told me that there was nothing that could help me medically; I could only pray that it does not get any worse.

 

So I took care of myself and rested more than normal people would. I could not even travel too long, else I would feel faint and nauseated. I was surrendered to that fate. At the same time, I also went through a phase where I was emotionally hurt and deeply wounded as well.

In Nov 2009, I came across the teaching of grace and Holy Communion, of how it’s a reminder of what Christ has done on the cross for me — His body broken for my wholeness and healing. I began to partake of the Holy Communion twice a day for about two weeks. I would cry real deep whenever I took the Holy Communion and began to experience healing in my emotions. After a while, I didn’t cry as much anymore because I believe healing was taking place and I felt liberated in my emotions.

 

  At that time, I also felt pain and numbness on the left side of my body and a slow throbbing pain on my chest. I did not do any check-up but just went for prayer. However, one day, about four months ago, I felt faint and ill, so Sis Shiu Feng advised me to go for a check up at IJN. So I went, and an ECG was done on me. I feared the worst, but to my surprise, the ECG showed my heart to be normal with “normal sinus rhythm”! The doctor even commented, “This is the best ECG I have seen so far”. My heart is healed!.

However, the numbness on my left side of the body was still there. In fact, it grew worse. I had to self massage my arm each time, and I could not sleep on the left side of my body. I asked Bro Simon to pray for me one Sunday. He prayed for me and anointed me with oil. The numbness felt less but still persisted. So the next week, I asked Bro Simon to pray for me again, but he told me that there was no need for him to pray over me as Jesus had already purchased my healing on the cross. Hence, I could declare healing on myself. He then handed the bottle of anointing oil to me. I took the oil and put on my head and prayed in faith, believing that I am healed.

From then on, I experienced gradual healing. Today, I am totally healed. I do not have numbness on my left side anymore, and my heart has no more throbbing pain. At my recent holiday in Perth, I went hiking up a hill. Praise God I finished the 5.5km hike up and down without any ill effects; in fact, I feel very normal! The name of Jesus be glorified!

Lai Sun Wan

Two months ago, I was admitted to HUKM with high fever, stomach pain, jaundice, suspected gall bladder stone and liver blockage. I was put on drips, antibiotics, medication and even had a urinary catheter inserted. The pain was so terrible. The catheter was irritating, inconvenient and made it difficult to urinate — I complained to a senior doctor who removed it three days later.

For more than a week, my fever still remained high, with temperatures above 38-39 degrees. I had no appetite to eat. Every night I could not sleep. My stomach was not feeling well, my legs were swollen, my body was itchy, probably due to the medication.

I underwent so many medical tests — blood test, chest x-ray, scope, biopsy, urology ultrasound, CT scan etc. I was told my CT scan was not very clear, with the presence of enlarged lymph nodes, which could be cancerous. I was sad and disheartened. 

Everyday, I had small groups of visitors, friends and relatives, brothers and sisters, pastors and deaconess from various churches (All Saints Church, Glad Tidings and tNCC) come to visit and to pray for my health and recovery. I would like to thank Pastor Peter Sze and family, my son-in-law Vincent, and members of tNCC, especially Simon Yap, who dropped by for two consecutive evenings to pray for my speedy recovery and showered me with words of encouragement.

With one more week to go for our annual Family Camp, I prayed to the Lord in the name of Jesus Christ not to leave me behind because I wanted to join my wife, my daughter, my son-in-law and my two beautiful grandchildren to Kampar. My prayer was answered by our loving and compassionate God. The next day, I was told by my senior doctor that I would be discharged in a day or two after completing my medication. After my discharge, I was told to come back one month later for my Hepaton and urology test reports. 

At the Family Camp, I was physically exhausted. While others were worshipping or playing games, I sat down and rested. I had lost almost 8 kg during my hospital stay. I looked so thin and pale. All my trousers were not fitting, and I suffered from shortness of breath. 

Last week, I went back to HUKM for my test reports. Both doctors declared everything was normal. I repeated another ultrasound this week. It showed better results and was much clearer than the previous one. No more gall bladder stone, no liver and kidney problems, no more enlargement of lymph nodes, except some minor prostate, which is common to most men my age.

Thank you Lord! Today I can talk so loud. I can eat so much. I can walk so fast. For it is written, by His stripes, I am healed! And the church says, Amen!

 

Uncle Lai shared this at our Sunday celebration on August 7, 2011.

 Adrienne Gan

 In early 2006, my son Mark, then 5 years old, became very sick and was diagnosed with kidney stones in his left kidney. He underwent surgery. In 2007, he again developed kidney stones, this time in his right kidney. He underwent surgery for the second time.

After the second surgery, the doctors informed us that there were still multiple tiny stones that they could not remove. They advised us to let him drink a lot of water in the hope that it will flush the stones out naturally. However, the stones were in the lower part of the kidney and rather difficult to flush out. They advised us to leave them alone unless the stones grew bigger or caused any blockages before exploring further treatment options.

 

So we left it at that and continued our lives as normal. I prayed to God asking him to heal my son and to remove the stones so that he wouldn’t have to go through another operation. Everytime he went for his ultrasound, the results were the same — the stones were still there, shining like little diamonds on the ultrasound image.

I would like to add that I became a Christian when I was a teenager, but for the past 15 years or so, I had stopped going to church. Many Christian friends were always inviting me to return to church, even during Mark’s illness, but I never took up their invitation for whatever reason.  

Then in 2009, a friend of mine told me about a new church opening up in Atria and asked if I would like to attend. Out of the blue, I said, “Sure, I’ll go.” So that Sunday, Mark and I attended tNCC for the first time. During service, Mark wanted to partake of the bread and wine, so I let him. Since that day, we have been attending tNCC regularly.

In December 2009, when Mark had his doctor’s appointment, the doctor informed us that should his next ultrasound (in February) still show the stones in his kidney, they will have to resort to the next course of treatment. Come February, when they did the ultrasound, I didn’t see any of the usual tiny shiny “blinks” on the screen! I asked the doctor about it, and to my shock, he said that there aren’t any stones in his kidney anymore. Mark is completely cleared!

 

I thank God for answering my prayer and showering me with His grace. What man couldn’t do, God did. Not only did He heal my son, He also brought me to His family!

 

Adrienne shared this at our Midweek Service on April 13, 2011.

 

Such testimonies are heard every week in both these churches. My question is this how is it that God still does miraculous things if God had withdrew His presence from these two churches?

 

Dear friend, you are already totally forgiven. Yes Totally. God has chosen not to be remembered of your sins anymore, why do you remind him? 

13 Comments

  1. Thank you for posting this……I’ve been preaching and teaching this for a few years now and your post will help me greatly in the future….simple teaching about a profound concept!!

    1. You are very welcome. Your comment came at the right time. I just receive a comment that God will judge me for teaching as a heretic. So thanks for the encouragement. You have a great blog too.

  2. John is on a very specific mission in this letter – combating false prophets. Understanding that mission is essential to understanding the statements made by John in this epistle. Actually, John uses the term “false prophets” only once in this letter (4:1). However, make no mistake about it, they are front and center with regard to John’s comments throughout.

    FALSE PROPHETS! FALSE PROPHETS! FALSE PROPHETS! FALSE PROPHETS!
    This letter is about resisting false prophets, so let’s look at the characteristics of these false prophets by looking at the statements John makes about them throughout this epistle:

    They walked in darkness (1:5-6).
    They refused to acknowledge their sinful nature (1:8, 10).
    They refused to observe the commandments of Christ (2:3-4, 6).
    They displayed a hatred toward other Believers (2:9, 11, 3:14, 15, 17, 4:8, 20-21, 5:1).
    John refers to them as “antichrists” because they deny that Jesus is the Christ (2:18, 22, 4:3).
    They broke fellowship with Believers (2:19).
    Their teaching was seductive (2:26).
    They practiced sinful conduct and are categorized as being “of the devil” (3:4, 8, 10)
    John refers to them as “false prophets” (4:1-2).
    They are “of the world” (4:5).
    They refused John’s teaching (4:6)
    As you can see, this campaign against these particular false prophets extends through all five chapters. Therefore, one must conclude that I John is all about identifying and resisting these particular false prophets. When the reader understands this about John’s mission, certain verses in I John that may have seemed confusing, no longer are confusing. Let me explain what I mean by quoting I John 2:3, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” Without understanding that the mission of John here is to distinguish between godly and false prophets, one might build a skewed doctrine of salvation upon this verse by pulling it out of context. However, in context we understand that John is differentiating between prophets – in this case, those who follow Christ’s commandments are compared to those who don’t in the very next verse 4, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Neither verse is intended to be a comprehensive view of the salvation experience, but rather is designed to distinguish between good and false prophets. Those prophets who preach about Christ AND keep his commandments are to be respected as Believers while shunning the rest. That’s the mission of I John – warning against false prophets. As you look at the rest of the Book of I John, I’ll be referring back to this mission from time to time to make certain we are understanding in context.
    This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

    This much is clear: Fellowship (Greek: “koinonia”) with Jesus Christ is not possible when one’s deeds are in defiance against Holy Spirit guidance. However, when one is led by the Holy Spirit, he naturally has fellowship, not only with Christ, but other Believers also. Verses 5-7 give us John’s first direct shot at these false prophets and their “darkness” lifestyle and teaching. It would appear from verses 8 and 10 that these false prophets taught something akin to the sinless-perfection doctrine of the gnostics in that era which maintained an essential separation of matter and spirit, the former of these being essentially evil, and the source from which all evil has arisen. Therefore, these gnostics believed that it was only one’s body that sinned; the spirit inside man was sinless – kind of a mind-over-matter doctrine, you see. As a result, we are told that these gnostics justified godless living by dismissing it as a product of flesh not accountable to the spirit. How convenient!

    However, notice verses 8-10 where we see the inevitability of our (Believers) shortcomings after salvation (all Believers sin, verses 8, 10), and what we should do when it happens (confess our sins). Verses 8-10 dismiss that gnostic doctrine as unfounded. Consider I John 1:9 a guarantee, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Make no mistake about it; THIS VERSE IS NOT A SALVATION VERSE. This verse is addressing the relationship of Believers with their Father, God. When (as Believers) we sin, we should confess that sin to God in prayer and move on with complete confidence that God has promised us that we have complete forgiveness of that sin.

    Perhaps a scriptural definition of sin for the Believer is in order here. James 4:17 says it all, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” According to I Corinthians 12:13 and Romans 8:1-11, each Believer has the Holy Spirit inside, prompting him to obedience to God. When a Believer violates that leadership of the Holy Spirit, that’s sin. An explanation of Spirit-led living is to be found in Galatians 5:16-25.

    Let me further address the inconsistent teaching that I John 1:9 is not for Believers, but rather provided as instruction for lost people to get saved. While you may have heard it preached, show me in the scripture where entry into salvation in Christ requires us to “confess our sins.” Read the epistles of the New Testament very closely, and you will see that a simple acknowledgement of our need for a savior because of our sin (our sin nature) is all that is indicated in the process of our salvation experience – not a comprehensive prerequisite to “confess our sins.” To indicate that a confession of sins is a prerequisite to salvation is to create a whole new extra-scriptural barrier an unsaved person must penetrate in order to have eternal life. Secondly, take a look at Galatians 2:15-21. It’s very important that people not place an extra-scriptural requirement on lost people as a process for getting saved.

    To sum up, I have never been closer to God in my Christian walk.

    However, if you believe your comments are true, then that is fine, for it is not me to judge what you preach….

  3. I thought I was responding to fellowshipandjoy! A ministry that has been teaching this approach for years in the USA is Bob George w/ People to People radio ministries! Very good Check them out. (Dallas Texas)

  4. Would it be benificial for John to write something directly to the unbelievers? Would it be illogical for him to write to people whom had no chance to read it? 🙂 I got the point that the verse(1 John 1:9) isn’t for believers and I totally in agreement with that yet is it safe to say that the Apostle John wrote and direct his letter to the believers and he was making them aware of the Gnostics trying to infiltrate their camp?
    1 John 1:9 is indeed not applicable for believers anymore wherein all our sins are genuinely and indeed totally forgiven. 🙂 yet, we should be also aware that there are people who would try to use the grace and forgiveness of God in their own personal motives. I’ll add maybe next time 🙂

  5. Thank you for your concise and clear breakdown of 1 John:1:9,and all the other scripture references. I am in agreement with you on every point, and glad to read what I believe.

    The beauty of the Holy Spirit is that He leads us into all Truth. I came across your post yesterday, as I had a question rumbling around inside my head, it was:’Is God Schizophrenic’? and who exactly is 1 john1:9 written to? When I went online to find out, your post came up. When I read your words in bold print that read:My God is not a schizophrenic God,He doesn’t come and go.He is here to stay”. I had to pause and take time to Thank God, with tears running down my face, for directing me by The Holy Spirit, and for confirmation.
    I have come into the knowledge of the gospel of grace, and never want to go back to the erroneous teachings that have, held me captive, and defeated in the past or listen to any more mixed teachings, (but it is so prevalent especially in the Church!) part Law/part Grace. There is no victory in this kind of doctrine.It seems the Church at large keeps harkening back to Old Testament teachings, while at the same time trying to live a New Testament life.
    Your post confirms what I believe, I may be in the minority, but I am free, and Christ bound,to Him alone.
    Thank you!, Thank you!, Thank you!

  6. Simon. Would you consider your sins have been taken away in Christ. You are a new creation in him. It is ,”previous sins” ,”old sins”, that were forgiven. “He has taken away your sins, and in him there is no sin”. Where are you? When we consider present and future sins, we still confess ourselves as sinners. Not new creations. Do you fall short in the flesh. Yes. You sin. Even against Christ. But has he taken away your sins in him? Yes. This is a once cleansing. In him there is no sin. I believe we do not have this revelation yet. His incorruptible seed. We cannot sin. Our new creation cannot sin. Unbelief is sin. The Holy Spirit indwells forever. He is not coming according to sin. When he looks at you, he sees his perfect righteousness because you are sitting at his right hand, in Christ. When I sin. I turn, not always successfully at first, but turning and praising the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Just praising. I do not need to remind myself of any sin. For someone not mature in Christ, that’s a risk. A risk of condemnation. Very easy. When I sin against someone,I repent to that person. In freedom and then praise. My past sins were covered at my new birth, and my sins taken away in Christ. I no longer walk in darkness. I am the light IN Christ. I am aware of my sin. I sometimes discuss it with God. To give me strength. There is no pressure to do this.

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