Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Confess Your Sins To Be Forgiven (2) - The Mis-interpretation of 1 John 1:9

If we don't need to keep confessing our sins in order to be forgiven, why is 1 John 1:9 in the bible?

To put the verse in context, let's look at 1 John 1: 8-9 (Amplified Bible)
8If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts].

9If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

Some (or perhaps many) Christians believe that 1 John 1:9 is addressed to believers but I disagree.

Looking at verses 8 and 9 in tandem, I submit that Paul is actually painting a scenario of 2 choices available to a non-believer:

1) Say that you have no sin i.e. refusing to admit that you are a sinner and therefore not accepting the truth of the Gospel i.e. you don't need the Saviour because there is nothing to be saved from.


2) Confess your sins i.e. admitting you are a sinner and therefore needing and receiving God's forgiveness of all your sins and made righteous before God i.e. cleansed from all unrighteousness.

I submit that 1John 1:9 is describing what happens at the point of salvation for an unbeliever. When the unbeliever confesses before God that he is a sinner and in need of the Saviour, his sins are all forgiven and he is cleansed from ALL unrighteousness, thereby making him fully righteous. I use the word fully to emphasize the absence of any unrighteousness because strictly speaking, righteousness is a state of being so you are either righteous or unrighteous.

When you become a believer, you are made righteous before God; you have been cleansed from ALL unrighteousness, so how can there be any unrighteousness left in you for God to cleanse again and again?

For an in depth understanding of 1 John 1:9, I recommend the following two articles:

i) http://sg.geocities.com/saltandlight5/trueconfession.html
ii) http://www.realanswers.net/realaudio/forgiveness.htm


Anonymous said...

we are forced by a huge volume of scripture to interprate the verse in the way that you have said because anything other would have to mean a change in all the heavenly order specifically that Jesus holds back forgiveness of all sin untill all sin is confessed which we know he doesn't!

Anonymous said...

oh i am matthew from wales, not anonymous!

Stanley Wong said...

Hi Matthew,

That's exactly my point ... there are so many verses that clearly say ALL of our sins are forgiven but some preachers insist on preaching a whole doctrine based on 1 John 1:9 alone, and doing so contradicts all those other verses.

We know that God cannot contradict Himself, so it is man who contradicts through mis-interpretation of scripture.

Btw, a warm welcome to you! I am glad that I can share the gospel through this blog all the way to Wales :-)

Do come back and visit!

Malcolm Loh said...

Hi Stan

Matt (and his wife Ruth) are fellow grace embracers. In fact, Matt has a huge collection of Ps Prnce's sermons too :-D

They were in Singapore last year, and we had lunch, together with Jeff Teo.


Amazing how God is getting all of us connected, no?

Stanley Wong said...

Hi Mal,

That's the beauty of the internet, isn't it? The internet allows us to fellowship even though we are thousands of km apart.

Hopefully, we can start a cyber grace fellowship soon, maybe through msn or some other program?

Angie said...

Yes, we can do it on FB! :) I'm connected to Matt, Ruth & Rachel from Wales on FB & we can create a group there for us to post discussions online ;)

Angie said...

oops.. I hope you know FB is facebook.. :p

Jeffrey said...

Hi Matt,

Jeffrey here.Glad to hear your comments.Regards to Ruth and Rachel.Keep posted bro.