Friday, January 30, 2009

Judicial Forgiveness and Parental Forgiveness - Part 1

I had an exchange of views with another fellow Christian on another blog regarding forgiveness, and he (or she coz I could only see the pseudonym) believes that we need to keep confessing our sins for God's parental forgiveness although we are already judicially forgiven.

(?_?) ... are you confused too? I didn't know what he was talking about and asked him for scripture to explain his view. However, as is common with all these "theological" Christians, instead of bible verses, he referred me to articles by famous "theologians" such as John MacArthur and Pastor John Piper.

Today, I shall tackle the article by John MacArthur entitled "If We Confess Our Sins" (which can be found here). For your convenience, I shall reproduce his article paragraphs by paragraphs (in
blue) together with my comments on them.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – 1 John 1:9.

That is one of the first verses many new Christians memorize–and rightly so. It holds forth the comforting promise of forgiveness and cleansing for all of us who have struggled with guilt in this sin-stained world. Yet there are some today who, because they fail to comprehend the extent of divine forgiveness, deny the clear teaching of 1 John 1:9 and teach other to do the same. They say that to pray for forgiveness reveals unbelief. After all, a healthy Christian doesn't experience guilt because he understands Christ's total forgiveness. Why seek forgiveness when you already have it?

However, their guilt-free brand of Christianity not only burdens guilty people with more guilt, but also strips away the only means to alleviate the guilt of sin–confession. Rather than helping Christians draw near to God, they are reinforcing the barrier of sin that interrupts their relationship with God. But that's not the end of the story.


I have explained before in my previous posts how 1 John 1:9 has been misinterpreted (see here and here). The first chapter of 1 John was not written to Christians. It was meant for those who subscribe to the Greek idea that man is separated into body and spirit, and salvation is meant for only the spirit but not the body since the body is matter and will not be resurrected. As they believe the body and spirit are separate, they think that whatever evil they commit is committed by only the body and not the spirit, and therefore they have no sin since the spirit cannot sin.

1 John 1:9 tells these people to recognize and admit that they have sins, and God will be faithful and just to forgive them. Take note that after 1 John 1, John starts off 1 John 2 with "My little children ..." which implies that he is addressing fellow Christians from chapter 2 onwards, not chapter 1.

In contrast, take a look at 1 John 1:1-3 (NKJV) -
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

Notice that v3 says "that you also may have fellowship with us" which means that John is talking to those people who do not have fellowship with him and the other believers yet, i.e. those people are not believers.

John continues in vv5-6 -
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

John is telling these people that they cannot claim to be believers and that they do not practice the truth because their so-called "belief" does not recognize sin. This is confirmed in 1 John 1:8 -
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Then John follows up in 1 John 1:9 telling them to admit that they have sin.

John MacArthur says that the only means to alleviate the guilt of sin is confession. Where are the scripture references to back this up? What does the bible really say about the guilt of sin?

Hebrews 10:1-3 (NKJV)
1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.

Hebrews 10:2 says that once purified, we would have no more consciousness of sins! How then are we purified? Through the once for all blood sacrifice of Christ - Hebrews 10:11-14 -
11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Christ's blood, unlike the blood of bulls and goats, does not cover our sins. Nay, more than that, his blood takes away our sins and therefore we should have no more consciousness of sins or in John MacArthur's words, "guilt of sin". When we understand this truth,
"we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus." (Hebrews 10:19)

In fact, it is precisely this concept of judicial and parental forgiveness as advocated by John MacArthur that is "
reinforcing the barrier of sin that interrupts their relationship with God" because it constantly reminds you of your sins and the need to confess them.

(to be continued ...)

1 comment:

Jeffrey said...

Stan, I heard a sermon by a well known pastor in Singapore who said that I John 1:9 is for Christians who sin.When they sinned and confess,the blood of Christ cleanses them.

I John 1:9 is often taken as a memory verse by a lot of Christians but they missed out on reading 1 John 1:8 and 1John 1:10 to see who is John talking about.

They contradict 1 Cor 6:11 which says that we WERE WASHED,we WERE SANCTIFIED,we WERE JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.

And they also contradicted Heb 10:10,14.By His sacrifice He has PERFECTED FOREVER those who ARE SANCTIFIED.