Saturday, January 31, 2009

Judicial Forgiveness and Parental Forgiveness - Part 2

I shall continue with my comments on John MacArthur's article entitled "If We Confess Our Sins" (paragraphs of the article are reproduced in blue, followed by my comments):

The Bible clearly teaches that Christians should seek forgiveness.
Consider this:
     In each one of the penitential psalms (Pss. 6; 32; 38; 51; 102; 130; 143), the psalmist is demonstrating the heart of a justified believer when he seeks forgiveness. In each case the psalmist is already a believer, fully forgiven.

The psalmist was not, as John MacArthur claims, a believer and fully forgiven . David was under the Law which means that when you do wrong, you expect punishment from God for the Law says that blessings will be showered on you when you keep it but curses will come upon you when you break it (Deuteronomy 28). That is why David has to beg for God's mercy to withhold the curses that he deserves, which he expressed in Psalm 6, 38, 51, 143.

Psalm 6:1-2
1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.

Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.

Psalm 38:1-4

1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.

2 For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me.

3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
my bones have no soundness because of my sin.

4 My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.

Psalm 51:1-3

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

Psalm 143: 1-2

1 O LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.

2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.

This burden of being under the Law is also reflected in Psalm 143:2 where David says "no one living is righteous before you" for the Law does not provide for the removal of sins but only the covering of sins "because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4).

David longed for the day when his sins are not held against him as he says in Psalm 32:2 - Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

This is what we have in Christ! Christ has made the old covenant of the Law obsolete and established for us a new covenant in which God remembers our sins no more (Hebrews 10:9-17), so why do we insist on reminding God of our sins by constantly confessing them? David himself says in Psalm 143:3 "If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?"

 In the gospels, Christ taught believers to ask the Father to forgive their sins (Matt. 6:12; Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4). Some of those to whom He spoke were already born again.
 In 1 John 1, the verb tenses show that confession and forgiveness should be a continuous experience. Verse 7 literally reads, "The blood of Jesus His Son keeps cleansing us from all sin," and verse 9 likewise says, "If we are continually confessing our sins." Those to whom John wrote were already fully forgiven believers (cf. 5:13).

In the gospels, all those whom Jesus taught to ask the Father for forgiveness were not born again because Jesus had not yet died on the cross. You can only be born again AFTER Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. I have dealt with this issue in detail in Part 1, so I shall not repeat myself here.

While 1 John 5 was written to fully forgiven believers, 1 John 1 was not written to them (please read Part 1 for a detailed explanation).

For a proper context, we cannot read 1 John 1:9 on its own - we have to read it together with vv6-8. John is using parallel arguments where v6 is contrasted with v7, and v8 is contrasted with v9. v6 and v8 is talking about the non-believer (although he claims to be a believer) while v7 and v9 is talking about the true believer.

1 John 1:6-9 (NLT)
6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

1John 1:9 is not telling the believer to keep confessing sins. It is telling the non-believer to acknowledge that he has sin and confess his sins, then he will receive God's forgiveness and will be cleansed from all unrighteousness.

I am not knowledgeable at all on Greek verb tenses but if 1 John 1:7 says "The blood of Jesus His Son keeps cleansing us from all sin", that means we are being cleaned at all times.

As an analogy, I see 1 John 1:7 as a picture of the true believer standing under a waterfall with the water falling down on him all the time, keeping him clean all the time, dirt (i.e. sin) cannot stick to him.

1 John 1:9 is saying that when the non-believer who claims to have no sin (v8), finally admits he is dirty i.e. he has sin and confesses his sins, he steps under the waterfall (i.e. becomes a true believer) and enjoys the continuous cleansing from the water falling down on him.

It is a one-time act of stepping under the waterfall, a one-time change of mind from claiming to have no sin to acknowledging and confessing sins, a one-time change of status from non-believer to true believer.

(to be continued)

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