Breaking the Chains of ‘Confession’ in 1 John 1:9 – part 1

1 John 1:9 has kept the church bound in chains for centuries. So for Christ’s sake (and for our sake) let’s get a grip on what this verse actually means.

Traditional teaching has turned this verse into a ritual: sin, confess, forgiveness, sin, confess, forgiveness. Someone called it a Christian ‘bar of soap’ that we use to cleanse ourselves when we feel dirty because we have committed some sin or other.

But the fact is, Christ cleansed us once for all on the cross. We are always clean. Those feelings of uncleanliness we may have are rooted in guilt and shame – brought about by the very thing we our trying our hardest to keep: the law.

But just as there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, there is also no shame. Christ took our shame on the cross. Our shame, our guilt, and all our sin died with Him. And we became His righteousness.

International Standard Version
God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that God’s righteousness would be produced in us.

Those who teach us that each time we sin we should ‘confess’ to God that we may re-enter His presence are wrong.

This sin / confess / forgive / sin / confess / forgive is a never-ending story keeping us bound in ritualistic chains like addicts to the needle.

This is not what God intended at all. He intended us to be free.

And if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!

(John 8:36)

So, in order for us to really get a grip on what John is saying, we have to delve into the original language – into the Greek. 

Here goes:

The word ‘confess’ (homo logos) has no meaning of ‘asking for forgiveness’ attached to it, as we’ve been taught.

It simply means: ‘to say the same.’

1 John 1:9 is asking his readers to ‘say the same about sin as God does’ – that we are sinners.


No news there.

Now, let’s look at the next part of the verse:

‘He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin…’ 

The Greek tense of ‘to forgive’ is the ‘aorist’ tense which implies a single moment in time – forever. 

Eternal forgiveness.

And when is the single point of time that we received this eternal forgiveness?

Two thousand years ago, on The Cross.

This agrees with Hebrews 10:10:

We have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all.

Another word translators have taken liberties with to keep us bound in ritualistic chains is the word ‘If’ :

‘If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin.’

The word ‘if’ is a conditional tense, and, like English, the Greek has three forms.

1 John 1:9 uses the 3rd form which assumes ‘doubt’.

The correct translation is not ‘If’ but ‘We may or may not…’

So the verse should read like this:

‘We may or may not say the same as God about our sin, however, He has forgiven us at a single moment in time, forever.”

Let’s put it another way:

“Whether we confess our sin or not God has forgiven us once for all, forever.”

Very, very different to what we’ve been taught!

We’ve been taught that every time we sin we break fellowship with God and have to confess in order to come back into His presence.

This is a lie! The devil is laughing!

Try it. Next time you ‘sin’ say to God:

‘Lord, thank you that you have forgiven me once for all on the cross. Thank you that I am righteous by faith. I know that being holy  is not about what I do but about what Jesus has done for me. I accept the free gift of righteousness with thanks.’

Pray this and see if your fellowship breaks.

I bet with my life that it doesn’t.

I bet with my life that you’ll feel God’s Holy Spirit as strong as ever.

Don’t believe me.

Test it and see.

for part 2 of this post, click here.

Steve Edwards