This week a church elder said to me:
“Even if 1 John 1:9 wasn’t there, it simply expresses what is said in a variety of other ways throughout the Old and New Testaments.”
Firstly, the Old Testament is exactly what is says on the tin – old – and, as the writer of Hebrews says, obsolete. It is valid no more. The Old Testament was all about sacrificing animals for atonement of sin. But Christ was the last sacrifice. He died for all sin – of all mankind, forever. Secondly, where in all of Paul’s letters does he ever mention confessing to be restored to God’s presence? He doesn’t. Not once. What does he say about sin? He says:
“We died with Christ, and everyone who has died has been freed from sin.”
“If I sin, it is no longer I who do it, but sin living in me that does it.”
Paul completely disassociates himself from sin.
“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
We too have been crucified with Christ. We too no longer live and Christ lives in us. Is there sin in Christ? No way. He crucified sin once for all on the cross.
“Christ appeared once to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
Christ did away with sin on the cross. John also agrees, later in his letters, where he says:
‘Those who are born of God do not continue to sin. They are not able to sin because they have been born of God.’
(1 John 3:9)
An entire church doctrine has been built on 1 John 1:9, keeping Christians in out in out of the presence of God for centuries. Someone has described it as a ‘Christian bar of soap.’ But Christ is our soap. He is our washpot. Not Moab. He has washed us once for all. He has made us perfect (Hebrews 10:14), righteous (Romans 5:17) and holy (Hebrews 10:10).
Let’s look a bit more closely at 1 John 1:9. To begin with, the word ‘confess’ in Greek doesn’t even have any meaning of asking for forgiveness attached to it. It simply means ‘say the same’ or ‘agree’. So, if we agree with God about our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin. Furthermore, the word ‘repent’ merely means ‘to change your mind’ or ‘change your devotion from yourself to God.’ In other words, stop thinking about yourself and your own ability to be obedient, but think about Christ and His obedience. Paul instructs us to do exactly this:
“…bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
(2 COR 10:5) King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
People ask me, but Steve, if you believe all of your sins have been forgiven past present and future, do you repent? Do you confess? Yes I do, but not in the way the Anglican church would have me confess. Woe is me, I’m not worthy to eat the crumbs from under your table, blah blah blah… I’m worthy because Christ died for me. I’m worthy of the shed blood of the precious Christ. If Christ thinks I am worth dying for, I am worthy. In my own eyes I am not worthy, but in God’s eyes I am. The key is, renewing our minds and seeing ourselves as God sees us, holy, righteous and perfect.
“By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who have been made holy.”
If God says He has forgiven us once for all by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, isn’t it an insult to God and Christ’s precious shed blood if we keep returning and asking for forgiveness over and over again? Isn’t this treating Christ’s blood like old testament bulls and goats that had to be sacrificed over and over again for every new sin. We’re not under the old testament law any more. There is no sacrifice for sin left.
“For then,” the Hebrews writer says “Christ would have had to be crucified many times since the creation of the world. But now at the end of the ages, Christ has appeared once to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
Simon Yap says this:
“When you think that God’s forgiveness is given to you again and again every time you confess you are treating the blood of Jesus as blood of bulls and goats.”
So, as far as 1 John 1:9 goes, who was John writing to? He was writing to address people in the church who thought they were saved but who denied having sinned. They were not actually saved. This is what John was saying to them. If you agree with God that you have sinned the blood of Jesus will cleanse you. But if you deny having sinned, you make God out to be a liar. John wasn’t talking to Christians. He was talking to people who thought they were saved, but they weren’t.
But John says ‘we’ I hear you say. ‘He’s talking about himself.’ Really? Does John also believe he has no sin? Does John make God out to be a liar? A technique of any good teacher, John is putting himself in the same arena as the sinners. He is not elevating himself above them. He is humbling himself, so as not to alienate them. He is being polite for the gospel’s sake. John already agrees with God that he has sinned, but he still uses ‘we’. John is being inclusive.
The way 1 John 1:9 has been used, and is being used, as a Christian ‘bar of soap’ to suggest when we sin we come out of fellowship until we ‘confess’ our sin again is a lie from the accuser. Our sin does not separate us from God because Christ’s blood covers us. Our fellowship is never broken with God. We are being continually cleansed in a perpetual fountain of Christ’s blood and forgiveness. Joseph Prince describes it as being like a stone in a waterfall. We are always clean. The moment we sin or make ourselves dirty, His blood washes us and we are clean again. Spurgeon described being saved as ‘bathing in Christ’s blood.’ Christ’s blood is like acid. The moment we sin the acid dissolves it and it disappears.
We can not sin as Christians. If you don’t believe me check out 1 John 3:9 + 5:18. I’ve written an article on it here. This is the wonder, the majesty, the magnitude of God’s grace. This is why grace is amazing. Christians who have been saved for many years are coming out of the woodwork with tears of joy and saying they never really understood grace before, but now they do, and the freedom they feel is, as Isaiah says, overwhelming.
“I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God, for He has draped me in a robe of His righteousness.”
People are realizing they don’t have to do anything to contribute to their righteousness, their holiness, or their sanctification. Christ did it all.
“We have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Revival is happening in the Body of Christ. There is a grace revolution. God will never, ever, ever count our sin against us, ever again.
“Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
Thank you Jesus!