Many Christians believe in Jesus for salvation but also trust in their own performance at the same time – mixing old and new covenants! (I used to do this for many years)
Under the Old Covenant, the people were under the Law of Moses that exposed their sins. They had to constantly confess and repent from the sins that were exposed by the Law (10 commandments + 603 ceremonial laws).
Confession of sins was mandatory for those under the Old Covenant.
Leviticus 5:5 “ when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned. 6 As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin.”
It is because the Law was not given to save / perfect them but to show that they are sinners who could not save themselves! The Law was given to show men that they cannot save themselves in their self-righteous performance of their good deeds.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
This is why those under the law confessed their sins. It exposed their sins and made them despair for salvation.
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.
18 The former regulation (old covenant) is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope (NEW COVENANT) is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
The law was weak and useless because it only exposed sins and could never take away their guilt. But Christ in the new covenant brought better hope.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Under the law, they constantly approached God with those confessions and sacrifices but it could never take away their guilt until JESUS CAME.
What is the Gospel of the New Covenant?
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
The New Covenant is this:
God did not desire the Old Covenant because it could never take away their sins even after their constant confession, repentance, sacrifices. The Law constantly reminded people of their sins and they couldn’t do anything to become perfect or righteous!
God’s will is that JESUS CHRIST His Son came and DIED on the cross so that our past, present, and future sins were taken away ONCE FOR ALL. This is why Jesus will not die ever again – because our entire lifetime of sins was forgiven once and for all!
He made us PERFECT, HOLY and RIGHTEOUS by Christ’s sacrifice ALONE and not our confession, repentance or sacrifice!
We are not forgiven by weekly confessions and self-examinations but by faith in Christ’s one-time sacrifice on the cross, once and for all!
The Holy Spirit writes his law of LOVE in our hearts and God does not give us 2 tablets of stones to command us but His Spirit guides us in GRACE and LOVE from our hearts!
God promises to NEVER JUDGE us anymore – never to remember our sins anymore!
Because our past, present, and future sins are forgiven, Christ will not die anymore! This is how powerful is Christ’s death on the cross!! It made us RIGHTEOUS FOREVER!
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
God gives us HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS simply by FAITH in Christ – when we TRUST in JESUS and not in our works/performance! Just think of that – you are as RIGHTEOUS as God if you trust in Christ apart from your performance.
You are righteous NOT by your performance but ONLY by Christ’s obedience!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
When a person stops trusting in his own works and TRUSTS in JESUS CHRIST, there is no more condemnation and no more judgment!
The Gospel is found here:
JESUS CHRIST died on the cross for our sins.
He was buried and ROSE on the THIRD DAY.
Everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ receives the full forgiveness of sins. It’s Finished.
39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.
Everyone who BELIEVES in Christ apart from their works is FORGIVEN ALL sins and receives the RIGHTEOUSNESS of GOD Himself !!
So the GOSPEL of the NEW COVENANT is VERY CLEAR.
If you believe in Jesus Christ, you receive the FORGIVENESS of PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE SINS.
If you stop trusting in your works but TRUST in JESUS, then you receive the RIGHTEOUSNESS of GOD apart from your performance of the law (10 commandments).
BUT, unfortunately, many Christians start off by believing in Jesus but then go back to their performance and the mixture of old covenants! That is why they are so focused on their sins and repentance and not on Jesus! I did this painfully for many years so I know and have experienced this in my own life!
Why do we Christians even confess our sins? It is because we have gone back to the LAW that exposes sins! They are looking at their performance and are trying to please God by their keeping of the 10 commandments! That is why there is such a strong focus on their confession, repentance and works for God. The sad part is that they DO NOT FOCUS on JESUS CHRIST but look at their OWN PERFORMANCE.
What did Paul say? How do we live the Christian life?
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the FAITH as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
We received Christ by GRACE through FAITH in HIS LOVE and not by our works!
So then we also live the Christian life the SAME WAY. Not by trusting in our works but by trusting in CHRIST and HIS LOVE for us on the CROSS.
19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Our performance DIED on the CROSS and it is not our performance anymore but CHRIST living in us! We live by looking at HIS LOVE on the CROSS and not our performance!
We don’t look at our performance but keep TRUSTING in the GRACE and LOVE of Jesus!
So then what about good works and living a Godly life? What about Holiness?
We acknowledge that salvation and righteousness is by faith and not by works. But we think that holiness is by our works! That’s why we mistakenly give a lot of importance to confession and repentance.
But Holiness happens by the HOLY SPIRIT living in you who does the work within us! Remember we are JUSTIFIED / made Righteous without works, therefore our Holiness is ALSO without our works! Our salvation is 100% by GRACE and not our works.
Some believers think that they are saved by grace the first time they believe in Christ but think that the rest of their Christian life is all about their works! That is wrong – the Christian life is completely by grace through faith and not based on our performance, from beginning to end. You have to trust Christ as your Righteousness for salvation AND trust in Him as your Holiness every day of your life without trusting in your own works! Holiness is not about our trying hard to be good but it is about Christ manifesting His love and power through us.
1st Corinthians 1
30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Christ is not only our Righteousness in heaven but He is also our Holiness in this life.
He is also our Redemption from every curse (sickness, danger, problems, sorrow, death).
That is how we can truly boast in CHRIST and not our performance!
Under the Old Covenant, they looked at their own performance under the 10 commandments but in the New Covenant we LOOK to the LOVE of JESUS and the Holy Spirit transforms us!
2nd Corinthians 3
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
The Ten Commandments written on stone could only give a temporary glory where people obeyed and succeeded temporarily but it eventually brought condemnation and death because nobody could obey it perfectly! The law was a mirror convicting people of their sins bringing condemnation and death (3000 died on the same day they received the 10 commandments).
But the New Covenant brought the GIFT of Righteousness and everlasting glory! (3000 were saved when the Holy Spirit came by their faith in Christ.)
When people rely on their own performance by looking at the ten commandments, they get condemned and keep trying to improve themselves but keep feeling guilty!
But when people stop looking at themselves but look at Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit convicts you that Christ is your Righteousness and Holiness and we are transformed effortlessly in His power and not our strength!
8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
The Holy Spirit convicts ONLY unbelievers of sins because they don’t trust in Jesus.
But He convicts believers of RIGHTEOUSNESS – reminding them that Christ is their Righteousness! The Holy Spirit does not convict believers of their sins but makes them take their eyes off themselves and look to JESUS to be TRANSFORMED.
Just like it was written in Hebrews 10 in the New Covenant, God will never judge the believer’s sins in the past, present or future – it is because the law does not condemn us anymore! We are not under law but under grace!
Colossians 2 NKJV
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
The believers were dead in sin but made ALIVE in Christ, having ALL sins forgiven! It is because the Ten commandments and law was canceled on the cross for believers!
God had given the law to Israel but that was never His true intention. Nobody could see God’s true heart until Jesus came! His true intention has always been GRACE and He gave us that GRACE in Jesus Christ!
16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
Why are there so little miracles in the Church today?
It is because we don’t believe in GRACE but we believe more in our own works and performance. Paul said that we receive the Holy Spirit by FAITH in Christ and not our works. We see miracles and transformation not by our works but by FAITH and hearing about what Jesus did on the cross! We see miracles in the name of JESUS and not the name of our performance.
Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
Those who trust in their own performance are under the curse. But Christ died on the cross to be a curse for us so that we who TRUST in Him alone receive the BLESSING of the Holy Spirit by FAITH and not works.
When a person believes in Jesus Christ, they are NO LONGER UNDER THE LAW (our performance). They live from faith to faith from beginning to end. We are not supposed to focus on ourselves but keep looking to JESUS always.
We are NOT supposed to go back to the law by relying on our performance and our own holiness, confessions, repentance!
We have to KEEP LOOKING to JESUS and DAILY believing that our sins are forgiven, believing that Christ is our Righteousness, Christ is our Holiness!
The more we look to JESUS and NOT OURSELVES, the more the Holy Spirit will write His law of LOVE in our hearts and we become more like JESUS without any effort of our own! That is the miracle of the Gospel – it is purely by GRACE through faith and not our works!
The OLD COVENANT was all about man’s flawed imperfect efforts and performance of his own works.
The NEW COVENANT is all about God’s faithfulness and Christ’s work in us! It has nothing to do with our faithfulness but completely about Jesus working in us through our faith in Him! Even the works we do are not us but Christ working in us!
Philippians 1 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 2 “13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
1st Corinthians 15 ” I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me“
Ephesians 2 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
We are God’s handiwork! If there is anything we boast in our works, then we know it is not from Christ. But when we realize that the works we do are not our strength but Christ powerfully working in us, then we know it is GRACE.
The works we do is not to maintain salvation. The works we do are not to attain some earthly blessing. It is not to attain some rewards because Christ Himself is our great reward (Genesis 15:1) who lives in us through His Spirit. We do it because His love compels us from within – actually it is Christ Himself who does the good works within us.
The New Covenant is the complete OPPOSITE of the Old Covenant
The Old Covenant was all about man’s performance where God told them “You shall do” and “You shall not do this”…and they failed because they were unfaithful to the commandments. Therefore God made a NEW COVENANT where He DOES EVERYTHING saying “I WILL”…”I WILL” where it is based on the faithfulness of Christ.
“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I WILL make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I WILL establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I WILL put my laws in their mindsand write them on their hearts.
I WILL be their God, and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbor,or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I WILL forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
The old covenant was all about man’s unfaithful performance!
But the new covenant is all about God’s faithfulness in what HE DID through Jesus Christ.
The old covenant is all about man’s works for God.
The new covenant is all about God’s work in Christ for us.
The old covenant was all about God telling man – “You shall do this”, “You shall not do that” and man constantly failing and saying “I’m sorry, I repent, I’m sorry, I repent”. It was a constant cycle of failure that we see in Romans 7 also by Paul.
But the new covenant is all about God telling us “I WILL do it” …”I WILL do it” and therefore we are not sinners but we righteous in the new covenant!
Jesus DIED on the cross and God FORGAVE ALL our sins and therefore He tells us that
“I WILL FORGIVE your sins and remember them no more”
“I WILL BE your God and you will be my people”
“I WILL BE your FATHER and you will be my children”
“I WILL WRITE my love in your heart and cause you to do good works”
The new covenant is completely about JESUS CHRIST’s work and not ours at all!
This is why Paul said that his flesh/performance was GARBAGE and useless. He only wanted to know Christ and His resurrection. He had ZERO confidence in his own performance! He only wanted to be Righteous by faith and not by his performance! He wanted nothing to do with his own performance but only wanted to trust in what Jesus did, even many years after being an Apostle!!
3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider LOSS for the sake of Christ.8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them GARBAGE, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells;……O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!……….“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus“
Many of us still hold on to our own repentance, confessions, loving others, forgiving others, etc and not looking FULLY to Jesus alone! We need to be fully in the new covenant and not in the old covenant.
The New Covenant is Christ ALONE 100% and not even 0.1 % of our performance!
John the baptist initially focused his ministry on repentance, confession, good works but later on, said this in John 3 “30 Christ must increase, but I must decrease.”
It is because our performance is nothing compared to what Jesus did on the cross!
It is all about JESUS and not our useless flesh and efforts.
As Paul said “I am crucified with Christ, IT IS NOT I who lives, but CHRIST in me” (Galatians 2:20)
“Not I but the GRACE of GOD” – Grace means it is completely GOD working in you!
The Christian life is 100% of Christ and 0% of your works.
It is not 50% of Christ and 50% of your works.
It is not 80% of Christ and 20% of your works.
There is NO mixture of ingredients! Christ does not need our help. We need Him 100%.
We need to stop trusting in our holiness or goodness which is nothing but garbage and TRUST in JESUS alone who DIED for us and ROSE from the dead and HE LIVES in us to do the work in us by His power and strength alone!
THIS IS THE GLORY and GOSPEL of the NEW COVENANT.
What about 1 John 1:9, James 5:14 – confession of sins?
Many Churches say that we are forgiven when we believe in Jesus but that after we are born again we still need to confess sins to receive/experience forgiveness of sins in the Christian life based on this passage:
1 John 1:9
“8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
But this was NOT written to believers. Every believer acknowledges that they are sinners and that is why they believed in Jesus in the first place for salvation!
It is IMPOSSIBLE for a believer to claim to be without sin! A believer already believes that Jesus died for his sins and was already cleansed of unrighteousness! A believer has already been made righteous in Christ. Therefore, it is impossible for a believer to need cleansing of “unrighteousness” because we have already been washed and cleansed.
1st Corinthians 6 “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
This passage in 1st John 1 was written to unbelievers who denied that Christ came in the flesh and they claimed to not have any sin. They claimed to not need a Savior! They were antichrist people in the 1st-century church – they were people who refused to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. He writes about them in the same epistle:
1st John 2 ” 18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.….20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
1st John 4 “2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
That is why John told the unbeliever in the 1st Chapter about the Lord Jesus whom the Apostles touched, heard, seen and knew. He was proving to them that Jesus is real and that He came in the flesh and physically died for their sins – and John exhorted them that if they confessed that they were sinners then they could believe in Christ and be forgiven of all unrighteousness!
1st John 1
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
THEN in the next chapter, John starts addressing believers (dear children) telling them that they are ALREADY FORGIVEN of all sins! He told them not to sin but keep looking to JESUS our righteousness who can transform them! The believer is already cleansed and is Righteous in Christ!
1st John 2
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
Think about it: If the believers’ sins are already forgiven in Chapter 2, then how can John say that they are not forgiven in Chapter 1?
It makes no sense if he was telling believers that they are forgiven by faith in Christ but not forgiven until they keep confessing all their sins!
So then John was clearly preaching to unbelievers to get saved in Chapter 1 and then reminding believers in chapter 2 that they are already saved! His entire epistle was to make a distinction between believers and unbelievers.
We see that pattern in Paul’s epistle to the Romans.
In Romans 5, he addresses believers telling them they are saved:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
But then he addresses unbelievers in Romans 10 preaching to them to get saved!
“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved…….9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
John was clearly not telling believers that they are unsaved or unforgiven! He was addressing unbelievers to get forgiven by faith in Christ.
Another thing to note is that there is only one other place in the New Testament where we find the command to confess sins for healing is found in James 5:14-15. But we have to realize that this was written by James only to the 12 tribes of Israel who were under the Law of Moses (James 1:1 To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations)
This is consistent with the epistles of John and Peter who were also writing to a predominantly Jewish audience. (Galatians 2 “For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me (Paul) as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. “)
Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and he did not even mention the doctrine of confession even once in all his epistles! If it were such an important thing, surely he would have mentioned it many times. But he only spoke about Christ crucified (1st Corinthians 2:2, Galatians 3-4), the righteousness of faith (Romans 3-5), salvation by grace (Ephesians 1-2, Colossians 1-2). He said that healing and miracles came not by confession of sins under the law but by the hearing of the Gospel (Galatians 3:1-5). He never mentioned confession even once. This strengthens my claim that confession of sins was only required for those under the Law of Israel (Leviticus 5:5), including the Jewish believers in Christ who still kept the ordinances of the law (Acts 21:20-26). This may explain why only John and James talked about confession (and that too only once!).
If we truly needed the confession of sins to be forgiven, then we have to make sure that we confess all known sins in thought, word and deed every single day otherwise we will not be saved if we forget some sins to confess! We will be spending all our time confessing sins and forgetting about what Jesus did on the cross!
If we need forgiveness after our every sin, then that means we must be perfect to remain forgiven – that means we are trusting in works-based salvation. You see how confession is all about the Law and not about the new covenant.
The Christian is not forgiven by confession of sins. That was an ordinance of the old covenant. We are in the New Covenant, we are saved and forgiven by faith in Christ apart from any works. We are forgiven ONCE and FOR ALL by His blood on the cross.
What about repentance? The word “repentance” means a change of heart. Who can really change their hearts? Only the Holy Spirit can do that and not our efforts. Repentance is the fruit of the Spirit working in us and not our effort. Under the old covenant, they repented by warnings and threats because they didn’t have the Spirit living in them. But for us, it is God’s goodness that transforms us. It is the Holy Spirit transforming us when we hear more about God’s love and grace in Christ. (Romans 2 ” God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance”)
We cannot put the cart in front of the horse. The “cart” is repentance, love, and good deeds. We are not saved by doing those things. The cart does not pull the horse forward. It is the horse that pulls the cart forward. The “horse” is our faith in Christ without trusting in the works. When we have faith in Christ, then the fruits will come forth in its own time as and when Christ works in us.
So then dear reader, you are not forgiven by your confession of sins or repentance or your own performance. You are forgiven once for all only if you stop trusting in your works and BELIEVE in JESUS CHRIST
What about the Lord’s prayer, forgiving others to be forgiven, being perfect as Christ commanded?
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told the Jewish disciples to forgive others to be forgiven.
Matthew 6 9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Many of us think God will not forgive us unless we forgive others. But this was still a prayer BEFORE the Cross – it was still under the old covenant. The new covenant began only on the Cross.
Why do I say that so confidently? It is because Jesus also commanded them to do many other things like this:
Matthew 5 ” 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell ………43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven…….48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 19 ” Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.””
Does this mean that we will go to heaven ONLY if we forgive others, love our enemies, stop sinning in heart, deed, word and sell everything to the poor and become as PERFECT as God in our behavior?
NOT AT ALL! Jesus said all these things because He was magnifying the LAW to the Jews and showing them that they could not be saved by their own efforts.
The Israelites thought that they could only be saved by keeping the Law. Therefore they had watered down the law and made it easy to be saved by keeping a few laws like circumcision, tithing, etc. But Christ came to fulfill the law for the Israelites (Matthew 5:17). Christ told the Israelites that if they wanted to be righteous by keeping the Law then they had to be PERFECT like God Himself (Matt 5:1-48). He magnified the Law to its full extent so that their sins were horribly exposed. He did this so that they would despair in their inability to obey the Law and then come to Him in faith to receive the GRACE of salvation (See Paul’s experience in Romans 7 under the law).
Jesus used the law as a strict schoolmaster to lead Israel to salvation.
Galatians 3 KJV “23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
But after Jesus died on the cross and made the NEW COVENANT, we are no longer under the Law and there is now a change!! We don’t see those impossible demands anymore in the New Testament after Christ’s resurrection: This is why you will not see Paul commanding these impossible demands to the Gentiles after the cross.
Paul does not tell us to forgive others to be forgiven by God. He tells us the opposite!
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God FORGAVE you.”
He has ALREADY FORGIVEN us before we even forgive anyone!
It is because, on the Cross, Jesus died to END the law and forgive ALL our sins in COLOSSIANS 2:11-15 by removing the law from the Christian.
The law was a means to make unbelievers come to Christ for salvation. But once you believe in Christ, you are NOT under the law and its impossible demands of attaining salvation/blessings by forgiving others, selling everything, being perfect, etc.
Now we are PERFECT by Christ’s death alone (Hebrews 10:9-18). We are blessed, righteous and holy by His death and resurrection alone (Romans 4-5) and not our obedience.
Paul never commanded the Gentiles to SELL everything OR extract tithes by threatening curses if they disobeyed but told us to give CHEERFULLY out of a willing heart without any pressure, compulsion, condemnation or guilty consciences!
2nd Corinthians 9 “7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
This is why it is important to know the new covenant and understand the context of Christ’s impossible demands under the Law which are not applicable to us because we are NOT under the Law of Moses that ended on the cross.
What about Hebrews 10:26 and Hebrews 6:4-8 and the deliberate willful sin that brings judgment?
In Hebrews 10:26 it said that if anyone deliberately sinned then there is no more sacrifice but only judgment. In Hebrews 6:4 it said that warned people about losing salvation if they fell away.
What is the deliberate sin? The context clearly identifies it in the same chapter:
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
25 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
Looking at the clear context, we realize that the “deliberate sin” is willful unbelief and rejection of Christ. It is about a person renouncing Christ and shrinking back to unbelief.
The context tells us that the righteous live by faith – i.e. we become righteous if we believe in Jesus Christ – therefore if a person stops believing in Jesus then that person can only expect the final judgment. For that person, he is crucifying Christ all over again – he rejected the cross and he would need Jesus to die again for him – which is impossible! Again this is not about a person who has doubts about Christ and may have drifted away into unbelief. This warning is for people who renounced Christ and willfully and consistently rejected His salvation without any remorse or repentance until the end of their lives.
So you don’t have to worry if you sinned, you cannot lose salvation. A person cannot lose salvation if he stumbles because salvation is not like a keychain that you lost somewhere. It is not so fragile that you can lose it. The warnings of Hebrews 10 and 6 are for those who willfully and deliberately renounce Christ and go back to unbelief.
Does that mean that we should just live recklessly in sin because we are saved? Not at all! Let’s use common sense – why would a true Christian want to live in sin? Not at all – we are now in Christ our true identity as Paul writes here – the more we see Jesus the more we are transformed into His glory!
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?….8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The unbeliever who threw away his salvation will be condemned according to Hebrews 10 and Hebrews 6. But the believer is not going to be perfect. Those who believe in Christ, no matter how much you stumble, this is the encouragement we have in the faithfulness of God to keep us holy and blameless until the end of our lives or when Christ returns:
1st Corinthians 1
4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is FAITHFUL, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1st Thessalonians 5
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is FAITHFUL, and HE WILL DO IT.”