When we believe in Christ, then we receive the forgiveness of all sins (Colossians 2:13).
But what happens when we sin after we are saved?
- Some Christians think that only our past sins were forgiven. They think that we have to keep confessing sins otherwise we will lose salvation. In that case, we have to confess every known sin in heart, word, and deed, in our thoughts – and that can quickly become a huge burden. Are we doomed if we fail to confess a sin? Surely that is not the truth of the Gospel.
- The truth is that we are eternally forgiven and saved by grace through faith and not by rituals of confession.
Let us understand confession by reading the context:
1st John 1:3-10 “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us. Yes, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ. And we write these things to you, that our joy may be fulfilled. This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don’t tell the truth.But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
John was talking to people who claimed to believe in Jesus but were not saved.
These were false converts who were not even saved but were deceived by false teachers. They may have been believing in another Jesus (false Christ – Matthew 24:24) and didn’t have the Holy Spirit (2nd Corinthians 11:4). They were claiming to be without sin.
The only people who claimed to be without sin in the Bible are the Pharisees (Luke 18:11). These may have been the Judaizers who infiltrated the Church in the 1st Century. John identifies these people as those who were no longer part of the Church and were not even saved. They were denying Jesus Christ:
1st John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they didn’t belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have continued with us. But they left, that they might be revealed that none of them belong to us.”
1st John 2:18-23 “Little children, these are the end times, and as you heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen. By this we know that it is the final hour. They went out from us, but they didn’t belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have continued with us. But they left, that they might be revealed that none of them belong to us. You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son doesn’t have the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also.”
1st John 4:2-4 “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit who doesn’t confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.”
The believer is in the fellowship of God but an unbeliever is out of fellowship.
1st Corinthians 1:4-9 “I always thank my God concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus;that in everything you were enriched in him, in all speech and all knowledge;even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ; who will also confirm you until the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.“
John’s command to confess sins was to unbelievers to receive salvation.
This was not about sincere believers who struggled with sin/addictions.
This was about unbelievers who did not have fellowship with the Church because they were not saved. They claimed to be believers but were not in the light.
The believer is no longer in darkness but now in the light.
John 12:46 “whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness.”
John addresses the believers (little children) that we are already forgiven all sins.
1st John 2:1-2,12 “My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have a Counselor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. And he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world….I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.”
He tells believers not to sin. But if we do sin, then Christ represents us in heaven.
God is not a legalist who is analyzing our sins on a microscopic level.
We are not called to confess our sins to receive forgiveness progressively every day.
If we are struggling with sin, we can approach God with confidence to receive grace through Jesus Christ because He died for our sins and forgave us already by faith.
We can confidently share our struggles to God our Father through Jesus so that He gives us even more grace (help).
Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let’s therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need.”