About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Taking a second and
serious look at 1 John 1:9, as I do below, takes much thought.
The verse reads:
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
Most of us
understand this verse to say that if a Christian sins his sin will be
immediately forgiven upon his confession.
I suggest a different view based on church history and a contextual
understanding of the pronoun "we" in 1 John 1:9.
History tells us
that some people to whom John was writing were adopting a false teaching
stating that Jesus was not God in human flesh and a false teaching of the
meaning of sin. With this in
mind, we can determine whom the pronoun "we" in "if we
confess our sins" is in reference.
We begin with 1 John 1:1 which reads:
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."
From John's opening
sentence we note the pronoun "we" included John, those who were
embracing the heresies, and those who had rejected them.
The distinction between the two groups is seen from verse 5 onward.
Verses 5 and 6 say:
"This is the
message we have heard from him [Jesus] and declare to you: God is light;
in him there is no darkness at all. If
we claim to have fellowship with him [Jesus] and yet walk in the darkness,
we lie and do not live out the truth."
John said that there is no darkness in Jesus.
He then said that if "we" claim to fellowship with Jesus
and live in darkness we lie and do not live out the truth.
The pronoun "we" in verse 6 refers to those believing the
heresies. They lie and do not
live the truth they claim to possess.
In contrast John said the following about those who walked in the
light and rejected the heresies. Verse
"But if we
walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one
another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."
We now proceed to
verse 8 where John reverted back to the "we" who had embraced
the false Jesus and the false meaning of sin.
"If we claim
to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."
represented by the pronoun "we" in verse 8 were deceived and the
truth was not in them. They
were not true Christians. With
this in mind we now know to whom the pronoun "we" in "if we
confess our sins" in verse 9 is in reference.
Verse 9 reads:
confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and
purify us from all unrighteousness."
To be contextually
consistent, the "we" in verse 9 must refer back to the
"we" in verse 8 who are unbelievers.
If then, the unbelieving "we" in verse 9 confess their
sin, their sin will be forgiven upon their confession, at which point they
become true believers.
If we say the
"we" who confess sin in verse 9 are Christians, we have
questions needing answers. Upon
your initial confession of sin that saved you did Jesus forgive every sin
you will ever commit in your life or did He just forgive the sins
committed prior to your confession that saved you?
If Jesus has already forgiven your past, present and future sins
upon your initial confession as I believe; does He forgive the sin you
will commit tomorrow upon your confession a second time?
Does He forgive the same sin twice?
Why would He forgive tomorrow's sin if it has already been stricken
from the heavenly record? If
He has not forgiven tomorrow's sin and it remains in the heavenly record
until it is confessed, what happens if we fail to confess that sin?
What happens if we die with sin not confessed? Are
we doomed? Can we ever be
assured of our salvation? These
questions are central to our Biblical beliefs.
They require answers.
contextually speaking, I believe the "we" in "if we confess
our sins" refers to those rejecting the real Jesus.
If they confess their sin, their sin will be forgiven upon their
confession and will be saved. Their
sins, like my sins, will be deleted from God's record of sin.
They, like me, will stand before God as being without sin.
Their names, like my name, will be written in the Lamb's Book of
Life. They, like me, will
escape the White Throne Judgment that dooms unbelievers for eternity as
seen in Revelation 20:11 to 15.
When as Christians
we sin, we confess and repent of that sin knowing it, along with all past,
present, and future sins, was erased from the mind of God upon our initial
confession of sin. We
move on with life in full assurance of our salvation, and as the rest of
verse 9 says; "we will be purified from all unrighteousness."