The term "broken fellowship" doesn't even appear in scripture. Fellowship is "the state of being with someone, the state of associating with someone." Fellowship is friendship and companionship. It carries the ideas of participation and contribution.
The lie that "sin breaks our fellowship with God" tells us that God is no longer with us, He no longer associates with us, He doesn't participate in our lives or contribute to our lives. Let us see how much of a lie that is.
The Lie of Broken Fellowship with God Exposed
Hebrews 13:5 tells us that God will never leave or forsake us. "Breaking fellowship" is leaving and forsaking. If God breaks fellowship with you that means God leaves you every time you sin because fellowship is "the state of being with someone."
Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, "Lo I will be with you always." "Lo" means "look," "behold." Jesus was saying, "Look for me in your life because I will always be with you." "Broken fellowship" says God is always willing to be without you if you sin. It says if you look for God with "unconfessed sin in your life" you will not find Him. Some even teach that if you don't start your prayer off by confessing your sins God will hear none of the rest of your prayer. But Jesus says "Look, I am always with you. I will comfort you in your pain. I will help you stop destructive and harmful behavior. Just look for me."
Hebrews 7:25 tells us that "Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."
Firstly you can throw out the idea that you can "lose your salvation." If you believe that you believe the death of Jesus on the the cross was utterly worthless, that your sin is more powerful than the Son of God. That belief says that sin breaks the power of grace, love, and Jesus Christ instead of Jesus being the one who broke the power of sin and death. I'm not saying any of this to shame anyone. Most people believe falsehood because of deception or not being exposed to the truth. God has already reconciled the world to Himself and He did that by no longer counting any one's sins against them (2 Corinthians 5:19). From God's standpoint sin does not stand between anyone knowing Him. Sin certainly cannot remove sonship because Jesus is able to save completely.
Secondly Jesus always lives to intercede for us. That means He is always working in our lives, He intervenes for us, He is always participating in and contributing to our lives.
Hebrews 10:23-24 tells us to "Not forsake assembling with other Christians but to encourage one another and consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." Yet we think God will forsake meeting with us? Does God ask us to do something He Himself will not do? We think God will forsake us dozens of times a day. The truth is God encourages us and stirs us to love and good works.
John 1:17 tells us that, "Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
If someone leaves you or refuses to associate with you because you do something they don't like that means you have lost favor with them, you are disgraced. The false doctrine of broken fellowship teaches that disgrace (shame) came through Jesus Christ because it says that you lose grace, you lose favor, with God. It says Jesus came to disgrace us by reminding us of our sin and counting every sin against us. The truth about The Truth is Jesus came to take away sin (1 John 3:5) and He does not count any sin against us (2 Corinthians 5:19). He is here to lovingly walk us out of destructive deeds into lovingly beneficial behavior. God does not abandon us when we need Him most. He doesn't abandon us at all! “Everyone who trusts in Jesus will never be put to disgrace” (Romans 10:11).
God has given us right standing with himself. Who or what then will condemn us? No one, nothing, for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting at God’s right hand, interceding for us. Who or what then can separate us from the love of Christ? There is no such thing! Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:33-35,38-39)
God is love, if we can't be separated from His love how can we be separated from Him? If God's love was conditional He wouldn't have died for sinners, He wouldn't have died for people who were enemies of Him. Nothing separates you from his love. Notice it says, "No created thing" can separate you from the love of God. Well what are you? You are a created thing. You cannot separate yourself from God's love. That includes your behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and actions. None of those can separate you from God's love. Sin does not stand between you and God. God holds no sins against you. God doesn't count anything you do as His child as a sin (1 John 3:9). You only think sin separates you but that is a lie from the devil. What can separate us from the love of God? There is no thing. Again God is love, since we can't be separated from His love we cannot be separated from Him! God's love is so unconditional it is unstoppable, you cannot be separated from it! No amount of crying, confessing, self-effort, remembering your sins, emotional torment or anything we can do can add to the finished work of the cross, where our sins were forgiven, once and for all!
Jesus calls us His friends in John 15:15. From this and the previous scriptures we see that Jesus is an ever present friend who never leaves us. He always participates in our lives. He contributes all the good things. The entirety of scripture screams against the idea of God breaking fellowship with His children! I didn't even address the truth that God lives inside of His people, another truth that makes it obvious that God does not break fellowship with His children. Every definition of the original Greek and the English word "fellowship" is clearly always ours in Christ Jesus! God promised to never leave us. If that is true then the only thing that is required is for me to awaken to the fact that He is here too, right now. That changes everything for me. Good moments and bad moments are shared life with Him.
The Destructiveness of Believing the Lie of Broken Fellowship
It is no wonder most Christian meetings start off with a prayer asking for God to "be with us" or for "the Holy Spirit to come." It is no wonder we sing songs asking God to "remember us" and quote old covenant scriptures as if Jesus had never died and raised again!
It is no wonder so many struggle in relating to God. Someone else has to be there for a relationship to be real. God is always there but we've been taught that even the tiniest bad thought will make God walk out the door. Believing that fills us with so much guilt and shame that when we think we sin we can't even bring ourselves to confess it to God. That is the power of a lie, especially a lie about God, when what the lie guarantees doesn't work out well, at all, or even produces the opposite result as promised, in real life we think that it still must be God's way and we are the problem because we can't live right. All we get is more shame, guilt, and condemnation. I know, I lived it and it is clear to me that nearly every Christian I have known has lived it at some point to some degree.
Through the teaching of "sinning is breaking fellowship with God" we are teaching that God is the most petty, the most offendable, the most immature, the most grudge holding being to ever exist. You might think I'm exaggerating but I am certainly not! Think about it. We think if a Christian says 1 curse word, watches a movie with multiple curse words, or downloads a single pirated file that God will "break fellowship" with him or her.
That is like a father saying, "Now son you didn't say 'Yes sir' to me just now so I am going to avoid you (break fellowship) and ignore you completely (the idea that God won't hear your prayers if you have unconfessed sin in your life) until you call me and tell me what you did, say you are sorry, and tell me that you'll try very hard to never ever do it again. Until you do that I won't see you at dinner, I won't tuck you into bed at night, I will utterly forsake you just because of this one little thing, that though unnecessary, I required of you. Also if you do anything else wrong while I am gone you have to tell me about that too and feel very sad about it, if you don't I will continue to stay away from you. I won't listen to a single word you say. I won't help you through chores, trouble, or pain. I won't play with you. I won't comfort you. I won't be there for you at all because you have offended your father. You see my integrity (holiness) is so great that I simply cannot have anything to do with a child who doesn't tell me 'Yes sir.'"
That very example is what many many call God's "holiness." What a sick twisted lie! God's love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness is what makes Him holy. But this is what most Christians are taught about their relationship with God, that God is willing and certainly will drop His relationship with you in an instant if you do anything that could be conceived as wrong. That is the dominant view of the Christian life, "Try really hard not to do bad and God might show up and stick around." Amazingly God doesn't even count that denial of Christ's finished work on the cross against us. But living in that falsehood is still incredibly destructive to us. Jesus did not and does not dangle His friendship or presence like a carrot to get people to do what He wants them to do.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be distressed, troubled, fearful, distraught, lacking in courage, or feeling abandoned." (John 14:27) The man Christ Jesus left His Spirit, He is His Spirit. Being a Spirit makes Him closer to us than He could be as a man. One of the fruits His Spirit produces is peace. He gives us peace personified in His Spirit.
Fellowship is never something God takes away from us. If He did He would have to break His fellowship with Jesus Christ because He has placed Christ inside us and placed us in Christ. Our behavior can never change God's love for us and His fellowship with us. Our perception of Him or our perception of ourselves may keep us from drawing near to Him but He is always there with open arms. I am not an orphan one minute and a dearly loved child the next. God never forsakes me, He never breaks fellowship with me. Nothing separates me from His love. Let us trust in what God has done for us. "God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is trustworthy." (1 Corinthians 1:9) You can trust His promises that lovingly let you know He is always with you.
1 John 1 The Twisted Scripture
We have seen an abundance of scriptures that let us know that God will not break fellowship with His children in any sense. Let us now look at 1 John 1, the scripture that has been twisted into the lie of God breaking fellowship with His children.
"This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched concerning the word of life and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. Thus we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
Now this is the gospel message we have heard from Jesus and announce to you:
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world." (1 John 1:1-2:2)
First Consider the Audience.
Those who teach that God breaks fellowship with us see the audience as Christians. 1 John is one of the later scriptures written and this is the only place in the New Testament where "confessing sins" to God is mentioned yet "confessing your sins to maintain relationship with God" is widely taught as an absolute must in the Christian's daily life. Jesus never demanded His disciples or anyone else to confess their sins to Him. Paul never told any of the Christians he wrote to to "confess their sins to God" even though they were involved in wide varieties of destructive behavior.
John says "We (us who are here writing this letter) have fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ" and that the letter is being written "so that you may have fellowship with us, with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." Only those who have trusted Jesus know God and can have fellowship with Him. Obviously you can't have fellowship, properly defined, with someone you don't know. John is telling these people how to have fellowship with God, how to be saved. Part of the audience is non-Christians the other part are confused Christians. In chapter 1 John is partly refuting a false teaching by Gnostics who were once among the people he is writing to. In 1 John 2:26 he says, "These things I did write to you concerning those leading you astray." The false teaching is that there "has never been such a thing as sin in the world," and because of that "no one has sinned." "Jesus was revealed to take away sins" (1 John 3:5) so recognition of your sinful state is integral to salvation. Thinking that sin does not exist, aside from just being false, removes much of the importance of Christ's death on the cross.
Second Consider the Content.
"What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." Some of the people being addressed in 1 John 1 do not yet have fellowship with the Father and the Son. John states His purpose of writing this is to let them know how to have fellowship with God, how to know God, how to be saved.
1 John 1 presents the gospel. "This is the gospel message we have heard from Jesus and announce to you." Our modern ABC's evangelism method can even be seen in this scripture.
Admit you are a sinner. "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us." "If we say we do not have sin we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us."
Believe in Jesus. "We have seen and testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us"
Confess your sins. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness."
It is evident by the context when John says "we" and "us" starting in 1 John 1:5b starting at "God is light.." he is not referring to himself and other Christians but those who need to hear "the gospel message from Jesus." It is an explanation of how to be saved. It is phrased sort of like a modern day instructional video. For example: The man who is already a police officer says, "if we do this, this, and this then we become police officers." The man giving instruction is already a police officer but for the sake of instruction he uses inclusive language while going through giving the steps. John could have said "you" instead but he knew he had a mixed audience of Christians and non-Christians who had been deceived by the Gnostics. Saying "you" would confuse them making them think that all of them must continually confess their sins to God but since John included himself, a Christian, in the "we" it is easily understood as being instructional for those in need of being saved and informational to the rest. John doesn't use the word "you" at all from v1:5b-10. In 2:1 we see that he has finished reciting the gospel message he got from Jesus and tells them why he said what he has said so far.
"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2).
When you receive Christ you "may not sin," your spirit will not be able to (as 1 John 3:9 tells us). John wrote this saying, "if anyone sins, which I just showed you that everyone has, then Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sins of everyone else." It is a deliberate continuation of the instruction of how to be saved & how to tell someone to be saved. Do not let the chapter separation change the meaning of this text.
If 1 John 1:9 were addressed to the Christians, it would then contradict 1 John 2:12 that says, "Little children, I write to you because you have been forgiven your sins through His name." Why would John command people to confess their sins if He says a few verses later that they HAVE already been forgiven?
If non-Christians say that they have no sin or have not sinned, they are deceiving themselves, making Jesus a liar and the truth nor his word is in them. Saying they don't have sin disregards part of their true need for knowing Jesus. If they confess their sins (admit they have them), Jesus is trustworthy and righteous, permanently forgiving them their sins and permanently cleansing them from all unrighteousness. Jesus is the sacrifice for the sins of everyone and makes relationship with the Father available.
Third Consider the Context.
In the very same letter John writes,
"Jesus was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. Everyone who resides in him does not sin; everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him. Everyone who has been fathered by God does not commit sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God. We know that no one who is born of God sins; but Jesus who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him." (1 John 3:5-6,9; 5:18)
God says you, as His child, cannot sin. You are not able to sin because now you have a "new self" which is "born of God" that God solely identifies you as. Christians don't need to confess or ask forgiveness because God has separated their identity from their flesh & God has stopped counting what they do as sins. What sins do you need to confess if God is not charging you with any of them? If we do not realize the audience for 1 John 1 is partly non-Christians and the content is the gospel message of how to be saved (to show the lost & assure the saved) then what we find in the above scriptures from chapter 3 & 5 make no sense and utterly contradict 1 John 1. I personally have never heard or seen anyone address those scriptures (1 John 3:5-6,9; 5:18) yet they are in the very same letter and help us greatly understand 1 John 1-2.
1 John 2:25 says, "This is the promise which God Himself made to us: eternal life." Jesus said in John 17:3 "Eternal life is "to know God the Father and Jesus Christ." Remember John obviously wrote 1 John and the gospel of John so he was in no way ignorant of the fact that eternal life equals knowing God. 1 John 3:6 says, "Everyone who sins has not known God." The Greek tense of the verb "known" indicates a meaning of "Everyone who sins has never once known God." It is clear that this statement does not mean "if you sin you don't know God in the midsts of your sin" or anything like that. If you sin you have never once known God. Remember "Jesus was revealed to take away sins" because of Him the possibility of a child of God being credited with sin is zero. I am not saying a Christian cannot live destructively and harm others. I am saying a Christian is free from even being accredited with sin because of what Jesus did for you on the cross.
1 John Summary
- All people are born into the condition of sin inherited by Adam.
- If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
- All have committed sins.
- If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:10)
- All have sinned (Romans 3:23)
- All need to trust Jesus and confess their sins (agree with God that they have a sin condition/have committed sins) in order receive forgiveness for their sins from Jesus and be cleansed from all unrighteousness (sin). Doing this makes someone a child of God.
- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
- All of a Christian's sins are forgiven by God from the start
- The blood of Jesus, God's Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
- I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. (1 John 2:12)
- In Jesus we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
- Jesus has made you alive together with Him, having forgiven you ALL your sin (Colossians 2:13)
- The Lord has forgiven you (Colossians 3:12)
- Christ forgave you (Colossians 3:13)
- When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12)
- A Child of God is Not Able to Sin (from their new & only self, their perfected spirit) because they are born of God and God lives in them
- Every child of God does not commit sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God. (1 John 3:9)
- No child of God sins; but Jesus who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. (1 John 5:18)
- Everyone who trusts in this raised-up Jesus is declared good and right and whole before God. (Acts 13:39)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, is with you all!
(2 Corinthians 13:14, Young's Literal Translation)
(2 Corinthians 13:14, Young's Literal Translation)
Read more about this topic, including a look at confessing sin in James 5 see the posts linked here