Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Dozen Clairifications on 1 John 1:9

Most you make an assumption about 1 John 1 right off the bat. They assume it is written for Christians. When you assume the wrong audience for a scripture the "plain truth" becomes dangerously misapplied.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Most teach this to mean, "Christians have to recount (list) all of their recent sins every time they pray in order to be forgiven by God and to have fellowship with God." So what is the problem with that? The problem comes if you assume something for yourself that was not intended for you & taking that assumption causes you to put conditions on your relationship with God that aren't actually there.

Here are SOME of the reasons why that interpretation of 1 John 1 is wrong.
1. 1 John 1 wasn't written for Christians. It was an explanation of how to be saved using inclusive language. John starts off this section of scripture saying "Now this is the message we have heard from Jesus and announce to you." The message is about God and how to be saved in verses 5b-10.
2. The word "confess" in 1 John 1:9 does not mean recount or list (recall & recite in prayer) but it actually means "to agree." It is to agree with God about your sins, that you had them and Christ took care of them. If you agree with God that Christ took your sins away, which He did, then you have no reason to recount them. Doing so would actually be the opposite of what John intended when writing this scripture. 1 John 1:9 simply means, "You receive His forgiveness at salvation by believing His forgiveness." It is not a rule for daily relationship. It is praising God that Christ finished the work on the cross and saying, "I want in on this!" Even if this were written for Christians it would simply mean, "Continue to agree with God that your sins are taken away and rejoice over Christ's finished work on your behalf!"
3. People think they have to ask God for forgiveness/confess to be forgiven because they assume He gets offended at them. If God has to reforgive you that means God continues to get reoffended at you. In Isiah 54:9, speaking of the new covenant in which we are now a part of, God promises to never be offended at us again. Thinking that we have to get God to forgive us over & over by sin confession goes against the very promise of God. Additionally 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, "God counts sins against no one." If He isn't counting sins or getting angry at us for them why would we need to "be forgiven?"
4. Our concept of biblical forgiveness is wrong. The word forgive in the old and new testaments does not mean "Stop feeling angry or offended toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake." or "accept an apology & stop holding a grudge." The word forgive in the bible means to "take away" or to "carry off." To be forgiven means God removes your sin & guilt, He takes it away. It does not mean God decides "Ok I'm not mad at you anymore." He wasn't mad in the first place. He gave His life for us because He loves us.
5. Conditional forgiveness for Christians pictures God as someone who only forgives when asked & as someone who holds a grudge if you don't ask. In other words He demands an apology despite the fact that He already shed His blood for all sin for all time.
6. Because of what Jesus did God promises to no longer remember our sins (Hebrews 8:12,10:17). The false teaching of Christian confession of sins requires people to remind Him of them. Notice Hebrews does not say, "I will remember their sins no more but only if you confess them to me." You have to add the conditional phrase "only if they confess their sins to me" to tons of scriptures to justify that view.
7. "Love keeps no record of wrongs" but those who feel they must confess their sins keep the best record of their own wrongs they possibly can. If God wanted you to confess your sins to Him that would mean He doesn't want you to love yourself, because you must keep a constant record of sins for or between your prayers. It would also mean that God doesn't love you because He keeps a record of your wrongs in between your confessions. This doctrine of Christian confession slanders the name and nature of our God & makes His love purely conditional.
8. Jesus' sacrifice purified us from sin one time, for all time so our consciousness of sin can disappear (Hebrews 10:1-2). Confession demands constant consciousness of sin.
9. Jesus took our sins away (Romans 11:27), confession brings our sins back out.
10. Sin confession has people dwelling on evil in daily prayer instead of dwelling on good. No one who believes that "Christians need to confess their sins to God" would admit this but as someone who once believed it & practiced it I'll say it, recounting what you think to be your recent sins tempts your mind and body into repeating those deeds. This is one of those things Christians ignore because they think they are weak and they just aren't living up to what they think "God's way" is. Philippians 4:8 says, "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Is what we would typically call sin any of these things? Certainly not!
11. “Everyone who trusts in Jesus will never be put to shame” (Romans 10:11, Romans 9:33, 1 Peter 2:6, Isaiah 28:16). Confession of sins shames you. If someone you knew forced you to tell him all of your failures everyday that would dishonor you, disgrace you, and that person wouldn't seem to have much favor for you. What type of father wants you to focus on your faults, on every conceivable shortcoming that you have? Please don't make excuses for God to behave worse and love worse than human beings, He doesn't. God's ways are higher than our ways but remember Jesus is The Way, He perfectly exemplified God's ways. He never asked His disciples to list their sins to Him or to the Father.
12. Nowhere in scripture do we see a command for Christians to confess sins. Paul never told the people he was rebuking for a myriad of bad things to confess their sins to God to get right with Him or to restore fellowship with Him. So many claim this is an essential practice for daily Christian life with God, bigger than general prayer because they say you have to start your prayer with confession for God to hear you. Yet it only seems to appear in 1 John 1. That clues us to the fact that people have misinterpreted who 1 John 1:9 is addressing.

A Note on Repent
The word "repent" by itself has nothing to do with sin. It does not mean "turn from sin" in the New Testament. It is a mistranslation that really means "to change your mind about something." (Check any lexicon). We find no commands for Christians to frequently repent. No one was ever even asked to do it twice! Contextually repent almost always means "to change your mind from mistrust/unbelief to trust/faith in Jesus," in other words "get saved." The false concept of repentance has us promising God we'll do better or that we'll stop doing particular things. But Jesus specifically said to not make promises to God (Matthew 5:33-37). Jesus recommends we respond to God in time with an honest ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ We aren't to live by the promises we make to God but the promises He has made to us.

If those dozen reasons aren't enough this page links to a dozen+ posts which go into great detail as to why the typical view of 1 John 1:9 is wrong.
Why Christians Don't Need to Confess Sins