If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (ESV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (KJV)
Greek: ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας.
Transliterated Greek: ean homologōmen tas hamartias hēmōn, pistos estin kai dikaios, hina aphē hēmin tas hamartias kai katharisē hēmas apo pasēs adikias.
Literal Word for Word Translation: if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, so that he will forgive us our sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Vocab: ὁμολογῶμεν, homologōmen, we might confess/agree/speak the same; ἁμαρτίας, hamartias, sins; πιστός, pistos, faithful; δίκαιος, dikaios, righteous/just; ἀφῇ, aphē, he might forgive/send away; καθαρίσῃ, katharisē, he might cleanse; ἀδικίας, adikias, unrighteousness.
Commentary: The central message of the gospel! If only the Gnostics and those who say we have no sin would understand. If we WILL confess our sins, meaning agree with God that they are sins against His holy character, then He WILL, in His faithfulness, forgive us our sins (send them away), and make us as white as snow, like the pure brilliant light which came into the world and gave His life, for us so that we may have life eternal. If we deny that we have sin, there is nothing for God to forgive and cleanse us of. It is like the alcoholic or drug addict who denies he has a problem. With no problem, there is nothing to make right and the addict stays in his condition. However, the day the deception ceases and the truth is revealed, the darkness subsides and the sun rises, the problem is then seen in its full destructive ugliness, which must be buried so that it does not have to be seen anymore, so that a new life can emerge. Hallelujah!
Do you think Christians are right to use this as a ‘bar of soap’ – or is the writer to the Hebrews right when he says ‘We have been made holy once for all’ ? Do you we need to keep ‘confessing’ and repenting of our sin everyday, or can we just thank God every day that all our sin was consumed and ‘done away with’ once for all on the cross?
That is a good question! As you might gather from my commentary, I viewed this verse primarily as the confesion of acknowledging our sins and coming to Christ. Yet, repentance is not just the overall turning from self and to Christ, but is continual. I don’t think that means one loses their salvation if they didn’t confess a sin, but the point is to be mindful of sin and to put death those that disrupt how we live our lives in the here and now. Knowing that sin will not be held against us is not a license to sin. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and James’ letter to the scattered Jews are examples of where believers are not acting in holiness. They might be without blemish as far as the Father is concerned, but their witness is lousy.
There still are the effects of sin in this world. The desires of the flesh still exist, even if the desires of the new man prevail. Jesus says to take up our cross daily – that indicates that we still must die daily to ourselves and live for Christ. There are undoubtly sins we all still commit everyday as we continue to grow in Christ. Yet, these things are not to be done as if no consequent to our current lives.
So, yes we thank God every day that all our sin was consumed and ‘done way with’ once for all on the cross, but recognize when we sin that we should repent of it and keep our eyes on Jesus. Just because it was consumed, doesn’t mean we don’t sin. The cross had to take care of future sins given most of us hadn’t committed any yet. Of course, it might be confusing when saying our sin was “consumed.” Really, while it was taken away, it might be more helpful to say the penalty for sin was paid. There is no condemnation. In 1 Peter 1:13ff, Peter urges believers to be holy in the way they had been called. That the apostles are continually urging believers to holiness would indicate that there is a struggle in this life with being holy even if in the Father’s eyes, it is done. This is one of those complete but not yet complete tensions that exists while we are positionally in Christ (Eph 2:6), and yet still in the world. See Gal 5:13-18
Thanks. I like your blog and the way you study the Greek text. However, I think there’s a problem with this doctrine built around 1 John 1:9 that we must continuously confess our sin. That means that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t good enough to cleanse us once for all, as the book of Hebrews says. Nowhere does Paul say we must continuously confess our sin.
In fact, Paul says righteousness and our salvation is a free gift. If we can only remain in God’s presence by confessing our sin again and again then our salvation depends on us and is not a free gift anymore as it depends on what we do and not what Christ has done.
Paul is clear, ‘Not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.’
Everyone who has studied 1 John knows this 1st chapter was a warning to the Gnostics that they weren’t in the Light if they did not confess their sin. Yet the church has made this into a ‘bar of soap’ doctrine.
Since a huge revelation of being ‘made holy once for all’ according to Henrews 10:10 and of being justified ‘freely by grace,’ through Joseph Prince’s ministry I have not once confessed my sin, yet my relationship with God, and His presence with me, is more powerful than ever.
I believe this is because I have accepted Christ’s once for all sacrifice as good enough to cleanse me of all my sin, past present and future. I am living proof that we only have to believe that Christ’s righteousness has been attributed to us by faith, and not confess sin any longer, because, as Paul says ‘we died with Christ, and anyone who has died has been freed from sin.’
Read this blog post on 1 John 1:9 for a more detailed study.
This blog also refutes the fact that we have to confess our sin continuously:
“When you think that God’s forgiveness is given to you again and again every time you confess you are treating the blood of Jesus as blood of bulls and goats.
If you are saved by grace and go back to practice the law, you are treating Christ’s blood as bulls and goats.
If you think that God has not fully justified you and you still need to confess to be forgiven, you are treating the blood of Jesus as an unholy (common) thing.”
Let me know your thoughts.
Thank you for your comments. I 99% agree with you. I think there is misunderstanding however with what it means to confess your sins continuously – or at least with what I’ve said about it. It might be true that there are people who believe Christ is to be crucified daily, or that the cross is not sufficient and we must add works to His. I do not agree with them and think Scripture is very clear that Christ was crucified once for all (Heb 6:4-6; 10:12). Of course that once for all in Hebrews pertains to Christ’s sacrifice being sufficient for all time 2000 years before now. Before the foundations of the world were set, Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient (Eph 1:4). So, does that mean that when we confess our sins we are recrucifying Him? No! 1 John 1:9 does not say anything about needing a new sacrifice every time we confess. It only says that if we confess, meaning we agee with God about our sins, He is faithful to forgives us of our sins. His faithfulness was established at the cross. So, while there are those who put Jesus to death daily, I am not saying that! It may be you read my comments in view of this other position and misunderstood me. As a matter of fact, I have no disagreement with the blog post at the first link (nor the second link). It may be that I have not stated it as well.
Confessing one’s sins does not add to the cross – it is saying I agree that my sin is wrong and that it needed atonement. The Gnostics denied they had ANY sin. In agreement with the articles you provided links for, we must be mindful of our sin, and this involves confession of it (agreement about it). As I stated previously, even Paul tells in his many letters for the people to live up to the calling which they have received. If one already forgiven falls into a season of sin, they are still to repent of it and confess they are wrong. That does not mean they weren’t forgiven at the cross, but that they agree it was wrong and they need to live appropriately. By all means we do not want to advocate antinomianism. That would fly in the face of everything Jesus and the apostles taught. We don’t want to advocate legalism either. Rather, we want to advocate living by the Spirit who provides the means by which to live rightly.
I hope that clarifies. By they way, in your following Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you have confessed your sins. You may have not verbally confessed them to some priest or whatever, but if you have repented of your old life and turned to the new, you have confessed in the sense of what the word means in 1 John 1:9.
Thanks. In reply to your last comment, I haven’t verbally ‘confessed’ to God either. I suppose he knows our hearts. Doesn’t ‘repent’ mean a turn from devotion of the self to devotion of God. In that sense I do say the same (in my heart) about sin as God and I have turned my devotion from my sin to God. In both senses then I would agree, even though I haven’t verbally ‘repented’ (said sorry) as I believe I was forgiven at the cross for all of my sin. Are we actually in agreement?
(I’m talking about sins I have committed in the last few months, not sins committed pre-Christ).
Does ‘confessing’ and ‘repenting’ (saying the same and turning devotion towards Him) happen in the heart (and therefore have no need to be spoken verbally) ?
I would agree that repentance is an aspect of confessing. It is at least admitting a previous wrong and a turn from it as convicted in the heart. Do we have to say vocalized words to confess? I don’t think they have to be vocal. Yet, I do think we should be sorry for them and it is good to confess them to an accountability partner. In James 5:16 James says, “Therefore, you should confess your sins to one another and must pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful and effective.” This confession does not require more from the cross, but is with regard to an ongoing sin in a peson’s life that they may be struggling with – that may be making them weak and sickly. The prayer is that God heal them of the effects of the confessed sin. We can be forgiven, but we can still have battle some persistent sins that might want to take the throne from Christ in our lives. These still need to be mortified if we are to be obedient to Christ. That we are saved, the Holy Spirit can reveal sins in a process of sanctification that we have already been forgiven of, but that may have trouble surrendering by our own effort.
Thanks. I agree about confessing to an accountability partner – we definitely must do that. I think we are ‘saying the same’ !