Friday, December 2, 2011

Notes on Confessing Sins from Andre van der Merwe & Cornel Marais

Cleansed from All Unrighteousness in John 1
At the point of salvation, we merely accepted and trusted that Christ took our punishment already. When we believed that, we were reborn and created as new beings. We were made the righteousness of God in Christ. All our unrighteousness was taken away and we now have the same right standing before God as Jesus has. How can that be? Because when Jesus became sin for us, the righteousness He had from perfectly keeping the law, was given as a free gift to all mankind.

Rom 5:18-19 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (NKJV)

In light of this, let us look again at 1 John 1:9.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NKJV)

Have you been cleansed from all unrighteousness? Yes. So if you have been cleansed, does that mean you have been forgiven? Logically, yes. If you were forgiven, when did you confess your sins? The day you said, “Jesus, I can’t do this. I trust You to save me.” That was your confession. Now that you know God doesn’t count your sins against you anymore, you can also stop counting them. God did His job perfectly. Just trust Him.

I can sow destruction in my own life. The thief on the cross next to Jesus was forgiven but he still stayed and died on his cross. Jesus’ sacrifice didn’t make you immune against consequence, it made you immune from ever falling out of right standing before God.

So when you find yourself conscious of your sins, simply say: “Thank You Jesus for the perfect work of the cross that has removed my sins completely. Thank you Holy Spirit for convincing me of righteousness, not my own, but the righteousness given to me as a gift (2 Cor 5:21) and I praise You that nothing that I do can ever change that or ever separate me from your love!!!”

So in closing, the Bible teaches all unbelievers to confess their sins to God to be born again and come into Christ, but the Bible does not teach New Covenant Christians to confess their sins to God.

Confessing Sins in 1 John
1 John was written to a group of Christians whose ranks had been infiltrated by teachers of Gnosticism. In some parts of his letter he is countering the teachings of the Gnostics. At the time John wrote this letter, the Gnostics had already left the ranks of the Christians [1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us], but remnants of the Gnostisism teaching were still confusing the Christians that remained.

Gnostics are people who believe that creation is flawed and was created by a flawed creator. They also believe that there is no such thing as sin in the world thus as an lost person you do not have admit to being a sinner to God to be born again.

1 John 1:9 was NOT a command for people to grovel in sack cloth & ash, instead it is simply a statement to contradict the false teachings of the Gnostics. There were people in John’s assembly (who had not been born again yet) who were self righteously claiming that they did not need to admit to being sinners to receive eternal life. They were still confused by the teaching of the Gnostics, even though the Gnostics had already left. John countered this lie and said the following: [1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us].

And then in the next verse he reveals how to be saved: [1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness]. God will cleanse them from ALL unrighteousness if they will only confess that they need to be forgiven of their sins. If 1 John 1:9 were addressed to the believing Christians (the ones who were already saved), it would then contradict the following verse: [1 John 2:12 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 been forgiven? If confessing our sins was such an important practice in the life of a Christian, why did the writer of the biggest part of the New Testament, Paul the apostle, not command us to do it once??

Countless doctrines have been formulated about confessing our sins to God, all based on this one verse (1 John 1:9). It’s quite amazing if we realize there are no other verses in the entire New Covenant that tells us we should confess our sins to God! It’s even more amazing if we realize that this verse was not even intended for Christians who trust in the forgiveness of God, but for self righteous people!

But you may ask, “Why would God not want us to confess our sins to Him? After all, we do make mistakes!” The answer is simple: Because walking around the whole day remembering all the bad things we have done will not bring us closer to God! Jesus already paid the full price so that we could have unbroken fellowship with the Father. This means that when we make a mistake, it does not break our fellowship or right standing with God. God wants us to have confidence before Him, and to be more aware of our righteousness and His grace than of our shortcomings & mistakes.

How can we have boldness before God if we have to grovel on our knees and plead for the forgiveness of our sins every time we pray? No amount of crying, confessing, 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.

Confessing Sins in James 5:16
The real question that we should ask when talking about confessing our sins is this: “When a Christian sins (makes a mistake), is their right standing with God lost, and can that right standing only be restored if the person confesses the sin?” If we can forget for a few minutes all the things we have heard people say, including the traditions of men that have been passed down to us, as well as the way we “think” we should react when we make a mistake, then let’s see what the Word says.

There are only 2 verses in the new covenant (1 John 1:9 and James 5:16) that deals with confessing sin, and both are mostly misunderstood.

James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the older men of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of trust will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

Under the new covenant, God has forgiven ALL our sins (past, present & future). Heb 10:17  “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” And also Col 3:13 … even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

The only sins (mistakes) that we as new covenant Christians need still forgiveness for, is from the people we have sinned against (God has already forgiven us for these sins as well). Since none of us are perfect in all we do, we sometimes offend, hurt or harm people. And since people are not as gracious and merciful as God, we need to make amends with them. And that’s where James 5:16 comes in: Confess your sin to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed… Our right standing with God does not change, but our relationship with others can be damaged and needs to be restored – when we humbly confess to those we have wronged (and if they will receive us in humility) it opens the door for that restoration to happen.

James is telling people who have wronged and hurt others to make amends, to be reconciled with each other, to confess their faults to each other.

Read More about Confessing Sins
Notes taken from the following links:  1 2 3