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