IF WE CONFESS OUR SINS: ean
homologomen (1PPAS) tas hamartias hemon, : (confess: Lev 26:40-42
1Ki 8:47 2Ch 6:37,38 Ne 1:6 9:2-37 Job 33:27,28 Ps 32:5 51:2-5 Pr
28:13 Da 9:4-20 Mt 3:6 Mk 1:5 Ac 19:18)
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Confession of sins is not
only a New Testament truth but is amply attested to in the Old
Leviticus 16:21 (Context
The Day of Atonement)
"Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat,
and confess over it all the iniquities (wickedness) of the sons of Israel
and all their transgressions (rebellion) in regard to all their sins; and he shall
lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the
wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness.
Comment: Here we see a
beautiful foreshadowing of the truth in 1John 1:9, where the
confession is followed by the result of sending the goat into the
wilderness, which is picture of God forgiving or sending away (see
discussion of aphiemi below)
our sins that have already been once and for all "laid upon" the Lamb
of God at Calvary. Note the use of all three OT words commonly used
for sin - iniquities (wickedness), transgressions (rebellion), sins.
As an aside, Perhaps you have never thought of your own sins (the
"acceptable ones" such as gossip, resentment, covetousness, lustful
thoughts) as rebellion against God, but that is how God views them
(e.g., Ps 119:4)! Have you ever considered that your hasty, unkind and
critical words are not just carelessness; they are acts of rank
rebellion, of "shaking your fist in God's face"? The truth is that
even our "little sins" constitute willful rejection of the Most High
God's sovereign authority! Beloved, a right view of the depths of sin,
will give us a high view of God's forgiveness of sin. In 2Sa 12:9, 10-note
we see that David's sin of adultery and murder (no greater than our
private sins of lustful and hateful thoughts! Mt 5:21-22-note,
was tantamount to despising both the Word of God and the
God of the Word! God,
grant us eyes to see our sins, our wickedness and our rebellions the
way You see them, so that we might convicted, humble and habitual
Genesis 4:9 Then (Hint:
Always stop and ask "When is
"Then" = an expression of time-see
note = after Cain had
killed Abel) the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And
he said, "I do not know (A clear lie. Note how sin becomes self
perpetuating!). Am I my brother's keeper?"
Comment: In Cain we see a
foreshadowing of those who would deny their sin as described by
John in 1John 1:8, 10. Cain never confessed his sin nor accepted his
guilt (Ge 4:13, 14).
Leviticus 26:40 If they confess
their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their
unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their
acting with hostility against Me-- 41 I also was acting with hostility
against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies-- or if
their uncircumcised heart (cp Dt 10:16, 30:6, Jer 4:4, 9:26, Ezek
44:7, 9) becomes humbled (Prophetic allusion to "heart
circumcision" associated with entrance by grace through faith
into the New Covenant - Ro 2:28, 29-note,
cp Col 2:11-note)
so that they then make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will
remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My
covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will
remember the land.
Comment: Here God is
referring to remembering the unconditional
Israel's sins would
not and could not "negate" this covenant, but would impede their enjoyment of the
blessings of that covenant, especially the promise of the land. In fact because of their unconfessed sins,
they were eventually cast out of the land of promise and taken into
Babylonian exile as a measure of divine discipline.
See other examples of OT confession
- Nu 5:7, 1Ki 8:35, 36, Neh 9:2 (an example of corporate or national
confession - oh for this to occur in the church in America!).
Proverbs 28:13 (see
in depth comments)
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who
confesses and forsakes (speaks of repentance) them will find compassion.
Comment: Confession results
in experiencing divine compassion here, divine forgiveness in 1John
1:9. Secret sin without open confession lead to personal anguish (cp
Ps 32:3, 4). Before sin entered the world, the only description given
of Adam and Eve is in Genesis 2:25 where we read that "the man and his
wife were both naked and not ashamed." No sin. Nothing to hide. No
shame. Genuine confession cannot totally recapitulate the sinless
state the Garden, but can come as close as is possible on this side of
heaven. Confession of sins instead of seen as a "bad" thing, is in
fact the best thing for a sinner to practice. Don't miss your
opportunity to experience the blessed state of no shame that comes
from confessing your sins to God, Who faithfully forgives and
Hosea 5:15 I will go away and
return to My place until (note
this important time phrase)
they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their
affliction they will earnestly seek Me.
Comment: God is predicting
that one day in the future, Israel as a nation will acknowledge their
guilt before Him and return to Him. He will receive them not based on
their confession per se but based on His immutable, unconditional
covenant with Abraham. The New Covenant which was given first to Israel
and Judah in Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34) is the final fulfillment if you
will of the Abrahamic Covenant, the
fulfillment which is based on the once for all payment of the blood of Christ
(See related resources:
Abrahamic versus Mosaic;
Covenant: Why the New is Better;
Abrahamic vs Old vs New).
Psalm 32:5 I (David probably
speaking of his sin with Bathsheba) acknowledged my sin to You,
and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD"; and You forgave the guilt of my sin.
Comment: David "confesses"
his sins in essence three ways - acknowledging them, not hiding them,
confessing them, each time with a different OT word for "sin" - sin,
iniquity, transgression! Note the result is forgiveness of David's
guilt. He deserved death, but God forgave him and allowed him to live.
There cannot be a much clearer picture of the totality and
completeness of God's forgiveness! The application for believers is to
receive His total forgiveness when we confess our sins and to move on
and not have a "pity party" and not "play the tapes" over and over.
Thomas Watson: The hypocrite
doth vail and smother his sin; he doth not abscindere
peccatum (~cut away the sin), but abscondere (~conceals
it); like a patient that hath some loathsome disease in his body, he
will rather die than confess his disease; but a godly man's sincerity
is seen in this -- he will confess and shame himself for sin. "Lo,
I have sinned, and I have done wickedly." 2Sa 24:17. Nay, a child
of God will confess sin in particular; an unsound Christian will
confess sin by wholesale; he will acknowledge he is a sinner in
general, whereas David doth, as it were, point with his finger to the
sore: "I have done this evil" Psalms 51:4; he doth not say I
have done evil, but this evil. He points at his blood guiltiness.
Spurgeon adds: The lancet
must be let into the gathering ulcer before relief can be afforded.
The least thing we can do, if we would be pardoned, is to acknowledge
our fault; if we are too proud for this we double deserve punishment.
And mine iniquity have I not hid. We must confess the guilt as well as
the fact of sin. It is useless to conceal it, for it is well known to
God; it is beneficial to us to own it, for a full confession softens
and humbles the heart. We must as far as possible unveil the secrets
of the soul, dig up the hidden treasure of Achan, and by weight and
measure bring out our sins. I said. This was his fixed resolution. I
will confess my transgressions unto the Lord. Not to my fellow men or
to the high priest, but unto Jehovah; even in those days of symbol the
faithful looked to God alone for deliverance from sin's intolerable
load, much more now, when types and shadows have vanished at the
appearance of the dawn. When the soul determines to lay low and plead
guilty, absolution is near at hand; hence we read, And thou forgavest
the iniquity of my sin. Not only was the sin itself pardoned, but the
iniquity of it; the virus of its guilt was put away, and that at once,
so soon as the acknowledgment was made. God's pardons are deep and
thorough: the knife of mercy cuts at the roots of the ill weed of sin.
Selah. Another pause is needed, for the matter is not such as may be
Pause, my soul, adore and wonder,
Ask, O why such love to me?
Grace has put me in the number
Of the Saviour's family.
Thanks, eternal thanks, to thee.
THE HERESY: DENIAL OF
THE ANTIDOTE: CONFESSION OF SIN
Now back to the context of
John counters the false
teaching (someone may have been teaching this heresy) and/or false belief
(some may have begun to believe this heresy) of the denial of sin in 1Jn 1:8, 10 with the
truth, which is always the best "apologetic!". The truth is that
instead of denying our sin, we are to confess our sins. We are not to be "sin
deniers" but "sin confessors!" By grace through faith
(Eph 2:8, 9-note)
we confess sin (and our belief in the
Sin Bearer, the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus, Jn 1:29, Isaiah 53:5,6,
the first time and receive salvation (Ro 10:9, 10-note
see also "past tense salvation" -
justification - see
Three Tenses of Salvation) and then
as new creatures in Christ (2Cor 5:17-note),
motivated and enabled by the Spirit and grace, we confess sin daily as
a manifestation of our sanctification process ("present tense
Confession of sins is therefore one of
the evidences or proofs that one is indeed a new creation in Christ.
individuals in verse 8 and verse 10 would see no need for confession
of their sin, for they have deceived themselves into believing the lie
that they have no sin and commit no sins!
Beloved, without seeing
ourselves as rank, rebellious sinners, we have little need for a
Righteous Redeemer and Savior! The true and full Gospel presents the picture of
all men lost in their sin (Ro 3:10-note,
before the Holy God, guilty, condemned and deserving of death (Ro
James 2:10). As M R DeHaan said "Before an individual can be saved,
he must first learn that he cannot save himself." It is when
one sees themselves as a sinner in great
need of the great Savior, that they confess their sin to God and
confess Christ as their Lord (Ro 10:9, 10-note),
receiving His forever forgiveness and His perfect cleansing as they
are by His grace taken out of Adam and placed into Christ (1Cor
15:22). However as they conduct themselves in this world which is not
their home, walking as children of God (Eph 4:1-note),
their feet become "dirty" so to speak (i.e., they become defiled by
sins of thought, word and deed, sins of omission and commission, cp Ps
Ps 40:12-note). In
other words, although they are new creatures in Christ, they still
commit sins because they possess an indwelling sin nature,
albeit one that has been conquered by Calvary's love! This truth that
believers still have the potential to commit sins, prompted Jesus to explain to Peter...
He who has bathed needs only to
wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all
of you. (John 13:10)
Comment: Jesus was speaking
figuratively presented us a beautiful picture of Peter's need "only to
wash his feet", which describes the need of every believer for daily
confession of sins which make us "dirty."
Abraham Lincoln on how to deal with sin...
It is the duty of nations as well
as of men to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow,
yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and
Spurgeon explains why quick
confession should be every saint's practice...
It is not the nature of sin to
remain in a fixed state. Like decaying fruit, it grows more rotten.
The man who is bad today will be worse tomorrow.
F B Meyer adds...
Do not wait for the hour of evening
prayer, nor even for the opportunity of being alone, but in the busy
street, in the midst of daily toil, lift up your heart to Christ if
you have done wrong, and say: "I have gone astray...."
Jeremy Taylor on the danger
of sin and why it needs to be confessed...
A man is first startled by sin;
then it becomes pleasing, then easy, then delightful, then frequent,
then habitual, then confirmed. The man is impenitent, then obstinate,
and then he is damned.
As Oswald Chambers writes in
his book "Conformed to His Image"...
When the Holy Spirit begins to
unearth the works of the flesh in you, don’t temporize, don’t
whitewash them; don’t call suspicion, "discernment of the spirit", or
ill-temper, "righteous indignation"; bring it to the light, come face
to face with it, confess it and get it cleansed away.
Listen to this prayer of an old
I CONFESS MY SIN
I confess my sin, my frequent
sin, my willful sin;
all my powers of body and soul are
a fountain of pollution is deep
within my nature.
There are chambers of foul images
within my being;
I have gone from one odious room to
walked in a no-man's-land of
pried into the secrets of my fallen
I am utterly ashamed that I am what
I am in myself;
I have no green shoot in me nor
but thorns and thistles;
I am a fading leaf that the wind
I live bare and barren as a winter
unprofitable, fit to be hewn down
Lord, dost Thou have mercy on me? (Ed:
(Valley of Vision)
Lenski rightly notes that
this verse explains...
what "doing the truth" when "the
truth is in us" means: we shall ever confess our sins...to God.
John Trapp makes a great
point stating that...
No man was ever kept out of God's
kingdom for his confessed badness; many are for their supposed
goodness; as those justitiaries in the former verse (1Jn 1:8), whose hearts are
big-swollen with high conceit of themselves; and whose lips are held
close by the devil; who knows well there is no way to purge the sick
soul but upwards.
HAVE YOUR SINS
BEEN FORGIVEN OF GOD?
George Truett in an
excellent series of evangelistic sermons in the early 1900's said the
following related to 1John 1:9...
Its primary application is
manifestly for Christians, as the context indicates, but its gracious
truth may be applied to all who sin, and are therefore in need of
God's forgiving mercy.
Somebody has well said that the
three hardest words-to say like they ought to be said are these: "I
have sinned." You will grant the truth of that saying upon a brief
moment's reflection. The three most difficult words to say like they
ought to be said are these three: "I have sinned." And yet
confession of sin lies right at the foundation of our coming to
If one be not a sinner,
then for him there is no Savior.
For him, Christ's Gospel does not
have any appeal, if one be not a sinner. Jesus tells us: "They that
are whole (or well) do not need a physician, but they that are
sick." (Mt 9:12) And again Jesus tells us: "I did not come to
call the righteous, but sinners to
(Lk 5:32, cp Mt 9:13, Mk 2:17) And again He tells us: "The Son of
man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Lk 19:10)
Oh, are you a sinner? Then I
preach to you a Savior, for Jesus came to seek and to save sinners.
Forgiveness of sins is a real experience. Sin is as real as your hand
or eye. Sin obtains with every rational soul. The forgiveness of sins
is as real as the sin itself. The Lord Jesus Christ came to grant
forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness of sins is a personal experience—a
real personal experience. There can be no forgiveness except between
persons. That chair could not forgive you. That tree could not forgive
you. That beast of the field could not forgive you. Forgiveness is
always between persons. Now God, the Great Person, comes to you and
me, the little, finite, human, mortal, dependent, sinning persons, and
says to us : "If you will turn to Me with right attitude, I will
forgive your sins." Oh, I ask you, one by one, as my eye sweeps the
audience: "Have your sins been forgiven of God ?" Could you lay your
hand upon your heart and say : "I have the consciousness within me,
that God has forgiven my sins?" I would press that upon you, one by
one—have your sins been forgiven of God? And I would pray you, do not
stop until you can give a complete, satisfactory answer to that great
question—have your sins been forgiven of God?
Our text tells us, "If we confess
our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." Be not
deceived, I pray you, my men and women, on this crucial point, the
reality of sin, and the inescapable fact that sin must be confessed in
the right way, if we are ever to get forgiveness for our sins. Be not
deceived at such crucial point, the fact of sin in your life and
mine—the awful fact of sin. There are two chief causes that conspire
to deceive us at this point... (Read
the rest of Truett's sermon to discover the "two chief causes..." =
1 John 1:9 The Confession of
If we confess - This
conditional statement with the subjunctive mood of probability implies
that the "we" may not confess their sins. In context
John describes individuals who in fact deny their sin (1John 1:8, 10).
Deceived sinners excuse sin, deny sin,
whitewash sin or play sin down. They say their sins are "No big deal",
but they are wrong! Sins are a "big deal"
because one unforgiven sin is enough to eternally damn
a soul according
to James 2:10. Indeed, it is a great sin to love a small sin. (We
all need to ask
harboring/protecting any 'pet sins' we need to confess?") While
believers cannot lose their salvation, they certainly can lose the joy of their salvation.
(cp David's repeated plea for restoration of joy Ps 51:8-note,
Indeed as someone has said "Nothing will stop our song quicker than our sin!"
specifically our "unconfessed sin. We can lose our sense of
walking in communion with God, our experience of empowerment by the
Spirit (Who is grieved Eph 4:30, quenched 1Th 5:19), etc.
While there is no question that
1John 1:9 is a verse believers can and should "run to" when they sin
against God, let us not neglect the immediate context (especially the
verses before and after). On one hand some say "we have no sin" while
others say "we have not sinned." Think about what they were saying.
Notice also that they did not just make an occasional slip of their tongue, but they
were continually making these claims of "no sin." Can you see how "sin
might not see their need for a Savior, One to save them from the penalty
of death for their sins against a Holy God? Why would a person who claims
they do not sin need a Redeemer to set them free from the guilt,
penalty and bondage of
sin? To counter this dangerous damning deception, John presents the antidote -
confession of sins. Confess your sins and find forgiveness and
THE OLD ADAMIC NATURE
HAS NO DESIRE TO CONFESS SINS
J C Philpot makes an
important point in regard to confession of sins...
It is not your confessing them, but
it is thus--your confessing them is a mark of divine light; your
confessing them springs from the work of grace upon your heart.
Comment: Do you understand
what Philpot is saying? He is saying that our old (flesh) nature (before
we believed and
Christ became our life, before we were granted a new heart, before
He sent His Spirit to dwell in our heart), in and of itself has no
inherent propensity or desire to confess sins. Genuine confession of
sins is a work of divine grace, a clear mark of genuine conversion, of implantation of His
divine nature within a born again one, giving a supernatural nature which
enables a supernatural response when we sin -- a Spirit enabled desire
and power to confess our sin.
As Paul explained to the saints at Philippi, "God is working in
you, giving you the
desire to obey him and the
power to do what
pleases Him." (Php 2:13NLT). Indeed, confession of our sins is pleasing
to the Lord!
Alexander Maclaren reminds
us that in the preceding passages (1Jn 1:5-8)...
the underlying thought is that
fellowship with God necessarily involves moral likeness to Him.
Worship is always aspiration after, and conformity to, the character
of the "god" worshipped, and there can be no true communion with a God
Who is light unless the worshipper walks in light. In plain
language, all high-flying pretensions to communion with God must
verify themselves by practical righteousness. That cuts deep into
an emotional religion, which has much to say about raptures and the
like, but produces little purifying effect on the humble details of
There are always professing Christians who talk of their
blessed experiences, and woefully fail in prosaic virtues. It is a
pity that a man should hold his head so high that he does not look to
keep his feet out of the mud. Such a profession is for
the most part tainted with more or less conscious falsehood, and is
always a proof that the truth — the sum of God’s revelation — is
not operative in the man; that he is not turning his belief
into act, as all belief should be. On the other hand, the true
relation resulting from the message is that we should walk in the
light, as He is in it.
Peter Barnes writes
the Christian journey by confessing our sins and believing in Christ
for the first time, and (make confession our daily practice) as we continue to battle with
ongoing sin in our lives. (The Message of John's Epistles -
Barnes adds that
During the tragedy of Nazi Germany,
Dietrich Bonhoeffer headed up a seminary of the German 'Confessing
Church' at Finkenwalde. Here Bonhoeffer proclaimed, 'In
confession occurs the breakthrough to the Cross.' (Ed: And
need we remind ourselves of the fetid fruit of the failure of most
professing Christians in Nazi Germany [it was known as a
"Christian nation" just as it "post-Christian" America today!] to be
genuine confessing Christians!)
Steven Cole agrees that life
of a true follower of Christ...
is marked by
continual confession of sins. It begins at salvation, when he
acknowledges his sin to God and (receives initial) forgiveness and cleansing. He
experiences ongoing forgiveness and cleansing as he continues
confessing his sins. (Sermon)
Matthew Henry put it well
when he said that...
A great part of our
worthiness lies in an acknowledgement (confession) of our own
Alan Redpath gives us a good
mark to aim for noting that...
The time lag between the moment of
sinning and the moment of forsaking and confessing is a sure
indication of the true nature of a man's walk with God.
Practically speaking beloved, how
long does it take you to recognize your sin and agree with God that it
is sin and that you have willfully rebelled against His grace and light and
holiness and you now desire to repent of it?
"COVER" YOUR SINS BY
"UNCOVERING" THEM WITH CONFESSION
Robert Candlish writes...
As to the confession, it is the
confession of men “walking in the light, as God is in the light”;
having the same medium of vision that God has; it is the continual
men continually so walking and so seeing.
Comment: Candlish makes an
excellent point - as we walk in the light of God's Word, continually
yielding to His Spirit, the Spirit of Truth will make us aware of sins
of which we were otherwise not aware. And the same Spirit Who expose
our sins, will give us the grace to confess those sins. Amazing grace
from homos = one and the same or together with+ lego = to say;
confess from con = together, fateor = to say.) literally
means to say the same thing as another and so to agree in one's
to acknowledge, to admit the truth of (an accusation).
Vincent writes that...
The fundamental idea of confess
is that of saying the same thing as another; while profess (pro
= forth, fateor = to say) is to declare openly. Hence, to
profess Christ is to declare Him publicly as our Lord: to
confess Christ is to declare agreement with all that He says. When
Christ confesses His followers before the world, He makes a
declaration in agreement with what is in His heart concerning them.
Similarly, when He declares to the wicked “I never knew you” (“then
will I profess”), a similar agreement between His thought and His
declaration is implied. The two ideas run into each other, and the
Rev. is right in the few cases in which it retains profess, since
confess would be ambiguous. See, for example, Titus 1:16.
Here is a synopsis of the nuances
(1) To commit oneself to do
something for someone, to make a promise. The
nuance here is as if the speaker binds himself to his word and gives a
solemn promise. (Acts 7:17, Mt 14:7) The more intensive form of
homologeo, exomologeo, is used of Judas' promise (consent) to betray
Jesus (Lk 22:6).
(2) To share a common view
or be of common mind about a matter, to agree (Acts 23:8)
(3) To confess or concede
that something is factual or true, to admit. The opposite is to deny
something is true. (Jn 1:20, 1Jn 1:9, Heb 11:13. Homologeo conveys a
judicial meaning in the admitting to one's guilt in Acts 24:14 [see
notes below regarding this common secular meaning]). The more
intensive form of homologeo, exomologeo, is used in Acts 19:18 of
confessing their sins.
(4) To acknowledge or
profess something, usually publicly. (Mt 7:23, Titus 1:16 = confession
can be false and must be tested by one's lifestyle! Ro 10:9 = in a
religious sense of making a statement of what one believes. Although
there is some overlap with the previous passage, homologeo can also
reflect a public acknowledgment of one's allegiance - Jn 9:22, Mt
10:32, Lk 12:8, 1Ti 6:12)
(5) To praise, to celebrate
- a sense unknown in Greek secular writings and used with this meaning
only in Heb 13:15.
NIDNTT notes that in the
secular use of homologeo...
The legal connotation is dominant.
A man agrees with another’s statement, concedes or confesses something
(e.g. his guilt before a judge), agrees to something (e.g. another’s
wish) and so promises. This agreement expresses itself in an act of
commitment, promise, or confession in a court or legal contract. The
religious use of the words is probably derived primarily from their
use in the language of treaties and the law-courts. The man who binds
himself by an oath (homologeo) enters into a treaty relationship with
the deity. This concept was then transferred from the solemn
confession of wrong-doing before a court of law to the confession of
sin to the deity. These concepts were used especially in the oriental
cults, as may be seen from Lydian and Phrygian expiatory inscriptions.
In modern Gk. the concept has come to mean sacramental confession to a
priest: exomologeomai, I make my confession; ōexomologe, I hear a
Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986.
In secular documents from New
Testament times homologeo was commonly used to denote
agreements between two parties. In legal formulas it meant to "give
consent" to something. Another use of homologeo was to
"acknowledge" or "publicly declare." One papyrus from the first
century reads, "He acknowledges [having found] the box, but alleges
that it was empty" (Moulton and Milligan).
Richards adds that
has a range of meanings, but the
root idea is “to acknowledge.” Used of confession of sins, homologeo
drew on a meaning given to it in the contemporary legal system. To
confess meant that one agreed with a charge brought against him; it
was to acknowledge guilt before the court. To “confess our sins”
is to admit to God that our actions were indeed sin. We agree with Him
in His evaluation of our wrong actions. Homologeo does not mean
to feel sorry or to promise never to do something again.
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency
New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words - Logos)
Expressing allegiance to Jesus is related to salvation
in several NT uses of homologeo (Mt 10:32, Lk 12:8, Jn 9:22, Jn 12:42, Ro
10:9, 10, 1Ti 6:12) where the phrases "before men" or "in the presence of many
witnesses" implies open, unreserved acknowledgment or confession
of Jesus Christ.
The opposite of
confess is to deny as dramatically illustrated by the use
of homologeo ("They profess...") in Titus 1:16,
where some individuals "confess" Christ with their
lips, but deny Him with their lives! John gives a similar
description of the spirit of "antichrist" in 1Jn 2:22,23 as those who
deny (present tense
= continually deny) the Son (cp Jude's description in Jude 1:4). Jesus
gave a stern warning about the danger of denying Him (not confessing
Him) before me in Mt 10:33 (cp Lk 12:9).
The English word confess is
defined as "to tell or make known, to acknowledge, to admit the truth
of an accusation, to own up to the fact that one is guilty of the
accusation", but the Greek word means far more than that, as Wuest
Confession of sin on the part of
the saint means to say the same thing that God does about
that sin, to agree with God as to all the implications of that sin as
it relates to the Christian who commits it and to a holy God against
whom it is committed. That includes the saint's hatred of that sin,
his sense of guilt because of it, his contrition because of it, the
determination to put it out of his life and never to do that thing
again (Ed: cp repentance). This is what confession of sin means
(in 1Jn 1:9).
The related word exomologeo
is an intensive form of homologeo and refers to an open, public
declaration. It is used of that great universal confession described
by Paul in which every tongue will "confess (exomologeo) that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Php 2:11-note).
However, in contrast to the confession of Christ during this
life (eg, Ro 10:9,10) which is associated with salvation, this
future confession will not bring salvation because that supreme
blessing will already have been either received or forever forfeited!
O my, what a day that will be!
Wuest writes that...
Homologeo is made up of the words
homos (same), and lego (to speak). Thus, the word means "to say the
same thing" as another, hence, "to agree with, to assent to a thing."
It had various uses in classical Greek; "to speak or say together, to
speak one language, to agree with, to make an agreement, to come to
terms, the latter meaning used especially of persons surrendering in
war, to agree to a thing, to allow, admit, confess, grant," the latter
found in the sentence I grant you; the noun means "an agreement, a
compact; in war, terms of surrender; an assent, an admission, a
confession." The papyri give examples of the Koine use of the word.
There is an agreement between two individuals, a person gives his
consent, another one acknowledges having found something. The noun is
used of a contract, an agreement. With these usages in mind, we will
study a few representative places where the word is found. In 1 John
1:9, confession of sin on the part of the Christian is not a mere
admission of the same to God. The act of confession includes the act
of the Christian in coming to terms with God in regard to his sin, of
agreeing with God as to what He says about that sin and what the
Christian ought to do about it, the entering into a contract or
agreement with Him that if He will cleanse that Christian from the
defilement of that sin, the latter will not be repeated....
In the word (homologeo), there is
the idea of a person agreeing with someone or something, of entering
into a contract with someone, of assenting to the statement of
another, of coming to terms with another. When interpreting the word
in its occurrences in the New Testament, search for the particular
shade of meaning demanded by the context.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Paul Apple notes that
Much more than merely admitting
that we did the wrong action -- we could do that boastfully -- cf. a
terrorist setting off a bomb and then calling the local media to claim
responsibility -- he is not really confessing to the crime -- there is
no submission there -- no agreeing that what was done was wrong and
despicable -- no desire to be cleansed and changed.
To reiterate, it is important to
understand that when we confess sins the confession includes an
appropriate action - in other words it is saying and doing
-- it is saying the same thing about our sins and it includes a
forsaking of our sin. Why? Because that is God's attitude concerning
sin (cp Pr 28:13).
Guzik recalls an
When we confess our sin, we are
willing to say (and believe) the same thing about our sin that God
says about it. Jesus’ story about the religious man and the sinner who
prayed before God illustrated this; the Pharisee bragged about how
righteous he was, while the sinner just said God be merciful to me a
sinner. (Luke 18:10-14) The one who confessed his sin was the one who
agreed with God about how bad he was.
Homologeo is a
Key verb for John who has 12 of the 26 NT uses - John
1:20 (twice); John 9:22; 12:42; 1 John 1:9; 2:23; 4:2, 3, 15; 2 John
1:7; Rev 3:5.
denoting continuous action. In other words confession of our sins is to be
marker of our new life in Christ. This clearly refutes the position that a Christian
can obtain sinless perfection in this present life. Remember that
John's epistle is addressed to genuine believers and his point is that
genuine believers will willingly confess their sins as their
Wuest agrees writing that
the present tense
teaches that the constant attitude
of the saint toward sin should be one of a contrite heart, ever eager
to have any sin in the life discovered for him by the Holy Spirit, and
ever eager to confess it and put it out of the life by the power of
that same Holy Spirit. David wrote concerning that kind of heart when
he penned the words: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a
broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" (Psalm
Paul Apple writes...
Look at the Present tense of the verb - coordinate with the Present
tense of "walking in the light" -- if we are characterized by taking
sin seriously in terms of confessing sin on an ongoing basis as the
Holy Spirit convicts us in our Christian walk, that practice of
confession marks us as a true believer and God is faithful (He keeps
His Word) and righteous (He honors the atonement) to forgive us our
sins (not just in a legal sense in terms of justification but in a
practical sense in terms of not letting anything come between and
interrupt our relationship) and to cleanse us from all
This confession of sins (like John Bunyan in Pilgrim's Progress as he
walks along the path towards heaven and needs to be recovered from the
pitfalls of life) is a fruit of initial repentance and a proof of our
fellowship with God whose standard of holiness provides the basis for
David in the Psalms spoke often about the opposite of confession of
sin -- describing his spiritual torment when he tried to hide his sins
or rationalize or explain away his behavior.
How seriously are we taking sin in our life?
Do we remember that it it our sin that caused Christ to have to shed
His blood on the cross to suffer in our place in order to provide us
with forgiveness and cleansing?
Hiebert states that...
The corrective for such
self-deception (confession of sin) is stated without a connective particle. The
hypothetical form, “If we confess our sins”, implies that believers must be willing to meet the
stipulated condition. More is involved than a general acknowledgment
of one’s sinfulness; it is the confession of sinful deeds to God. To
“confess” means literally “to say the same thing, to agree with.” A
believer must frankly be willing to say the same thing about his sins
(the sins he is conscious of having committed) that God says about
them. Christians must acknowledge their sins for what they are, rather
than using some flowery designation that conceals their true
character. The present tense calls for such confession as their
standing practice. The confession should be as wide as the actual
The “confession” which
characterizes a true penitent, of course is not to be understood of a
mere acknowledgment, but an acknowledgment accompanied with suitable
contrition, and with a humble faith in the Lord Jesus.
David’s prayer in Psalm 51 is one of the clearest pictures of
confession in the Bible. According to Psalm 51:1–3, David takes
personal responsibility for his sins (as deduced from his repeated use
of the first-person
pronoun). In Ps 51:4, David agrees that God has the ultimate
authority in our lives and that He is right to
judge, and we deserve His judgment. In Ps 51:5 David confesses that he
sinner by nature, from the womb. In Ps 51:7–10, David expresses
to God to cleanse him and change his heart.
Have you ever personalized Psalm
It would be a good exercise for
all of us to place ourselves in David's position, as if all that he is
saying is true of us as well
(because it is!)
Confession...is evidence of sincerity; it is not a statement of mere profession;
(in the context of 1John 1:9) it
involves seeking forgiveness. The confession is plainly to God, and
not to men.
If, from a deep sense of our guilt,
impurity, and helplessness, we humble ourselves before God,
acknowledging our iniquity, his holiness, and our own utter
helplessness, and implore mercy for his sake who has died for us; he
is faithful, because to such he has promised mercy, Psalm 32:5;
Proverbs 28:13; and just, for Christ has died for us, and thus made an
atonement to the Divine justice; so that God can now be just, and yet
the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.
Homologeo - 26x in 23v - NAS
= acknowledge(2), admit(1), assured(1), confess(6), confessed(4),
confesses(6), confessing(1), declare(1), give thanks(1), made(1),
profess(1), promised(1). Uses of homologeo in the non-apocryphal Lxx
are rare - Job 40:14, Jer 44:25 (here in sense of making a vow).
Here are the 26 uses of
homologeo to study...
Matthew 7:23-note "And then I will
declare to them, 'I never (ever, at any point in time) knew (ginosko
= command calling for their
departure to "endure"!) FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE (ergazomai in the
continually "work at" doing) LAWLESSNESS.'
Comment: Homologeo in
this context means to make a statement and in the legal sense means to
bear witness. This proclamation regarding lost men's relation to Jesus
is expressed in a binding and valid form. It means to say openly and
not to keep silent! Oh, what a tragic day of declaration for so many
(see "many" in Mt 7:21-note)
who have deceived themselves into thinking they are genuinely
regenerate, when in fact they had never been born again. To me these
words of Jesus are the most sadly sobering and poignantly painful in
all of the Bible! May no reader of Jesus' words be among this dread
number on that final day! Let us all take to heart Paul's words in
as well as those of David in Ps 139:23-note,
Matthew 10:32 "Therefore everyone
who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him
before My Father who is in heaven.
Homologeo in this context means to acknowledge, avow or admit that Jesus is Who the
Bible says He is and that He did what the Bible says He did to
secure our salvation. To confess Jesus in this sense is to affirm solidarity with Him even
unto death. Remember that homologeo has strong legal connotations so
that one may agree with a court order and thus make a legally binding
commitment to abide by it. To confess Jesus publicly is to express a
binding commitment to Him and thus to acknowledge one's relationship
to Him as their Lord. John puts the importance of this issue
succinctly: “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the
one who confesses the Son has the Father also.” (1 Jn
2:23). Commitment to Jesus brings us into full relationship with God.
Vincent notes that "confess Me"
is: A peculiar but very significant expression. Lit., “Confess in
me.” The idea is that of confessing Christ out of a state of oneness
with him. “Abide in me, and being in me, confess me.” It implies
identification of the confessor with the confessed, and thus takes
confession out of the category of mere formal or verbal
acknowledgment. “Not every one that saith unto me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ shall
enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The true confessor of Christ is
one whose faith rests in Him. Observe that this gives great force
to the corresponding clause, in which Christ places Himself in a
similar relation with those whom He confesses. “I will confess in
him.” It shall be as if I spoke abiding in him. “I in them and thou in
Me, that they may be perfected into one, and that the world may know
that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me”
Matthew 14:7 so much that he promised with an oath to give her
whatever she asked.
Comment: To confess on oath.
to concede, to engage, to promise.
Luke 12:8 "And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before
men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of
Comment: “To state about a
person what one knows to be true” (Arndt)
Wuest: Confession of Christ
means the public acknowledgment of Him and all that He is and stands
for. The act of confession implies that the one confessing the Lord
Jesus, has come to agree with the Bible's estimate of Him. (Ibid)
John 1:20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed,
"I am not the Christ."
Comment: Here the nuance of
homologeo is to admit openly, without reservation.
John 9:22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews;
for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to
be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.
John 12:42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but
because of the Pharisees they were not confessing (imperfect
marks their continued [over and over] shrinking from the act of faith)
Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;
Comment: Here homologeo
conveys the sense of speaking out openly before others.
Acts 7:17 "But as the time of the promise was approaching which God
had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in
Comment: Here homologeo conveys
the sense of assurance, of giving one confidence.
Acts 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an
angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.
Acts 24:14 "But this I admit to you, that according to the Way
which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing
everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in
Romans 10:9-note that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord,
and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will
be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in
righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in
Comment: As a judicial term,
homologeo indicates the binding and public declaration which settles a
relationship with legal force. In other words, out of the mouth comes
that which truly reflects the saving faith in Jesus that exists in
one's heart. As Lawrence Richards says "To confess with one’s mouth
is homologeo, here used in a technical sense to mean a public
declaration that establishes a relationship in a legally binding way."
Martin Luther said that such
confession is "the principal work of faith." John Calvin added
that no one can believe with the heart without confessing with the
mouth. It is a natural consequence of faith.
Gerald Cowen comments that:
Confessing that Jesus is Lord means not only that persons acknowledge
that He is God, but that they intend to receive Him, however
imperfectly, as Master. The answer to the question—Can individuals be
saved without ever receiving Jesus as the Lord of their lives?—is no!
Word Studies - a very good
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight
= to make this your lifestyle,
enabled by the Spirit and God's transforming grace) the good fight of
faith; take hold
= Do this without hesitation!) of the eternal life to which you were
called, and you made (homologeo - see comment) the good confession in the presence of
many witnesses (implying the confession is open, unreserved,
Comment: "Made the good
confession" is more literally "confess (homologeo) the good confession
(homologia)," which is the only Scriptural combination of the verb and
NET Bible Note: At some
point in Timothy's life, he publicly acknowledged Jesus as the
resurrected Lord, perhaps either at his baptism or his ordination as a
minister of the Gospel. With this reminder of the historical moment of
his good confession, Timothy is encouraged to remain steadfast in his
faith and to finish his life as a minister in the same way it began. (Comment:
This is a
good word for all saints to lay
hold of -- if you have been baptized publicly, you undoubtedly
confessed Christ as you Savior and Lord. Now we need to live in a
manner that is in accord with our confession!)
Titus 1:16-note They profess (present
= continually) to know God, but by
their deeds they deny (present
= continually) Him, being
= they "stink"!) and disobedient (apeithes)
and worthless (adokimos
= rejected after trial, disqualified) for any good deed.
Comment: Paul presents the
same descriptive pattern as we see in First John - profession
without practice, lips that lie, declaration
not validated by deeds. In short the fact that these men
continually deny God (by their deeds not their words), they give clear
proof that their profession ("confession") is spurious (a lie)
and that they are not true believers!
Hebrews 11:13-note All these died in faith, without receiving the promises,
but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and
having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the
Hebrews 13:15-note Through Him then, let us continually offer up a
sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give
thanks to His name.
Vine: Homologeo, to
make confession, involves a wholehearted acknowledgment. His Name
stands for all that He is in person, character and work.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 2:23 Whoever denies (present
= continually) the Son does not
have the Father; the one who confesses (present
= continually) the Son has the
1 John 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that
= continually) that Jesus Christ
has come in the flesh is from God;3 and every spirit that does not
= continually) Jesus is not from
God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard
that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
Wuest says in this passage
homologeo: refers to a public acknowledgment of the fact that
one has come to the place where he is in agreement with the facts
revealed in Scripture concerning Jesus Christ. (Ibid)
1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses (present
= continually) that Jesus is the
Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
2 John 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who
do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is
the deceiver and the antichrist.
Revelation 3:5-note 'He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white
garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I
will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Garland comments: Christ
taught the same in the Gospels—that whoever would confess Him before
men, in turn, He would confess before His Father and the angels (Mt
10:32; Lk 12:8). What
powerful incentive this is for our witness of Him in the face of
skeptics and mockers! (Ed:
I agree and add what a powerful motivator this should be for us to
continually rely on the Spirit's power to bear witness in those times
when our flesh would cause us to shy away or back down! cp Acts 1:8)
When standing before such men, let us consider ourselves to be
standing before the very throne of the Father in our confession of the
Son. “Coming immediately after the promise of not erasing the
overcomer’s name from the book of life, this promise implies that on
that future day of reckoning the judge will acknowledge the names
written in the book as those who belong to Him.” (quoting Robert
Spurgeon commenting on
If we confess our sins writes...
That is the point; and he, who says that he has no sins, will not
confess them. He, who believes himself to be perfect, cannot enjoy the
blessing described in this 9th verse. To deny that we have any sin, is
to walk in darkness, and to show we are without the light which would
reveal our sin to us, kind if we are walking in darkness we cannot be
in fellowship with God. But to see sin in ourselves from day to day,
humbly to confess it, and mourn over it, is to walk in the light; and
walking in the light, we shall have fellowship with God who is light.
“If we confess our sins,” — The text means just this - Treat
God truthfully, and he will treat you truthfully. Make no pretensions
before God, but lay bare your soul, let him see it as it is, and then
he will be faithful and just to forgive you your sins and to cleanse
you from all unrighteousness.
EVIDENCE THAT I AM FORGIVEN
Watch the difference between
confessing and admitting ; the majority of us
are quite ready to admit, it is the rarest thing to get
to the place where we will confess—confess to God, not
to man. It is much more difficult to confess to God than we are apt to
think. It is not confessing in order to be forgiven; confession is the
evidence that I am forgiven. God does not forgive me because I
confess; I realize by my confession that I am forgiven. Am I willing
to be brought to the place where God draws out my confession? When the
Spirit of God convicts of sin it is not like a detective convicting a
criminal, it is sin finding out a man’s own nature and making him say,
“Yes, I recognize it.” When once your sin does find you out, the
exquisite pain of confessing acts like the sweetest medicine—“a broken
and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Beware of having
anything that makes your mind accept an excuse for yourself. I can
step out of darkness into the light—when God is willing? No, when I am
willing. “I do want to be in living communion with God”; I don’t, if I
did, I could be there in one second; the reason I am not there is that
I won’t confess, I won’t submit to God’s condemnation of the thing.
Immediately confession is made the Atonement of Our Lord steps in with
its supernatural efficacy. (He Shall Glorify Me : Talks on the Holy
Spirit and Other Themes)
Stedman agrees with
Chambers, noting that...
the word confess...does
not mean to ask for forgiveness....
Christ's work for us upon the Cross has already done all that is
necessary to forgive us. What God wants us to do is to look at the sin
before us and call it what He calls it. That means to agree with God
about it, and that is what the word confess means: Fess
comes from a root which means "to say," and con means
"with." "To say with" God what He says about this thing, that
is confessing sin. There is a popular song which you sometimes hear in
If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have lived in my own selfish way,
Dear Lord, forgive.
That is not a confession at all.
The "if's" take it out of the realm of confession. Do not say "if,"
say, "Lord, I have caused some foot to go astray, I have lived in
my own selfish way." That is confession, that is agreeing with
As an aside, we always need to be discerning regarding Christian
music, asking asking the simple question, "Is it Biblical?" If not we
need to discard it, because music is a powerful vehicle for reaching
deep into our soul and influencing our feelings and our behavior!
It is notable that this verse
(contrary to what many commentaries suggest) does not specifically
state to whom our sins should be confessed - to God, to one another,
in private or in public. That said, since sin is first and foremost
always against God (Ge 39:9, Lev 6:2, Nu 32:23, 2Sa 12:13, 24:10, Ps
51:4), we should always confess our sins to Him. In the
Old Testament David sinned against God and against man (Uriah,
Bathsheba, his people) and in Psalm 51 and yet we note that he
confesses his sins to God...
Against Thee, Thee only, I have
sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight, So that Thou art justified
when Thou dost speak, And blameless when Thou dost judge. (Ps 51:4)
AN ACT OF MORTIFICATION
The great Puritan writer Thomas
Manton has a pithy description of confession writing that
is the best way to bring the soul
into a dislike of sin. Confession is an act of mortification;
it is as it were the vomit of the soul; it breeds a dislike of the
sweetest morsels, when they are cast up in loathsome ejections (Ed:
This ought to give us something to ponder the next time we
contemplate willful sin!) Sin is sweet in commission, but bitter
in the remembrance. God’s children find that their hatred is never
more keen and exasperated against sin than in confessing. (A
Practical Commentary, or An Exposition with Notes on the Epistle of
John Gill writes that we are
to confess our sins...
Not to one other; for though it is
our duty to confess our faults to our fellow creatures and fellow
Christians which are committed against them, yet are under no
obligation to confess such as are more immediately against God, and
which lie between him and ourselves; or at least it is sufficient to
confess and acknowledge in general what sinful creatures we are,
without entering into particulars; for confession of sin is to be made
to God, against whom it is committed, and who only can pardon: and a
man that truly confesses his sin is one that the Spirit of God has
convinced of it, and has shown him its exceeding sinfulness, and
filled him with a godly sorrow for it, and given him repentance unto
salvation, that needeth not to be repented of; and who, under such a
sight and sense of sin, and concern for it, comes and acknowledges it
before the Lord, humbly imploring, for Christ's sake, his pardoning
grace and mercy; and such obtain it (1 John
Kress explains the present
tense aspect of confess nothing that...
Christian is continually acknowledging and dealing with sin—not in a
saving sense but in a communal sense. From a human standpoint, our
fellowship can be marred by sin. The promise of confession is
forgiveness and cleansing. (Notes for the Study and Exposition of 1st John)
Comment: Note Kress says "a
true Christian" as opposed to one who simply professes to be a
believer. It is interesting and somewhat surprising that Jim Bomkamp
does not include "confession of sins" as one of the marks of a
of a True Christian).
While confession is not an absolute marker of a genuine Christ
follower (because some men confess to other men thinking that is
sufficient penitence), but is certainly one indicator. Who but a
genuine believer recognizes that His sin is against the Holy God?
As Harrison says
to sin is the sign of His illuminating, self-revealing presence.
Hence it is that some of the most godly saints, walking daily in a
closeness of fellowship with Him, have been characterized by a
confessed consciousness of sin beyond their fellows. They were living
in the Light that made evident the contrast between themselves and
Himself. his experience finds divine interpretation in the spiritual
autobiography of the prophet Isaiah. It was when he "saw the LORD"
in the pure, white light of His holiness that he discovered, and at
once decried, a personal uncleanness: "Woe is me; I am undone; I am
unclean." (Isa 6:5-note)
And that confession brought the full relief of a further revelation of
the Lord as the GOD of cleansing." (Isa 6:6,7-note)
Guzik makes the point that...
Our sins are not forgiven because
we confess; if this were the case - if forgiveness for a sin could
only come where there was confession - then we would all be damned,
because it would be impossible for us to confess every sin we ever
commit. We are forgiven because our punishment was put upon Jesus, we
are cleansed by His blood.
John Trapp adds that...
No man was ever kept out of God's
kingdom for his confessed badness; many are for their supposed
A word of caution dear
Confessing your sins
is no substitute for
forsaking your sins!
Or as someone else well said
"Confession must be salted with contrition." (cp
God's delight in a "broken
spirit, a broken and contrite heart" - Ps 51:17-note,
cp Isa 57:15)
Steven Cole in his
discussion of walking in the light reminds us that...
“To walk” points to the general
tenor of one’s life. Since to walk in the light involves confessing
our sins (1Jn 1::9), to walk in the darkness means ignoring or denying
our sins. It is to block out the light of God’s holiness, as
revealed in His Word, and to live as the world lives, making up your
own ideas about right and wrong apart from God (see Eph 4:17, 18, 19;
Eph 5:7-12). It is to justify your own behavior either by redefining
sin, by blaming it on other factors, or by doing away with the entire
concept of sin. To walk in darkness is to try to hide from God, rather
than to expose your life to Him....
But we need to apply this
personally. If as a way of life, I am not allowing God’s Word to
confront my sinful thoughts, attitudes, motives, words, and deeds, I
am walking in darkness. If I dodge my sin by blaming others or making
up excuses for why I sin, I am walking in darkness. And for John, to
walk in darkness is not describing a “carnal” Christian. It is
describing an unbeliever, no matter how much he may claim to have
fellowship with God. To have fellowship with God, we must recognize
that He is absolutely holy. And, we must not walk in the darkness. (Sermon)
Spurgeon's gives us a
striking example of an insincere confession...
Pastor R., of Elberfeld, was once
sent for to see a dying man. He found the patient really very ill, and
entered at once into an earnest conversation about the state of his
soul. The patient began, in the strongest terms, to describe himself
as the very chief of sinners, and declared that his past life filled
him with abhorrence. He continued so long in this strain that the
pastor could scarcely find an opportunity to speak. At last, taking
advantage of a pause, he remarked gently, “It was then really true
what I heard of you?” The patient raised himself in the bed, stared in
astonishment at the pastor, and demanded, “What, then, have you heard?
No one, in truth, can say anything against me;” and continued, in a
strain of unbounded self-satisfaction, to tell of his virtues, and
recount all his good deeds, pouring out at the same time a torrent of
execrations against the slanderers who had tried to injure his
character. “It was not from foes or slanderers,” said the pastor,
“that I heard it, but from yourself; and now it grieves me to hear
that you do not believe what you said.” (Biblical
Robert Rayburn gives us
striking illustrations of sincere confession in the
lives of Thomas Boston and
Whyte was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor
who died in 1921. Whyte was a Christian who impressed all who knew him
with the depth of his humility and with the many virtues which are
simply the public expression of humility in one way or another:
kindliness, modesty, reverence and so on. But you will not have to do
much reading in Whyte to discover where that humility came from. Here
is a man--as much as any man I know about, who refused to ignore the
truth about himself and about his sin. His sin was always before him,
his secret sins as well as his public sins--and he was always
confessing those sins...And all of that confessing of sin had its
perfect fruit in his so humble life. (The
First of the Tests of Life)
There is a piece of history that I
have shared with some of you some years ago, and will no doubt, if God
gives me years to come as your minister, will share with you again
from time to time. I want you to remember it, and so I must repeat it.
It is for me, it is so far in my life, at any rate, the Lord's great
illustration to me of the truth of the necessity and the importance
and the virtue and the benefit of a sense of one's own great sin and
the constant confession of that sin.
It strikes me so powerfully, because the man in question,
Thomas Boston, is a man whose life and writings have made a deep and lasting
and wonderful impression upon my own heart. He is a man I admire as
much as any man I know about; he is a man such as I long to become.
His autobiographical Memoirs, the story of his life, I consider to be
one of the greatest books ever written, and one of the most profound
textbooks in the Christian life and in true godliness that I know. It
was Rabbi Duncan who said, you may remember, that he wished that he
could sit at the feet of Jonathan Edwards to learn what true holiness
is, and then at the feet of Thomas Boston, to learn how to obtain it.
Boston was a man whose life, both in his own day and since, became
renown for his fierce and passionate love for Christ, his fearless
defense and service of the gospel, his humble affection for his
brethren and his congregation, and his patience under intense hardship
and suffering. So it may come as a surprise to some to read the end of
his life story as he himself relates it.
Near the end of his life, as he relates in his
knowing that his end was near, conducted a thorough self-examination,
to make sure that he was ready to leave this life and to meet the
Lord. During the several days he spent at this solemn task, he
recollected his long life as a Christian and the experiences he had
had with God. He went over the gospel of Christ in every part
examining his agreement with it and his commitment to and trust in
Christ. But, then he attends at some length to his sins. Let me quote
briefly from the Memoirs:
I [Boston] read over ....."the larger catechism on what is required
and forbidden in the Ten Commands; then thought on my ways in the
several periods of my life, and in the order of the Ten Commands; by
all which means I got a humbling sight of myself. Then bowing my knees
before the Lord, I did silently read over the two confessions before
him; which done, I prayed, and made confession of my sins as fully and
particularly as I could; and there I got a view of my whole life as
one heap of vanity, sin, and foolishness. It appeared a loathsome life
in my eyes, so that my very heart said, "I loath it; I would not live
always;" and I loathed myself on account of it. It cut to the heart to
think of it, and cut off desire of returning to it, if that had been
possible. But such as I was, I behoved to look again towards his
And when he was through with all of that, he turned his attention to a
particular sin, a besetting sin, which had bedeviled him all of his
life and over which he had still not gained the mastery. This sin
required a special attention and a special confession, a special
prayer for pardon and for purification. Here is the lesson I draw from
all that, beloved!
If such a man as Thomas Boston, beside whose Christian life yours and
mine pale to virtually nothing, finishes his life in a paroxysm of
confession of sin, then who are we to say that we do not need much
more of that same acknowledgement and confession of sin than now we
practice. Thomas Boston was giving himself the tests of life and he
passed with flying colors, and in no test did he achieve a higher
score than in this most important test of genuine faith and life in
'If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves...If we confess
our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us
from all unrighteousness.'
Is it negative to be so mindful of our sin and always confessing it?
The Devil wants you to think so. But it is only negative, if it is
negative to love Christ passionately and be always turning to him in
trust and hope as your Savior, only negative if it is negative to be
meek and lowly of heart before God and others; only negative if it is
negative to live in this world with one's heart full of heaven and
desire for the life to come.
There is but one way to Thomas Boston's kind of Christian life--and
that is the way of the Apostle John--the way of confessing our sins
and turning from them to Christ for forgiveness and for
deliverance--every single day of our Christian lives. (1John)
Our sins - Personal
possession - We must each "Own up" to our sins. It's not our brother,
it's not our sister, etc,
it's us to whom God is speaking. And although sins
clearly refers to our conscious sins, it is not restricted to those,
for as David asked and prayed in Psalm 19...
Who can discern his errors? Acquit
(cleanse - KJV) me of hidden faults (those of which I am not
conscious). (Psalm 19:12)
Spurgeon comments: Who can
understand his errors? A question which is its own answer. It rather
requires a note of exclamation than of interrogation. By the law is
the knowledge of sin, and in the presence of divine truth, the
psalmist marvels at the number and heinousness of his sins. He best
knows himself who best knows the Word, but even such an one will be in
a maze of wonder as to what he does not know, rather than on the mount
of congratulation as to what he does know. We have heard of a comedy
of errors, but to a good man this is more like a tragedy. Many books
have a few lines of errata at the end, but our errata might well be as
large as the volume if we could but have sense enough to see them.
Augustine wrote in his older days a series of Retractations; ours
might make a library if we had enough grace (Ed: Note our need
for grace to even recognize and admit our mistakes!) to be convinced
of our mistakes and to confess them.
Acquit me of hidden faults. Thou canst mark in my faults
entirely hidden from myself. It would be hopeless to expect to see all
my spots; therefore, O Lord, wash away in the atoning blood even those
sins which my conscience has been unable to detect. Secret sins, like
private conspirators, must be hunted out, or they may do deadly
mischief; it is well to be much in prayer concerning them. In the
Lateran Council of the Church of Rome, a decree was passed that every
true believer must confess his sins, all of them, once a year to the
priest, and they affixed to it this declaration, that there is no hope
of pardon but in complying with that decree. What can equal the
absurdity of such a decree as that? Do they suppose that they can tell
their sins as easily as they can count their fingers? Why, if we could
receive pardon for all our sins by telling every sin we have committed
in one hour, there is not one of us who would be able to enter heaven,
since, besides the sins that are known to us and that we may be able
to confess, there are a vast mass of sins, which are as truly sins as
those which we lament, but which are secret, and come not beneath our
eye. If we had eyes like those of God, we should think very
differently of ourselves. The transgressions which we see and
confess are but like the farmer's small samples which he brings to
market, when he has left his granary full at home. We have but a very
few sins which we can observe and detect, compared with those which
are hidden from ourselves and unseen by our fellow creatures.
F B Meyer describes our sins
TO SIN is to miss the mark! Such is
the meaning of the original word. When the prodigal returned, his
first words were; "Father, I have missed the mark." Are we not always
missing the mark, coming short? Sin is negative as well as positive.
The Confession of the Church of England and the Shorter Catechism both
agree in this: "We have done the things that we ought not; we have
left undone the things that we ought to have done." Sin consists, not
only in the positive transgression of the law of God, but in the want
of conformity to His Will. It is needful to use this two-pronged fork.
If a number of men are on their way to the recruiting-station and the
standard is to be exactly six foot. They are all under that height,
but the tallest of them glories in the fact that he is a clear two
inches above the rest of his fellows. It may be so, but he will be as
certainly rejected as the shortest, because even he comes below the
standard. You may be better than scores of people in your circle, but
you will need Christ's forgiveness and salvation equally with the
- see below)
literally conveys the idea of missing the mark. Hamartia then
came to mean missing or falling short of any goal, standard, or
purpose. Here it is falling short of God's will for our lives.
W. S. Plummer addressed the
subtle and deceitful nature of sins, especially "little sins" and so
called "acceptable sins"...
We never see sin aright
until we see it as against God.... All sin is against God in this
sense: that it is His law that is broken, His authority that is
despised, His government that is set at naught.
COVER, CONFESS, CONQUER!
Warren Wiersbe astutely
There are three ways we may deal
with our sins.
Cover them. We cover our sins with our words. This is lying--
deceiving others and ourselves and lying to God. Lies are darkness,
whereas God's truth is light. When we lie, our character erodes (Pr.
When we cover sin, we lose God's light, fellowship and character.
Confess them. (Ps 51:1-4-note)
Admit and judge them--agree with God about your sin. This involves the
heart and the will. Some people have died because they repeatedly,
willfully, proudly and arrogantly defied the will of God. Admit you
are a sinner, say what is wrong and then come to Him and name it.
Confess your sin only in the circle of those influenced by
it--individuals or family. (Don't become an exhibitionist with the
public.) Confession brings release, freedom, forgiveness and a new
Conquer them. Jesus is in heaven today as our Advocate--as a
Lawyer before the Father. Abide in Him, love Him, walk with Him in the
light of His Word. Keep His commandments. Fellowship is a by-product
of our walk with God. To love Him is to serve Him and obey His
commandments. (Ed: Dear believer, confession and conquering are our
potential because of the finished work of Calvary and our receipt of
the gift of the Spirit, in Whom we can now choose daily to walk and we
will not carry out the desires of the flesh. Gal 5:16-note.
That is how we conquer and kill them as followers of Christ. Beware of
trying to conquer them without the power of the Spirit! Ro 8:13-note).
Are you covering sin or conquering sin in your life? Confess any known
sin and ask God to clean your heart. He wants to forgive you so He can
restore fellowship with you. (Prayer,
Praises and Promises or
Hard copy -Highly
Jerry Bridges gives us a
caution noting that in regard to..
1 Jn. 1:9, as needful and precious
as it is, is probably one of the most abused verses in all the Bible.
We abuse it in two ways: first, by an almost flippant use of it when
we regard our sin too lightly, and second, by a sense of despair that
we have sinned so often or so grievously that we have exhausted God’s
forgiveness. These two abuses are at opposite extremes, but both
result from a failure to view our sin as God views it. On the one
hand, we fail to see the seriousness of our sin, and on the other
hand, we fail to see the completeness of God’s forgiveness. To help us
get the most value from the great promise of 1 Jn. 1:9, let us
consider God’s view of sin. To see sin as God sees it, we must first
consider the seriousness of all sin. For too long we have tended to
categorize sin into that which is unacceptable and that which may be
tolerated. We have reached a state of peaceful coexistence with sins
of the thought life, sins where "nobody gets hurt," and little habits
or personality traits that are dismissed as "that’s just the way I
If we want to avoid the first abuse
of 1Jn. 1:9 wherein we regard our sin too lightly and claim God’s
forgiveness too casually and perhaps even presumptuously, we must
begin to view sin as God views it—as rebellion against His authority,
as despising His Person, and as defiance of His law. If you have been
guilty of treating 1 Jn. 1:9 too casually (and who of us hasn’t?), try
substituting rebellion or defiance or despising God’s Word for the
word "sin" as you plead that verse before God. "Lord, I confess my
rebellion and despising of Your Word and I plead your promise of
forgiveness and cleansing." As we do this, we will begin to view our
sin as God views it and will be less likely to abuse the gracious
promise of God by treating it too casually. (Discipleship Journal,
Issue 26, March/April 1985)
The Valley of
Vision has a Puritan prayer we would all do well to ponder (and
even to pray) that we might have a godlike view of our sin...
May thy Spirit speak in me that I may speak to thee.
I have no merit, let the merit of Jesus stand for me.
I am undeserving, but I look to thy tender mercy.
I am full of infirmities, wants, sin;
Thou art full of grace.
I confess my sin, my frequent sin,
my willful sin;
All my powers of body and soul are
A fountain of pollution is deep
within my nature.
There are chambers of foul images
within my being;
I have gone from one odious room to
walked in a no-man’s-land of
pried into the secrets of my fallen
I am utterly ashamed that I am what
I am in myself;
I have no green shoot in me nor
fruit, but thorns
I am a fading leaf that the wind
I live bare and barren as a winter
unprofitable, fit to be hewn down
Lord, dost thou have mercy on me?
Thou hast struck a heavy blow at my
at the false god of self,
and I lie in pieces before thee.
But thou hast given me another
Master and Lord,
thy Son, Jesus,
and now my heart is turned towards
my life speeds as an arrow from a
towards complete obedience to thee.
Help me in all my doings to put
and to humble pride.
Save me from the love of the world
and the pride of life,
from everything that is natural to
and let Christ’s nature be seen in
me day by day.
Grant me grace to bear thy will
and delight to be
not only chiseled, squared, or
but separated from the old rock
where I have
been embedded so long,
and lifted from the quarry to the
where I may be built in Christ for
Andrew Murray has an
excellent discussion of the confession of sins writing...
The one thing that God hates, that
grieves Him, that He is provoked by, and that He will destroy, is sin.
The one thing that makes man unhappy, is sin. (Ge 6:5, 6; Ezek. 33:6;
Rev. 6:16, 17) The one thing for which Jesus had to give His blood was
sin. In all the relationship betwixt the sinner and God, this is thus
the first thing that the sinner must bring to his God, sin. (Jdg.
10:10, 15, 16; Ezra 9:6; 9:2, 33; Jer 3:21, 25; Da 9:4, 5, 20)
When you came to Jesus at first, you perceived this in some measure.
But you should learn to understand this lesson more deeply. The one
counsel concerning sin is, to bring it daily to the only One who can
take it away, God Himself. You should learn that one of the greatest
privileges of a child of God is, the confession of sin. It is only the
holiness of God that can consume sin; through confession I must hand
over my sin to God, lay it down in God, get quit of it to God, cast it
into the fiery oven of God’s holy love which burns against sin like a
fire. God, yes, God Himself, and He alone, takes away sin. (Lev. 4:21;
Nu 5:7; 2Sa 12:13: Ps. 32:5, 38:19; 51:5, 19)
This the Christian does not always understand. (Ed: Most
believers know that they should confess sins, but far fewer know this
is to be as their very lifestyle. Even as they under grace practice
let's say the spiritual discipline of meditation or fasting, so too
they should make confession of sins one of their daily disciplines!
Our confession in no way is meritorious but is the way of unhindered,
unbroken fellowship with the Almighty. Unconfessed sins impede that
holy communion with Him.) (Even those who have been born again have)
an inborn tendency to desire to cover sin, or to make it less, or to
root it out only when he purposes drawing near to God (Ed: This
tendency is a clear indication of the persistence of the old flesh
nature still active in all believers until we reach our glorified
state). He thinks to cover sin with his repentance and self-blame,
with scorn of the temptation that came to him, or otherwise with what
he has done or still hopes to do. (Ge 3:12; Ex. 32:22, 24; Isa. 1:11,
15; Luke 13:26) Young Christian (Ed: And I would add "old
Christian" do not be deceived!) if you would enjoy the gladness of a
complete forgiveness and a divine cleansing of sin, see to it that you
use aright the confession of sin. (Ed: While some accuse Andrew
Murray of at times being a bit too mystical, I think he is spot on
regarding the following statement which is highlighted because of it's
importance to a vital, dynamic, Spirit filled Christian life)
In the true confession of sin
you have one of the most blessed privileges of a child of God, one of
the deepest roots of a powerful spiritual life.
For this end, let your confession
be a definite one. (Num 12:11, 21:7; 2 Sam. 24:10, 17; Isa. 59:12, 13;
Luke 23:41; Acts 1:18, 19; 22:19, 20; 1 Tim. 1:13, 15) The continued
indeterminate confession of sin does more harm than good. It is much
better to say to God that you have nothing to confess, than to confess
you know not what. Begin with one sin. Let it come to a complete
harmony betwixt God and you concerning this one sin. Let it be fixed
with you that this sin is through confession placed in God’s hands.
you shall experience that in such confession there are both power and
Let the confession be an upright one. (Prov. 28:13; Lev. 26:40, 41;
Jer. 31:18, 19) By it deliver up the sinful deed to be laid aside. By
it deliver up the sinful feeling with a view to trusting in God.
Confession implies renunciation, the putting off of sin. Give up sin
to God, to forgive it to you, and to cleanse you from it. Do not
confess, if you are not prepared, if you do not heartily desire to be
freed from it. Confession has value only as it is a giving up of sin
Let the confession be trustful (2 Sam. 12:13; Ps. 32:5; Isa. 4:7)
Reckon firmly upon God actually to forgive you, and also to cleanse
you from sin. Continue in confession, in casting the sin of which you
desire to be rid into the fire of God’s holiness until your soul has
the firm confidence that God takes it on His own account to forgive
and to cleanse away. It is this faith that really overcomes the world
and sin: the faith that God in Jesus really emancipates from sin. (1
John 5:5; 2:12)
Brother, do you understand it now? What must you do with sin, with
every sin? To bring it in confession to God, to give it to God; God
alone takes away sin.
Lord God, what thanks shall I express for this unspeakable blessing,
that I may come to Thee with sin. It is known to Thee, Lord, how sin
before Thy holiness causes terror and flight. It is known to Thee how
it is our deepest thought, first to have sin covered, and then to come
to Thee with our desire and endeavour for good. Lord, teach me to come
to Thee with sin, every sin, and in confession to lay it down before
Thee and give it up to Thee. Amen. - Andrew Murray. The New Life
Octavius Winslow similarly
emphasizes the supernatural and grace filled aspects of confession of
Deal much and closely with the
fullness of grace that is in Jesus. All this grace in Christ is for
the sanctification of the believer. "It pleased the Father that in Him
should all fullness dwell," for the necessities of His people; and
what necessities so great and urgent as those which spring from
indwelling sin? Take the corruption, whatever be its nature, directly
and simply to Jesus: the very act of taking it to Him weakens its
power; yes, it is half the victory. The blessed state of mind, the
holy impulse that leads you to your closet, there to fall prostrate
before the Lord in lowliness of spirit and brokenness of heart—the
humble confession of sin, with the hand of faith on the head of Jesus,
the atoning sacrifice—is a mighty achievement of the indwelling Spirit
over the power of indwelling sin.
Learn to take the guilt as it comes, and the corruption as it rises,
directly and simply to Jesus. Suffer not the guilt of sin to remain
long upon the conscience. The moment there is the slightest
consciousness of a wound received, take it to the blood of Christ. The
moment a mist dims the eye of faith, so that you can not see clearly
the smile of your Father's countenance, take it that instant to the
blood of atonement. Let there be no distance between God and your
soul. Sin separates. But sin immediately confessed, mourned over, and
forsaken, brings God and the soul together in sweet, close, and holy
fellowship. Oh the oneness of God and the believer, in a sin-pardoning
Christ! Who can know it?—He only who has experienced it. To cherish,
then, the abiding sense of this holy, loving oneness, the believer
must live near the fountain. He must wash daily in the brazen laver
that is without; then, entering within the veil, he may "draw near"
the mercy-seat, and ask what he will of Him that dwells between the
Thank God for the smallest victory gained. Praise Him for any evidence
that sin has not entire dominion. Every fresh triumph achieved over
some strong and easy-besetting infirmity is a glorious battle won. No
victory that ever flushed the cheek of an Alexander or a Caesar may
once be compared with his, who, in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
overcomes a single corruption. If "he that rules his spirit is better
than he that takes a city," then, he who masters one corruption of his
nature has more real glory than the greatest earthly conqueror that
ever lived. Oh, how God is glorified—how Jesus is honored—how the
Spirit is magnified, in the slaying of one spiritual enemy at the foot
of the cross! Cheer up, precious soul! You have every encouragement to
persevere in the great business of sanctification. True, it is a hard
fight—true, it is a severe and painful contest—but the victory is
yours! The "Captain of your salvation" has fought and conquered for
you, and now sits upon His throne of glory, cheering you on, and
supplying you with all needed strength for the warfare in which you
are engaged. Then, "Fight the good fight of faith, be men of
courage,"—"be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,"—for you
shall at length "overcome through the blood of the Lamb," and be "more
than conquerors [triumphant] through Him that has loved us." Here,
beneath the cross, would I breathe for you the desire and the prayer
once offered by the apostle of the Gentiles, in behalf of the church
of the Thessalonians: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved
blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus. Christ." Amen and amen.
- Daily Walking with God.
Stephen Olford - The
glorious language of this ninth verse undergirds the promise of divine
recovery and fellowship with God. There Is a Sure Foundation for
Forgiveness - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1:9).
There are two truths in this foundation: first of all, the
faithfulness of God's Word—"He is faithful" (1:9). If God says He can
forgive you, He will forgive you. He cannot lie. But more than that,
there is the work of God's righteousness—"He is... just" (1:9). Paul
tells us that He is "just and the justifier of the one who has faith
in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26). When the Savior hung on Calvary's cross, He
cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). Why
was He forsaken? Because He faced the greatest paradox of the ages:
"He who knew no sin was made sin; that we might be made the
righteousness of God in him" (2Cor. 5:21). So we can rest on the
promise of divine forgiveness. But more than that: There Is a Sure
Provision for Forgiveness - "He is faithful and just to forgive us
our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1Jn 1:9). In
that statement John tells us that God remits the guilt of sin. "He is
faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1:9). Taken from an Old
Testament ritual, that word forgive means to send away. You will
remember that on the Day of Atonement, after the high priest had
confessed the sins of the people over the head of a live goat, he sent
that animal away by the hand of a suitable man into the wilderness
(Lev. 16:21). This is a vivid picture of the way God puts away our
sins. 1. He Sends Our Sins to the Place of No Remembrance.
Isaiah 38:17 tells us that He has cast all our sins behind His back.
And Jeremiah 31:34 reminds us that He will forgive our iniquity, and
our sin He will remember no more. 2. He Sends Our Sins to the Place
of No Recovery. The prophet Micah tells us that He "will cast all
our sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19). (ILLUSTRATION)
Two or three miles off the south coast of England there is a place so
deep that all the dissolved sewage of London is released there. Each
day of the week, except Sunday, a ship loaded with garbage goes to
that spot, and at the press of a button all the filth of the city is
pumped into the depths of the sea. The remarkable thing is that
minutes later you can fill a glass with that seawater and drink from
it without contamination or harm. The sea is so deep that the poison
cannot surface. Similarly, God puts our sins into the place of no
recovery. 3. He Sends Our Sins to the Place of No Return. "As
far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our
transgressions from us" (Ps. 103:12). The point of this great promise
is that East and West can never meet! The farther east you go, the
more distant you are from the west, and vice versa.
But God not only remits the guilt of sin, He removes the grip of sin.
"He is faithful... to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1:9). If
sin has anything to do with our lives as believers, we become not only
defiled, but also defeated. Sin has its stains, and it also has its
chains. Thank God, He replaces unrighteousness with the righteousness
of our risen Savior. "He breaks the power of cancelled sin." (The Way
HE IS FAITHFUL AND RIGHTEOUS: pistos estin (3SPAI) kai dikaios: (Faithful: Dt 7:9 La 3:23
1Co 1:9 1Ti 1:15 Heb 10:23 11:11)(righteous: Isa 45:21 Zec 9:9
Ro 3:26 Heb 6:10 Rev 15:3)
As Augustine said "The confession of evil works is the
first beginning of good works....When man uncovers his sin, God covers
it. When man cloaks, God strips bare. When man confesses, God pardons.
David - I acknowledged my sin to Thee, And
my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions
to the LORD"; And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin. Selah. (Ps
See discussion of God's
Hiebert speaks to the
practical implications of "faithful and righteous" writing
that "The assertion “He is faithful and righteous” assures God’s response
whenever a believer’s sins have been confessed. God is “faithful”
to fulfill His promises of mercy to the penitent sinner; He is also
“righteous” (diakaios) in the way He deals with the confessing sinner.
The two terms indicate that in dealing with a Christian’s sins God is
true to His word and acts consistently with His holy nature. His
attributes of mercy and justice find their perfect reconciliation in
the cross of Christ (cf. 1Jn 2:1–2).
Utley notes that in this context faithfulness "refers to God the Father (cf. Dt.
7:9; 32:4; Ps 36:5; 40:10; 89:1, 2, 5, 8; 92:2; 119:90; Isa. 49:7; Ro
3:3; 1Cor 1:9; 10:13; 2Cor 1:18; 1Th 5:24; 2Ti 2:13). This truth is
our surest hope!
John Trapp - that this very text is a most
heavenly promise of mercy to those that confess heartily, and not
hollowly. The word faithful also refers to God's promises, as just
doth to the blood of Christ (the ransom received) whereby the saints
are cleansed, and it stands not with God's justice to demand the same
debt twice, viz. of the surety and of the debtor.
John Phillips - God does not cleanse us because He
is indulgent and easygoing but because He is faithful and righteous,
that is, He is faithful to His promises, and He does what is right. It
is right that He should cleanse us because God is just and because
Jesus has paid the full price of our sin and of all our sins at
Calvary. God has accepted the blood of Christ as full payment for both
our sinful condition and our sinful conduct.
= to persuade - induce one by words to believe, have
confidence) is something or someone who is worthy of faith or keeps
God is trustworthy because He is true to His Word and His Promises.
As the Greek wordsmith Marvin
Vincent says God is...
True to His own nature and
promises; keeping faith with Himself and with man. The word (faithful) is applied
to God as fulfilling His own promises (Heb 10:23; 11:11); as
fulfilling the purpose for which He has called men (1Th 5:24; 1Cor.
1:9); as responding with guardianship to the trust reposed in Him by
men (1Cor 10:13; 1Pe 4:19). “He remains faithful for He cannot deny
Himself” (2Ti 2:13). The same term is applied to Christ (2Th. 3:3; Heb
3:2; Heb 2:17).
Donald Burdick explains the
relationship between confession of God's attributes noting that "The foundation upon which the assurance of forgiveness rests is
indicated in these two attributes of God. His faithfulness and
righteousness are not dependent on confession. Instead, upon
confession He is found to be faithful and righteous.
Kress emphasizes how God's
Word is associated with His faithfulness - "Notice the comforting promise God gives to Israel concerning His
eternal, unchangeable character—Isaiah 40:8—“The grass withers, the
flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Remember the
words of Joshua to Israel near the end of his life: “Now behold, today
I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts
and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which
the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been
fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed” (Josh. 23:14). It’s the
same for us today. Jesus said in His high priestly prayer to the
Father, “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). Be encouraged. The God whose
Word is truth, Who cannot lie, Who is light and in Him there is no
darkness at all—this One has promised to forgive us and cleanse us.
And God’s Word never fails.
Kress adds that "If you want a picture of God’s
faithfulness and righteousness to forgive sins, look no further than
the Cross. At the Cross He was faithful to His very first promise of
redemption in Genesis 3:15. At the Cross He was righteous to carry out
the just wages of sin, death. The ultimate picture is of the Creator,
Jesus Christ the God-man, suffering for His own creatures’ sins—then
risen triumphant from the grave, where death could no longer hold Him.
(Notes for the Study and Exposition of 1st John)
Vine on God's attributes - Righteous is the state of being
right; in His faithfulness He is consistent with His character, in
acting righteously He is faithful to His own nature. His righteousness
stands in contrast with “all unrighteousness” (end of the verse) and
is in line with “Jesus Christ the righteous” (2:1). Cp. Revelation
3:14, and Jeremiah 42:5, where the Septuagint has “righteous and
(righteous) - This term is applied to God the Father in Rev 16:5;
John 17:25; Ro. 3:26. and God the Son in 1Jn 2:1, 3:7; 1Pe 3:18
God is a God of justice God's
justice and His justice demands the punishment of sin! God's justice
blazes forth like great bolts of lightning against the soul that
transgresses His holy law. God can remain perfectly just in forgiving
believers who sin because of the grand mystery of the redemption by
the blood of His Son Who was perfectly obedient to His Father's will.
The Lord Jesus Christ, left His glory and became a security and
substitute for those whom His Father gave to Him. He suffered in their
place, enduring the punishment that was due to them. And thus on the
Cross, Jesus the Lamb of God took away their sins (forever) when He
fulfilled the whole law by His suffering and death. In short, for
those who are in the blessed company of the redeemed, Jesus bled,
died, rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father for them.
Because of Christ's finished work, now justice demands
the sinner's pardon, and in a sense enters its righteous plea. Do you
see the difference between mercy and justice? While mercy begs,
justice demands--mercy says, "I ask it as a benefit." God's
attribute of mercy looks down with pity and compassion on the mourning
criminal. But it is God's attribute of justice (justice fulfilled and
now freely available to followers of Christ) which says, "It is the
sinner's due (to forgive him) because the Redeemer has once and for
all time discharged all of his debts, having stood as Surety in his
place. As J C Philpot says believers now "receive this blessed and
glorious truth (of God's perfect justice available to imperfect
sinners)... (and) it draws out of the bosom of Jehovah a full, free,
and irrevocable pardon of all transgressions, and especially of those
transgressions that the sinner confesses at his footstool!"
= right, just) defines that which is in accordance with high standards
of rectitude. It is that which is in right relation to another and so
in reference to persons defines the one who is morally and ethically
righteous, upright or just.
As Lenski is correct to
emphasize, the point of God as just or righteous in this
context is that
God who is light acts as a faithful and righteous Judge when he
acquits us and remits our sins for the sake of Christ. Our acquittal
is not an act of partiality and favoritism for which God can be
charged with injustice. He is as righteous and just when He is
acquitting the confessing believer for the sake of Christ's blood as
when He is damning the nonconfessing rejector of Christ's blood...The
charge of injustice is frequently raised when God damns some sinners
and acquits other sinners. The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, (Ro
3:24, 25, the ransoming of Christ and our faith in Christ's blood)
nullifies this charge and makes it recoil upon the heads of those who
bring it. When they at last face this Judge they and the entire
universe will be compelled to glorify all his acquittals as being
absolutely righteous and just.
Westcott notes that...
The essence of righteousness
lies in the recognition and fulfilment of what is due from one to
another. Truth passing into action is righteousness. He is said to be
righteous who decides rightly, and he also who passes
successfully through a trial. Righteousness is completely fulfilled in
God both in respect of what He does and of what He is.
David Smith in The Expositor's Greek Testament writes
would be unrighteous if
He broke His promise ratified by the blood of Jesus. Peace is not got
by denying our sinfulness and our sins, but by frankly confessing them
and availing ourselves, continually and repeatedly, of the gracious
remedy. “Woe to that soul which presumes to think that he can
approach God in any other way than as a sinner asking mercy. Know
yourself to be wicked, and God will wrap you up warm in the mantle of
His goodness” (Juan de Avila). “Remission of sins cannot be
sundered from penitence, nor can the peace of God belong to
consciences where the (reverential, sense of awe type) fear of
God does not reign” (Calvin). (The
Expositor's Greek Testament)
JUST AND JUSTIFIER
Boice explains how a
holy God can remain just or righteous and still forgive sins...
The answer to the question of the
justice of God in forgiving sins is found in Romans 3:20-28, where
Paul explains how it is that God is both 'just, and the justifier of
him who believeth in Jesus' (Ro 3:26KJV-note).
It is possible, he says, through Christ, Who, being God and therefore
having no sin of His own, was able and did die
for us. God punished our sin
in Christ. Jesus became the 'propitiation'
for our sins, meaning that by Him God's just
sin was satisfied.
Vine comments that
dikaios was first used of
persons observant of dikē, custom, rule, right, especially in the
fulfillment of duties towards gods and men, and of things that were in
accordance with right. The English word “righteous” was formerly spelt
‘rightwise’, i.e., (in a) straight way. In the N.T. it denotes
righteous, a state of being right, or right conduct, judged whether by
the Divine standard, or according to human standards, of what is
right. Said of God, it designates the perfect agreement between His
nature and His acts (in which He is the standard for all men). (Vine,
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament
Words. 1996. Nelson)
Vincent comments that
The two words, faithful and
righteous, imply each other. They unite in a true conception of
God’s character. God, who is absolute rightness, must be faithful to
His own nature, and His righteous dealing with men who partake of that
nature and walk in fellowship with Him, is simply fidelity to Himself.
“Righteousness is truth passing into action” (Westcott).
Brooke writes that...
God’s faithfulness is shown in the
fulfilment of His promises. He is just, in that, in spite of men’s
failures to fulfill their obligations, He remains true to the covenant
which He made with them; and this includes forgiveness on certain
TO FORGIVE US OUR SINS: hina aphe
(3SAAS) hemin tas hamartias: (To forgive -
Lev 5:6, 2Chr 7:14. Ps 130:4. Hos 14:4. Mt 6:14, 15. Col 2:13) (Our
sins - our sins. Is 59:2. Lk 15:18. Ro 3:23-26)
Vine notes that "while remission
(forgiveness) has reference to sinful acts, cleansing from
unrighteousness has to do with the personal character of the sinner.
There is thus a double result of confession, deliverance from the
guilt of sin, and purification from its pollution.
To forgive us...- The
English translation does not pick up the Greek conjunction "hina"
which normally introduces a result. In this case the cause is
"confession" of sins which is associated with a "double result"
regarding the sins. The Net Bible notes that "hina followed by the
subjunctive is here equivalent to the infinitive of result (Ed:
"to" forgive..."to" cleanse)."
Hiebert explains the "double
result" of confession - Sins not only break fellowship with
God but they also leave a person guilty and subject to punishment. But
when a person confesses sins to God, He graciously acts to “forgive”
(literally, to “send away" or "dismiss”) them as a definite act. God
removes the guilt and restores the fellowship. The clause “and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness” states God’s further act of
cleansing or purifying believers from the pollution of their sins.
Sins make believers "spiritually dirty" as well as guilty before God (Ed:
Can't we all identify with this picture? When I have willfully sinned
against light and grace, I feel filthy rotten and completely dirty!).
Vine - That God forgives and cleanses, and
is righteous in doing so (and He can never be anything else but
righteous), is a mark of His faithfulness to His own character.
Forgiveness is remission of sin's guilt and punishment, and
is remission of sin's defiling pollution.
Us...us - Note the
repetition of the pronoun. This implies personal forgiveness
and personal cleansing. I like the way G Campbell Morgan
described it in his excellent little book "Discipleship" - "Sin as actual transgression in the
past, must be pardoned, and sin as a principle of revolution within
must be cleansed."
MacDonald emphasizes the
"conditions" believers must fulfill in order to claim the promise of
forgiveness and cleansing...
In order for us to walk day by day
in fellowship with God and with our fellow believers, we must confess
our sins: sins of commission, sins of omission, sins of thought, sins
of act, secret sins, and public sins. We must drag them out into the
open before God, call them by their names, take sides with God against
them, and forsake them. Yes, true confession involves forsaking of
sins: “He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses
and forsakes them will have mercy” (Pr 28:13-note).
Robert Candlish writes that
the faithful and just God's forgiveness "is so free, so frank, so full, so
unreserved, that it purges our bosom of all reserve, all reticence,
all guile; in a word, “of all unrighteousness.”
While some interpret "forgive...our
sins" as both the once for all initial forgiveness when one
confesses Christ as their Savior and Lord and then as their ongoing
forgiveness, John Gill feels that "forgiveness of sin here intends not
the act of forgiveness, as in God, proceeding upon the
bloodshed and sacrifice of Christ, which is done at once, and includes
all sin, past, present, and to come; but an application of pardoning
grace to a poor sensible sinner, humbled under a sense of sin (and
weighed down by guilt), and confessing it before the Lord; and
confession of sin is not the cause or condition of pardon,
nor of the manifestation of it, but is descriptive of the person, and
points him out, to whom God will and does make known his forgiving
love; for to whomsoever He grants repentance, He gives the remission
of sin; in doing of which He is faithful to his word of promise; such
as in (Pr 28:13) (Isa 55:7) ; "and just"; in being "true"...to His
word; and showing a proper regard to the blood and sacrifice of His
Son; for His blood being shed, and hereby satisfaction made to the law
and justice of God, it is a righteous thing in Him to justify from
sin, and forgive the sinner for whom Christ has shed his blood, and
not impute it to him, or punish him for it... (Ref)
from apo = prefix implies separation + hiemi =
put in motion, send;
See study of noun
aphesis) conveys the basic idea of an
action which causes separation
and means to send from one's self, to forsake, to lay aside or to put
Aphiemi basically means
to send away and was used to indicate the legal repayment or
cancellation of a debt or the granting of a pardon. It is used in
Scripture to refer to God’s forgiveness of sin. Through the shedding
of His own blood, Jesus Christ actually took the sins of the world
upon His own head, as it were, and carried them an infinite distance
away from where they could never return. That is the extent of the
forgiveness of our trespasses.
The Old Testament description
of the once per year
Day of Atonement
beautifully illustrates the meaning of aphiemi, Moses recording
the goat on which the lot for
the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make
atonement (Hebrew =
kaphar = to cover over) upon it, to send it (Lxx = aphiemi)
into the wilderness as the scapegoat. (Lev 16:10)
Comment: As alluded to
earlier, the scapegoat
being sent away into the wilderness foreshadows Jesus' bearing our
sins away on the Cross, making possible God's forgiveness of sins.
in the present
context means that God "lets go of" the obligation (debt) we "owe" Him because
of sin against His holiness.
Westcott explains that "the image of ‘remission,’ ‘forgiveness,’ presents sin as
a ‘debt,’ something external to the man himself in its consequences,
just as the image of ‘cleansing’ marks the personal stain." In the
only other use of aphiemi in John's epistles, we read...
I am writing to you, little
children, because your sins are forgiven (past tense)
you for His name's sake. (1Jn 2:12)
John has 14 uses of aphiemi
in his Gospel, only one with the meaning of forgive, all others
with the more literal meaning of aphiemi -- Jn 4:3, 4:28, 4:52, 8:29,
10:12, 11:44, 48, 12:7, 14:18, 27, 16:28, 32, 18:8, 20:23 (twice - the
only use in with the sense of "to forgive"). Note especially the
literal meaning of aphiemi in John 4:28 where "the woman
left (aphiemi) her waterpot and went into the city."
Note also John 11:44 where Jesus says to those around the recently
"resurrected" Lazarus, "Unbind him and let him go (aphiemi)."
Do these literal uses give you a sense of what God does when He
forgives our sins? Why do we "play those tapes" over in our mind? He
doesn't. He has dropped them. He has let them go and you need to move
on. Not that we need to forgive ourselves, for although this concept
is commonly taught, it is not Biblical! What we need to do is receive
God's gracious (free) gift of forgiveness for our confessed sins!
SURELY GOD WON'T
Earlier we alluded to two common
abuses of 1John 1:9, the first being a trivialization of our sins, so
that this passage is taken more as a "provision" for our sins ("just
confess them, they're no big deal"), than as divine forgiveness for
our sins. The other error is to limit the depth and degree of
forgiveness which God promises. We think our sin is too great. Or more
commonly, we think that we have fallen into the same sin so many
times, that we have finally exhausted the limits of God's forgiveness
and 1Jn 1:9 no longer applies to us. As Bridges puts it...
The sin is too big or the
occurrences too frequent, so instead of experiencing the gracious
forgiveness and cleansing of God, we are weighed down by our own sense
of guilt. (Ibid)
But just as we needed a correct
view of sin, we likewise need a correct view of God's forgiveness.
Several OT passages teach the truth regarding God's forgiveness and
while most are directly promised to repentant Israel, they are
applicable in principle to all believers. We need to see God’s view of
our sin as it is forgiven in Christ.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our
transgressions from us.
Comment: Have you ever
meditated on this passage? Ponder what this verse is saying -- ask
yourself "Why didn't he say "as far as the north is from the south?
Where is the beginning of the east of the west? You get the picture!
In other words, while there is a North and a South pole, there is no
beginning nor ending point for east and west! They are an infinite
distance apart. The psalmist states that God removes our rebellious
acts an infinite distance from us!
Spurgeon's Wonderful Words:
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our
transgressions from us. O glorious verse, no word even upon the
inspired page can excel it! Sin is removed from us by a miracle of
love! What a load to move, and yet is it removed so far that the
distance is incalculable. Fly as far as the wing of imagination can
bear you, and if you journey through space eastward, you are further
from the west at every beat of your wing. If sin be removed so far,
then we may be sure that the scent, the trace, the very memory of it
must be entirely gone. If this be the distance of its removal, there
is no shade of fear of its ever being brought back again; even Satan
himself could not achieve such a task. Our sins are gone, Jesus has
borne them away. Far as the place of sunrise is removed from yonder
west, where the sun sinks when his day's journey is done, so far were
our sins carried by our scapegoat nineteen centuries ago, and now if
they be sought for, they shall not be found, yea, they shall not be,
saith the Lord. Come, my soul, awaken thyself thoroughly and glorify
the Lord for this richest of blessings. Hallelujah. The Lord alone
could remove sin at all, and he has done it in a godlike fashion,
making a final sweep of all our transgressions.
Isaiah 38:17 "Lo, for my own
welfare I had great bitterness; It is Thou who hast kept my soul from
the pit of nothingness, for Thou hast cast all my sins
behind Thy back.
Comment: Ponder this picture
- What happens when something is behind your back? Can you see it?
Does Isaiah say our sins just gradually move around to God's "back
side?" Clearly not - in fact He deliberately and forcefully puts them
so that He does not see them any longer! Given that He is omniscient,
is this difficult for our finite minds to grasp? Absolutely, but it is
Isaiah 44:22 "I have wiped out
your transgressions like a thick cloud, And your sins like a heavy
mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."
Comment: The KJV has "I have
swept away your sins like the morning mists". The verb "wiped out"
("swept away") pictures God expunging and blotting out our
transgressions. What happens to the morning mist when the sun rises
(cp the Risen Son)?
Isaiah 43:25 "I, even I, am the one
who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; And I
will not remember your sins.
Comment: What does God do to
sins in this passage? Why does He do it? He says "for My sake" which
removes any hint of human merit. The verb used in the Lxx translation
for wipes out is exaleipho which means
literally to remove a liquid by wiping it off and figuratively to
cause something to cease by obliterating any evidence. He chooses not
remember our sins!
When missionaries in northern
Alaska were translating the Bible into the language of the Eskimos,
they discovered there was no word in that language for forgiveness.
After much patient listening, however, they discovered a word that
means, “not being able to think about it anymore.” That word was
used throughout the translation to represent forgiveness,
because God’s New Covenant promise to repentant sinners is, “I will
forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer.
God’s forgiveness and
forgetfulness of sin is complete and permanent. He not only blots
out our acts of rebellion and defiance of His official record but also
out of His "forever memory!" Miraculous! Amazing grace!
(Compare Peter's promise in Acts 3:19).
Micah 7:19 (See context of Mic 7:18
for the foundation of the truth in this passage) He will again have
compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes,
Thou wilt cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea.
Comment: What is the basis
for God's dealing with our sins in this passage? (Compassion). How
thorough is the picture of forgiveness? They are doubly dealt with -
tread and cast! Our sins did not just "fall overboard" but the
omnipotent God Himself hurled them into the depths where they could
never be recovered, never be seen again and never brought to His mind. To ancient Israel
the distance from east to west (see Ps 103:12 above) and “the depths of the sea”
represented infinity. God’s forgiveness is infinite; it takes
away our trespasses to the farthest reaches of eternal infinity. And
He puts up a "No Fishing" sign as Corrie Ten Boom once quipped!
In light of these great truths
about confession of sin, seriousness of sin and forgiveness of sin,
Jerry Bridges exhorts us as believers not to...
abuse the promise of 1Jn. 1:9...not
(to) be too casual about the sins we confess. Let’s (confess) that we
have rebelled against God and despised His Word. But let us also not
despair of being forgiven. We cannot exhaust the limits of God’s
forgiveness. Let us accept the infinite value of Christ’s atonement
(Isaiah 53:6) and believe that God has, in fact, blotted out our
transgressions, hurling them into the depths of the sea and
remembering them no more. (Ibid)
Do you truly believe this?
Don't let the devil shoot fiery missiles at your mind like "How could
you have done that?" or "Do you really think you are fully forgiven
and completely cleansed?", etc, etc.
We need to take Paul's approach of
"forgetting [Greek verb = not just "forgetting" but
completely forgetting! And in the present tense, middle voice
picturing Paul continually forgetting!] what lies behind and
reaching forward to what lies ahead." Php 3:13)
Erwin Lutzer explains why God can so completely forgive our confessed
Christ’s death on the cross included a sacrifice for all our sins,
past, present, and future. Every sin that you will ever commit has
already been paid for. All of our sins were future when Christ died
two thousand years ago. There is no sin that you will ever commit that
has not already been included in Christ’s death.
All sin was remitted,
paid for, put away on the basis of the satisfaction offered for the
demands of God's holy law which sinners broke, when the Lord Jesus
died on the Cross. The law was satisfied. All the sins the believer
commits, past, those in his unsaved condition, and future, those in
his saved state, were put away on a legal basis at the Cross, and are
in that sense forgiven the believer the moment he places his faith in
the Lord Jesus, but the forgiveness spoken of here has to do, not
primarily with the breaking of God's law, for that was taken care of
at the Cross and recognized as such at the time the sinner placed his
faith in the Saviour. Therefore, sin in a Christian's life is a
matter, not between a lawbreaker and a judge, but between a child and
his father. It is a matter of grieving the Father's heart when a child
of God sins. The putting away of the believer's sin upon confession is
therefore a forgiveness granted by the Father and a restoration to the
fellowship that was broken by that sin. When the saint confesses
immediately after the commission of that sin, fellowship is not broken
except for that time in which the sin was committed.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
is the idea of missing the mark (see elaboration below). Later hamartia came to mean missing
or falling short of any goal, standard, or purpose. Hamartia in simple
terms in the context of the Bible signifies a departure from God's
holy, perfect standard of what is right
in word or deed (righteous), of missing His appointed goal (His will),
a deviation from what is pleasing to Him. In short, sin is conceived
as a missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is God. It is interesting to note
that in Romans the word dikaiosune which means "conformity to the
standard" appears as the opposite of hamartia, a missing of the
standard set by God (Ro 6:16, 17, 18).
The related verb hamartano, means to miss a mark, as when a
warrior throws his spear and fails to strike his adversary or when a
traveler misses his way or a poet who selects a subject which it is
impossible to treat poetically or who seeks to attain results which
lie beyond the limits of his art.
In the moral/ethical realm, hamartia conveys the idea of
missing the right, of going wrong. In the classic literature,
hamartia mainly conveys the idea of failing to attain in any field
Remember that John is serious about sin and therefore it is
not surprising that hamartia is
one of his
key words, occurring 17 times.
translated as sin singular; 6x translated as sins
plural. 1Jn 1:7, 8, 9 (twice), 1Jn 2:2, 12; 3:4, 5, 8, 9; 4:10; 5:16
(2x), 1Jn 5:17 (2x).
Kenneth Hemphill is right to remind us that we...
must not deal lightly
with the presence of sin in our life. We sometimes quote 1John
1:9 as if it were little more than a spiritual Band-Aid. We can be
tempted to think that sin really doesn't impact our lives and
we have this "forgiveness credit card" that lets us sin with
impunity. But we forget that sin grieves the heart of Holy God
and seeks to destroy our spiritual victory. It is like cancer—once it
gains a FOOTHOLD, it begins to spread its death throughout the body.
The only cure for the cancer is to totally obliterate the deadly
A few years ago while on an airplane, I read a fascinating but rather
unpleasant story. It had all the qualities of a good mystery. A
frantic 911 call brought the local police to a home. The caller had
only been able to communicate that she needed help and that she was
being killed. When the police arrived, they found a bloody knife
beside her lifeless body on the kitchen floor. Blood was spattered
across the room, yet when the police examined the body, they found to
their amazement not a single cut or puncture wound. The only evidence
on her body was a large mark across her chest and neck. They then
noticed a trail of blood leading into the next room. Following the
blood they found a dying boa constrictor. The woman had apparently
raised the snake as a pet. On this particular day, the snake had
apparently wrapped itself around the woman as she prepared food in the
kitchen. For whatever reason, she had allowed the snake to entwine her
body. Once the muscular snake began to constrict itself, the woman had
apparently sensed the danger. In a panic, she had grabbed a knife and
began to slash away. She managed to mortally wound the snake, but she
was killed in the process. This story is an incredible example of the
power of sin in our lives. We often take subtle compromises into our
lives like an innocent pet. We think we can handle the snake without
any real risk. Although we hear stories about the destruction of other
people, we rationalize that they were simply weak. We can handle it!
We think we know how far we can go. Thus we deal with sin flippantly
and lightly. (The Name of God) (See related study:
The Deceitfulness of Sin)
AND TO CLEANSE US FROM
ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS: kai katharise (3SAAS) hemas apo pases adikias:
(Cleanse: 1Jn 1:7 Ps 19:12 51:2 Jer
33:8 Ezek 36:25, 37:23 1Co 6:11 Eph 5:26 Titus 2:14) (Unrighteousness:
THE SECOND BENEFIT OF
THE DEFILEMENT OF SIN
Yes, cleansing is a
benefit, but even more, it is a miracle of God's grace!
Indeed, we do well to always consider forgiveness and cleansing as
miraculous works of God. May God use this truth to clarify and
sanctify our thinking (cp Jn 17:17), so that we dare not think lightly
of our sins nor of God's provision for forgiveness and cleansing of
those sins. Have you ever heard someone say to someone who has sinned,
"Just first John one nine it!" I fear this kind of attitude has
the potential to trivialize our sins and minimize the cost God's Son
had to pay to pave the way for first John one nine to be "effective."
I say these things, not that we should judge others, but that we
should never lose the sense of wonder and gratitude as we ponder
deeply and soberly of the miracle of forgiveness and cleansing wrought
by Christ on Calvary.
from katharos = pure, clean, without stain or spot;
English words - catharsis = emotional or physical purging, cathartic =
substance used to induce a purging, Cathar = member of a medieval sect
which sought the purging of evil from its members) means to make clean
by taking away an undesirable part. Webster says that to purify means
to clear from material defilement or imperfection, to free from guilt
or moral or ceremonial blemish or to free from undesirable elements.
This verb katharizo suggests that God does more than forgive,
but also that He erases the stain of sin (Ponder the words of
William Cowper's hymn - see
To reiterate cleanses is in the
which means Jesus' blood continually cleanses. Thus as we
continually walk in the light with God and fellowship with other believers,
of Jesus shed almost 2000 years ago on Calvary continues to have an
ongoing cleansing effect. (See
also previous discussion of the "blood")
Sinners always need cleansing
for as Spurgeon put it...
Sin is not a splash of mud on a
man's exterior; it is filth generated within himself.
forgiveness from cleansing noting that...
Cleansing contemplates the
personal character of the sinner; remission, his acts.
How are we forgiven and
cleansed? 1John 1:7 and
1John 2:1, 2 explain that these miraculous results are effected by the
blood of Christ (shed once for all time, for all sins, for those who
accept His blood payment by grace through faith). This is the only
means of forgiveness and cleansing - no sacraments, no self effort, no
self flagellation, no confession of sins to another man (who
ostensibly grants forgiveness), no payment of money (as in the middle
ages!). The only entity that can pay for forgiveness and cleansing is
the blood of Jesus. Peter explains that we...
were not redeemed with perishable
things like silver or gold from (our) futile way of life inherited
from (our) forefathers, but with precious
as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (1Peter
In the Revelation John records that
God "loves us (present tense - ongoing love) and released us (past
completed action) from our sins by His
(Rev 1:5, cp Rev 5:9)
All unrighteousness -
"Injustice in whatever form it may manifest itself" (Brooke).
John's descriptive phrase underlines the great truth that this divine
cleansing is total. Do we really grasp the miracle this describes? I
think not (speaking for myself). C H Spurgeon rightly
Oh, those words, and more
especially that glorious word “ all! “ This must include the
vilest sin that ever stained human nature, the blackest grime that
ever came from the black heart of man.
Marvin Vincent comments
The righteous One Who calls us into
fellowship with Himself, purges away the unrighteousness which is
contrary to His nature, and which renders fellowship impossible.
John Trapp adds that all
without exception; why then should we put in conditions, and as it
were interline God's covenant? He is a sin-pardoning God, Neh. 9:31;
no God like Him for that in heaven and earth, Mic. 7:17; He multiplies pardon, as we multiply sin, Isa. 55:7;
He doth it freely,
for His own sake, naturally, Ex 34:6; constantly, Ps. 130:4, and
here. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses (not, he has cleansed [past
will cleanse [future tense], but he does it [now and]) daily and duly, constantly and
continually. This should be as a perpetual picture in our hearts.
(Trapp's Commentary on the New Testament)
Wayne Barber says that...
One of the things I have discovered
is, when you are clean, everybody gets prettier and the grass gets
greener and the sky gets bluer. It is just amazing how it changes your
whole perception towards life. But if you let sin get into your life,
watch the countenance fall. What did God say to Cain in Genesis 4:6,
7? "Cain, why has your countenance fallen?" What is going on here? (Ed:
The uncleanness of unconfessed sin on the inside will always show
forth the taint of that sin on the outside!)
CLEAN FROM THE INSIDE OUT - Dr. Walter Wilson was visiting in a
home and the members of the family were asked to quote Bible verses.
One little girl quoted John 3:16 as follows: "For God so loved the
world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth
in Him, should not perish but have internal life." The
point is well stated: if you walk in the light of Christ, actively
confessing your sins, His blood will cleanse you from the inside out. Thank God for internal life! (Practical Illustrations)
COMMUNION WITH GOD
MUST BE PRECEDED BY
CONFESSION TO GOD!
from a = not + dikê = right) is a condition of
not being right, whether with God, according to the standard of His
holiness and righteousness or with man, according to the standard of
what man knows to be right by his conscience.
Adikia is used by
John elsewhere only twice
All unrighteousness is sin,
and there is a sin not leading to death. (1Jn 5:17)
He who speaks from himself seeks
his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent
Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (John
Hiebert explains that...
Unrighteousness means that
sin is a failure to measure up to the standard of righteousness. The
cleansing agent is not confession but the blood of Christ
(1Jn 1:7). Confession makes possible its application to
unrighteousness as a definite act.
Lenski adds that adikia is...
anything contradicting the divine norm of right; the abstract noun
(adikia) is not to be restricted to actual sins.
Brooke writes that adikia...
failure to maintain right relations with other men or with God.
WRONG WAYS OF
DEALING WITH SIN!
Yoho is quoted
by Paul Apple regarding the importance of dealing correctly with
(1) The Gnostics
taught that all evil is in matter, for which man is not personally
responsible. Moreover, they believed that their own true selves, their
enlightened spirit, could not be contaminated by material. They
claimed, therefore, to be sinless. All Gnostics knew that sin was not
their problem -- only ignorance. True, the Gnostics lived hundreds and
hundreds of years ago, but what about today? Today men are claiming
the exact same lie. Let's make a list:
(2) The Evolutionist: 'What
men call sin is nothing more than the residue of their animal
ancestry. Besides, it's got to be good because it feels so natural.'
(3) The Pantheist: 'Since
everything is part of God; then what men call sin is part of God;
therefore, sin is part of God and not sinful.'
(4) The Behaviorist: 'There
is no such thing as personal responsibility since a man becomes just
what his environment makes him.'
(5) The Psychoanalyst:
'Guilt is unhealthy.'
(6) The Sociologist: 'Collectively we bear the blame for the
ills of society.' (And if everyone is to blame in general, then no one
is to blame in particular.)
(7) The Alcoholic: 'I'm not
a drunkard; I'm an alcoholic. It's not a sin, it's a disease.'
(8) The Christian Scientist
(Cultist): 'The concept of sin is only an illusion of mortal
(9) The Holiness Perfectionist:
'I have reached sinless perfection and don't sin anymore. I just
(10) The Relativist: 'Since
there are no absolute values, then by definition there can be no right
Surely, a primary part of the Protestant pulpit must include a sharp
confrontation between the listeners and their sins. Christianity does
not teach that guilt is unhealthy; rather, it insists that confession
is healthy. Christianity first looks at sin right in the face and then
socks it right in the jaw. Jesus Christ did not excuse sin; He
expiated it. We must deal with the problem, not deny it. The Christian
faith does not deny guilt -- it removes guilt." (1
John Commentary - Tests of Eternal Life)
On the basis of the truth in 1John
1:9, how confident can we be that God will grant forgiveness and
cleansing in our own life? What is the extent of God's forgiveness and
cleansing? Finally what are the conditions?
It is our duty to feel
to fear sin, and
to fly sin as far as we can.
A Clear Conscience -
After Ffyona Campbell became famous as the first woman to walk around
the world, her joy was short-lived. Despite the adulation she
received, something troubled her. Guilt overtook her and pushed her to
the brink of a nervous breakdown.
What was bothering her? “I shouldn’t be remembered as the first woman
to walk around the world,” she finally admitted. “I cheated.” During
her worldwide trek, she broke the guidelines of the Guinness Book of
World Records by riding in a truck part of the way. To clear her
conscience, she called her sponsor and confessed her deception.
God has given each of us a conscience that brings guilt when we do
wrong. In Romans, Paul describes our conscience as “accusing or else
excusing [us]” (2:15). For the obedient follower of Christ, care of
the conscience is an important way of maintaining a moral compass
despite moral imperfection. Confessing sin, turning from it, and
making restitution should be a way of life (1Jn 1:9; Lev 6:2-5).
Paul modeled a well-maintained conscience, saying, “I strive always to
keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16NIV). Through
confession and repentance, he kept short accounts with God. Is sin
bothering you? Follow Paul’s example. Strive for a clear conscience.—
by Dennis Fisher
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
There is a
treasure you can own
That’s greater than a crown or throne:
This treasure is a conscience clear
That brings the sweetest peace and cheer.
If God’s Word guides your conscience,
let your conscience be your guide.
Breaking the Grip of Guilt
- Can you think of anything too hard for God to do? Put yourself
in the shoes of a fellow Christian who has committed a sin so awful
that the person simply cannot imagine that God would forgive it. Think
about what he or she considers to be impossible for God.
In an article on forgiveness, Pastor Charles Stanley wrote about
talking to a teenager who was having a hard time believing that God
could forgive her sexual sins. She told him she was a Christian and
had asked Jesus many times to forgive her. Even though she knew the
Bible says God had forgiven her, she still felt dirty in her heart.
This teenager thought she had found something that was too hard for
God to do—forgive her. When we tell ourselves that our sin is so bad
God won’t forgive us, we are doubting His power. We are robbing
ourselves of the great gifts of a clear conscience and fellowship with
God (1Jn 1:5-10).
Does guilt for sin have its icy hands around your heart? Is it
strangling your joy and making you forget that God’s forgiveness is
not based on what you do but on what Christ has done? Ask for His
forgiveness. Then thank Him for it, and moment by moment remind
yourself of the wonder of God’s grace. — by Dave Branon (Ibid)
Thinking It Over
If you're struggling with accepting God's forgiveness for something
you've done, meditate on these verses: Ps 32-note;
it's time for us to forget.
Hidden Sin - Chuck had
slowed to a stop when his car was hit from behind and was pushed into
the vehicle ahead of him. A sickening, crunching sound indicated that
additional vehicles had collided behind them.
As Chuck sat quietly for a moment, he observed that the vehicle
directly behind him was pulling out into traffic. Obviously hoping to
avoid an encounter with police, the escaping driver neglected to
notice he had left something behind. When the police arrived, an
officer picked up the hit-and-run driver’s license plate from the
ground and said to Chuck, “Someone will be waiting for him when he
arrives home. He won’t get away with this.”
Scripture tells us: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num.
32:23), as this man who fled the accident discovered. We may sometimes
be able to hide our sin from the people around us, but nothing is ever
“hidden from [God’s] sight” (Heb. 4:13). He sees each of our
failures, thoughts, and motivations (1Sa 16:7; Luke 12:2-3).
Believers are given a wonderful promise: “If we confess our sins,
[God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us
from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). So don’t let unconfessed,
so-called “hidden” sins come between you and God (1John 1:6-7). — by
Cindy Hess Kasper (Ibid)
We cannot hide from God
No matter how we try;
For He knows all we think and do—
We can’t escape His eye.
Sin may be hidden from others,
but never from God.
The Sin Buildup - For
hundreds of years, windmills around the world have been used to pump
water and to process grains. But in the last few decades, as wind
turbines producing electricity have become more prevalent, a “fly in
the ointment” unexpectedly occurred.
Researchers discovered that windpower generators worked fine at slow
speeds, but at high-wind velocity, bugs on the blades reduced power
output. Operators found that it was necessary to regularly wash off
the buildup of dead insects to avoid having them slowly decrease the
A buildup of sin in a Christian’s life can be a problem as well. God
has provided a way to clear the accumulation of sins from our lives.
First John 1:9 reminds us: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and
just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness.” But unless we do that often, we’ll be running on
diminished power. That’s because the power for living comes from God
and not us (2Cor 4:7-note).
When we try to live the Christian life in our own strength, we’ll feel
defeated—like windmills robbed of their energy.
God’s power can be more easily seen and experienced in our lives when
we get rid of sin’s buildup every day. — by Cindy Hess Kasper (Ibid)
The power in our Christian life
Will be diminished by our sin;
Confession will restore our strength—
When we’re forgiven, cleansed within.
Sin drains our spiritual power.
Confession restores it!
Pardon Me! - Hijackers
terrorized the passengers aboard an Indian Airlines jet for 8 days.
Then, on December 31, 1999, the gunmen issued a final demand before
releasing their hostages. “Sorry, but everyone has to say that I am
forgiven,” said the hijacker code-named “Burger.” When the
disbelieving passengers stared back at him, he ordered them to say, “I
forgive you.” After hearing the words, the hijackers disappeared into
Not many of us would be so arrogant as to insist that someone forgive
us. And we certainly wouldn’t demand that of God. Why? Because most
people sense that His mercy and pardon can be received only by a
humble, sincere, and repentant heart.
The apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and
just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). The word translated “confess” means “to
speak the same thing or agree with.” When we confess our sins to God,
we agree with Him about our sin, our need to be cleansed, and our need
to forgive others who have wronged us (Matthew 6:15-note).
We cry out, “Pardon me!”
None of us is truly free without forgiveness. We need God’s, and
others need ours. — by David C. McCasland (Ibid)
Forgive me, O Lord, for all of my
Please make my heart pure and cleanse me within;
Confessing to You what I have done wrong,
Restore now my joy—to You I belong.
Confession is the key
that opens the door to forgiveness.
God Wants Your Garbage -
Once a week, a truck moves slowly down our street, pausing at every
house. Full and sometimes overflowing garbage containers are picked
up, emptied into the truck, and returned to each house. During the
next week, as the rubbish accumulates and the odor increases, we
become eager for the return of the garbage truck.
More repulsive than this is the personal trash that accumulates in our
hearts and minds. Some of our garbage— hatred, gossip, bitterness,
lust— obviously foul. But even what looks like good deeds or upright
behavior can reek like garbage if contaminated by our selfish pride.
The Bible calls our inner garbage “sin.” In 1John 1:9, God’s disposal
system is outlined: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Confession means calling our sins what God calls them. We needn’t fear
revealing them to Him, for He already knows them.
Thank God, His sin-disposal service is available everywhere and every
day, not just at church on Sunday. He wants to get rid of your
garbage. Why not let Him? The moment you confess your sins to the
Lord, He casts them “into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).— by
Joanie Yoder (Ibid)
He has buried them there—
Where no mortal can see!
He has cast all our sins
In the depths of the sea!
The best eraser in the world
is an honest confession to God.
Repenting and Rejoicing -
A Christian woman asked another believer how he was doing. With a
broad smile he replied, “Repenting and rejoicing, sister!”
I believe this man was walking in a spirit of repentance—daily
confessing and turning from sins and rejoicing in God’s forgiveness.
Because honest repentance involves sorrow, we may forget that
repenting leads to rejoicing. When we first repent and become new
believers, we experience great joy. But if we then choose to live with
unconfessed sin, our joy is lost.
David believed his joy could be restored. After pouring out his prayer
of repentance to God, he made this humble plea: “Restore to me the joy
of Your salvation” (Psalm 51:12-note).
As David turned back to the Lord, his sense of purpose returned: “Then
I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted
to You” (Psalm 51:13-note).
Through his faith in a forgiving and merciful God, David began
rejoicing again in his salvation (Psalm 51:14-15-note).
Do you sometimes lose the joy of your salvation because you fail to
deal with your sins? If you’ll confess them, God will forgive you (1John 1:9). He’ll restore your joy and help you overcome sins that
trouble you. That’s what it means to be a “repenting and rejoicing”
Christian. — by Joanie Yoder (Ibid)
When we confess our sins to God,
We're washed as white as snow,
And He keeps on forgiving us
Each time to Him we go.
Conviction makes us sad—
confession makes us glad.
The Sanity of Confession -
In 1976, a psychiatric examination was ordered for a woman who
admitted she “willfully and knowingly” attempted to kill President
Ford. When she was informed that there was a possibility she could be
sent to jail for life, she replied that she could see “no reasonably
honest and honorable” way of avoiding it. “There comes a point,” she
declared, “when we each have to answer to ourselves, and it is with
our own conscience that we must make peace.”
The woman’s sanity was questioned because she admitted her guilt. The
judge ordered the tests after she had openly acknowledged her
wrongdoing instead of offering the expected denial.
This woman’s experience reminded me of the sanity of confessing our
sins to the Lord. In our modern world, owning up to one’s guilt rather
than trying to “beat the rap” may be considered a sign of instability,
but in God’s sight it’s the only sensible thing to do. The Bible says,
“He who covers his sins will not prosper” (Pr 28:13-note).
But remember that the Bible also says, “If we confess our sins, He is
faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 Jn. 1:9).
If you have disobeyed the Lord, admit it and receive His forgiveness.
It’s the only sane thing to do!— by Richard De Haan (Ibid)
I've wasted many precious years—
Now I'm coming home;
I now repent with bitter tears—
Lord, I'm coming home.
Confession of sin is not an admission of weakness
but a sign of strength
Why Can't I Forgive? -
The anguish in the caller’s voice revealed her pain. It wasn’t the
first time she had called. The reason was always the same. She had
said and done some things that hurt her sister badly, and now she was
having trouble feeling forgiven.
Oh, it’s not that she hadn’t done everything the Bible tells us to do.
She had. She confessed her sin to the Lord—repeatedly—and went several
times to her sister to ask for complete forgiveness. But she could not
accept it. She simply could not believe that she was truly forgiven.
Why can’t some people accept God’s forgiveness? The cause is often
their unbelief. God has promised to forgive us when we confess our
sins (1Jn. 1:9). To doubt His forgiveness is to doubt His integrity.
We are forgiven because He declared it, not because we feel it. We
have no reason to let unbelief block the joy and peace and freedom
that we have every right to experience.
Perhaps you are feeling unforgiven. Ask God to help you accept His
forgiveness. Believe His truth and reject the lies your feelings are
telling you. Your trust will glorify Him, and your inner joy and peace
God keeps His word. So when we ask Him to forgive us, we can be
confident that we are forgiven. — by David C. Egner (Ibid)
The vain regrets
Have vanished through God's pardoning grace;
The guilty fear has passed away,
And joy has come to take its place.
When God forgives,
it's time for us to forget.
Inside Out - During an
international publishing conference, a young Frenchman described his
experience at a book- signing event. A woman picked up one of his
books, browsed through it, and exclaimed, “At last, a story that’s
clean!” He replied gently, “I write clean because I think clean. It’s
not an effort.” What he expressed in print came from within, where
Christ had altered the very core of his life.
John 15 records Jesus’ lesson to His disciples about abiding in Him as
the only means to a fruitful life. In the midst of His imagery of the
vine and the branches, Jesus said: “You are already clean because of
the word which I have spoken to you” (v.3). Bible scholar W. E. Vine
says that the Greek word for clean means “free from impure admixture,
without blemish, spotless.”
A pure heart is the work of Christ, and only in His power can we
remain clean. We often fail, but “if we confess our sins, He is
faithful and just to . . . cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John
1:9). Renewal is an inside job.
Jesus has made us clean through His sacrifice and His Word. Our speech
and actions that strike others as being fresh and pure flow from
inside out as we abide in Christ.— by David C. McCasland (Ibid)
Acknowledging our sin,
Then trusting in Christ’s sacrifice
Will make us clean within.
Confession to God brings cleansing from God.