“Surely that order must be wrong”, some people
may be thinking.
Surely the correct order must be:
“Surely CONFESSION must come before
If YOU’RE thinking that way, be patient and
concentrate as we go through this presentation –
your thinking may have changed by the end!
In our Amazing Grace Course, we looked
at 6 Amazing Salvation Truths.
Here’s a reminder of them:
6 AMAZING SALVATION TRUTHS:
1. Two thousand years ago, Jesus paid the
price for and took away all the sin of the
whole world – one sacrifice for all time.
2. When we trust in Jesus, God JUSTIFIES us –
He declares us to be as holy and righteous
as Jesus Himself.
3. When we trust in Jesus, our perfectly holy
God comes to live right inside of us!
4. God can live in us because, in His sight,
we do not have the slightest stain of sin,
but we are perfectly holy and righteous.
5. The “sin curtain” is GONE, because God
counted our sin against Jesus and is no
longer counting it against us.
6. God’s amazing salvation gives us
VICTORY over sin and develops
righteousness in us over time.
We saw very clearly that In Jesus, all our sins, past,
present and future have been forgiven and taken
And because Jesus has paid the price for and dealt
with man’s sin problem, God is able to GIVE LIFE to
those who come to Him and believe in Him.
Further, because of the finished work of Jesus, God
actually JUSTIFIES the believer – He declares the
believer to be totally RIGHTEOUS in His sight!
This declaration is only possible because ALL sin
has been judged and punished in Jesus and we
HAVE BEEN totally forgiven of ALL sin.
Further, when we are born-again into our new life
Jesus actually comes to live right inside of us.
WE become the temple of God’s Holy Spirit.
All these wonderful truths are only possible
because Jesus, the Lamb of God,
took away ALL sin!
In Jesus, we are FORGIVEN PEOPLE!
”For he has rescued us from the dominion of
darkness and brought us into the kingdom of
the Son he loves,in whom we
have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
(Colossians 1: 14)
Sadly, not every Christian understands these truths.
And not every Christian preacher or teacher
preaches and teaches them – at least not in a clear,
In the Bible, there are two passages in particular
that can cause confusion. They are sometimes
taught in a way that might make people think that
all our sins are NOT forgiven – that we are NOT
really forgiven people.
Here they are:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and
will forgive us our sins and purify us from all
unrighteousness.” (1 John 1: 9)
”If you forgive other people when they sin
against you, your heavenly Father will also
forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their
sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
(Matt 6: 14-15)
Note that both of these passages start with the
That word “if” implies that we have something to
do FIRST, BEFORE God will forgive us our sins:
1. IF we confess our sins . . .He will forgive us our
sins . . .
2. IF we forgive others when they sin against us . .
. . our Heavenly Father will forgive us . . .
But throughout the Bible, we have very many
passages that clearly teach that In Jesus, we are
And as we saw in our Amazing Grace Course, the
only way we can have LIFE is because we are totally
And God can only declare us RIGHTEOUS because
we are totally forgiven people.
And God can only LIVE IN US because we are
totally forgiven people.
So, are we forgiven people?
Or does God only forgive us if we confess our sins
as we commit them.
If we first forgive
other people who have sinned against us?
How can we understand
1 John 1: 9 and Matthew 6: 14 + 15?
Let’s take a look at Matthew 6: 14 + 15 first.
”If you forgive other people when they sin against
you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your
Father will not forgive your sins.”
To establish whether this verse of Scripture applies
to Christians in the New Covenant, we simply have
“Did Jesus teach like this about forgiveness
BEFORE or AFTER He died on the cross?”
“BEFORE He died on the cross,”
everyone will say.
“But why does this matter? How does
this answer the question about whether
Matthew 6: 14 applies to Christians in
the New Covenant?”
The answer is very simple.
Many Christians think that the
New Covenant started when
Jesus was BORN.
This is not so.
Jesus was born under the Old Covenant law.
(Galatians 4: 4)
He lived and ministered under
the Old Covenant law.
He taught under the Old Covenant law.
And His teaching about forgiveness in
Matthew 6: 14 was CORRECT UNDER THE LAW –
that was how God forgave people under the law.
(Remember, the Old Covenant was an
“IF - THEN” agreement.)
God said, “IF you do this, THEN I will do that.”
(In the case of forgiveness, IF you forgive others,
THEN I will forgive you.)
The New Covenant, however, started at
the DEATH of Jesus.
Jesus fulfilled the law in His life and death and His
death ushered in God’s wonderful New Covenant.
In God’s wonderful New Covenant, we no longer
have an “IF” - “THEN” agreement.
In the New Covenant, God says, “ I have ALREADY
DONE . . .and that enables you to do also.”
In the case of forgiveness, in the New Covenant,
God has ALREADY forgiven us.
This enables us to in turn forgive others:
“Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving
one another, just as God through Christ
has forgiven you.” (Eph 4: 32)
“Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must
forgive others.” (Col 3: 13)
So when we are properly taught, there is no reason
for Christians to be confused by Matthew 6: 14.
Matthew 6: 14 correctly taught God’s
Old Covenant way for being forgiven.
This does NOT apply to Christians living in God’s
wonderful New Covenant!
In God’s wonderful New Covenant we HAVE
forgiveness, we ARE forgiven people and HAVING
God’s forgiveness ENABLES us in turn to forgive
those who have trespassed against us.
Matthew 18: 23 – 34 is a good example of how this
When we understand HOW MUCH God has freely
we should be quick to forgive others for the
relatively small things that they have done to us.
What about 1 John 1: 9?
Different people and denominations teach different
Some say 1 Jn 1: 9 means just what it says, “IF we
confess our sins, THEN God will forgive us our sins.”
These denominations give people a regular
opportunity to do just that – to confess their sins and
receive absolution (or pardon) from their priest.
So, these people do not live their lives as forgiven
people – they believe they are only forgiven up to the
last time they confessed their sins. If they die with
serious (mortal) unconfessed sin, they will go to Hell.
Other people and denominations know very well
that In Jesus, ALL our sins HAVE BEEN forgiven.
So they explain 1 Jn 1: 9 by saying that God is not
talking about forgiveness of sins here – He is
talking about RESTORING FELLOWSHIP.
They teach that our fellowship with God is broken
when we sin and when we confess our sin, our
fellowship is restored.
There is one big problem with this explanation:
In 1 Jn 1: 9, John DOES NOT say that
God will restore our fellowship.
He clearly states that if we confess our sin,
God WILL FORGIVE US our sin.
Would John have mistakenly said “forgive sin”
when he really meant to say, “restore fellowship?”
It becomes even more unlikely, indeed impossible,
when you consider what John was writing about in
the verses just before 1 Jn 1:9.
He was actually writing
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard,
so that you also may have fellowship with us.
And our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We write this to make our joy complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and
declare to you: God is light; in him there is no
darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with
him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not
live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is
in the light, we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all
sin.” (1 Jn 1: 3 – 7)
In these verses right before 1 Jn 1: 9, John is writing
about fellowship and actually uses the very word
fellowship FOUR times!
How likely is it that seconds later, he intends to
keep on writing about fellowship (that God will
restore fellowship with us if we confess) but now he
says instead that God will “forgive us our sins.”
It is inconceivable that John means
“God will restore fellowship” in 1 Jn 1: 9.
He SAYS “God will FORGIVE US OUR SINS” and he
means that God will forgive us our sins.
SO – If 1 Jn 1: 9 is talking about forgiveness of sins . .
but Christians are forgiven people,
past, present and future,
HOW DO WE UNDERSTAND 1 John 1:9?
John himself gives the answer when he tells us what
he wrote the letter for: (1 Jn 2: 26)
“I am writing these things to warn you about those
who want to LEAD YOU ASTRAY.”
And so we’ve come right back to the never-ceasing
problem of people trying to lead Christians astray
with false teachings. (Satan never gives up.)
The book of Galatians was written to encourage
Christians to STAND FIRM in the TRUE Gospel of
God’s wonderful grace.
Anything else is NO GOSPEL AT ALL!
And John’s first letter was written for the same
reason – false teachers were trying to confuse
Christians into accepting a philosophy called
GNOSTICISM. This was also NO GOSPEL AT ALL!
What did Gnosticism teach?
Among other things, two main errors:
1. Jesus did not come in the flesh.
2. People do not have a sin nature and peoples’
spirits can’t be defiled by things done in the
flesh. (This led to very licentious behaviour.)
Let’s see how John starts to refute the first error
FROM THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE of his letter!
I John 1: 1 – 4:
We proclaim to you the one who existed from the
beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We
saw him with our own eyes and touched him with
our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one
who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have
seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you
that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with
the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We
proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually
seen and heard so that you may have fellowship
with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and
with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these
things so that you may fully share our joy.
Notice how John repeatedly emphasizes that he and
the other disciples SAW, HEARD and TOUCHED
(If you didn’t know about the first false Gnostic
teaching, you might wonder why John goes on so
much about this as he starts his letter.)
Notice also later on how John says we must test
spirits: (1 John 4: 1 – 3)
”Dear friends, do not believe everyone who
claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them
to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For
there are many false prophets in the world. This
is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a
person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges
that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person
has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be
a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth
about Jesus, that person is not from God.”
So, throughout this letter, John repeatedly refutes
the Gnostic false teaching that Jesus
did not come in the flesh.
What about the SECOND false Gnostic teaching?
(We do not have a sin nature – that sin does not
“matter” – that people’s spirits cannot be defiled
by things done in the flesh.)
Again, John starts to refute this from the very first
chapter of his letter: (Chapter 1: 8 + 10):
”If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling
ourselves and not living in the truth. If we claim we
have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and
showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”
(And throughout the letter there are further warnings
about having a slack attitude towards sin and repeated
calls for Christians to live righteous lives.)
Can a person who claims to have no sin be saved?
What is the first thing we must recognize about
ourselves that will cause us to seek the Saviour?
We must admit that:
“We have all sinned and
fall short of the glory of God . . .”
(Rom 3: 23)
A person who does not acknowledge that they are
a sinner will not seek the Saviour.
A person who has not sought the Saviour
is not a believer.
So, how can we understand 1 John 1: 9 in the light
of what we have just learned?
In the first chapter of his letter, John is writing
about people who CLAIM to have fellowship with
God, but are actually living in the spiritual darkness
They are lying if they say they have fellowship with
God but go on living in spiritual darkness; they are
not practicing the truth.
He is writing to them in the hope that they will see the
error of their ways and DO what 1 John 1: 9 says every
sinner must do – CONFESS that they have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God. Also, they must
acknowledge that Jesus came in the flesh.
IF they do this, these people will have fellowship with
Christian believers and with the Father and with Jesus:
“We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually
seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with
us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his
Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that
you may fully share our joy.” (1 Jn 1: 3-4)
So, 1 John 1: 9 is not written for Christians!
Christians have ALREADY come to Jesus, have
acknowledged their sin, have received forgiveness and
have been cleansed from ALL unrighteousness.
1 John 1: 9 is written to UNBELIEVERS , people who are
in the church that he wrote to, but who are tied up in
the false teaching on Gnosticism. His aim is that they
will come to Jesus, acknowledging their sin. Then they
too, will be cleansed from all unrighteousness. Then
they too, will HAVE fellowship with the Christian
believers and can start living their new lives In Christ,
being transformed by Jesus
living in them and through them.
An important question as we close:
CONFESS THEIR SINS?
But NOT in order to be
(Christians are FORGIVEN PEOPLE!)
Christians should confess their sins
in order to be
TRANSFORMED – CHANGED!
“And we all . . are being transformed into His
(Jesus’) image with ever-increasing glory . . . .”
(2 Cor 3: 18)
The Greek word for “confess” is
This is from 2 Greek words:
• “Homou”, meaning “together with” and
• “Lego”, meaning “to say.”
So, “Homologeo” means “To say together with”
or, “to agree with.”
When we “Homologeo”, or confess our
sin to God, we are AGREEING with Him,
or ADMITTING that we have sinned.
Can we be transformed if we
do not agree with God and admit that
we have done wrong?
So a Christian “homologeoes” to start the
• He agrees with God that he has sinned.
• He THANKS God that he is a forgiven person and
that God is not counting that sin against him.
• He thanks God that God is at work in him,
transforming him into the image of Jesus with
ever-increasing glory and giving him VICTORY
over that sin and every other sin.
Knowing that we are forgiven people – knowing
the God is not counting our sins against us
actually FREES us to be open and honest with God
and with our fellow human beings about our
many shortcomings and “ways.”
“Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for
his own? No one—for God himself has given us
right standing with himself.Who then will
condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us
and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in
the place of honor at God’s right hand,
pleading for us.” (Rom 8: 33-34)
When we understand that God Himself has
JUSTIFIED us – has declared us NOT GUILTY of sin,
but perfectly righteous in His sight –
we no longer fear accusation or condemnation
from God or from other people.
We are FREE to openly and honestly “Homologeo”
our sins to both God and to each other and from
that open and honest “Homologeing” comes
and VICTORY OVER SIN.
So, back to the question we had at the start!
NOW what do you think is the correct order
for a Christian?
Christians are FORGIVEN PEOPLE.
Forgiven people do not confess sin in order to be
forgiven – they already HAVE God’s forgiveness.
Forgiven people DO need to be TRANSFORMED,
however, and CONFESSION
leads to TRANSFORMATION.
The world should want what we
Christians have because of our
May we experience great
As we learn to REST in our wonderful
New Covenant Salvation and as we see God
“transforming us into His image
with ever- increasing glory!”