Should Christians Confess Sins? My Insights on 1 John 1:7-9 and 1 John 2:1-2

Thursday, May 05, 2016 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

1 John 1:7-9, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

It has been suggested that this text is referring to non-believers, rather than believers in Christ. it has also been suggested that this text was dealing with gnostics among the believers in John's day. There is also the argument that this text is the only instance of it's type in the New Testament. However, that would be true for many other significant scripture texts in the New Testament, and is therefore not a reason to disregard this text.

These arguments are offered to dismiss the notion that Christian should confess any sins to God. The argument goes that if Christians have been forgiven there's no need to confess any sin committed. I believe that notion is erroneous and that John was speaking to Christians in this text. Rather than make this text about being forgiven as in the same light as sinners are forgiven, let's consider this text in light of our relationship with God.

If the text was referring to non-believers, then John was promoting salvation by works. There is also the important matter the sinners are not "cleansed" from unrighteousness (wrong deeds), they need a new birth and the gift of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ

As a believer, I am in relationship with God. I am in relationship with my wife (for example). If any of my actions displease God or my wife, I acknowledge it out of respect for my relationship with God or my wife (or any other person with whom I relate). I don’t become lost or divorced because of any mistake or sin, but because of love, I value openness and honesty in our relationship.  

My “confession” is not an appeal to be saved again or to avoid marital retribution. This is not about the new birth or falling back to "square one" in my marriage. The forgiveness I seek is not remission of sins again (that’s already been done). I only seek to celebrate the forgiveness already attained by sharing my mistake—and not hiding it, making excuse for it, or allowing self-deception to become a problem. A believer does not sin in the same manner (or with the same intent) as unsaved people. 

I am simply respecting my God (or my wife) by being willingly accountable. I am pleased to do what pleases Him (or her). I do this, not from any sense of condemnation or guilt — but only from a sense of deep love and respect for the relationship.

1 John 2:1, "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."

This text plainly states that John was speaking to believers, including his previous words (chapter one - though chapters were not present in the original text).

Ii am saved, forgiven, have no sin consciousness, and blessed to serve God everyday. My righteous lifestyle in Christ does not involve mistakes or sins. However, IF (or when) I make a mistake, I remember my relationship, access God’s grace in Christ, and rejoice in my forgiveness and righteousness already purchased. The blood of Jesus has never lost its power!

For example, If I make a mistake that affects my wife, and she is aware of it, from a motivation of love and respect for her, I acknowledge it. Denial of mistakes (sins) hurts relationships and hinders personal growth (which improves by growing up into Christ in all things - Eph. 5:15)

In genuine relationships we always find the blessing of growth through nurture which makes us stronger.


Here is an excellent article by Andrew Wommack on this subject: