1 John 1:9 (NKJV) says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John was written because of Gnosticism, which was a religious philosophy that was infiltrating the church. Gnosticism was the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first 3 centuries.
Gnostics claimed to possess a higher knowledge, not from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical higher plain of existence and salvation was obtained through knowledge.
They believed that Jesus did not have a human body and also thought that the virgin birth was impossible. This caused confusion and division because even though they claimed to follow Jesus, they were constantly contradicting Jesus’ teachings.
Knowing the belief system of the Gnostics helps us see how John is separating believers from unbelievers in the first chapter of 1 John.
1 John 1:1–4 (NKJV) says, [What Was Heard, Seen, and Touched] “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us – that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
Then John tells the gospel message in 1 John 1:5–8 (NKJV) saying, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice 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 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. “
He then tells them how to get born again in 1 John 1:9-10 (NKJV) explaining, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
John has addressed all of the major Gnostic beliefs. He needed to tell them that they were in desperate need of a savior! They had been lying to themselves in saying they could do this on their own.
If we read all of what John was saying, we see that confession for the forgiveness of sins is a one-time event. All means all. In verse 7, “all sin” includes the sins we haven’t committed yet. This is good news!
So what about confessing your sins to get saved? Nowhere in scripture does it say, “You need to confess your sins to get saved.” You just need to confess and believe in Jesus according to Romans 10:9-10.
Don’t miss the next blog for this continuation.