Confession and Forgiveness
1 John 1:5-10
One of the New Testament's most quoted verses is 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." Many Christians run to this verse for reassurance that God will once again hear their confession for a recurrent sin-and they promise to do better.
But some of our long-standing ideas about confession are misguided. We understand that when we are saved, our past sins are forgiven. However, some of us are erroneously taught that, though we are saved by grace, we remain forgiven by continuous confession. The implication is that unless we confess, God won't forgive our present and future sins.
It's easy to build our concept of forgiveness on one verse, but we must consider the broad view of Scripture. Romans 8:1 says that, once we trust Christ as Savior, we are free from condemnation. Our sin may still have temporal consequences, but God in His unconditional love has fully pardoned us.
Sin causes us to abandon our fellowship with God, just as the prodigal son deliberately and willfully walked away from his father. Certainly, confession is a vital part of a right relationship with the Father-maintaining intimate daily communication with Him-but our standing as His child cannot change.
God does not require confession in order to wipe away our condemnation. Instead, He wants us freed from guilt's emotional bondage. If we refuse to repent, He allows the pressure of our shame to remain. Through repentance, our intimate two-way communication with the Father is re-established.