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A. (:8) In Principle — “If we say that we have no sin (nature)” — Intrinsic Sin

self deception; divorced from the truth

“we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us”

B. (:10) In Practice — “If we say that we have not sinned” — Manifested Sin

blasphemy; divorced from God’s Word

“we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us”


A. In Accordance With God’s Perspective — Def. of “confess”

“If we confess our sins”

Not talking about the need to confess to a human priest, but to our great High Priest in the heavenlies.

B. In Dependence Upon God’s Character

1. Faithful — God keeps His Word

“He is faithful”

2. Just — God honors the Atonement

“and righteous”

C. In Reliance Upon God’s Blessing

1. Forgiveness of Known Sin

“to forgive us our sins”

2. Cleansing from all Unrighteousness — known or unknown

“and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”

Ryrie: “Forgiveness is absolution from sin’s punishment, and cleansing is absolution from sin’s pollution.”

What is the relationship between repentance and confessing sin?

Prov. 28:13 “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”

Repentance = Confession + Forsaking — these 2 should always go together

Confession = to say the same thing about our sins as God says

Legal background of the word: confessing a guilty plea in a court of law as you submit to the court’s judgment

To say that there can be confession and repentance apart from spiritual submission to God makes God a condoner of sin. 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.

In the context of 1 John we are not talking about initial repentance — not the initial confession of sin as a condition for salvation. 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 unrighteousness.

This confession of sins (like John Bunyon 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 our confession.

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.

John is not talking about continually confessing the same sin — that should not be our experience. When this is the case the Holy Spirit reminds us that our confession must be coupled with forsaking the sin — burning the bridge on whatever habit of life is causing us problems. We need to work at putting to death the deeds of the flesh.

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? You can be sure that Christ recognizes and has experienced the seriousness of sin.