1 John 1:9: If We Confess Our Sins

By W.R. Jones

The inspired apostle John writes to the children of God. He urges us to abstain from sin, but in case we fail, he tells us what to do with our sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). As children of God, we must fight against temptation with all our might, but there is a great comfort in knowing I can obtain forgiveness, if I miss the mark. Therein, lies my hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

The word “confess’ in this passage is from the Greek homologeo (homos, same, and lego, to speak). The word means “to speak the same thing, to assent, accord, agree with; to confess by way of admitting oneself guilty of what one is accused of, the result of inward conviction” (W.E. Vine, Dictionary, p. 24). It “figuratively implies a dialogue between God and the sinner, in which the Father describes the condition of the sinner, and the sinner finally accedes to the correctness of the description and thus confesses that God is right!” (Woods, Commentary on 1 John 1:9).

The key word in this relationship with God is confess. No child of God who refuses to confess his sins can be forgiven. Some try to take care of their sins by moving away from the scene of their sins. Some feel that time will take care of the problem. Believe it or not, some folk become exceedingly caught up in good works trying to overcome their iniquity. Such efforts are all in vain.

The thing, however, that amazes me the most is to hear some brother trying to “rationalize” his sin away. Rationalism means: “The practice of guiding one’s opinions and actions solely by what is considered reasonable” (Webster). So, some fellow rationalizes like this: “What about the Christian who has been faithful for 30 years, but in a weak moment commits adultery and is killed before he repents?” “What about the man who has been preaching 25 years and in his discouragement and disgust at the treatment he receives, quits serving the Lord and dies before he is restored to the Lord?” “What about the woman,” a faithful Christian and wife for many years, who is neglected by her husband and in her loneliness turns to another man?” “Now, don’t you think it is unreasonable that God would let people like this be lost, in view of their good years for the Lord?”

People who think like this have left the law of the Lord. When all the verbal dust has settled, the Law of the Lord still says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” Brethren, if we want to go to heaven we had better spend more time “confessing our sins” and trying to overcome, and less time rationalizing. Sin is a “missing of the divine mark.” Sin “breaks God’s heart,” and nothing less than full and contrite confession will make it right.

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 23, p. 711
December 5, 1991