Before even getting into an explanantion, let's ask the question, after we confess our sins once and He forgives them and cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness, what do we do next? Keep asking?? Absolutley NOT!!!! We have already been cleansed of ALL unrighteousness the moment we were born again and became new creations in Christ. We are made righteous in Him. The basis of our fellowship with Him is His blood.
It just does not make sense that Christians have taken this verse and built a whole doctrine around it when actually the entire first chapter of 1 John was written to combat the Gnostics, who were unbelievers. This verse stands as the only one of its kind under the New Covenant. Paul does not mention once in any of his 13 letters. NOT ONCE!! No other verse places a conditional "if" on forgiveness and cleansing. John was saying to these unbelievers that if they confessed their sins (turned toward God and away from the world), God would be faithful and just to cleanse them from ALL unrighteousness. This would be a one time act for those being born again. Please take note of the word "ALL." For believers, the moment we received Jesus, all our sins were forgiven once and for ALL. We are not to live from confession to confession, but from faith to faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work. Awesome!
Seriously, how many times does a person need to be forgiven for ALL sins? Just ONCE!! :-)
The teaching that a believer has to keep confessing sins to be forgiven is completely false. It is a slap in the face to the finished work of Christ. If (repeated) confession of sins is vital for your forgiveness, then the Apostle Paul, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, has done us a great injustice because he did not mention it even once-not once-in any of his letters to the church.
In the verse before 1 John 1:8-9, John writes in verse 7, "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." The moment you receive Christ, the blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing you. It is as if you are under a waterfall of His forgiveness that never ends. Amen!
In 1 John 2:12, John states, "I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake." This is a statement to believers. Our sins have already been forgiven.
Over two thousand years ago early forms of Gnostic thought infiltrated the church and popularized the idea that Jesus was only spirit. The Gnostics taught that all matter was evil. Early Gnostics claimed that God would never stoop so low as to take on human flesh. So the apostle John purposely uses physical words in his opening statement to challenge this Gnostic heresy. Later, he says that anyone who does not believe that Jesus came in human flesh is not from God (1 John 4:3).
Interestingly, early Gnostic philosophers didn't just deny the physicality of Jesus; they also denied the reality of sin. Gnostics claimed that sin wasn't real or didn't matter, since it took place in the physical world. So John opens his letter by attacking two Gnostic heresies: 1) Jesus as nonphysical, and 2) sin as a nonreality.
Understanding John's purpose in opening his letter this way is crucial. Some claim that 1 John 1:9 must refer to Christians, since John uses the word 'we'. There are preceding and following verses that John uses the word 'we' and 'us' to politely combat Gnostic heresy.
If we claim to be without sin...(1 John 1:8)
If we claim we have not sinned.... (1 John 1:10
the truth is not in us... (1 John 1:8)
(God's) word is not in us... (1 John 1:10)
Is John referring to believers here? When referring to people who don't have the truth in them or God's word in them, does he include himself and the church in that group? Certainly not! John is politely saying that if we humans claim we have no sin, we're liars and don't have Christ (the Word and the Truth) in us. Clearly, John is talking about unbelievers.
To further support what John is saying here, let's look at 1 John 5:10. John wrote, "The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given us concerning His Son." John is describing those that do not believe in God as making Him a liar. He stated the same message in 1 John 1:10, "If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us."
John is clearly addressing unbelievers.
Verse 9 is a remedy for unbelievers who have been influenced by Gnostic peer pressure and are now claiming sinless perfection. John is essentially asking, "Instead of claiming that you have no sin, will you consider changing your mind? Instead of claiming you've never sinned, how about agreeing with God?" He's inviting Gnostics to rethink their point of view. If they'll admit their sinfulness, then God can do a saving work in their lives.
1 John 1:9 is an invitation to become a Christian. As believers in Christ, God has taken away all our sins, condemning them in the flesh (Romans 8:1-39). He remembers them no more (Hebrews 8:7-13). Hebrews 10 describes that one sacrifice of Christ is sufficient. Jesus perfected for all time those who are sanctified by His one offering (Hebrews 10:14). There is no longer any offering for sin (Hebrews 10:18). Our forgiveness and cleansing are not dependent on our memory, our confession, or our asking. Our forgiveness and cleansing are solely because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Amen!
To place icing on the cake, if confessing sins is necessary for forgiveness under the New Covenant, then why does Paul not mention it once in any of his letters (13 letters in the New Covenant)? NOT ONCE!!! Simply because it is not for believers in the New Covenant.
The truth is the truth and it will set us free! :-)