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I have heard excellent views for both sides of the coin on this topic, but I was curious as to what others thought about this particular verse. Is 1st John 1:9 referring to BELIEVERS or UNBELIEVERS?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.[KJV]

Here's a quote from a particular article from 'Got Questions', just to start this off:

A frequent question is “what happens if I sin, and then I die before I have an opportunity to confess that sin to God?” Another common question is “what happens if I commit a sin, but then forget about it and never remember to confess it to God?” Both of these questions rest on a faulty assumption. Salvation is not a matter of believers trying to confess and repent from every sin they commit before they die. Salvation is not based on whether a Christian has confessed and repented of every sin. Yes, we should confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned. However, we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of our sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Believers do not have to keep asking for forgiveness or repenting in order to have their sins forgiven. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and when they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43).

What we are to do is confess our sins: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). What this verse tells us to do is “confess” our sins to God. The word “confess” means “to agree with.” When we confess our sins to God, we are agreeing with God that we were wrong, that we have sinned. God forgives us, through confession, on an ongoing basis because of the fact that He is “faithful and just.” How is God “faithful and just”? He is faithful by forgiving sins, which He has promised to do for all those who receive Christ as Savior. He is just by applying Christ’s payment for our sins, recognizing that the sins have indeed been atoned for.

At the same time, 1 John 1:9 does indicate that somehow forgiveness is dependent on our confessing our sins to God. How does this work if all of our sins are forgiven the moment we receive Christ as Savior? It seems that what the apostle John is describing here is “relational” forgiveness. All of our sins are forgiven “positionally” the moment we receive Christ as Savior. This positional forgiveness guarantees our salvation and promise of an eternal home in heaven. When we stand before God after death, God will not deny us entrance into heaven because of our sins. That is positional forgiveness. The concept of relational forgiveness is based on the fact that when we sin, we offend God and grieve His Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). While God has ultimately forgiven us of the sins we commit, they still result in a blocking or hindrance in our relationship with God. A young boy who sins against his father is not cast out of the family. A godly father will forgive his children unconditionally. At the same time, a good relationship between father and son cannot be achieved until the relationship is restored. This can only occur when a child confesses his mistakes to his father and apologizes. That is why we confess our sins to God—not to maintain our salvation, but to bring ourselves back into close fellowship with the God who loves us and has already forgiven us."

reference: https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-sin.html

The last paragraph is interesting, from the sense of "relational" forgiveness versus "positional forgiveness". A lot of people say, "Well, when we DO sin, and we know that we did, and we acknowledge that we did, do I just tell God that I'm sorry for sinning and recognize that I messed up?" What constitutes telling God that you're "sorry"? Saying sorry isn't necessarily confessing anything, although technically it is, no? It's not a matter of having to be "forgiven again," of course--God forbid!--but how exactly should one approach this?

If I sin (and we all do, whether we want to or not, of course), and I recognize that I sinned, do I simply just ask God:

"God, I acknowledge that I sinned; I messed up! I realize that I sinned against you, and I am sorry. Thank you for forgiving me of all of my sins--past, present and future--on the Cross--thank you, Lord, for shedding your Blood for ME so that any sins that I commit in this wretched body are already forgiven. Thank you, Lord! Amen!"

Is that not confessing that I sinned to God? I'm not asking for 'forgiveness' in the sense of needing to be forgiven again POSITIONALLY, but is it as the article above says, more of a 'RELATIONAL' thing? How does one reconcile all of this? What does one say to God when we DO sin and recognize it? 1st John 1:9 doesn't apply here, because we are ALREADY FORGIVEN of the sin we committed, but what do we say or do in response to that? Obviously we don't want to 'grieve the Holy Spirit', and yet we do it all of the time because of our sins, and it's the BODY that sins because of it's corrupt state.

Anyway, what do you make of all of this? How does one reconcile all of this?

  • Can you define exactly what you mean by "believer" and "unbeliever", as the corresponding Greek words - or at least their cognates - are used in the New Testament? – user33515 Mar 9 at 21:08
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The passage is about believers, since it includes St. John. Just as are all the "we" passages in John's Epistle:

1 John 1:5-10 (DRB) And this is the declaration which we have heard from him, and declare unto you: That God is light, and in him there is no darkness. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

You said:

It's not a matter of having to be "forgiven again," of course--God forbid!--but how exactly should one approach this?

However, this implies that to need to confess a sin now to be forgiven, that you have already been forgiven for that sin with or without your repenting for it. But God isn't going to forgive you for something you don't so much as regret doing (and so won't ask for forgiveness)!

You also said:

1st John 1:9 doesn't apply here, because we are ALREADY FORGIVEN of the sin we committed

Likewise the author you quoted wrote:

Both of these questions rest on a faulty assumption. Salvation is not a matter of believers trying to confess and repent from every sin they commit before they die. Salvation is not based on whether a Christian has confessed and repented of every sin. Yes, we should confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned. However, we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness.

Apart from the attempt to conflate the moral necessity to confess your sins and the requirements of a Law devoid of grace notwithstanding, he literally says 'this rests on a faulty assumption' in reference to one who believes one must "confess our sins" to be "cleansed from all unrighteousness." Making him actually the one doing the question-begging ('Christians don't need to confess their sins [the only assumption invoked by anyone!], therefore this passage cannot teach such').

Both of your explanations make a faulty assumption: that all sins you will ever commit not only have provision already made for them (and are in that sense 'already' forgiven), but also do not require your repenting for them (as we will see this results in the paradox of being saved, but not forgiven for sins)—are unconditionally forgiven.

The offered explanation of this passage you quoted also has inherent in it many problems. Of them, the direct contradictions:

Salvation is not based on whether a Christian has confessed and repented of every sin. ... At the same time, 1 John 1:9 does indicate that somehow forgiveness is dependent on our confessing our sins to God.

And then notice how it is explained away by the invocation of an invented-on-the-spot division of forgiveness into two categories:

It seems that what the apostle John is describing here is “relational” forgiveness. All of our sins are forgiven “positionally” the moment we receive Christ as Savior. This positional forgiveness guarantees our salvation and promise of an eternal home in heaven. When we stand before God after death, God will not deny us entrance into heaven because of our sins. That is positional forgiveness. The concept of relational forgiveness is based on the fact that when we sin, we offend God and grieve His Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). While God has ultimately forgiven us of the sins we commit, they still result in a blocking or hindrance in our relationship with God.

It sets out to prove Christians have no need to confess all their sins before their death, and yet goes on not to deny that the ultimate provision for forgiveness, which is ours in accepting Christ, does not preclude the necessity of asking for forgiveness for those sins in time.

Then the author remarkably says:

That is why we confess our sins to God—not to maintain our salvation, but to bring ourselves back into close fellowship with the God who loves us and has already forgiven us.

Meaning one can be saved but not forgiven. A very strange doctrine.

In a word: there is no 'reconciling,' since there is no contradiction. Contradiction can be imported, by assuming 'Christians don't need to repent of their sin' as the author you quoted did—not otherwise, where no contradiction is present.

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  • So, in your understanding, as Christians we 'do' need to 'confess' the sins that we commit to God? but only because it's to help our growth and 'fellowship' with God? Chapter 2 of 1st John. in verse 12 says: : "I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake." The word 'forgiven' here is in the perfect tense. If John chapter 1 verse 9 is to Believers, then why would John tell Christians--those that are spirit-filled--"forgiven believers" to ask for forgiveness in chapter one and then tell them that they are 'forgiven' in chapter 2? – Derrick Tyson Dec 12 '18 at 2:22
  • In other words, I'm not saying one has to "be forgiven" time and time again by 'confessing sins' to God, because that would mean that it would still be up to us, when Christ is the finisher, but is it more of a confession in the since that we should do it to stay in fellowship? Some will say that The Apostle Paul NEVER told his converts that they had to 'seek forgiveness' AFTER salvation, and he didn't. Where did he tell a born again believer they had to confess there sins to be forgiven again? Paul told the Ephesians in 1:7 they have forgiveness of sin according to the riches of His grace. – Derrick Tyson Dec 12 '18 at 2:29
  • Some argue that since John's epistle isn't a doctrinal book. If one believes that it's true that we have to 'confess' our future sins to be forgiven again, then a lot of believers were lost between AD 58 when Paul wrote Romans and AD 90 when John wrote his epistle here. Paul never once told them they had to confess or repent to be forgiven again. The idea that we lose forgiveness by sin and need to confess to get re-forgiven is unscriptural, and that would make life under the OT 'better' than what we have today! I mean, at least THEIR sins were forgiven for the next year the Day of Atonement! – Derrick Tyson Dec 12 '18 at 2:32
  • John 2:12 says: "I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake." FORGIVEN here is in the PERFECT TENSE: an action in the past with results that go on forever. The tense in 1 John 2:12, Uses all the tenses, Tense: Perfect:; Mood: Indicative: An assertion of a fact; Voice: Passive: Subject receiving the action Every Translation is in Perfect tense. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that a believer has to confess his sins daily to be forgiven again. If this were possible, another Blood Sacrifice would be required. – Derrick Tyson Dec 12 '18 at 2:34
  • In essence: do I "need" to "confess" sins that I commit, or "should" I? I do believe that we should confess our sins to God if we know them, because of the relational/familial understanding, but the idea that some have that you have to be 'forgiven' perpetually is erroneous, I feel. That is Legalism, is it not? If I ask God to 'forgive me' of the sin that I commit a week from Tuesday, what 'position' am I taking when I ask for that forgiveness, if God has already granted us forgiveness for all future sins? Saying 'sorry' or 'apologizing' to God for sinning seems like a 'confession', no? – Derrick Tyson Dec 12 '18 at 2:38
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It is my view that 1 John 1:9 is speaking to believers, to those who have come to saving faith in Christ Jesus after the Holy Spirit has convicted them of their sin and they have repented before God. John’s first letter is addressed to believers. John is admonishing them to “walk in the light” and condemns any who claim that they are without sin. 1 John 2:1-2 says this:

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

The NIV Study Bible makes this comment:

“Forgiveness through Christ’s atoning sacrifice is not limited to one particular group only; it has worldwide application (see 1 John 1:29). It must, however, be received by faith (see John 3:16). Thus this verse does not teach universalism, but that God is an impartial God.”

The unbeliever has not (yet) confessed his/her sins because he/she is unregenerate and spiritually dead. Until the Holy Spirit awakens in the unbeliever their desperate need to repent and turn to God, they remain lost. They have not been forgiven because they have not asked to be forgiven by God. Yes, the opportunity is there for all to be forgiven, but only when they realise how God views sin and the terrible consequences of rejecting what God, in Jesus, has done to save them.

John Stott on justification and salvation as it applies to the believer:

I have been saved – in the past – from the penalty of sin – by a crucified Saviour: “For in this hope we were saved" (Romans 8:24).

I am being saved – in the present – from the power of sin – by a living Saviour: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18).

I shall be saved – in the future – from the presence of sin – by a coming Saviour: "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" (Romans 5:9)

When the believer places their faith in Christ Jesus they receive salvation and forgiveness but they continue to sin and therefore need to confess and repent before God and seek His help in overcoming the sinful nature. Commentator Matthew Henry said this about the power of God’s Word to break sinful habits:

The Bible “convinces powerfully, converts powerfully, and comforts powerfully. It makes a soul that has long been proud, to be humble; and a perverse spirit, to be meek and obedient. Sinful habits that are become, as it were, natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, are separated and cut off by this sword. It will discover to men their thoughts and purposes, the vileness of many, the bad principles they are moved by, the sinful ends they act to.” (Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hebrews 4:11–16)

The work of sanctification is an on-going process in the life of the believer. As someone once said, “Sanctification is both a done deal and a daily work.” But with God’s grace and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the believer will get there.

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The book of 1 John is written to believers. The gospel of John tells us how to receive the free gift of eternal life, the book of 1 John tells us how to enjoy fellowship with God and one another as a person who is already saved.

Confession is not how one becomes saved but how intimacy is restored in a relationship when a party is at fault (fellowship). I think the best way to understand what confession is, is to think about what it is not. If I sin against you and I try to hide my sin, cover it up, make excuses for it, then I'm not really respecting you and being honest and you most likely will see right through it. This can break the fellowship between us. When we confess our sins to God, we are simply being honest and transparent with Him and agreeing with His standard. Confession restores intimacy, it doesn't establish the relationship.

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Got Questions has much to recommend it but I would have a slightly different take. In order to follow this, let me state the argument without references and put them in an appendix below.

  1. When Jesus made atonement at the cross it was for all people. All are forgiven of all sins. See Appendix 1 below.
  2. This is not to suggest that all will be saved. Far from it. The sinner needs to accept the salvation by being converted (ie, turn toward God). Our repentance does not earn salvation (is not a work to earn salvation) because that has already been granted. The Holy Spirit prompts us to accept God. Only those who refuse will be excluded for final salvation. That is God's love and salvation is an "opt out system" not an opt in system". God's salvation can be rejected. See appendix 2.
  3. The real purpose of confession, is not to earn salvation or receive forgiveness but to begin the process of reform. Just as a drunk can have their spouse's forgiveness, no reform can occur unless and until the drunk confesses that he/she is a drunk and must get help.

Some people appear to skip the last part of 1 John 1:9 - "cleanse us from all unrighteousness". That is the real purpose of forgiveness - a reminder that we need God at every moment of every day. The surrounding two verses cannot be divorced from v9 - reminders that we have sinned and that we are all sinners - thus our complete dependence on God and His saving and cleansing/reforming work in our lives.

Thus, confession (literally agreement in the Greek) is a recognition of our status as sinners and need of Jesus. We thus facilitate, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13, 14) the process of growing into Christ. (Eph 4:13-15)

APPENDIX 1: God made atonement (forgave ) all people

  • John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
  • John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave …”
  • John 12:32, “I [Jesus] … will draw all people to myself.”
  • Acts 17:30, “God … commands all people everywhere to repent.”
  • Rom 3:23, 24, “… for all have sinned … and all are freely forgiven...”
  • Rom 5:8, 10, “… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. … if, while were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of His Son, …”
  • Rom 5:15, “But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s [Adam’s] offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to the many.” [Note the same word, “many” applies to all people.]
  • Rom 5:18, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all people, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all people, resulting in justification of life.”
  • Rom 11:32, “For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”
  • 2 Cor 5:14, “…we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
  • 2 Cor 5:18, 19, “…God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ …”
  • 1 Tim 2:3, 4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
  • 1 Tim 2:6, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself as a ransom for all people.”
  • Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all people.”
  • Heb 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
  • 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
  • 1 John 2:2, “He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours [Christians to whom John writes] only but also for the whole world.”
  • Isa 53:6, “We all like sheep have gone astray … and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

APPENDIX 2: Salvation must be accepted and can be rejected

Here are some examples of those who rejected salvation by their choice.

  • The “wilderness generation” of Israelites that God called out of Egypt perished in the desert because, despite being called, turned their backs on God and refused to trust in God by believing the majority spy report.
  • King Saul who was a statesman and prophet called by God (1 Sam 10:11, 12, 19:24), yet was ultimately lost when he consulted demons for advice and then committed suicide.
  • Ps 69:28 contains a plea for David’s enemies to be blotted out of the book of life!
  • Eze 18:21-28 also teaches that the wicked can reform and be saved, and the righteous can apostatise and be lost. Both situations are incompatible with Calvinism’s view of salvation and humanity.
  • Rom 11:17-21 discusses the warning that people who had been grafted into the “olive tree” of the Christian community could be broken off if they were unfaithful.
  • 1 Cor 9:27 Paul says he disciplines his body to keep it under control so that after preaching to others he does not become a castaway/disqualified. That is, Paul believed that it was possible that he could lose his way and become lost.
  • 1 Tim 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
  • Similarly, Heb 6:4-6 also teaches that some “who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit…” can fall away.
  • Heb 10:19-35 contains an extended passage on enduring. It contains some real gems about the possibility of losing one’s faith and confidence such as:
  • Heb 10:26: If we(!) deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left
  • Heb 10:29: How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them and who has insulted the Spirit of grace. This verse clearly shows that it is possible to be sanctified and subsequently lost.
  • Heb 10:35: Therefore, do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward.
  • Heb 10:36: You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised.
  • Heb 13:9, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace …”
  • 2 Peter 1:10, “make your calling and election sure”. This clearly allows for the possibility of losing one’s election.
  • 2 Peter 2:21, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”
  • 2 Peter 3:17 contains a very stern and sobering warning to be on guard that we do not fall from our secure position. Verse 14 contains a similar warning.
  • 1 Cor 10:12 also contains a stern warning from Paul, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”
  • Gal 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
  • Jesus’ parable of the sower, or perhaps the parable of the soils (Matt 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:4-15) contains several classes of people (soils) who start out well in the Christian life but lose their way. The conclusion is also significant: “by their constancy bear fruit”. (Luke 8:15)
  • Jesus’ parable of the banquet (Luke 14:16-24) contains a very good example of people rejecting the call (or “election”) of God as well as God having to ask some people more than once and begging them to the wedding banquet. Jesus’ conclusion is, again, significant, “not one of those men who have been invited shall taste of my banquet.”
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Interesting answers and comments. This passage is a very difficult one and for a long time I thought that it was one that would have to wait until we see the Lord Jesus face to face. It has been in my experience personally as well as many I have talked to be a passage that can (I'm not blaming the passage) cause problems. Problems of acceptance, because of performance (did miss a sin or forget a sin to confess etc... and there are many. Why is this a problem? Because the view that this is a believer would mean in order to maintain “fellowship” and a right relationship with God so that he is all right with me I need to make sure that I have no (and I want to repeat, no) sin in my life that is not confessed and repented of in order to maintain fellowship. This is a huge deal! God is holy and cannot accept any sin period. Therefore, in order to maintain fellowship with God since need to be confessed and confessed and confessed and confessed. Back in the 70s we had the Holy Spirit booklet from’s Crusade for Christ. We called it spiritual breathing. The problem was it was not spiritual breathing it was spiritual panting. The sins to confess are not just the 12 and the dirty dozen but any sin and if someone says differently their not being honest.

The problem is that there’s multiple contradictions and this passage is not an easy passage. I think those that are really good at performance do pretty well but, I want to remind you and all of us He is not really interested in your performance and mine He is only interest in His son’s performance. (Now for those of you who are getting upset at this moment thinking I’m saying our behavior does not matter stop it right there, I am not saying our behavior does not matter it does. But it’s not our performance it’s our new birth in Christ that is the most important for us to understand because from this flows the normal Christian life were we depend upon Christ as our very life to allow him to do the living in and through us and our behavior needs to match up with our new identity, Paul dealt with this in Romans chapter 6 as well as other passages.) Now to the point, this has been as I said earlier a passage that is not easy. Back in 1998 God started to teach more and more to me about his grace and his finished work in is been extremely helpful. I will then a lot of detail but I will tell you the first John 1:9 issue has haunted me for years and as I said others as well I have counseled. Back then I began exploring the issue in more depth and came across a Masters thesis from Dallas theological seminary which dealt with the three different views of first John chapter 1. First of all, I did not even know there were three different views of first John chapter 1. I was a Bible and psychology major that’s another story, but what I found out is that these three different views were from godly men I had respected in read. This was a scary venture because there is only one interpretation in Scripture with many applications only one of the three views is right.

The first view which I had lived by and practiced but to be honest exhausted me was the “in and out of fellowship view” this was to maintain my relational relationship with Christ so that my progressive sanctification would be experienced and lived out. Sounds good. I’m not going into much detail here except to say this is my spiritual breathing or bar of soap verse.

The second view was that this passage in chapter 1 was not a “prescription” passage that is to say we need to confess our sins to, get cleansed and forgiven of all our unrighteousness to maintain “fellowship” with God. Instead it was a passage that was “descriptive” which described that Christians agree with God that we sin. These are tests to contrast the false teaching that was the early form of Gnosticism. It heavily relied upon this early form of Gnosticism that denied several things, one Jesus never came in the flesh, two that they never sin, or are sinners. On this one I will not be going detail as well.

The third view with this passage in chapter 1 was not dealing with believers but unbelievers those who are in a local church who had not yet come to a relationship with Christ. Hence, the heavy emphasis on the early form of Gnosticism as described above and why John uses the descriptive in 1:1-4 what we have heard, what we’ve seen, what we have touched, , and handled…etc. it is calling those in 1:1-4. It is appealing to those who believe the false teachers to come “fellowship, a relationship, a partnership) with them (the apostles) and with the father and with his son Jesus Christ verse 3. It was also going to be an invitation for them to agree with God that they sin the 1:9 answer so they too can come into a relationship and have fellowship with the apostles, God the father in the Son.

So, this got interesting. View number two and three had some merit. Why? For several reasons:

• First John 1:9 is the only verse after the resurrection that says we are to do this to get forgiveness and cleansed of unrighteousness. There is no other verse like it. Yet, don’t call me a heretic but think for a moment and asked Holy Spirit why does Paul in all his writings not admonish us to do exactly what first John 1:9 is? This would be critical would it not? • There are numerous verses that tell of our total forgiveness! I understand what the fellowship view says but there is no Greek word for this the describes a second forgiveness needed for to maintain a relationship. We must ask the question why we would use one verse 1 John 1:9 to justify when there’s so many more versus that declare opposite. • In my reading of the view one the in and out of fellowship view I had no one deal with the whole of the New Testament (after the resurrection) with versus 1:1-4 about these descriptives and why in the world John would use them. There might be one out there but I did not find them that went through in detail of why in the world you go through that process of describing the physical side of the Lord Jesus Christ. • In my reading on the first view again I had no one go through and deal with light and darkness and all the verses in the New Testament that describe light and darkness. There is no verse that say a child of God is in darkness, only that a child of God is in the light because we are “in Him” children of light as Paul would say. How come we do not deal with these verses to let Scripture interprets Scripture? This is a disservice it does not adequately answer these key terms. • Chapter 2 of 1 John 2;1-2 describe by Derick, “John 2:12 says: "I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake." FORGIVEN here is in the PERFECT TENSE: an action in the past with results that go on forever. The tense in 1 John 2:12, Uses all the tenses, Tense: Perfect:; Mood: Indicative: An assertion of a fact; Voice: Passive: Subject receiving the action Every Translation is in Perfect tense. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that a believer has to confess his sins daily to be forgiven again. If this were possible, another Blood Sacrifice would be required.” – Derrick Tyson Dec 12 '18 at 2:34

There is more, but I tend to be wordy and I’m sure I will not convince anybody differently if you are stuck on this maintaining. Unfortunately many see the Lord Jesus Christ on a swivel chair and this is performance-based acceptance. I cannot reconcile these contradictions with mambo-jumbo, the gospel is clear Jesus finished work is a completed work and the honest truth is until you and I rest in the finality of the cross will never move onto the resurrected life. The gospel is or normal ordinary people not just smart Theologians, God has taken the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. Please note there are to be errors I did this on Dragon natural speaking forgive me. Please note I heart is that I want all of us be assured of this marvelous good news.

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  • Welcome to BHSX, Ken, so glad to have you with us. Please take the tour to get yourself familiar with the site. Enjoy ! hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour – sara Nov 17 '19 at 13:41
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I have heard Bible teachers use the aorist tense in 1st John 1:9 to translate forgive and cleanse as have forgiven and have cleansed.

My understanding though is the Aorist tense, while often referring to past events, is not to be nailed down with time reference.

In my Greek classes at DTS I was amazed nothing leaned more on context to interpret Greek words. I'd heard all my previous Christian life before going to seminary that the Greek is just so specific and just really removes the doubt about the meaning someone was expressing.

That's a real overstatement if you talk to Greek experts. Even in Greek class, over and over they would emphasize context context context.

Sure, knowing Greek really does help sometimes to get a deeper meaning that the English doesn't describe and where English translations are just trying to take a middle of the road translation. They typically try to avoid getting super specific, and you can bring those points out and preach that.

I just get nervous when people use a Greek word to define the point of a passage instead of letting context be the priority.

Look at some of the examples in this article that would be kind of silly to interpret the aorist as a past perfect: https://www.billmounce.com/monday-with-mounce/the-aorist-so-much-more-past-tense

In 1Jn 1:9 the context would suggest the author is saying if this happens then this will happen. But people will dive into the Greek so fast and don't seem to mind when it butts heads with the context.

But then when you have people like Andrew Farley even interpreting a simple future Greek tense as past perfect (changing "will be forgiven" in James 5:15 to have been forgiven, or are forgiven) these days all bets seem to be off regarding logic and context. In that verse there are even a series of future tense verbs leading up to that one. The whole context seems to suggest that if this happens then these things will happen. Not arguing at the moment about every prayer in Faith should result in a healing.

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Is 1st John 1:9 referring to Believers or Unbelievers?

John is writing to his fellow Christians and if they sinned against God's law they need forgiveness. God is "faithful and forgives us " if we confess our sins to him with a repentant attitude that moves us to abandon wrongdoing.

1 John 1:9 and 1 John 2:1 (Bold "to God" entered in verse by me)

The apostle John wrote: " If we confess our sins, [to God] he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."[KJV]

Christ Is Our Advocate

1 John 2:1 (NASB)

" My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous"

God wisely advises Christians in case of grave sins , to take further action and to call the older men or elders of the congregation, the desciple James wrote:

James 5:14-16 (NASB) Bold in brackets are mine)

14 "Is anyone among you sick?[spiritually sick] Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can."

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