Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., Pastor, Grace Bible Church of Costa Mesa, California

Copyright 1995-2014 Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., All Rights Reserved


In 1 John 1:9, the Greek word for the phrase "to confess" is homologeo. This word means to say, name, admit, and/or identify. It is actually a compound verb which connotes the idea of two people coming to a common agreement on a matter. In other words, when we cite our sins to the Lord, we are actually coming to an agreement with Him on what He says is sin, we say is sin. 1 John 1:9 is addressed to believers, and the confession of homologeo is potential. This is from the third class conditional clause in the Greek, which means "maybe yes, maybe no."

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)

The Foundation for Confession of Sin

The divine components for confession of sin come from Christ's work on the Cross where our Lord Jesus Christ bore all sins that the human race would ever commit. God the Father judged all of those sins - they can never be judged again! Therefore, the only way to be forgiven and cleansed is to agree that this is a sin and it was judged at the Cross based on 1 John 1:7-9. The human components or mechanics are to simply utilize 1 John 1:9 by identifying all of our known sins. Of course, just as repentance is the other side of the coin of belief for salvation, repentance is the other side of the coin of confession of sins for forgiveness and cleansing and restoration to fellowship.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7-9)

The Conditions of Confession of Sin

If we confess our sins with no works attached to that confession, we just admit to God the Father that the activity we have done is in fact a sin, which is agreeing with God's definition of what He considers a sin to be - not what we think if should be! God has condemned it as a sin and He expects you to admit that it is a sin. At that point of admission, you have had a change of mental attitude about that sin. Your admission that a past activity is in fact a sin according to God, your desire to cite it to God as part of confession means you understand that you should not do it again. Your motivation is not to repeat that sin again as you continue to grow spiritually in the Christian way of life. You might be tempted and yield to the temptation later on and commit the same sin or sins, but at the point of confession, there is a genuine repentance or change of mental attitude which accompanies the confession of the known sins. On this basis, God forgives - not on the basis of how we feel about it or on penance or on a promise for our future conduct. The only thing necessary is actual citation of the sin in confession and the repentant mental attitude that preceded it.

Basing our forgiveness on something we do constitutes works and is not what the Bible teaches. Just as God deals with man in grace at salvation (God does everything, man does nothing), so also God treats us in grace in the matter of restoration our souls to the filling of the Holy Spirit. This enables us to realize that we are unable to accomplish anything apart from His power and strength through the Holy Spirit. That pleases God. As we grow in the spiritual life, we learn that we must depend upon Him for everything.

The Result of Confession of Sin

In 1 John 1:9 , we see the phrase "faithful and just" which means He will always do the same thing every time - He forgives us completely. He is just or right in doing this because on the Cross the Lord Jesus Christ bore the sins of the entire human race, which were imputed to Him by the justice of God. The phrase "confess our sins" refers to our known sins which are forgiven. The phrase "purify us from all unrighteousness" refers to the unknown or forgotten sins which are also forgiven. This magnifies the grace of God. This cleansing prepares us for the filling of the Holy Spirit who is no longer grieved by the sin of arrogance or quenched by any hostility that we might have towards the Lord and His plan. Confession of all personal sins which are known, hands the control of our soul to the Holy Spirit. The filling of the Holy Spirit means that the believer is 100% spiritual. There is no such thing as partial spirituality! It's all or nothing.

The Issue in Confession of Sin

Confession does not pay the penalty of sin. The penalty of sin has already been paid in full by Jesus Christ on the Cross. The penalty of sin is NOT the issue in confession! The issue is whether or not we want to be restored to fellowship with God on His terms. Confession is the means God has provided for us to be restored to a proper relationship with Him when we have sinned so that we realize our complete dependence upon Him to handle sin in our lives. This is a part of orientation to God's grace as it relates to the Christian life. Confession was not given to us to keep us from sinning. This comes as we grow through the intake, metabolization, and application of Bible truth, or by divine discipline. Divine discipline is from a gracious and loving heavenly Father who wants to impress upon us the seriousness of the offense so that we will not want to do it again, just as human parents are to treat their children in disciplining them. 1 John 1:9 is not a license to sin, but the license to serve the Lord.

Confession gives control to the Holy Spirit, who does the serving through us, producing divine good, which is glorifying to God. When the Old Sin Nature is in control of our soul, we produce sin, human good and evil. This is dishonoring to God and could never glorify our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:9 works because the Bible says that it does. You are filled with the Holy Spirit upon confession of sin, but we must faith-rest the confession of our sins as a result of the filling of the Holy Spirit. This faith is one of the results of being controlled by the Spirit. This is the realization that spirituality is obtained by confession alone.

The grace of God in confession of sin never leads to excesses of any kind, but the Old Sin Nature always does. The Lord Jesus Christ defends us when Satan accuses us whether or not we confess when we are out of line. This is the doctrine of the Attorneyship of Jesus Christ from 1 John 2:1. Why does Jesus Christ defend us when Satan accuses us? It is because the Lord Jesus Christ paid for whatever Satan brings up in the courts of Heaven, before the presence of God the Father. Why then must we confess it if it has already been paid for? Confession of sin is the means of breaking the control of the Old Sin Nature over our soul. This is a grace means whereby man CANNOT take credit - it is completely non-meritorious. This should motivate us to keep short accounts with God by keeping all of our known sins confessed to the Father on a regular basis.

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 defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (1 John 2:1)

Confession and Repentance of Sins

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)

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