1 John 1:5-9. 5 This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.  6 If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  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, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Whenever I talk to anyone about total forgiveness, inevitably, the question, "What about 1 John 1:9?" comes up.  The more time that goes by, the more I am amazed how many Christians take this passage out of context.  Let's take a little time to look at this section of Scripture to see if we can get the proper understanding of this passage as is consistent with the rest of Scripture.

(Note: This is the only place in Scripture that I have ever heard anyone use to validate the need for on-going forgiveness for Christians.  As important as you think this idea might be, wouldn't you think that it would appear more often in Scripture if it were true?)

Word Study

There are four key words in this passage: walk, fellowship, light, darkness.  Strong's Lexicon gives us the meaning of these words.

1. Walk (peripateo) means to "make one's way, progress, live."
2. Fellowship (koinonia) means "fellowship, communion, intimacy."
3. Light (phos) metaphorically means "God is light because light has the extremely delicate, subtle, pure, brilliant quality; of truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity associated with it
4. Darkness (skotos) metaphorically means "of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, together with their consequent misery in hell.

Let's use these definitions in place of the actual words in this passage and see what we get:

1 John 1:5-9. 5 This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is pure; in Him there is no ignorance respecting divine things at all.  6 If we claim to have intimacy with Him yet live in the ignorance respecting our consequent misery in hell, we lie and do not live by the truth.  7 But if we live in the truth and knowledge, as He is in the truth and knowledge, we have intimacy with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

It now becomes much clearer: Those who are in God are in the light and are purified from ALL sin.  Those who are in the darkness are associated with misery in hell and are not of God.  It is the unsaved who are in darkness.  The saved are in the light.  Light and darkness do not mix.  God and hell do not mix.  There is either one or the other - both cannot coexist in the same place at the same time.  That which is light (in God) is always in the light.  If there is no light (God), there is only darkness (hell).  Christians are identified with Christ, not Satan; heaven, not hell.

Scripture does not teach that Christian Believers do not sin.  In fact it teaches the contrary (see Romans 7:15-20).  But, once we are in Christ (light), we are no longer identified with sin (darkness).

Forgiveness happens one time for the Christian.  Verse 9 tells us that it is when we confess (agree with, declare) our sins.  At that point we receive ALL forgiveness and are made righteous.

Liberty or License?

I'll never forget hearing my Sunday School teacher some years back refer to total forgiveness as "a license to sin."  Later the associate pastor said, "There is no place in the church for that (heresy)."

What is so sad is that in most of our churches today, we are taught that it's our job to keep God happy with us.  Keep your sins "'fessed up."  It was this very sort of unbiblical teaching that drove a monk named Martin Luther to depression.  He would spend hours at a time in the confessional listing sin after sin as he sought so desperately to be cleansed completely.  And almost immediately after he got out of the confessional, Luther would be right back in confessing new sin in order to once again be made righteous.  Thankfully, he came to understand that righteousness comes only by faith.

It is my hope that you come to the understanding of these truths, also.  I believe it will change the way you pray, worship and live.

Don't worry if these ideas seem a little too uncomfortable.  It took me a year to begin to accept these truths.  But once I did, I was able to appreciate so much more the grace of God.

If this site has helped you, please, send our link (http://emptytomb.freeservers.com) to others.  Thanks!

John Vance
195 N. Kennedy Dr.
Bourbonnais, IL 60914
epeman@yahoo.com.

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