The Fork in the Road: Must We Confess Sin to be Forgiven of Sin?

Recently, I’ve been pretty bold in the comments to declare as “deadly dangerous” and “deeply wrong” the idea that when we sin, we are damned until we obtain forgiveness by confessing, repenting, and asking forgiveness. I thought I should take the time to defend that claim.

Now, my opposition to that theory does not mean I oppose those things. Rather, I oppose making those into conditions to being forgiven. They are not.

Now, the first and most obvious problem with this theory is that everyone is damned all the time except very briefly after they pray for forgiveness, but only if they’ve truly confessed and repented. This doctrine therefore produces the opposite of continuous salvation. It produces occasional salvation, wholly dependent on how often and how effectively you realize when you’ve sinned and so asked for forgiveness.

(In the context of divorce, the requirement of restitution is also added, making forgiveness all the harder to obtain.)

Of course, those who teach this view are well aware of this problem. And so they soften the impact by also teaching that 1 John 1:7 promises continuous purification from sin so long as we “walk in the light.” Thus, if we’re in the light, we’re continuously forgiven, but when we stray from the light, we remained damned until we confess, repent, and ask forgiveness.

However, I’ve not found a single proponent of this view that can tell me the principle that tells me when I leave the light.

* Some argue it’s when I sin — which means 1 John 1:7 doesn’t promise continuous forgiveness at all. I mean, you don’t need forgiveness when you don’t sin.

* Others argue that they don’t know, but surely at some point it happens.

* Others deny that the two views are inconsistent.

* But most just quit the discussion, change the subject, or make accusations.

I’d be very pleased for anyone to post an explanation — based on the scriptures — for when we leave the light and so must confess, repent, and ask forgiveness in order to regain salvation.

And I’m utterly unwilling to accept the cop-out argument that we just don’t know where that line is but it must be somewhere. After all, it’s just unimaginable that God demands that we must go through this three (or four)-step plan of post-baptismal salvation to be re-saved, and yet he never tells us when we have to do this. It just can’t be.

Now, for those who are new to this conversation, my own view is that we are in the light until we are no longer Christians at all — by giving up our faith in Jesus, by rebelling against Jesus in such as way that we are no longer penitent at all, or by seeking justification other than by faith. Period. In other words, my view is that until you become utterly apostate, you remain continuously saved.

Walking in the light

(1 John 1:7) 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.

“Purifies” is in the present tense, which in the Greek means “continuously purifies.” This is a promise of on-going salvation – but not a salvation that can’t be lost. He’s not teaching once saved always saved. But he is teaching that salvation should be continuous, not occasional. This is the view of most conservative writers, as well, so I won’t spend much space defending it.

This test is whether “we walk in the light.” But John doesn’t define this phrase immediately. Rather, as we work through the other tests he offers, we come to see what walking in the light truly is.

Acknowledging our sins

(1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The difficulty with this verse is the mistranslation of “homologeo” as “confess,” whereas in this context it actually means “acknowledge.”

John is not talking about a legalistic requirement that we confess each sin to be saved (who could meet this requirement?) No, he’s insisting that we admit our sinfulness.

The same word is never used of confessing sin in the New Testament. Rather, the word used for confession of sin is usually exomologeo, as in James 5:16 and Matthew 3:6. Compare homologeo‘s use in 1:9 to every other use in the Bible —

(Matt. 7:23) “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’“

(Matt. 10:32) “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.”

(Matt. 14:7) “… that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked.”

(Luke 12:8) “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.”

(John 1:20) He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.”

(John 9:22) His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.

(John 12:42) Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue;

(Acts 23:8) (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)

(Acts 24:14a) However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect.

(Rom, 10:9-10) That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

(1 Tim. 6:12) Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

(Titus 1:16) They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

(Heb. 11:13) All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.

(Heb. 13:15) Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise the fruit of lips that confess his name.

(1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

(1 John 4:2-3) This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

(1 John 4:15) If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.

(2 John 1:7) Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

Homologeo is translated “admit” or “acknowledge” in most cases. It’s translated “confess” when used of confessing faith in Jesus, but only in 1 John is the word used in the sense of confessing sin. In fact, when one confesses his faith in Jesus, he is simply acknowledging or admitting his faith, and the word could just as well have been translated “admit.” It’s especially significant that in every other place in 1 John or 2 John the word is translated “acknowledge.”

And this only makes sense in context. Look at the verses that bracket 1 John 1:9 –

(1 John 1:8-10) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 … 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

The obvious contrast is with refusing to admit that you sin. Therefore, the test is not whether we’ve confessed each and every sin but whether we admit that we are sinners. After all, we can’t claim the grace of God until we admit we need this grace. So long as we arrogantly pretend to merit our salvation, we are denied our salvation. To be in the light, we need to be humble enough to admit that we are saved by grace.

Therefore, the notion that we are in the light only so long as we are sinless is the exact opposite of what John is saying.

What is walking in the light really?

Notice that John says,

(1 John 1:5-7)  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.

He says there is no darkness at all in God. To walk “in the light,” it must be “as he is in the light,” that is, where there is no darkness at all. You see, he plainly says that there’s no darkness at all in God and we are to walk in the light just as he is in the light.

If we drift out of the light, then we’ve drifting out of God altogether and we’ve left “the truth.” Remember: the “truth” refers to the truth about Jesus, the gospel. If we aren’t in the light, we’ve left the gospel.

Next, skip ahead to —

(1 John 2:7-11 ESV) Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

The darkness is hate, and the light is love. That’s what he says. And he says that if we love our brothers, “there is no cause for stumbling” — and stumbling is what happens just before you fall.

Now, this is a very hard teaching for those brought up in legalism, because it seems to exclude so many other requirements. And, indeed, John later makes it clear that faith in Jesus and possession of the Spirit are essential.

(1 John 3:23-24)  And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

(1 John 4:13)  We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

Now, this matches well with idea of continuing repentance, as taught in Hebrews (6:4-6, for example) when we realize that repentance means we submit to his commands and his command is love for our brothers.

John writes 1 John to assure his readers of their salvation —

(1 John 5:13)  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

He doesn’t even ask “whether” they are saved. He says that if you have in Jesus, you have eternal life and you need to know it. That’s what it says.

The confessional

To the American ear, “confess” in 1 John 1:7 brings to mind the Catholic confessional, and in Catholicism sin generally must be confessed to a priest to be forgiven. Some Protestants have sought to remedy this error by declaring that the priesthood of believers means we can all confess directly to God, and so obtain forgiveness without the mediation of a priest. But this fails to recognize the error of assuming we’re damned without confession in the first place.

By the mid-Second Century, some Christians denied any forgiveness at all after baptism (mentioned in the Shepherd of Hermas). Others only denied forgiveness for especially severe sins, such as murder, adultery, or apostasy. Over time, the list of unforgivable sins was expanded, and some taught that one or two forgivenesses could be had post-baptism.

Some Christians therefore delayed baptism until just before death, so that they’d not waste a one-time complete cleansing. And the severity of this teaching led to the idea of penance and confession.

But the whole notion that Christians are damned from any sin until we go through a multi-step forgiveness process is just not in the scriptures. Rather, it’s borrowed from Catholicism.

Repentance

I’ll try to throw a little something together regarding repentance in a few days.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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21 Responses to The Fork in the Road: Must We Confess Sin to be Forgiven of Sin?

  1. Nancy says:

    Jay, how does James 5:6 fit into this? I agree with your post but I have seen Christians argue so dogmatically for this position that they view asking for forgiveness of specific sin as redundant and unnecessary. My view is that asking for forgiveness has benefit in the sanctification process, in healing and in our personal relationships.

    What say you?

  2. John Grant says:

    The light we are to walk in is not in my opinion like a series of street lights shining straight down on the sidewalk on a dark night.

    In that case, you can walk the sidewalk toward the pole and the light will shine on you. Ciontinue walking and soon be out of it and in darkness until you get to the next street light and then back walking in the light again.

    I see walking in the light more like you holding a flashlight or carrying an old oil lantern. As long as you choose to carry it to light your way in the darkness, it will cast that light on you as well as light your walking path.

    It's your choice, not the lights. The light is always on.

  3. Reply Number 1 – It's not a formula

    I think there is a serious misconclusion in this premise:

    Now, the first and most obvious problem with this theory is that everyone is damned all the time except very briefly after they pray for forgiveness, but only if they’ve truly confessed and repented. This doctrine therefore produces the opposite of continuous salvation. It produces occasional salvation, wholly dependent on how often and how effectively you realize when you’ve sinned and so asked for forgiveness.

    I think you mean: "We cannot treat Grace like a formula", such as:
    If there is sin and there is confession => forgiveness.
    If there is sin and there is no confession => condemnation.

    But the promises made for forgiveness are put in conditional language. Does that mean, that conditional language is automatically an inflexible formula?

    By no means! Why? Because God is not inflexible!

    God chooses and rejects people according to His souvereign will (sounds a bit Calvinistic), but He also allows people to come according to their own free will (that's Arminianism – but actually God is neither nor!). Examples:
    a) Greek people in Jerusalem came to one of the disciples saying: "We want to see Jesus!"
    b) Paul was "surprized" by Jesus on the road to Damaskus.

    What does that mean for us?
    God has two options to save us (by choosing us or by allowing us to come voluntarily).
    But we only have one possibility: We cannot choose whether God will choose us; but we can decide for ourselves if we want to seek His grace.

    The same is true for forgiveness:
    God has more options than we do. In which way?

    He offers Grace based on several conditions and on the cross:
    The cross is the place where the full ransom has been paid once and for all. That's the rock of our salvation. All conditions are based on this rock and point to this rock.
    To name a few conditions:
    a) We have to confess our sins
    b) We have to repent of our sins (change our way of life)
    c) We need to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins
    d) We have to forgive others
    e) We must not be judgmental

    While baptism is a one time event, sinning isn't. We do fall into sin after baptism, although (by the grace of God) we could and should overcome temptations. So the issue is actually, how are we forgiven after baptism?

    Well, we have two ways of meeting His conditions:
    a) focussing on the list of conditions
    b) focussing on Christ

    If we focus on the list, we might eventually overlook a condition or two, and thus we (probably) won't receive forgiveness (we will not only live in the fear of God, but in panic!).

    If we focus on Christ (= walking in the light) we will strive to meet His conditions, because our main concern is a loving relationship with Him. The result will most likely be similar to the other option. (Here we will fear God = take His will very seriously, but we won't panic, because we love Him and know we are loved by Him.)

    Now, how will God view this: Is he bound to reject us, because we tried seriously this way or the other to meet his conditions and only reached 95%? Is God inflexible? No.
    God judges the heart and our attitude. If love is the fulfillment of the law, then loving Him will eventually meet most conditions quite naturally; and love – in the end – will cover a multitude of our shortcomings.

    What you have presented in your conclusion, Jay, is a very inflexible God (I don't believe in); a God that works as accurately as a computer according to precise formulars of conditions and promises. I do agree, that sometimes those who hold to the view of the necessity of confessing sin (which I do), do present God that way, and that's not accurate (but it might be a result of the dynamics of endless debates …).

    But then you build up on this and go to the other extreme: Your formula looks like this:
    Sin without confession = condemnation = contradicts my understanding of Grace
    => sin without confession = still forgiveness based on the once and for all paid ransom = fits my understanding of Grace.

    The problem is, that all these Biblical conditions are being shoved on the rug. And I think this is quite dangerous, because it ends in a negation of God's conditions for Grace and thus (eventually) bars the door to His Grace.

    Again it is like election and free will:
    God can choose whoever He wants, but can only use our free will if we want to come near Him. We cannot sit and wait until a voice from Heaven speaks to our heart, we have to SEEK His Kingdom and rightousness.

    God will forgive us according to the love and attitute of our heart, but we have to strive to meet His conditions. We can not say, because God forgives also outside His conditions, we don't need to meet His conditions (that's also true for the debate whether baptism is absolutey necessary for salvation or not).

    Actually: The way we treat God's conditions and commands shall reveal our love to Him. And this has two sides:
    a) We can (again) have this burdensome list-approach, which will make us quite miserable and (let' use this silly word:) legalistic.
    b) We can focus on Christ and out of love for Him strive to obey Him in everything.

    But to say, confesson is not an absolute condition for forgiveness, is wrong. It is an absolute condition on our side, but God still is flexible. So, Grace does not work according an inflexible formula, but it does not diminish God's conditions either.

    This is, what I really enjoy about the greatness of our Lord: He does not fit ANY man-made dogma, rationalization or grace-theology; He is in full harmony with His word.

    Alexander

  4. Reply Number 2: Saying the same about sin

    (1 John 1:9) "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

    The difficulty with this verse is the mistranslation of “homologeo” as “confess,” whereas in this context it actually means “acknowledge.”

    John is not talking about a legalistic requirement that we confess each sin to be saved (who could meet this requirement?) No, he’s insisting that we admit our sinfulness.

    Now, why did the Bible translators make this "mistake"? I think, if we just go through a "dialogue", it will become clear. If we "say the same" (homologeo), we are second in a conversation opened by God – I give three versions, according to three different kinds of sin. And you tell me whether there will be forgiveness or not.

    Dialogue 1: "I didn't know it."

    God: Alexander, you sinned.
    Alexander: Pardon? How come?
    God: You know, I think it is not OK to start drinking beer at 10 in the morning.
    Alexander: Why that? I'm never drunk, and it never goes beyond two or three beers a day – I grew up that way, that's pretty normal to me.
    God: Let's say: You can handle it, my son. But you are setting a standard for your son, and he is a different personality than you. He won't be able to handle it that easily, and I'll hold you accountable for your son's soul.
    Alexander: I never saw it this way. But thank you for pointing that out to me. I agree with you.

    …. Now I have two options: leave it at this (I already SAID the SAME) … or actually quit drinking (= REPENTING from my sin). When will my sin be forgiven? And what if I don't change my habit?

    Dialogue 2: "I failed to resist and to understand."

    God: Alexander, you sinned.
    Alexander: Yes. That was stupid, wasn't it?
    God: No it was not stupid, it was a sin. You should not visit these unclean web-sites, you know that!
    Alexander: Yes, but it so hard! I tried not to think about it, but … on the other hand, it does not harm anybody.
    God: All these pictures you inhale do great harm to your marriage. You become sexually pushy towards your wife, and she does not like that, you know?
    Alexander: I never saw it this way. But thank you for pointing that out to me. I agree with you.

    …. Now I have two options: leave it at this (I already SAID the SAME) … or actually quit visiting these web-sites (= REPENTING from my sin). When will my sin be forgiven? And what if I don't change my habit?

    Dialogue 3: "Yes, but I wanted to"

    God: Alexander, you sinned.
    Alexander: Yes. And it felt so good!
    God: What do you mean with that?
    Alexander: Well, you know, you are sometimes a big party-pooper; life could be so much more fun … and I used a condom, so what?
    God: So you agree, that it was a sin?
    Alexander: Of course I do! According to your standards, but for me … I think I can justify it.

    …. Now I have two options: leave it at this (I already SAID the SAME) … or actually quit sinning (= REPENTING from my sin). When will my sin be forgiven? And what if I don't change my habit?

    Let me add something else: John would have pointed to our sinful nature, he would have
    a) used different wording: He would have used sin in the singuar (not plural).
    b) he would not have said two verses before that His blood cleanses us from every sin.
    c) He would not say in the following verse: "If we say we have not sinned"

    So before and afterwards John speaks of sinful actions not of our nature! If it comes to our nature, John focusses on the new creature that we are. He would not say AMEN to a statement like "I am just a poor sinner". No, we are a new creation, and the new creation does not sin (1 John 3:9)

    I do appreciate your concern for a more grace-centered theology, Jay. But that's not the way you will arrive at it.

    Alexander

  5. Royce Otle says:

    I think our usual appraoch to the whole book of 1st John is part of our problem. 1st John is not a book of conditions to salvaton, rather it is a book of "markers" or several ways we can know if we are Christians. He makes it very clear that those who have Jesus are saved and those who do not are not saved. All of those series of "If we" are not ways to be saved or stay saved (we are not saved by what we do) but ways to know we are saved.

    A Christian will quickly learn that God hates sin and he will learn to hate it too, and will acknowledge his sins and tty his best to forsake them. He is constantly clean not because of the effectiveness of his confessions but because of the faithfulness of God.

    It 1st John is teaching a constant in and out of salvation experience we might just as wll rip Romans 4 our of our Bibles.

    Royce

  6. One Cup Man says:

    Thanks Jay, the public confession has long been used as a control mechanism in the church. You'll have to make a "public confession" or we can't let you lead a song or serve at the Lord's Table.
    One preacher said, If you haven't made a public confession in 6 months you need too!! My response, When you hit the aisle I'll be right behind you!! Never heard anything about public confessions again.

  7. Tom says:

    Alexander, you offer two long replies that indicate some deep thought and thorough consideration of Jay's arguments. However, neither of your replies says anything about "walking in the light" except to say "focus on Christ = walking in the light." Jay's commentary on this seems to me to be a compelling part of his total argument.
    I also find your 3 dialogs unhelpful, partly because they presume a perspective where we have some verbal conversation with God – initiated by God – after each and every sin. With that kind of direct prompting by God, I'm sure we all would live more confessional lives. By the way, nothing you say in dialog number 3 gives any indication that you've said the same thing about sin that God does. Further, your defense of the translation of “homologeo” as “confess” in 1 John 1:9, as well as your argument that confession of each sin is indicated, were unconvincing.
    For me, Royce's succinct statement is really more to the point.

  8. John says:

    I always stand amazed at the number of conservative Christians who practice in secret the very things they condemn liberals for doing. Their reasoning? "I'm a member of the Lord's church…I still believe its wrong to do it…its a weakness…and I ask God to forgive me…which the liberals do not do. " Talk about license.
    Of course, many of them would counter, "What's the alternative? Anything goes?" No. "Mercy". To confess how difficult it is for all of us to get through this life without getting muddied up from time to time; how LOVE really does cover a multitude. Then we will realize how ridiculous our thinking is when we live in fear that the nation, or world, will slide full speed into hell if we show mercy toward…us.

  9. I also find your 3 dialogs unhelpful, partly because they presume a perspective where we have some verbal conversation with God – initiated by God – after each and every sin. With that kind of direct prompting by God, I’m sure we all would live more confessional lives.

    But how else can the communication between God and us be ilustrated? Of course that's an illustration, but if you live in a close relationship with the Lord, such "inner dialogues" do occur. And, sure enough, then we will lead more "confessional" lives.

    If we don't have this relationship, then God remains in the distance or somewhere between the covers of the Book. And then, true enough, we are not aware of His presence, such dialogues will not take place, and – most likely – we will not lead such "confessional lives".

    And that's what walking in the light is all about.

    Alexander

  10. I always stand amazed at the number of conservative Christians who practice in secret the very things they condemn liberals for doing. Their reasoning?

    I'm not sure whether the conservatives here would count me to their numbers 😉 But for sure: I'm not very progressive either … But as for the reasons: We shall love the Lord … with all our mind. And that's all the mind I've got …

  11. Bob Harry says:

    I Find 1 Thessalonians 5:17 helpful. Pray continuously, be content in any state(hard to do when your from Texas) and do not put out the Spirits fire.

    I find, when I slip in some areas like patience, I need to talk the problem over with the Lord for added strength

    Jay I agree with you and try to keep the light very close.

    Thanks all for the great thoughtBob

  12. Thanks Jay, you are dead on.

  13. Bob Harry says:

    Jay

    You didn't mention Colossians 1. The entire chapter is a great comfort to me and has been for as long as I can remember. In particular versus 12-14

    giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins "

    Even the Prodigal son who confessed that he has sinned against heaven and you(father) BUT AFTER the father had seen him from afar and ran out to meet him, kissed him on the neck and had compassion on him.

    The father was maintaining a vigil for his lost son. He never gave upon him.

    These two passages have been my anchor in my relationship with God. I am his child and his love is unconditional. As explained before we know all to well the prodigal son. We never give up on our children no matter what they may do to us.

    We have been taken from one state of spiritual nature, darkness and placed into another state, light. Call it a transformation, a change of our spiritual nature, created in Christ by the Holy Spirit.

    The prodigal fell, hit bottom. realized his mistake and went home. It was as though he had never left.

    That is the way I see God . A loving Father who wants me to be his friend for all eternity. Does he forgive me before I confess? I have never strayed that far from the light as did the Prodigal, in my opinion. But evidently the prodigal still had a flicker of it to try and find the source again.

    Bob

  14. Part of the problem may be that we do not know the definition of confess.

    According to dictionary.com, confess means to 1. acknowledge or avow (a fault, crime, misdeed, weakness, etc.) by way of revelation; 2. to own or admit as true: I must confess that I haven't read the book; 3. to declare or acknowledge (one's sins), esp. to God or a priest in order to obtain absolution. In fact, the only synonym listed for confess is acknowledge!

    If we look at acknowledge, its definition is very similar: to admit to be real or true; recognize the existence, truth, or fact of: to acknowledge one's mistakes.

  15. Jay Guin says:

    Nancy,

    James 5:6 says —

    (James 5:6) You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.

    You must have meant to comment on the Jack Bauer post … 😀

  16. Jay Guin says:

    Nancy,

    But if you meant —

    (James 5:16) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

    "Healed" is not a metaphor, as the context is healing sick members of the congregation.

    Even so, I'm an advocate for confession of sins to each other, but it's not a condition for forgiveness. My church encourages the formation of accountability groups, no more than 4 members, where men, for example, meet weekly with other men to confess weaknesses and sin and to be encouraged.

    These have been very effective in strengthened marriages and helping men grow in Christ. But it's about prayer and counseling, not how to get saved once again.

  17. Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,

    I wrote a post on repentance last night, and it'll pop up in the morning. I think it addresses some of your concerns.

  18. Jay Guin says:

    Bob,

    I agree on the need for constancy in prayer — just not as a means to re-gain salvation. It's all about being in right relationship — which means we need to confess sin to God as a discipline.

    If I sin against my wife by forgetting to warn her that I'm bringing company home, she won't divorce me (although she'd seriously consider it), but I still need to confess and beg her forgiveness — even if she's already forgiven me — because (1) the relationship is about much more than whether we are divorced and (2) one way I grow in that relationship is to articulate my mistake and my apology and (3) apologies repair relationships.

    Now, God is even more patient and forgiving than my wife, but my relationship with him should be even more important to me.

  19. Jerry Starling says:

    Alexander wrote:

    John would have pointed to our sinful nature, he would have
    a) used different wording: He would have used sin in the singuar (not plural).

    1 John 1:9 actually is singular, though "sins" is the common translation. Hamartias is genitive singular of hamartia (sin) in each time it occurs in 1 John 1:9.

    Jerry
    committedtotruth.wordpress.com<a>

  20. David says:

    Dietrich Boenhoffer who helped form the Lutheran "confessing church" in opposition to the Nazi control of the German church has interesting observations on the place of confession in Christian community. In his book "Life Together" he argues that Christians hearing each others confessions and offering forgiveness are fulfilling the same role for which Jesus was accused of blasphemy. Namely, they offer to each other the assurance of full forgiveness that comes not from themselves, but from God.

  21. Thank you, Jerry, for the correction. I only checked a quite reliable translation that normally makes this distinction, but did not look up the Greek to doublecheck … trust no one but the Lord 😉

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