Knowing God in 1 John, Part 7
9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:9-10
Confession is good not only for the soul but for our walk with God. In order to have fellowship with Him, we must not have sin in our life that will act as a barrier against that fellowship. John tells us that in our daily walk with God, the Holy Spirit will bring to mind our sin as it happens and our job is to readily and quickly agree with the Holy Spirit, confess it, and be cleansed from that sin in order to allow fellowship to continue. If we wait, become rebellious, opt to do our own thing and essentially turn our backs on the Spirit’s pleadings, we will absolutely break off our fellowship with God because He will not only not participate with us in our sin, but will not continue in fellowship with us since it has become clear to Him that we have chosen sin over fellowship.
Think again of the Prodigal Son. His frustration turning to anger overtook him. Had he caught things early on, he might have changed his tune and possibly even begun to see his father as the father truly was in life. Instead, the son’s eyes were so focused on himself, that he could see nothing but himself. This was sin and it led him to make some very bad decisions.
Note in the Luke 15 Prodigal Son parable that the son left home. He effectively broke off fellowship with his father, choosing instead a life apart from his father. It seemed a worthwhile pursuit at the time, but certainly was not. The only good thing to come of it was his complete turnaround with respect to his own self-centered nature that also finally allowed him to see the truth about his own father. That was a valuable lesson learned.
Unfortunately, his stubbornness, arrogance, self-centered nature, and more led him to break off fellowship with his father and go through a terrible time that could have been avoided. Please note that during his time away from home – when he lived sinfully – he had no communication, no fellowship with his father. He was in no mood for it and no position for it either since he had physically and emotionally removed himself from being near to his father.
In the above verses, John tells us that confessing our sins allows God to forgive and cleanse us so that we can once again resume our fellowship with the Father. If we don’t confess – or agree with God that what we are doing is wrong – God cannot apply forgiveness or cleanse us from that unrighteousness. But we need also to understand that this relates to our fellowship with God, not our salvation, which never changes. We cannot lose our salvation. We can only damage or lose our fellowship with God. For however long we rebel against God, that is how long we are out of fellowship.
There is a sense in which this is what Jesus is getting at in Matthew 5:25, when He states, “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.” Jesus is referring to a situation the believer might encounter while worshiping God. As he/she is ready to enter into worship, he/she realizes there is an unresolved issue with a brother. Jesus’ instruction is to go and take care of that issue, then come back and worship.
The same applies to God and even more so. If we offend God because of our sin, how much more quickly should we be willing to resolve the issue through confession so that God can forgive, cleanse, and bring us back into fellowship with Him? After all, this is what He desires, to be in fellowship with us, for our sake and for His glory.
Verse 10 speaks of the fact that we are sinners. Paul makes this very clear throughout the book of Romans. We have inherited sin, we have a sin nature, and we are sinners personally ourselves. We cannot get through this life without sinning and this applies to us even after we become Christians. We will sin, but the more we remain in fellowship with God in Christ, the less we will sin and the longer will the time be between each instance of sin.
Looking back over the Old Testament landscape, I would think that someone like Moses would have gotten to the point of sinless perfection, but that was not the case. He sinned by striking the rock, instead of speaking to it in Numbers 20. You would think with the many blessings that God bestowed on King David, he would have risen above as well, but failed miserably.
We dare not come to a point in our Christian experience where we think we have entered into a sinless perfection for living. It won’t happen in this life. John tells us that we have sinned. By the way, the reason John makes this statement is also reflective of the error that he was combating at the time. This error basically said that if a Christian sins, it’s not really a sin.
The false claim here is that the sin we have committed is not really sin. This is the third and most serious charge (cf. vv. 6, 8). It puts God’s revelation of sin aside, and makes man the authority for what is and what is not sin. This claim says God is wrong in His judgment of man, and is therefore “a liar.” The claimant dismisses His Word as invalid (e.g., Ps. 14:3; Isa. 53:6; John 2:24-25; Rom. 3:23). 
We cannot be or remain in fellowship with God if we are willing to overlook our sins. When we sin, those sins need to be confessed. We need to agree with God that we have sinned so that He can cleanse and forgive those sins in order to get back into fellowship with Him as quickly as possible.
The Prodigal Son lived away from home for many days. He squandered his inheritance with wild living and wild so-called friends. He endeavored to enjoy sin and did not care how it reflected on him, his father, or his upbringing. He was totally interested in doing his own thing. As we know, he eventually came back to his father and his father was waiting for him with open arms. The father was so glad his wayward son had returned. The son had learned some very valuable lessons, chief of which is that his father had always loved him, was always ready to forgive, and always wanted to be in fellowship with his son.
The Prodigal Son also learned that his father was willing to let him (the son) go and live in sin even though it meant heartache for both the father and the son. It’s our free will talking and it rarely knows how to make a good decision.
The humble believer recognizes the need to confess sin in order to be forgiven, cleansed, and back in fellowship with God. The immature believer does what he/she wants and couldn’t care less about consequences.
Don’t be the immature believer.
 Dr. Thomas L. Constable’s Notes on 1 John (2015 edition), p. 18
Entry filed under: christianity, eternity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: confessing our sin, fellowship with god, knowing god.