Question: Have you done any research on 1 John 1:9? My Question is why do many Evangelicals pray for “forgiveness” when we are already forgiven past, present, and future from 2000 years ago? Thanks
Answer: I would agree with you that we are forgiven for our sins, past, present and future. I have written a study on this subject, but I will give you the short version here. We know that this book was written to Christian believers because of 1 John 2:12-14. This is the reason I don’t use the 1 John 1:9 reference in evangelism. Nowhere are we told to confess our sins to get saved. We are to repent, meaning to turn from our sins. The theme is ‘fellowship’ with the Holy Trinity and each other. Our salvation is not at stake, but our fellowship is.
I like to use the illustration of the family. A child tells his parent, “I don’t want to clean my room or take out the trash.” They are disobedient and need to be punished, but they are not kicked out of the family. (Of course, any illustration breaks down at some point, because there are human parents who disown their children, but God does not disown us!) He does get unhappy with us when we disobey Him and He will need to punish us because we are His children.
Our salvation is not lost, but our fellowship is broken until we get right with Him and admit that we sinned. He wants to forgive us and have fellowship with us again, but we have the responsibility of owning up to our sin.
Remember how Jesus washed the disciple’s feet? Why did He do that? It was, for one thing, to illustrate this principle of walking around in the world and our feet get dirty. We need them washed. This is like a picture of 1 John 1:9. Peter says to Jesus, you are not going to wash my feet! (Paraphrasing) Jesus says, then you have no part in Me then. Because, Jesus, as you said Bob, has already washed us, but we get our feet dirty. We do sin after we are saved and will not be perfect until we get to heaven, even though we are to work toward that goal of living righteous lives. Then Peter says, wash my whole body then. No, Jesus says, you only need your feet washed. Which I think is a wonderful picture of the fellowship between us and God. (John 13)
Another thing, God wants the sin washed out of our lives every day so we can be a good testimony for Him, a light reflecting Him. I think about this when I am driving at night, and I see the dirty street or highway signs. Sometimes you can hardly see the message they have on them. This is like a Christian who has unconfessed sin in his or her life; it is hard for others to see the light that Jesus wants to reflect from Him into our lives for others to see.
This is what 1 John 1:9 means to me. I hope this helps. In our Bible Discussion section there is a more in-depth study on this if you want to look under fellowship or forgiveness.
In Christian love,
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