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Why do we need to confess our sins if they have already been forgiven (1 John 1:9)?

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When we read 1 John 1:9, there is a question that comes to mind straight away. If Jesus died on the cross, once and for all for our sins, then why do we need to confess our sins again?

Ephesians 1:6-8 says “to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ”.

We need to begin with what Jesus Christ achieved on the cross? For all those who believe in the name of Jesus and accept Him as Saviour and Lord, they are cleansed from all sin and justified before the Father. What Jesus achieved on the cross is a “positional” or a “judicial” forgiveness and is obtained by every believer in Christ.

This means that our sins have been completely forgiven for our past, present, and future. The price paid on the cross has satisfied God’s wrath against sin and nothing further is required. Jesus declared on the cross, “it is finished.”

If that is the case, we come back to our original question, “If Christ has forgiven our sins, then why do we need to confess”, according to 1 John 1:9?

The reason we need to confess our sins even though they are already forgiven is because of relationship. Relationship as ‘a child to a father.’ What Jesus did on the cross was a judicial forgiveness which God grants as judge. This is a forgiveness of justification, which is complete, and you will never need to seek it again. Now that the penalty for sin has been paid, the Bible tells us that we have been purchased by Christ and have been adopted into His family. We are now children of God. This means God is our heavenly Father.

1 John 3:2 says “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

What this passage shows us is, although we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and been justified, our bodies are yet to be redeemed. Not only are we God’s children now but we are yet to become as He is.

Now that we are children of God, there is a parental forgiveness that God grants as our Father. The forgiveness of justification takes care of judicial guilt, but it does not nullify our Heavenly Father’s displeasure over sin. He disciplines us as a part of our continual sanctification until we become as He is. He disciplines us because He loves us. This is why we continue to seek forgiveness from our Heavenly Father.

Some differences between judicial forgiveness and parental forgiveness are:

  • Judicial forgiveness deals with:
    • Sins penalty
    • It frees us from condemnation of a righteous God
    • It provides us an unshakable standing before the throne of a divine God
  • In contrast, parental judgment deals with:
    • Sins consequences
    • It sets things right with a displeased and grieving, but a loving God
    • It deals with our sanctification at any given time

Hebrews 12:5-11 tells us that God disciplines us because we are His children. In fact, Hebrews 12:10 says “…but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.”

It is through this discipline that yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

This is the process of sanctification. The Bible teaches us that salvation involves 3 gifts. Justification, Sanctification and Glorification.

  • Justification is the gift by which our sins are forgiven
  • Sanctification is the gift by which we grow in likeness of God
  • Glorification is the gift by which we become as He is, spiritually and physically glorious

So, now we stand justified before God and in the process sanctification. Therefore, 2 Corinthians 3:18 says “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” This is a clear indication that we are not perfected yet, but we are in the process of being so.

And again, scriptures tell us that our outer nature is wasting away, and our inner nature is being renewed. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 says “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,”

This is why we continue to ask for forgiveness. We are in the process of becoming more like Him. Although we are justified for past present and future, we continue to ask for forgiveness as a child to a Father. We are already in His family and there is nothing that is going to separate us from the love of the Father.

Romans 8:38-39 says “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We will never loose our position in Him, instead we are treated as sons and daughters of the living God who disciplines us because He loves and that we become more like him.

This is why we continue to ask for forgiveness, and this is why He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God Bless.



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