Sunday, December 09, 2018

681. 1 John 1:9 (Part 5) When a "Verse" Is Taken out of Context

There may be dozens of passages contained in New Covenant writings from the apostles about God’s permanent forgiveness that came through the cross of Christ, but frequently they are resisted by people who will stumble over a single “verse” which may appear to contradict the good news. 1 John 1:9 is just one example when it is not understood in the proper context with the rest of the gospel. When this scenario occurs, we should compare the verse in question and consider why it isn’t lining up with the other passages. After all, we’re growing in our understanding of God’s grace and the powerful message of the gospel.

Other examples include the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus was hammering the Mosaic law to Jewish people. Here He told them they would not be forgiven unless they first forgave others. How does that match up with the cross? It doesn’t. The “sermon” was not the gospel because there was no blood in it. That statement by Jesus was completely contrary to what the Apostle Paul stated on more than one occasion about our forgiveness after the cross (because two different covenants were being ministered between Jesus and Paul). Jesus was pointing out their inability to attain righteousness and forgiveness by what they do.

People will often say, “the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins.” In context, Jesus said the Spirit would convict the world of sin “because they do not believe in me.” Unbelievers need to understand the sin problem they were born into and why a Savior is needed. But Jesus said the Spirit would convict believers of righteousness. That’s who we are in Him… the righteousness of God, cleansed and perfected by His blood… no longer seeking His forgiveness over and over but living in it as we’re renewed day by day through the very life of God within us.

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Sunday, December 02, 2018

680. 1 John 1:9 (Part 4) No Longer Asking for What Has Already Been Given (Forgiveness)

This week we reflect on a relatively small number of scriptural passages which confirm our forgiveness in Jesus Christ. It’s “forever forgiveness” that occurred through one righteous act at the cross of Jesus Christ. His blood not only brought a permanent forgiveness of all sins (past, present and future), but cleansed us from all unrighteousness. The work of Jesus has already brought us the gift of justification, righteousness and sanctification. In him we are new, alive, clean, holy, perfected and so much more. In addition to our previous programs in this series, part of our goal is to help believers understand that the context of 1 John 1:9 was not meant for us to keep trying to remember all of our sins, mistakes and shortcomings in order to try confessing all of them be forgiven again. The church has failed to realize this keeps people in a sin consciousness which Jesus came to free people from. It only brings a temporary emotional release from guilt, leaving people with a false identity by thinking they are just sinners who can’t seem to overcome. A better way to living in victory is placing faith in what Jesus did, and that it was more than enough.

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

679. 1 John 1:9 (Part 3) One Confession of the Lord Jesus Christ

As we continue past the first chapter of the book of 1 John, we find several instances where John made references to things he mentioned from that opening chapter which was written to unbelieving people. He reminds the believers in chapters 2 and 4 about a confession of the son (Jesus) and to avoid those in error who do not confess Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. In the first chapter of 1 John (including verse 9), John summarized what he was talking about with these statements: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:2-3; 15 NASB). Also see 1 John 2:23.

In the tenth chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul also spoke of this confession of the Lord Jesus Christ, resulting in salvation and righteousness… or as John said, cleansed from all unrighteousness. This is when we experience new life and receive the forgiveness that God has offered back at the cross of Christ. Clearly, the target audience in the first chapter of 1 John was aimed at unbelieving people who denied they have sinned… they needed to realize they had fallen short, confess it and be transferred into the light of Christ. The “verse” of 1 John 1:9 is not an admonition for believers in Christ to admit to God they have committed yet another sin while seeking a new forgiveness. After all, forgiveness is not offered without the shedding of blood, and Jesus offer Himself once, for all.

We have a better confession inside of a new and better covenant where Jesus is our guarantee: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NASB).

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

678. 1 John 1:9 (Part 2) Contrasting Chapter 1 (Unbelievers) with Chapter 2 (Believers)

Understanding the context leading up to 1 John 1:9 will help us from falling into doctrinal traps which contradict other Scriptures on the subject of God’s completed work of forgiveness. Many passages and verses explain how we’ve already been forgiven by God through the blood of the cross. But regardless of how many good news verses are submitted, misguided teaching has caused believers to trip over this one, single verse:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (NASB).

Compare the language between Chapter One vs. Chapter Two. John’s conversation in the first chapter is attempting to convince unbelievers that Jesus was manifested and came in the flesh. He is speaking to people with whom he doesn’t have fellowship or a joy that is complete regarding them. These were people who denied they had a sin problem and walked in darkness. They were liars who made God out to be a liar. Using John’s own words, they did not have the truth nor God’s word in them. Remember, believers in Christ are declared to be in the light, and have God’s word and truth in them (these identify Christ in us).

Other NT epistles address believers at the beginning. John made an exception and didn’t do that with this letter in chapter 1, but he does in chapter 2. Here we begin to see where he identifies his audience for the rest of the letter (believers). Notice the differences in language from his opening chapter… these were people who have been forgiven, who know God and have overcome, they had the word of God abiding in them, they knew the truth and had an anointing from the holy one which abided in them. John warned them of the deceivers - those who denied God by not confessing the Son. This is referring back to what he wrote in 1 John 1:9 and reveals the true purpose of his statement… not a confession of every individual sin but a confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. When one confesses the sin problem, they confess need for the Savior. It results in receiving salvation and forgiveness.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

677. 1 John 1:9 (Part 1) Was John Addressing Believers or Unbelievers?

Regardless of your Christian background, there is a good chance the Bible verse that you've heard quoted or used more than any other is 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (NASB). Generally, “the Christian religion” has put a spotlight on this verse by jumping to the conclusion that believers in Christ should continue to apologize to God by confessing every sinful thought or action in order to remain in God’s perfect way of forgiveness. As they see it, failing to do so will result in having unforgiven sin in your life and put a strain on your fellowship with God. It’s as though God’s grace and the finished work of the cross are set aside on the shelf, as you are burdened with trying to confess what God declared He remembers no more and is not counting against us in this New Covenant.

Here’s the crux of the problem: Legalistic religion has made the false assumption John was writing to believers in his first chapter of this letter, thereby leaving Christians to try and come up with ways to make this passage relevant to the Christian life. This week, we’ll begin to address why this entire first chapter was a rare exception within the epistles of the New Testament - where the writer was addressing unbelievers instead of believers.*

*This will be a multi-part series that will unfold more clearly over several weeks.

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Sunday, November 04, 2018

676. Receiving the Forgiveness That Has Already Been Given

A once for all forgiveness for sins occurred through Jesus Christ when His blood was shed at the cross. The problem of sins ever bringing a separation or coming between God and us has been dealt with by God Himself through the body of Jesus Christ. God was in Him, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them. He no longer deals with us according to our sins, which have been cast as far away as the east is from the west. When the priests under the law made offerings for sin, it was a temporary covering (atonement) and a new forgiveness was needed shortly thereafter. They kept standing, offering the same sacrifices that could never take sins away. But our new High Priest (Jesus) made one offering… then He sat down, because when forgiveness is a completed and finished work, “there no longer remains an offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18). Now in order to experience and enter the life of Christ, we simply believe in Him and what He did on our behalf. The gift of forgiveness that has already been “offered” is received by simply believing (see examples in Acts 10:43; 26:18).

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

675. The Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sins of the World

Continuing on our journey on the subject of forgiveness of sins from God, some questions we discuss this week… when does forgiveness occur? Is it something God extends to each individual on a one by one basis, or is it a gift that has been offered and made available to everyone in the world? We know Jesus was identified as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. As it relates to the finished work of Christ and the power of His blood that was shed once for all, were sins taken away at that time over 2,000 years ago? Or is a new act of forgiveness from God still required? In other words, is it possible God has closed the book on forgiveness after the cross of Christ, and all that is left now is for people to receive it by believing the work of Christ was and is sufficient? If sin is no longer an issue of separation between God and people, is unbelief the only thing that will keep people from experiencing the life of God through salvation and righteousness? These are some of the questions we are asking in our discussion as we consider the magnitude of the cross.

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