What does confess mean according to 1 john 1:9?
First off, the word "confess" simply means to agree with God. The word in Greek means according to Strong's G3670 - homologeō - ὁμολογέω is to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent. Let's be crystal clear; confess does not mean to ask for forgiveness.
Confession has a much deeper meaning than what most people think of it.
The very word to confess has a much deeper meaning to agreeing with God about the whole aspect of what Jesus did on the cross and what sin really is all about. For a person to confess has to do with the person agreeing with God about the person and the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
To understand this in the context of the Bible, requires putting aside any preconceived notions, or teachings of men or traditions, and letting the Holy Spirit teach a person. For more information on this see the article I wrote with more Bible references:
Confession of Sins 1 John 1:9
Understanding 1 John 1:9
Now, some folks may think that is only one of many meanings, and shades of meaning, of that word confess. Some may think that confess is not simply "agreeing" with God and that there is more to it than that. Some even think that it is the asking for forgiveness that causes God to forgive us of our sins. I have even had folks tell me, "that we must admit, declare, confess, acknowledge our sins before they are forgiven." They would point out the word "If" and say that word is a conditional if. See below for more details on the word "if."
First off, let's look at the complete definition of confess:
It is important to note, that while there are other variations in the simple meaning for confess, the word for confess in the Bible, in the Greek language is never used to ask for forgiveness. If you are in Jesus Christ, you have forgiveness, you don't get more forgiveness from God. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;" Ephesians 1:7
Forgiveness is not a vending machine from God.
Just to clarify from the source: "The New Testament Greek Lexicon" for the word 'Confess" used in multiple places:
to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent
not to refuse, to promise
not to deny
to confess, i.e. to admit or declare one's self guilty of what one is accused of
to declare openly, speak out freely
to profess one's self the worshipper of one
to praise, celebrate
KJV (24) - acknowledgeth, 1; confess, 17; confession is made, 1; give thanks, 1; profess, 3; promise, 1;
NAS (26) - acknowledge, 2; admit, 1; assured, 1; confess, 6; confessed, 4; confesses, 6; confessing, 1; declare, 1; give thanks, 1; made, 1; profess, 1; promised, 1;
Most folks want to equate the references in the bible to confess and confession with asking for forgiveness, because that is based on their traditions. This is not biblical at all. If anything, the word confess is the exact opposite of asking for forgiveness, because asking for forgiveness is a denial of the finished work of Jesus Christ. While a person should acknowledge sins, the person needs to also acknowledge that Jesus paid the price for all their sins on the cross. They need to acknowledge, admit, agree, profess, declare, and give thanks to God, and praise Jesus, God in the flesh, for what He has done for them.
It is also important to note that our English language is lacking in depth to really grasp the true meaning of words. Sometimes we have to go to the original Greek language a bit to have a more thorough understanding of a verse of Scripture.
It is more like, "Whenever we agree with God concerning our sins" or "Whether we agree with God or not," he is faithful and just to (have forgiven and continue to forgive us), and to (have cleansed and continue to cleanse us) of all unrighteousness." The verbs in 1 John 1:9 for forgive and cleanse are these types of verbs referred to as aorist tenses.
The aorist is said to be "simple occurrence" or "summary occurrence", without regard for the amount of time taken to accomplish the action. This tense is also often referred to as the 'punctiliar' tense. 'Punctiliar' in this sense means 'viewed as a single, collective whole,' a "one-point-in-time" action, although it may actually take place over a period of time. In the indicative mood the aorist tense denotes action that occurred in the past time, often translated like the English simple past tense.
God has done it all. God is the faithful one, God is the just one, to have forgiven and to have cleansed for all time.
We don't push God's vending machine buttons to get something from God, because that would be setting ourselves up as our own god. We don't set up "preparation to be forgiven" by God.
It is not a conditional "if" for God to do something for us. The whole of the 1 chapter of 1 John is dealing with acknowledging God in the flesh, what Jesus has done, the sinner that sins, and the faithfulness of God. What good is God to a person that thinks he doesn't sin? What good is Jesus to a person that thinks that God did not come in the flesh?
This is a hard teaching for some that have grown up their whole lives with teachings of men, their traditions, or their preconceived notions of their having to do something for God to do something for them. Today, we don't get more forgiveness, we don't make "preparation for forgiveness," no, we are forgiven by God.
Confess and praise His name, Jesus has done it all!
A person thinking that they must agree with God before God will forgive them of their sins is problematic in a number of ways; both scripturally and logically.
It doesn't match up with the rest of Scripture, where God says, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin." Hebrews 10: 17,18
Also, from a logical standpoint, if confession from people was a prerequisite for forgiveness from God, then obviously one has to think about all the sins that they forgot. No one can remember each and every sin in order for God to forgive them if that were the case.
Additionally, all of the sins committed today were after the cross. They were all in the future when God paid the penalty for sin and have been forgiven. So, yes, God forgave everyone of their sins before they have ever been committed and before anyone asks for forgiveness. Jesus being God in the flesh, saw each and every sin in the world, and took it upon himself. He became sin for us, so that in Him, we could become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
The agreeing with God, is agreeing with God about sins, agreeing with God about His forgiveness, agreeing with God about His righteousness, agreeing with God about Jesus and what He has done.
Furthermore, "without the shedding of blood, there is no more forgiveness." Hebrews 9:22
Forgiveness has been dealt with once for all. Now, the issue is a person going to believe it and receive eternal life in Him? God broke down the barrier between God and man when he forgave everyone at the cross. Now He is inviting everyone to repent and believe in Jesus and receive His life, the Holy Spirit, to come and live inside a believer.
Many folks are still implying and outright declaring the "IF" statements in 1 John are "if then" statements. They are not. In fact, the Greek language is crystal clear on the matter.
Here is a link to the Greek word study from:
Beyond the Pulpit
Translating “if” (“ean”) from Greek to English: (1.) First Class Conditions are assumed “true” and are translated “since;” (2.) Second Class Conditions are assumed “false” and translated “not;” and (3.) Third Class Conditions assume “doubt” meaning the statement could be “true or false, and are translated “may or may not.” The “if” is not directing or commanding us to do something, but rather it is pointing to the fact we may or may not do something.
There seems to be a problem with most translations when dealing with this section. The translators seem to focus on tradition. Translators have not translated the third class conditions or changed them.
The traditional translation - “If we confess….”
The literal translation- “We may or may not confess.…” or “Whether we confess or not….”
Let's put an end to the man made "bar of soap" routine and enter into His rest. A rest from works of thinking that asking for forgiveness is somehow keeping a person clean.
A person can either choose to agree with God or not. A person can either choose to confess it or not. God is asking everyone to believe in Jesus, who is continually faithful, that He took away our sins (forgiven for all time), and cleansed us of all unrighteous for eternity.
The question is not what do we do with sins today, the question is do we believe that Jesus forgave us of our sins? Can you imagine going to God in person (face to face), and saying, "Yeah, Jesus I know you forgave my sins positionally, 'but' I am now asking for my experiential forgiveness from you." Come on, let's get real here. That is spiting in the face of God. Because every time a person is asking for forgiveness today to God after hearing the complete Gospel, is telling God they don't believe He did it all. It is double talk and is the exact opposite to confess (agree with) God.
For a person to keep saying "if then" and think that asking for forgiveness is the meaning of "confess" in spite of the Greek word studies, is simply displaying a prideful attitude that a person doesn't care what the Word of God is really saying, and simply wants to stand with the teachings of men.
I confess to (agree with) the following statement in Galatians 1:10:
"For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
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