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Confession

Article by Bill Petri

 

Titus 2:11-13

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

The Apostle Paul penned these words to Titus to instruct him how to put the church in Crete (Titus 1:5), in order. Interestingly, Paul does not instruct Titus to put the Cretan back under the law. Instead, he tells him to teach the Grace of God. Notice what Paul says about the Grace of God:

1.) The Grace of God teaches us (verse 12). He does not say saved by grace but have them walk according to the law. Nor does he say that the law can teach, but that it is the Grace of God that teaches us.

2.) It is the Grace of God that teaches me how to live correctly, and how to deny the fleshy lusts. Paul does not instruct Titus to teach any aspect of the law, but rather to teach God's Grace.

Romans 6:14

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

This verse, more than any other, states why we do not teach, nor apply the law to our lives. We do not teach it, nor live under it, because we are not under its authority. Often times I hear people say "Yes, that is true, but what do I do when I act ungodly?" "Shouldn't I confess my transgressions to God to get back in a good standing with Him?" It is questions like these that this article will try to address. Uncertainties about our identity and God's ability to forgive are the reasons such questions are asked.

Ephes. 1:7

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

This important verse tells me that I have redemption, and that I have forgiveness already. These are things I have. God gave forgiveness the minute I believed. Notice how this was accomplished - through His Grace! I had nothing to do with it. Hence, we see that we are not doing anything to get any forgiveness from God. Why? We already have it as a present possession . Therefore, I have in my possession God's total forgiveness.

Ephes. 4:32

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Once more we see a passage dealing with the fact that I received all forgiveness from God up front. I do not have to do anything to get it, or to earn it all over again because God already "hath forgiven."

Col. 1:14

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Col. 2:13

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

After reading these verses, can there be any doubt that we have a total forgiveness of sins? Furthermore, we see that all trespasses are exhaustively

pardoned.

In Time Past this was not so. Forgiveness of sins was a major issue under the law dispensation.

Hebrews 10:3-4

But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. [4] For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

These two verses very clearly demonstrate that the issue of forgiveness was of great importance in Times Past. We read the words "remembrance", and "not possible" in reference to total forgiveness in this legal economy. In fact, even after Jesus' ascension, we read what the law says about Israel's forgiveness of sins in the following verse:

Acts 3:19

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Hence, Israel, as late as Acts chapter 3, is looking for a total forgiveness of sin. Praise God that He interrupted their program to usher in this present Dispensation of the Grace of God. Therefore, in the Here and now, we see the following to be true:

1 Cor. 1:9

God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Cor. 1:30

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

Mark well that the Body of Christ has a total forgiveness of sins because our fellowship is not based on law, but grace. Hence, we have fellowship based on the fact that God is faithful. It is not based on us doing anything. We do not have to be good Christians, we do not have to bear fruit etc. because my relationship with God is not based on me. It is based on the fact that GOD did, and that He is faithful to what He already has accomplished. Furthermore, once I believe the Gospel, I am instantly placed into an unbreakable fellowship with Him. A fellowship that is based on the fact that He (Not I), is faithful. According to verse 30 above, I then am found to be "In Christ", hence, Jesus Christ is my "wisdom', "righteousness", "sanctification", and "redemption". This, my friends, is a reality the minute you believe. This is why we are no longer under the law.

Romans 3:31

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish (bear out) the law.

By the fact that Jesus Christ kept it (the law) perfectly, and I'm "in Christ" we establish the law. Once more this had nothing to do with me, but everything to do with the finished work of Jesus. Therefore, the law has no dominion over me because Jesus kept it perfectly and I'm in Him!

We have already looked at Romans 6:14 where the Apostle Paul tells me I am not under law but under grace. What is the ramification of this statement in regards to our discussion? Consider the following three verses:

1 John 3:4

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (Israel's program under the law).

Romans 4:15

Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. (Body of Christ's program under Grace)

Romans 5:13

(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (Body of Christ's program under Grace).

The definition given for sin by John is the "transgression of the law". We can make the following equation then:

LAW + TRANSGRESSION = SIN

Paul's statements would make our equation as follows:

+ =

What is missing is the law, hence there can be no transgression. Therefore, if there is no law, there can be no transgression. Hence, there can be no sin! This my friends is what the total forgiveness of sins is all about. We in the Body of Christ can never have sin imputed to our accounts. This is the reality of our position in Christ. (We must be careful to not confuse our practice with our posistion when we discuss the issue of forgiveness). Oh, how marvellous the Grace of God is!

Many dear Saints will still ask the question, "What about 1 John 1:9"? The remainder of this paper shall look at this question, as it has plagued many people throughout the history of Christianity. Let us begin with a discussion about who wrote 1 John. The book is written by the Apostle John. But who is he? Let us have scripture tell us about him.

Matthew 10:2

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

From the above verse we see that John is one of the Twelve Apostles called by Jesus during His Earthly ministry to Israel. If we read further in Matthew 10, we read the following:

Matthew 10:5-6

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: [6] But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

We see then that Jesus forbade John to go to the Gentiles and restricted him to go only to Israel. We may ask what about Jesus' commandments before He ascended? Let us see what John does after those commands.

Acts 3:1

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Is John going out to the Gentiles? No, he is still in Jerusalem following the precepts of Temple worship according to the Mosaic Law.

Acts 8:1

And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

In this, we see everyone else has scattered, but the twelve Apostles filled with the Holy Ghost stay in Jerusalem with the Jews. There is no going forth to the Gentiles here. In fact, nowhere in scripture do we see John go to any Gentiles.

Galatians 2:9

And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

This verse tells me that John restricts his ministry to the saved remnant of Israel only. He will not go to the Gentiles in this passage. It is very clear that John's ministry is to Israel and them alone. He is one of Israel's apostles who will sit on one of twelve thrones ruling the twelve tribes of Israel.

It is now imperative for us to see where the book of 1 John fits. If we can determine where it fits, we can also decide what 1 John 1:9 is talking about.

1 John 2:18

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

The context of this verse is twofold. First, the context is the antichrist. John is looking at the antichrist as being imminent. How do we know this? Our second point answers this question. "It is the last time"! John is looking to the last days of prophecy. He is viewing a time frame where the antichrist is about to be revealed. Prophetically, he is looking to Daniel's 70th week.

1 John 2:13

I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

Notice the words John uses here, "wicked one" (one of Satan's names, also the name of the one Satan indwells - the antichrist); and "overcomers". Nowhere do we find anyone in the Body of Christ referred to as an overcomer. The reason is simple, as we have seen earlier in our article, we have already overcome, because we are "in Christ."

Rev. 12:11-12

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. [12] Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

This verse is talking about the Great Tribulation, the "time of Israel's trouble." Notice again about whom John is talking about, those who overcome the antichrist during the tribulation. The church which is Jesus' body is already caught out before the tribulation begins. Since we are not here for the tribulation, it is impossible for John to be writing to the Body of Christ.

Rev. 2:9

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

Rev. 3:9

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

The issue in at least two of the seven churches that John writes to is that there are individuals who say they are Jews, but they are not. Hence, they then belong to Satan. The issue that John is getting at is the ability to manifest who is really a Jew (part of the "little flock"). Hence, 1 John is written to identify those who are "born" of Israel. Therefore, we read the following:

1 John 2:11

But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

One way that an unbeliever was manifested to the remnant was the individual's attitude towards those who are saved (the little flock). If an individual hates another person in the saved remnant, that individual is in darkness (unbelief).

1 John 3:15

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him

This verse adds further information to our previous verse. If a man hates his brother, he is a murderer. Hence, they have no life. In the tribulation, this becomes a very important issue. Remember, the Lord said mother would be against daughter, father against son, etc.

1 John 1:6

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

There are those who say they have fellowship, yet they walk in darkness. Hence, they lie, and are thereby made manifest to the remnant. Furthermore, the issue we read in the seven churches of Revelation is there are some who say they are Jews, yet they are not. Hence they lie, and do not the truth. Therefore, they are not part of the remnant because they are in darkness. Moreover, if they are in darkness, they are not in light.

1 John 1:5

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

This verse shows us that God is light. If God is light, then those who walk in Him will walk in light. They must overcome the temptation to walk in darkness, and by doing this they will manifest the light.

1 John 1:6

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

1 John 1:8

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:10

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Notice the phrase "if we say". The issue in these verses is that there are people making a claim to something. What they are claiming is that they are Jews, that they are part of the believing remnant of Israel. Distinguish, 1 John 1:6 carefully where it states "if we say that we have fellowship with him." The consequence is that they are not saved. The claim is made that fellowship is a reality, when in fact they are in darkness.

1 John 2:22

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

The lie in 1 John is that there are those who say they are saved (again this is during the Great Tribulation) , yet they have denied the fact that Jesus is their (Israel's) Messiah. This specific lie strikes at the claims that Jesus made in His earthly ministry.

1 John 4:20

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

The idea here is that if a man hates his brother he has denied Christ.

Rev. 2:2

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

Notice, that these individuals are found to be liars. Their works found them in darkness. What was their work? They made false claims about their position before God.

1 John 1:7

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Those who are saved in this time frame are one with each other in light, and it is based on the fact that the blood of Christ cleanses them.

1 John 1:8

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Verse 8 here shows a false claim by one who walks in darkness. Notice again the phrase "if we say", which identifies the individuals in this verse back to verses 6,10.

1 John 2:4

He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Hence, the whole issue comes down to the Mosiac law. If someone does not keep the commandments, and yet says "I know Him", he (the individual) is a liar, "and the truth is not in him." We can contrast this with the following:

1 John 3:18-19

My little children (the remnant), let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (the keeping of the law) [19] And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

John 8:44

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Remember I John 3:15, where an individual who hated his brother was called a murderer. Why? Because they are of their father the devil, and he is a liar, hence all who are liars are of the devil. I write all this to now go to our main question , "what about 1 John 1:9?"

1 John 1:10

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

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.

The only conclusion we can make about this verse is that the ones being cleansed are the unsaved. Why? Because verse 7 tells me that the saved are already cleansed. Verses 8 and 10 are verses dealing with those who are unsaved, hence, the context of verse 10 is the unsaved. Therefore, John is writing this passage to show how an unsaved Jew is to be saved in the "Time of Jacob's trouble."

We can now safely make the following 4 conclusions:

  • Confession is a doctrine of law, not grace.
  • Confession of sin deals with Israel, and not the Body of Christ.
  • Confession of sin deals with judgement and tribulation.
  • Confession of sin always has a physical aspect or ceremony. (read carefully Lev.5:4-7, and Num.5:5-10, to get an example of this.)

Let us look at an example of this.

Daniel 9:2

In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

We see the context in Daniel is one of judgement. Israel was carried away to captivity.

Daniel 9:3-5

And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: [4] And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; [5] We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:

Let us put our attention on the phrase "we have sinned." Daniel is thus viewing himself as part of the nation. He confesses his own sin verse 4, and then puts it into the context of the nation. Notice also the physical aspect of his confession with the words, "with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes."

Daniel 9:11-13

Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. [12] And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. [13] As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

We see from these verses that again Daniel views himself in the context of the nation, under the law, and being judged according to the law.

Daniel 9:16-20

O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. [17] Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. [18] O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. [19] O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.

[20] And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God;

From these few verses in Daniel, we see how the doctrine of confession was supposed to work. Pay attention to the fact that all four of our points are covered in this interesting passage in Daniel.

Mark 1:5

And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

Once more we grasp our four points in this passage. The passage deals with the law, as Israel was under the law at the time of John performing these baptisms. The baptism is the ritual being performed. Furthermore, it was all the land of Judaea (Israel) that was involved, in this confession. If we compare Matthew 3:7, we see that the baptism was to flee the wrath to come. Hence, the idea of judgement is contained with the issue of baptism.

Many dear saints will be asking about now, "What should we do when we do not walk in a way that God would approve?" This is a very good question which deserves a brief answer.

2 Cor. 7:9

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

Repentance simply means a change of mind. Hence, we change our mind about what we did. We do not feel guilty, guilt can only bring damage. We do not confess as we have seen in some detail, because we are not under the dominion of the law. We simply change our mind about the behaviour.

The Roman Catholics will say we should perform penance. This means to pay a penalty of some kind. It is interesting to note that penance is never found in your Bible. We do not have to pay a penalty because Jesus Christ already paid any penalty I would have to ever pay. There is no double indemnity.

Protestants use a word called "penitence". This means to feel sorry for sins. The problem with this word is it also is not found in your Bible. It fails to recognize that your sins are already paid. There is not a sin that can be imputed to you.

2 Cor. 7:10

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Penitence produces worldly sorrow. A sorrow where we go through some ritual to try to get back into God's good graces. We call this sorrow by another name. Often it is simply called guilt. Guilt is an inward reflection. Guilt is a thinking process that has the focus on self. Any time we focus on self we have created a system for failure. Our verse says that "Godly sorrow" is produced. This leads to salvation, not from hell, but salvation from defeat in our Christian walk. This type of sorrow does not produce guilt it produces repentance (a change of mind), or a change in the thought cycle that produced the erroneous action. If we all learned to walk in grace we would never have to go back under a defeated system of works. I thank God I live under an Identity Based Acceptance rather than the failed system of Performance Based Acceptance.

2 Cor. 7:11

For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Verse 11 above is the best description of how "Godly sorrow" works. It produces a total change of thought. It is not an inward reflection which leads to guilt. Rather, it is a total clearing of the thought process that lead to the evil actions that were committed. It produced repentance, which produced a new way to think.

The only conclusion left us is that the Body of Christ has no part in the doctrine of confession. If we would but realize this we would see people enjoy the freedom that the total forgiveness of sins has wrought through God's Grace in this dispensation of grace. Many dear saints would finally experience the freedom from the law that grace has induced. We should all rejoice in what Christ has already accomplished.


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