Making All Men See

Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, "It is easier to fool people than it is to convince people that they have been fooled." I agree with him. Religiously speaking, I was one of those "fooled" people for four decades of my life. Satan's "ministers of righteousness" (II Cor. 11:13-15) working inside the church were effective in blinding me to "God's Grace Program" while feeding me a steady diet of law based performance. I began my "recovery" from Satan's trap (II Tim. 2:26) thirteen years ago when I unexpectedly came face to face with the "key to understanding the Bible" (Luke 11:52). My education and edification in God's program of grace has progressively stabilized my life just like God promised it would in Romans 16:25. May this blog be used of God to liberate the world's largest religious denomination---"ignorant brethren". (Rom. 1:13)

An Obsession with Confession


While there are a thousand shades of opinion regarding the matter of just what a believer is to do when he is conscious of having committed a sin, there are really only two major views. The first, and by far the most commonly held, might be called "short accounts"; the second, "total forgiveness."
The short account view teaches that when a Christian sins, a barrier is erected between the believer and God (broken fellowship) which can only be taken down or resolved by a prayer of confession. Confession is defined as either mentally or orally naming the sin in prayer to God. There are great differences of opinion among those who hold this view as to the seriousness of the broken fellowship that occurs between God and the Christian when he sins. Some hold that fellowship is broken to some degree, while others insist that God’s blessings in this life and some blessings that God promises to give us in heaven will be withheld from us until and unless our sins are recited in prayer. Frequently, in this view, the blood of Christ is seen as the basis of forgiveness for the sinner and confession the basis of forgiveness for the Christian. One author says that if his son were to offend him he would withhold forgiveness until his son came to him in confession and sought a restoration of fellowship. While this is a commonly held belief today the important question is…IS THIS GRACE? Most people today assume that God operates in the same manner as people. Isaiah 55:8-9 plainly tells us that our ways are not God’s ways and our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. The Bible teaches us that God forgives Christians "...for Christ's sake” (Ephesians 4:32) When believers are instructed to forgive others who sin against them, are we to understand that God means we are to withhold forgiveness and fellowship until the person who sinned against us makes some kind of a confession to us? And what about the command to "bless those who persecute you”? (Romans 12:14) Are we to withhold blessing until persecution stops, or, is the plain meaning to bless during the persecution?
Those who teach and believe "short accounts" do so primarily based on 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." I would like to suggest some things that we MUST note if we are to UNDERSTAND this important verse as God meant it to be understood when He placed it in His Word.

First, the book is written by the Apostle John. But who is he? 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 this 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' commandment before He ascended to heaven (Matthew 28:19-20)? Let us see what John does after that commandment. 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 (Peter), 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 (Gentiles), and they unto the circumcision ( Jews). This verse tells me that John restricts his ministry to the saved people 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.

Second, these Jews that John was addressing in the book of I John would know exactly what John was talking about when he conditioned forgiveness and cleansing on the confession (acknowledgment) of sins. The Jews had a purification ceremony called the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins that both John the Baptist and Peter had taught them about (John 3:22-23; Acts 2:38) and by submitting to this "washing" ceremony (water baptism), they were admitting their sin nature and they were acknowledging their specific sins. Without speaking a word, they were confessing their unworthiness to enter Jesus’ Kingdom of Righteousness...the Old Testament predicted and long awaited reign of Jesus on earth (The Gospel of the Kingdom).

Third, it is important to examine the context of I John 1:9… 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. 8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10: If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. In verse seven, the Jewish believer commits sins but continues to walk in the light because he continues to be cleansed by the blood of God's Son. This verse tells us that the Jewish believer, though he continues to commit individual sins which will affect his fellowship with other people, does not walk in darkness (unsaved), nor is his fellowship with God broken. The contrast in this passage is not between a believer who names his sins mentally or orally in "confession" to God and one who does not. The contrast is between the unbeliever who denies having a sin (singular) nature vs. 8 and denies committing sins (plural, individual acts resulting from the fallen Adamic sin nature vs. 9) and the Jewish believer who, by submitting to the Jewish purification ceremony--water baptism--has acknowledged (confessed) his sin nature with its resulting sins.

Fourth, no one could possibly cite ALL of his sins to God...no one ever has. Even a sincere attempt to do so would leave you and me without time to sleep, eat, or brush our teeth. And even if it were possible to name ALL of them, we would still have our sinful natures that are opposed to God and His Word (Romans 8:7). What would confession do for that? The Book of Romans shows us that our REAL problem is OUR SIN NATURE, not sin, the act.

Monks hid under their beds rather than take a turn hearing Martin Luther's confession, for, while they finished reciting their own sins in five minutes--or thought they did!--this sensitive monk kept on for an hour and a half and then was back in twenty minutes with more that he had forgotten. Most "short accounters" admit the inability to confess all sins. There are sins of omission, sins that we forget that we committed, sins of ignorance, and sins of stubbornness...sins that we go to our graves refusing to admit are sins.

Fifth, if John really taught short accounts, and if he had the Body of Christ/the Church in mind, why aren't the Pauline Epistles full of instruction about "confessing" one's sins in order to gain forgiveness and "restore fellowship"? Instead, we read, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” (Colossians 2:13). Our future sins are included in this promise for they, along with our past sins, were still future when our Lord died for them 2000 years ago and therefore my future sins are no harder for God to forgive than my past sins.
Now for the question everyone asks when they hear that God has forgiven us all our sins! Won't teaching TOTAL FORGIVENESS instead of short accounts encourage Christians to sin more? Absolutely not! The divine principle is that the one who has been forgiven much, LOVES MUCH (Luke 7:36-50). And the more appropriate question that needs to be asked is, are you and I, as believers, such ingrates that the infinite love and total Grace of God displayed at Calvary cannot move us to love our Savior deeply and serve Him faithfully? Now that I have a new nature, am indwelt by the very Holy Spirit of God, and have the divine dynamic of the Word of God to energize me: AM I SO POORLY EQUIPPED THAT I CANNOT PRESENT MYSELF TO GOD AS ALIVE FROM THE DEAD, but must continue to present my members as instruments of unrighteousness to Sin? (Romans 6:13) GOD FORBID! The Pauline Epistles call each of us to a higher life than that!
If you are in Christ, what do you have according to Ephesians 1:7-8? " In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;" Does it make sense, then, to continually ask for something you already have?
What has happened to us as a result of Christ's death according to the following verse? "For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 2 Corinthians 5:21
Do we make ourselves righteous by continually confessing our sins or does God provide righteousness as a free gift according to Romans 5:17? "For if by one man’s offence (Adam) death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” Even if a person believes that 1 John 1:9 is written to believers today, how much unrighteousness does John say we are cleansed of? If we are cleansed of all unrighteousness, why do we need more cleansing day by day?

According to 1 Corinthians 1:8-9, does confessing your sins keep a you in fellowship with God or does God initiate the process by calling you into the fellowship of his Son and keeping you in the fellowship? "Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
Colossians 2:13-14 "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."”
When Christ went to the cross, He died for our sins "once for all." He paid the penalty of death, which is what the law demanded, so that we could experience His everlasting life. Don't complicate the simplicity of the gospel through the fellowship issue. Recognize that you are in the fellowship (if you are saved), that the blood of Christ purifies you from all sin and rejoice in that total forgiveness.
According to the Bible, God spoke the world into existence. He then created Adam out of the dust of the earth to be the source and head of the whole human race. Adam is the father of every person ever born on the earth. Therefore, you and I enter the world positioned in a life-and-death relationship with the first, the created, the sinful, earthly Adam! Because of this union with Adam we are born into this world a dead-unto-God and alive-unto-sin, lost soul.
There is another serious consequence of being born in union with the first Adam: we are born mentally programmed to govern our lives by our own experiences, our own circumstances and our own thoughts about God and what He is or is not doing in the world around us. God has chosen to save us from living wasted, sinful lives in Adam. He desires our faith to be focused upon what He has said to us and about us through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. These Positional Truths are explained in Romans through Philemon.

Do you remember how God dealt with Adam about death when he sinned in the Garden? God said to him, "But the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). The very day that Adam sinned he died spiritually, judicially, and positionally. He became dead to God and alive to sin, but he lived to be over 900 years old producing an entire race of dead-to-God people, before he died physically. By this one man "sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men" (Romans 5:12).
God has chosen a similar plan of action for the Church---the Body of Christ. At salvation, God remedies our spiritual, judicial and positional problem we inherited from the first Adam. By the work of Christ on the Cross, the first Adam was judged, condemned and crucified. By the grace of God, it is now possible for “whosoever will” to experience the miracle of salvation, whereby the Holy Spirit takes a person out of Adam and places them in Jesus Christ. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6: Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;” (Titus 3:5-6) Salvation means that we are new creatures spiritually, judicially, and positionally. (2 Cor. 5:17) However, like He did with the first Adam, God allows Christians to live on with that old life and nature until your physical death or the Rapture, whichever comes first.

When Adam sinned and thereby positionally died to God, I died in him. When he became flesh, I became flesh in him. When he was condemned, I was condemned in him. The rejected old Adam was replaced by the accepted new Man, the Last Adam. When the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world, He subjected Him to the death of the Cross in order to rescue me from my Adamic death.
While the Lamb of God was on the Cross, my Father laid all my as-yet-uncommitted sins upon Him, and His death for those sins freed me from their penalty. While the Lord Jesus was on that same Cross the Father identified me, in my Adamic life of sin, with His Son who was made to be that sin (2 Cor. 5:21). In Him, I died unto sin--positionally.
 What should we do when we sin as Christians?
Since the Bible tells us that all of our sins are forgiven because of the grace of God, then what do we do when we do sin? Ignore it and say "I'm under grace, so it doesn't make any difference if I sin?" Many believe that teaching the total forgiveness of Christ will cause people to go out and sin more. Paul dealt with this argument over 2,000 years ago. He responded, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:2).

2 Cor. 7:9-10…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. For godly sorrow worketh (produces) repentance to salvation (not from hell but from spiritual defeat in the Christian life) not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. Repentance simply means a change of mind. Simply put, we change our mind about the sin we have committed. Paul is telling us that feeling guilty is not God’s desire or purpose in repentance; guilt can only bring damage to us. Neither does God require us to confess our sins because we are not under the dominion of the law as Christians. God does work in us to cause us to change our mind about the sinful behavior we have chosen to do or the good behavior we have failed to do.

Unscriptural repentance produces worldly sorrow (guilt); a sorrow where we go through some religious ritual to try to get back into God's good graces is unnecessary. Guilt is an inward reflection and is the repentance an unsaved person experiences. However, this worldly repentance actually brings harm to us and has to be repeated all over again in a vain attempt to get some relief from our sin. Guilt is a thinking process that has the focus on self. Any time we focus on self we have created a man-made religious system for failure. Verse 10 says that "Godly sorrow" produces salvation, not from sin or hell, but salvation from the problems into which we get into when we sin. This special use of the word "salvation" is also found in Phil. 2:12. The Philippians had gotten themselves into a difficult situation through their own sin. There was a division between two women, and everybody began to take sides until the assembly was seriously divided. It was with respect to this division that Paul wrote, "My beloved . . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” 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 sinful action (Romans 12:1,2). If Christians learned to walk in grace we would never have to go back under a defeated system of works and law. Christians should thank God that we live under an Identity Based Acceptance rather than a 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. This 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 leads to the evil actions that were committed. It produced repentance, which produced a new way to think.

Teaching we must confess our sins in order to be forgiven doesn't produce changed hearts. Why? Because we have placed ourselves under a "law system" or work of the flesh which demands that we confess every sin in order to be forgiven and stay in fellowship with God. This popular teaching today is nothing more than a modification of the law based program Israel struggled with so miserably for 1,500 years. The law was never meant to free us from sin because “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” (1 Corinthians 15:56). Therefore, we usually end up repeating the same sin before the week (or even the day) is over and feel guilt and frustration over our inability to change.
"What carefulness,” (vs. permissiveness). A man has a duty to “watch ye” (I Cor. 16:13)
"What clearing of yourselves," (of the reproach they had caused).
"What indignation" (against the sin and the person so brazenly involved in it).
"What fear" (lest they “lose their inheritance” at Bema seat judgment) (I Cor. 3 & 6)
"What vehement desire" (vs. their former carelessness) (I Cor. 16:13…stand fast)
"What zeal" (to set things in order).
"What revenge” (against the former sin).

Confession as it relates to our fellowman:
Paul gives Christians explicit directions on how to deal with sin when our sin involves another person. Here are just a few verses that tell us what to do. Concerning lying, for instance, we are told “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Eph. 4:25). Or, concerning stealing, Ephesians 4:28 says that “Let him that stole bbbsteal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” In other words, stop lying and start telling the truth. Quit stealing and go to work so you can share with others. Not one verse says to confess our sins to God before we can go on with life. Many Christians like to quote James 5:16… “Confess your faults one to another” as a proof of the importance of confession. But notice that it says confess one to another (not God). The motivation to confess our sins against other people is found in Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” The only way we can ever love, forgive and accept others is because Christ has first loved, forgiven and accepted us. It is true that we will treat others the way we feel God is treating us. If we feel we have to perform for God and ask His forgiveness each time we sin, we expect the same performance from everyone else. If we believe God loves us only when we do the right things, then we tend to also love others when they, too, do the right things.

The opposite is also true. Only when we understand the love, forgiveness and acceptance of God will we ever be able to share that same love with those around us. It is impossible for us to love and forgive one another if we are constantly worrying about our own acceptance to God.

If we believe we must continually confess our sins in order to be loved and forgiven by God, we are living as though Christ's work on our behalf was not sufficient. The damage caused by this belief is serious. There are many who are in bondage to this "law" that was created and perpetuated by religion. That's why it is so important to understand what the Bible says about Christ's finished work on the cross and our identity in Him. As we understand these truths and keep our eyes on the Lord instead of ourselves, we will see our lives change.

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; Paul does not instruct Titus to put the Cretian Christians 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 or sin? Shouldn't I confess my transgressions to God to get back in fellowship with Him?" Misunderstandings about our identity and God's ability to forgive are the reasons such questions are asked.
Ephesians 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, as a Christian, I have redemption, and I have forgiveness already. These are things I already have. Notice how this was accomplished - through His blood and His Grace! God does not require us to do anything to get saved. God does not require us to continually confess and ask forgiveness for our sins to stay in fellowship with Him any more than He requires us to keep asking for salvation to keep our salvation. We already have salvation and forgiveness as a present possession.
Ephesians 4:32 …And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Here is a passage dealing with the fact that I have received complete forgiveness from God 2,000 years ago at the Cross. I do not have to do anything to get it, or to earn it all over again because God already "hath (past tense) forgiven you."
Col. 1:14…In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
After reading these verses, can there be any doubt that we have a total forgiveness of sins?
In Time Past this was not so. Forgiveness of sins was an ongoing issue that had to constantly be dealt with under the dispensation of law.
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 the dispensation of law.
In this current Dispensation of the Grace of God we see the following to be true:
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: Take note that the Body of Christ (the church) has a total forgiveness of sins because our fellowship is not based on law, but grace. Therefore, we have fellowship based on the fact that God is faithful. It is not based on our faithfulness. My relationship with God is not based on me. It is based on the fact of what GOD has done, 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 me), is faithful. According to verse 30, I then am found to be "In Christ", hence, Jesus Christ is my "wisdom', "righteousness", "sanctification", and "redemption". This is a reality the minute you believe. This is why we are no longer under the law.

1 comment:

  1. theodore sends his love and prayers!

    ReplyDelete

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