Bible Life Ministries

1 John 1:9 and 10

Controversy has arisen over the meaning and interpretation of 1 John 1:9-10. The following is the only meaning that does not violate the interpretation of other Scriptures.

1 John 1:1 through 1 John 2:2

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life-- 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. 5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses 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.

2:1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

Theological Seminaries Are Centers for Higher Brainwashing.

Many Bible teachers and preachers state that believers must continually be confessing their sins daily in order for them to be forgiven. This false teaching has originated from an incorrect interpretation of 1 John 1:9.

The book of 1 John originated as a letter to the leader or leaders of a group of John's followers. John affectionately called the true believers in the group "my little children." He began by describing who Jesus was in verses:1 through 6. He says that those who lie do not practice the truth and have no fellowship with Jesus.

In verse 10 some people in the group were claiming they had not sinned. These people who claimed they had not sinned were without a doubt a few false teachers who had crept into the flock. They were wolves in sheep's clothing trying to teach false doctrines. They would not have been the leaders or any of the faithful members.

In verse 10 John said that those who say they have not sinned are liars, and His word is not in them. He used the words "if we" but certainly did not included himself. That is simply a figure of speech. Those who were the  false teachers could not have been saved because they had rejected the Word of Truth, Jesus. They are liars because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The false teachers would have no need for a Savior if they had not sinned. They could not have trusted in Jesus' death and resurrection for forgiveness of their sins because they denied having any sin.

John states in chapter 2 verses 1 and 2 that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. John is telling them that Jesus has forgiven the sins of the whole world. However, this does not save these false teachers, because they still lacked faith in Jesus. The false teachers still have the sin of unbelief which is the only unpardonable sin.

John is telling the false teachers in verse 9 of chapter 1 that they can be saved if they repent of their unbelief by admitting they have been sinners and turn to Jesus for salvation. If they confess their sin of unbelief and turn to Jesus, He is faithful and just to accept them and cleanse them of their sin of unbelief.

Remember, John goes on in verse 2 of chapter 2 to tell them that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. They were not being asked to confess their sins of robbery, conceit, selfishness, coveting, pride, arrogance, etc., in order to have them forgiven. Their sins had already been forgiven. They could not believe in the work of Jesus without admitting they were sinners.

A person does not have to confess to being a sinner in order to be saved because the sinfulness of humans is universal. It goes without saying or confessing. However, a persons who claims to have no sin is in big trouble because they wouldn't need a Savior if they were perfect (like Jesus). They are counting on their sinlessness for their salvation and are therefore lost. That is exactly what the Apostle John said.

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Click below for Bible studies, references, books and other links.

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by Dr. C. I. Scofield

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The best book for the study of dispensations is:
Gods' Plan for Man
by Finis Jennings Dake, 1990 ISBN-10: 1558290265

Highly recommended book for studying many different theologies is:
The Moody Handbook of Theology
by Paul Enns, ISBN: 0-8024-3428-2

An extremely well written and documented book in refute of Calvinism is:
The Other Side of Calvinism
by Laurence M. Vance, Ph. D., ISBN: 0-9628898-7-3


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Kent R. Rieske, Ministry Director
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