Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Finality of The Cross P26 (10-05-21)
Truth of 1 John 1 is Understood in the Context of a New Covenant Framework
Have you ever heard someone say that God forgives the sins you confess? Is that true according to the scripture? No. Like this and many other questions regarding forgiveness, people who ask such questions do not know what Jesus accomplished by way of the cross. We have all these theologies that are paralyzing the Christian community with this concept that you can get in and out of fellowship with God. Not only were all the sins of the entire world taken away, forgiven forever, from the eyes of God when Jesus shed His blood on a cross, but Jesus rose from the dead in order to give to you and me eternal life, an indestructible life, that cannot be taken away by sin, having ushered in a New Covenant of grace that we are to live under today. When a person does not understand what salvation is or the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, they tend to nit-pick over one verse of scripture out of its context to form some erroneous doctrine or teaching that is contrary to living under grace. Explaining forgiveness from outside the framework of the New Covenant would be like trying to explain a gear shift without realizing it is part of a car.
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.
Teaching this concept of in and out of fellowship when you sin will keep you from walking in the Sabbath rest. This Sabbath rest is when you are resting from your works, all of them, of being able to rest in His completed work. There is no rest when you are still trying to maintain your own relationship with God nor is their rest trying to maintain fellowship with God. In both cases, you are not in peace at all but bondage. That is spiritual bondage that this keeps you in.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing
If you are still thinking you are going in and out of fellowship with God, there is no way you are going to be resting in the finality of the cross and the reality of a resurrection. You cannot abide in a lie. You cannot only abide in truth if you are abiding in Christ. If you are going to abide in Christ, you are going to have to abide in the one who said He is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). I will have to abide in grace, none of me and all of Him, and in truth, all of Him and none of me.
People have used 1 John 1 to hammer us to death about this in and out of fellowship. The letter of 1 John 1 was written to correct Gnostics, to get rid of the error that people are always teaching you, that this book was written to Christians. There is no book written to a Christian. It was written to a Christian pastor to read to a congregation made up of both lost and saved, and if the shoe fits you wear it. In this particular congregation that had written to the apostle John about 95 A.D, there had been 60 or more years of false doctrine that had crept in. In this case, it was Gnosticism, that believes that Jesus could not come in the flesh. He was an illusion and we do not have a sin nature. To declare and correct both of those heresies, John wrote this.
1 John 1:3-10
3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out 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, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
Listen now as Bob George goes through 1 John 1, verse by verse, explaining its meaning in the context of a New Covenant framework. We know from the book of Hebrews what that New Covenant is.
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”[Jeremiah 31:33]
17 Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”[Jeremiah 31:34]
18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
People have used 1 John 1 to hammer us to death about this in and out of fellowship. In 1 John 1:3-10, John the apostle is explaining that this book was written to correct Gnostics, to get rid of the error that people are always teaching you, that this book was written to Christians. This is not a book written to a Christian. It was written to a Christian pastor to read to a congregation made up of both lost and saved, and if the shoe fits you wear it. In this particular congregation, a pastor or elder had written around 95 A.D. to the apostle John to correct error. There had been 60 or more years of false doctrine that had crept in. In this case, it was Gnosticism, that believes that Jesus could not come in the flesh. He was an illusion and we do not have a sin nature. To declare and correct both of those heresies, John wrote this.
After going to great lengths to tell the lost and saved among them, but really addressing the Gnostic error in doing so, that this Jesus whom we, the apostles and over 500 brothers as well, have touched, seen and heard and proclaim to you that He is the word of life. The Gnostics claimed they have not sinned, and make Him out to be a liar and the word has no place in their lives. Using an editorial we, if we were were claiming what you are claiming, then we also would be making God out to be a liar and would be lost also. So, how can you, claiming those things, have fellowship with the Father and with us? You can’t because you are lost.
There are about six claims there in 1 John 1. There is a person claiming to be without sin. The result of that is you are deceived and the truth is not in you. I claimed that I have not sinned. He said you make God out to be a liar and that His word has no place in your life. If you walked up to a person. I want to tell you something about yourself. The word has no place in your life. You call God a liar. You claim to be without sin. You claim to not even have a sin nature. You are deceived and the truth is not in you. Is that a description of a saved person? No, it is description of a lost person.
You can be claiming to have fellowship with God and yet you are walking in darkness and the truth is not in you. The same author John, who wrote the gospel of John, said the identical thing to the Pharisees, when he said, “Your Father is that of the devil.” That is a lost person. And the truth is not in you.
1 John 1:8
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
That would be for anyone who would claim that the truth is not in us and we are lost.
1 John 1:9-10
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
What is taking place here is that we have taken a passage of scripture and negated the New Covenant. We are taking a piece of the New Covenant and nit-picking it instead of putting it in the context of the New Covenant. We are talking forgiveness theology and studying a gear shift instead of realizing that the gear shift belongs in the car, that forgiveness belongs in the New Covenant.
The literal translation of 1 John 1:9 is for God to have forgiven our sins and to have purified us from all unrighteousness. The issue here is this. Did you ever have righteousness? Were you ever righteous? No, we were not. If I was never righteous, what did I have to be cleansed of? Unrighteousness. If I was sinful what had to occur? Forgiveness. So let me ask you this. When is the only time in our experience that you were ever cleansed of all of your unrighteousness and forgiven of all your sins? When was that? It was at the cross. You cannot try to understand forgiveness without understanding what Jesus did at the cross and what He did in ushering in a New Covenant we live under today.
The most common misinterpretation and application of scripture used by many people today, because they do not understand the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, in order to explain this concept of being in and out fellowship because of sin, is Matthew 6:12 and James 5:15-16.
12 If you do not forgive your brother on earth, your Father in heaven will not forgive you.
Realize that the New Covenant, a new agreement between God and man, went into effect at the death of Christ (Hebrews 9:15-17). All your sins under the New Covenant are behind the back of God never to see them again (1 John 2:2 NASB). Jesus, who resurrected from the dead, is the guarantor of this New Covenant (Hebrews 7:22), and in that New Covenant, He says He will remember their sins and lawless acts no more and where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:16-18). And we read in Hebrews 9:22, that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. His sacrifice, unlike priests, is not one that had to be done over and over again, like that of bulls and goats. He did it one time for all (Hebrews 7:27) and sat down at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews 10:11-13) and said “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
So what can you conclude concerning Matthew 6:12? Did what Jesus said at the cross a lie, making Jesus a liar? Was the Matthew passage a lie, where it says if you do not forgive your brother on earth, your father in heaven will not forgive you? Either Matthew 6:12 is true or the New Covenant is a lie or the New Covenant is true and what the Lord’s prayer, which is what Matthew 6 is a part of, was before the cross. Before the cross, the Lord’;s prayer was the stringent requirements of the law. So if you believe Matthew 6 is for today, then what about what Jesus said in Matthew 5?
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[Exodus 20:14] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
So if Matthew 6 is true for us today, would we not see people without eyeballs who lusted after a woman in their heart? Would we see people without hands because they stole from their neighbor? So the current understanding of these passages has to be understood in terms of what covenant was still in effect at the time Jesus was saying these words, and what Jesus was trying to get the people to understand concerning the intent of the law, not to make one righteous but to make one aware of their condition of death and need of a Savior. Until Jesus died on a cross, the Old Covenant was still in effect. Jesus, while still on this earth prior to the cross, taught about the New Covenant to come to a people who were still under an Old Covenant that had not yet been replaced.
15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
This passage in James is so often quoted out of context. Do Christians confess sins one to another? Absolutely. That is how we stay in fellowship with one another. Our fellowship with God the Father is not in jeopardy for Jesus solved that problem for us when He shed His blood on a cross and we came alive in Him and became a forgiven person. But what has to be straightened out is the sin between me and another brother. And what is the motivation to forgive a brother who sins against me under a New Covenant? Forgive one another even as I, Jesus, have forgiven you (Colossians 3:13). That passage in James is an interaction of brothers and sisters in Christ trying to get along with each other.
Additionally, in light of all this other myriad of scripture, then we have 1 John 1:9. You do not have a myriad of scriptures where we are to confess sins is used under a New Covenant. From the day of the cross on, it is only used twice, once in James and in 1 John 1:9. The Christian world has used as this confess sins, and very pridefully, as a Christian bar of soap, of how you to keep yourself clean. A bar of soap is what I apply to my body to keep it clean but not my spirit. I cannot keep myself clean if I wanted to. You never kept yourself clean. You didn’t keep yourself clean and you will never keep yourself clean. That is the blood of Jesus that continually cleanses you of all unrighteousness. It has nothing to do with your own bar of soap. It is wood, hay and stubble and you are living in a lie thinking that applies to you.
As you read the verses before 1 John 1:9, you read about the contrast between light and darkness, and in scripture that always refers to saved and lost, respectively.
1 John 1:5-7
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he [Christ] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another [you and God the Father], and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
An example of this is in John 8:12.
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “ am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
When talking about walking in the light and the blood of Jesus purifying us from all sin, that is His work, not ours. That is a result of being in the light. There are two things that could be. I am in the light but I slip back into darkness whenever I sinned. Or it means what it means. Once you are in the light with Christ, the result of being in the light, is having fellowship with one another, and in the light, the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin imaginable. The answer to which translation and which interpretation is in what is light and darkness in the scripture. In every case, it is always lost and saved.
The saved are those who are in the light because Jesus is alive living in you, and He is the Light of the world (John 8:12). The blood of Jesus is what has already happened and since we are made in to a new creation, having become a forgiven person, for in Him, you have redemption, the forgiveness of sin (Ephesians 1:7), then His blood has a continual effect, being that Jesus lives forever to intercede for you (Hebrews 7:25) and will not shed His blood again to forgive you (Hebrews 9:28), then His blood continually cleanses you of all sin. Jesus said it is finished (John 19:30) and so it is finished.
You have been made holy (Hebrews 10:10). You have been sanctified (Hebrews 10:10). You have been set apart by God from the thinking of the world. You do not cooperate with God to be made more holy or more sanctified. You have been made that way by God, both holy and sanctified. The work is completed in you. The last work that remains is the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). And the continual work is the renewal of our minds so that we may realize all that God has freely given us (1 Corinthians 2:12) and walk in the new way of the Spirit. And even in that, God is at work in you to will and to act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:13). It is all of God and none of me.