The Pursuit of God

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False Formulas for Salvation – 1 John 1:9

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“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

The same John who wrote the Gospel of John and Revelation also wrote the three epistles known as 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John.  While 2 and 3 John don’t get out much, 1 John has several famous one liners in it, including this frequently quoted statement about salvation being obtained through the confession of sin.  But is this really accurate?  Is merely listing off our sins enough to grant us salvation and cause use to be blameless in the sight of God?  No, it’s really not.  In fact, salvation doesn’t have anything to do with God considering us to be “blameless.”  We just think it does because, like the New Testament apostles, we’re focusing on the wrong things (see Jesus vs. the NT Jews: What it Means to Please God).

Today Christians often use 1 John 1:9 as a way to quickly summarize salvation for unbelievers, and also as a way to reassure themselves that they are in a good place with God.  In this post, we’re going to explain why 1 John 1:9 miserably fails to accomplish either of these goals.  Rather than encourage us to embrace truths, 1 John 1:9 has a long history of leading Christians astray into either anxious fretting that they are never doing good enough, or arrogant delusions that God thinks they are perfect.  Now let’s explain.

CONFESSION

If you’re going to summarize salvation in one short sentence, you have to mention the soul attitude of submission.  Salvation is acquired through sufficient submission to all three of your Creators as the Supreme Deities that They are.  Merely agreeing with God that you’ve broken His moral code is not at all the same as submitting to God.  A thief can cross his arms with a proud smile and say, “Yep, I sure did break the law when I broke into that guy’s house and stole all of his stuff.  What of it?”  The thief has just confessed his sin, but he’s not at all repentant.  Confession is simply an acknowledgement—it’s when you agree with God’s assessment of your behavior.  Today there are many spiritual rebels in the world who are proudly boasting of what terrible sinners they are.  For these people, confession is just a carnal game—it’s a way of calling attention to themselves and shocking others with their terrible deeds.  Is such an attitude going to get us into a good place with God?  Not hardly.

By itself, confession is useless.  In the first place, you’ll never come close to confessing every sin you’ve ever committed because you aren’t even aware of most of your sins.  You’ve spent your whole life pretending that certain sins are acceptable while others are unforgivable, and your personal system of ranking sins is vastly different than God’s.  Then there’s the issue of you making a big deal out of other people’s sins while you deny that most of yours are even happening.  As you talk about what a judgmental jerk your boss Jason is, you are pretending that it’s perfectly okay for you to be a judgmental jerk.  Harsh criticisms are only sins when they are being spoken by Jason—when they’re being spoken by you, they are reasonable assessments of the situation.  When you are in some urgent situation, then it’s reasonable for you to cut in front of people on the road, break traffic laws, and almost run over pedestrians.  If someone has a problem with it, then they’re being ungracious twerps.  But when you’re the one almost getting clipped by a car as you step out into a crosswalk, well then clearly that driver is being a selfish pill.  And when you are the one who gets cut in front of, then you’re quite justified in cursing at the other driver who is being so obnoxious and rude to you.  But when someone leans on the horn or flashes certain hand signals at you when you shove your vehicle into their lane, well then they’re the ones being rude.  This is how it works with humans: we’re such merciless little hypocrites.  When we’re in the wrong, we’re full of justifications and we want compassion.  But when someone else is in the wrong, we’re right there to emphasize what crumbs they are being.

Among Christians, the concept of confession has been turned into a confusing mess of carnality.  We’ve become experts at using confession as an excuse to fire insulting zingers at each other.

“Emily, I have to confess that I’ve been having sinful thoughts towards you.  Every time I see you, I think, ‘Wow, what an ugly cow she is.’  And yet, you’re my sister in the Lord, so I’m totally out of line to be criticizing you just because I think the clothes you wear are ugly.  It’s not your fault that you’re as big as a house—look at how you’re always snacking. And you know what?  I’m sure I’d feel the need to stress eat, too, if I had your face.  So I confess that I’ve been completely in the wrong and I sincerely ask for your forgiveness.”

Nothing like trying to look holy while you let the insults fly.  Whenever Christians start down the road of publicly confessing their sins to each other, things tend to get ugly fast.  But we’re not all being this aggressive.  Some of us have fallen into a pattern of robotic confession.  We’ve been told that we have to report our sins to Father Friendly in the confessional every so often, so in we troop, to rattle off a list of wrongs.  If we can’t think of anything, we just make something up.  We don’t really care, we’re just doing our religious duty.

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.  I have bad thoughts.  I have wrong feelings.  Um…yeah…I’m a bad person.  Okay, I’m done.  See you next month.”

This is another form of useless confession.  We’re just going through meaningless motions without any real concern for pleasing God.  But suppose we do care.  Suppose we’re coming to Father Friendly because we really want to get right with God.  So we start by saying, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…” and already we’ve wandered off course.  If God is the One you’re trying to get right with, why are you sitting in a manmade box talking to another human who is as imperfect as you are?  Your priest might be a wonderful man who sincerely cares about the welfare of your soul. But your priest isn’t God, and he is not capable of reconciling you to God.

If a woman has offended her husband, should she apologize to him or to the neighbor across the street?  She should go direct, of course, and not bring a bunch of third parties into it.  Now there’s certainly nothing wrong with asking another Christian for guidance, but don’t lose sight of the fact that Christians are just humans, they’re not Gods.  In our material, we’re always telling you to talk to God directly and ask Him what He thinks about the advice you’re being given by other Christians.  This rule applies even when you’re dealing with a priest or some other Christian leader who you totally trust.  No human is worthy of your absolute trust.  You should only be giving that kind of trust to Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  And since They are the only Ones who will be judging you in eternity, They are the Ones you need to be talking to when They convict you about some sin you’ve committed.  But here’s a critical point to realize: when a conviction is actually coming from God, it’s not just some criticism of you that’s meant to make you feel bad.

Spiritual discernment is about understanding how to tell when God is and isn’t talking to you personally.  Today the Church has turned spiritual discernment into a carnal game of Christians acting like wannabe sorcerers.  She confuses the sober topic of spiritual discernment with a bunch of rubbish about “sensing” and controlling supernatural beings.  As a result, most Christians have a very poor understanding of how to tell when God is and isn’t talking to them because they’re relying on their emotions, foolish leaders, and a bunch of misapplied Bible verses to guide them in truth.  When you don’t know how to accurately discern God’s Voice, you end up mistaking demonic condemnation for true conviction, and this results in you confessing the same sins over and over again.

Every time Gina sees a baby, a demon says to her, “You did such an awful thing to kill your own baby.”  Because Gina mistakes this for real conviction, she feels bad, and ends up confessing yet again that she sinned when she got that abortion two years ago.  What happens when we keep confessing the same sins over and over again?  We end up feeling worse and worse.  Gina is lugging a huge burden of guilt and shame through life with her because she’s obsessing over that abortion and constantly rehearsing the lie that God must be disgusted with her.  She’s viewing her feelings of guilt as evidence that God is angry with her.  But is God really angry?  Of course not.  As far as He is concerned, the abortion issue was ready to be put to rest two years ago after Gina and He first talked about it.  God is ready to move on, but Gina is stuck in the past.  God is not holding a grudge over the abortion issue, but Gina thinks He is, and she’s trying to get Him to forgive her by confessing and apologizing over and over again.  In this very common scenario, Gina is acting like a wife who keeps pushing her husband’s arms away every time he tries to pull her into a loving embrace.  God keeps saying, “You and I have already resolved this.  Let’s move on.”  Gina keeps saying, “No, You must still be mad.  I’m so very sorry.  Please forgive me.”  This is what repetitive confessions do to us: they end up making us push God away instead of receiving His mercy and compassion.

So is confession ever useful?  Well, confession is the acknowledgement that we have done something wrong.  Often such an acknowledgment can be very helpful in repairing rifts in our relationships with other humans.  Joe wants his girlfriend to admit that she did put that dent in his fender when she borrowed his car the other day.  As long as she keeps trying to deny what he knows is true, he’s feeling upset by the fact that she’s lying to him.  Confession can be very helpful among humans.  It can also be very easily overdone.  Bob doesn’t need to know about every nasty thought his wife is thinking about him during the day.  Evan is only going to be hurt if his girlfriend sits around confessing her lustful thoughts to him.  Among humans, it is both inappropriate and damaging to constantly publicize our sins, because there are simply too many of them and other people don’t have God’s ability to keep our sins in perspective.  Verbalize a list of every sinful thought that you embrace in a day and most people are going to start feeling very uncomfortable around you.  It takes special equipping by God to be able to walk through the dark depths of someone else’s mind and not lose sight of their soul’s great beauty and potential.  Most humans haven’t been given that kind of equipping and it’s not reasonable for you to expect them to be able to handle knowing all of your darkest secrets.  It’s only your three Creators who you should be an open book to.  Total honesty is essential in your relationships with Them.  It’s a disaster with humans.

So how is confession useful in your relationship with God?  By itself, it’s not.  Confession is only productive when it is paired with a sincere desire to please God.  Simply saying, “Yeah, I know I sinned and I don’t care,” is a useless confession. But when God convicts you that you did something wrong and you respond by saying, “I agree with Your assessment, and I don’t want to keep doing this because I really care about pleasing You”—that’s an attitude that God will be very pleased by.

So what is John telling us in 1 John 1:9?  If we actually look at the context of the one sentence we’re always quoting, are we going to find John also encouraging us to have right soul attitudes?  No, but we are going to find him telling us to be as perfect as Yahweh, because everyone knows what a cinch that is.

1 JOHN 1:9 IN CONTEXT

When it comes to instructing souls on the critical subject of succeeding with God, the apostles John and Paul have at least two things in common. They both acknowledge that all believers have sinned in the past.  Then they insist that sinless living is something that Christ has equipped us all to do.  The resulting conclusion is that if you sin as a Christian, you’re going to be rejected by both Yahweh and Christ.  Feeling discouraged?  You should be.  You see, you can’t be comfortable preaching that perfect humans are the only humans God will accept unless you believe that you personally pass that test.  And the only way you can come to the insane conclusion that you’re sinless is if you’re so caught up in arrogance and hardhearted rebellion that you are refusing to listen to any of God’s convictions when He’s telling you to get over yourself.

Well, Paul and John both thought they were sinless, perfect human beings.  They don’t have any problems acknowledging that they sinned in the past—but they both claim to be over it.  Sin is a thing of the past for these two men.  They’ve cracked the code on sinless living. They’re the embodiment of Divine perfection.  This is what they claim because these two men were utterly delusional, and if you take their guff seriously, you’re going to end up in a mess.  Paul will tell you that now that you’re a “new creation in Christ,” you’ve got no justification for ever messing up again because that old nature with its desire to sin has been nailed to that cross.  What’s that—you’re still sinning?  Then you’re an unregenerate worm who Yahweh is going to damn to Hell.  This is how old Pharisee Paul sees it, and he does a fabulous job of shredding any hope you might have of ending up on the right side of eternity in his famous epistle of Romans.  Paul’s teaching on sin is so ludicrous and defeating, that we can’t possibly accept what he’s really saying and still have any hope.  So we don’t accept it.  We slice and dice books like Romans and act like it’s just brimming with peppy promises.  Paul writes:

Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom. 8:1-2)

And this sounds pretty sweet until you understand how Paul defines “those who are in Christ” (see Romans 8: Pretty Promises for Perfect People).  You personally don’t qualify as being a member of that blessed group because you still sin, and Paul says that true Christians are above such rot. Flip over to 1 John, and you’ll find John making the same claim.

Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because His seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. (1 Jn. 3:9)

By the time Paul and John are done with you, you’re not going to be left with a shred of hope about ever pleasing Yahweh.  And of course Yahweh is the only God these two men talk about because they reject the Divinity of Christ.  Christ is just Yahweh’s “Son”—He’s not Yahweh’s Peer Equal.  Old Covenant Jews like Paul and John only use the title of God to refer to Yahweh.  They credit Yahweh for giving them the Good News, and they say it is Yahweh who we must all be striving to please.  Today when Christians read John’s famous admonition that we ought to “walk in the light as He Himself is in the light,” they think John’s referring to Jesus.  But no, John is talking about Yahweh.  To understand John more clearly, you need to mentally substitute the Name of Yahweh wherever you find the title God.  Then start paying more attention to those generic He pronouns.  Don’t assume John has switched the focus to Christ until he makes that clear by referring to God’s Son or the Messiah.

In John’s mind, there is only one God: Yahweh.  John uses the term Holy Spirit like the term God—they are both titles for Yahweh.  Then there is Yahweh’s Messiah, which is Jesus.  John views Jesus as lower ranking than Yahweh, not as Yahweh’s Equal.  And it is because Yahweh is the only God in John’s mind, that he focuses on Yahweh so much in 1 John 1.  Let’s start at the beginning of this chapter to get the context for Verse 9.

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life.

That life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with Yahweh and was revealed to us.

What we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may have fellowship along with us; and indeed our fellowship is with Yahweh and with His Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that your joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from Jesus which we now declare to you: Yahweh is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. If we say, “We have fellowship with Yahweh,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as Yahweh Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, Yahweh is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Yahweh a liar, and Yahweh’s word is not in us. (1 John 1:1-10)

Yahweh is perfect.  He’s flawless.  He’s “Light.”  John says we must be as perfect as Yahweh is—we must “walk in the light as Yahweh Himself is in the light”—because only then will the blood of Jesus atone for our sins.  But if we don’t continuously “walk in the light,” well, then it’s all bad.

Okay, well, what happens if we mess up now and then in our endless striving to be as perfect as God?  John leaves room for the occasional slip up. If that happens, you must simply confess your sins and Yahweh will forgive you and once again cleanse you from all of your icky unrighteousness.  John says that every human is guilty of sinning because Yahweh says all humans have sinned.  So if you try to say, “I’ve never sinned,” well then you’re calling Yahweh a Liar, and clearly that’s not good.  So John says you have to own up to the fact that you’ve sinned in the past.  But stop it.  Don’t keep doing it.  If you keep sinning all the time, then clearly you’re not saved.

Now if we want to really understand John, we should keep reading, because he’s going to clarify his position about sin some more.  At this point, you should be feeling a little nervous about this “don’t walk in darkness” issue.  How many sins qualify you as “walking in darkness”?  How much margin for error do you have?  How many times can you mess up before Yahweh declares you to be eternally damned?  These are all critical questions if we’re going to say salvation is obtained by being as perfect as Yahweh is because that’s totally impossible for us to do.  Let’s start Chapter 2 and hope that John is going to make this sound more doable than it sounds right now.  Chapter 2 starts like this:

My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. (1 Jn. 2:1)

Yikes, that’s not encouraging.  John really seems to think it’s possible for humans to not sin.  What is he smoking?

But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with Yahweh—Jesus Christ the Righteous One. Jesus Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world. (1 Jn. 2:1-2)

If anyone sins?  Try when.  And what’s with this Advocate talk?  John makes it sound like Jesus is our friendly Ally while Yahweh is a moody, broody God who keeps getting mad and turning His back on us over every little thing.  Apparently Yahweh also thinks we can be as perfect as He is, and He gets all mad when we mess up.  Then we need Jesus to go talk Yahweh into liking us again.  Jesus is the nice Guy, while Yahweh is the distant, angry Father. Sound familiar?  This extremely insulting view of Yahweh comes up all the time in the worship songs you’re encouraged to sing at church (see Songs that God Hates: Before the Throne of God Above).  And yet do our Gods really like it when we act like They are so divided in Their opinions about us?  Does Yahweh appreciate us treating Him like He’s short on mercy while Jesus is the approachable One?  No, He doesn’t.

The Old Testament is a huge testimony to how incredibly gracious, compassionate and kind Yahweh is.  Yahweh Himself says He is a God who is slow to anger, but here in 1 John, John’s making it out like Yahweh turns His back on us every time we mess up.  And it’s such a huge issue that Jesus has to atone for our sin all over again, because apparently Jesus only “washed away” our past sins when we first came to Yahweh.  Now that we’re trying to keep our salvation, every little mess up is a huge issue which Yahweh is going to shun us for until Jesus rushes in as our Advocate.

So now we’ve got John and Yahweh ordering us to be as perfect as Yahweh is.  And when we fail to reach that impossible standard—which we will every moment of every day—then we have this comforting image of Yahweh turning away from us in anger while Jesus argues with Him to be merciful.  Nice.  Stop and think about what effect John’s teaching is having on the way you view your relationship with Yahweh.  Things are starting to feel pretty negative, aren’t they?  Yahweh expects you to be perfect.  Jesus seems to be the only One who understands that you can’t be perfect.  The New Testament epistles are filled with this kind of garbage teaching, which is why so many Christians today are viewing Jesus as the nicer, more merciful, more accessible God.  And yet whenever one of your Gods is speaking to you, They are going to be teaching you in a way that encourages you in your walks with Them.  They will be giving you hope, not making you feel discouraged and doomed to fail.  John is making us feel doomed to fail.  He says if we’re not perfect, Yahweh will get mad and Jesus will have to intervene for us.  And since John is elevating Yahweh as the Supreme Authority in this tense little triangle, having Yahweh be the Guy who we can’t manage to please is very stressful.  What we need right now is for John to remind us that Yahweh really isn’t as merciless and impatient and impossible to please as it sounds.  But what John’s going to give us is another reminder that Yahweh fully expects us to do the impossible by never sinning.

We can be sure that we know Yahweh if we obey His commands. Anyone who says, “I know Yahweh,” but does not obey Yahweh’s commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if someone obeys Yahweh’s teaching, then in that person Yahweh’s love has truly reached its goal. This is how we can be sure we are living in Yahweh: Whoever says that he lives in Yahweh must live as Jesus lived. (1 Jn. 2:3-6)

The reason John is holding Jesus up as a golden standard is that he considers Jesus to be a sinless human being.  Hey, if Jesus did it, we can too.  John says that if we don’t obey Yahweh’s commands, then we’re being total liars to say that we are with God.

By now you should be feeling pretty hopeless, but John’s just getting warmed up.  In this chapter, he’ll list some specific attributes which all true believers should have.  Is there anyone in this world who you really don’t like?  Is there anyone who you can’t forgive—anyone who you dread being around?  John says if you’re not feeling the love for all of humanity 24/7, then you’re “living in darkness” and by now we understand how Yahweh feels about darkness dwellers.

Anyone who says, “I am in the light,” but hates a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light and will not cause anyone to stumble in his faith. But whoever hates a brother or sister is in darkness, lives in darkness, and does not know where to go, because the darkness has made that person blind. (1 Jn. 2:9-11)

So, are you some blind fool who is dwelling in darkness?  Well, do you love all people?  You have to love everyone to be in the light, and we all know that you don’t, so that means you’re in the dark and Yahweh hates you.  Well, this bothers us, so we play games with this verse.  Today many Christians try to say that it’s only other Christians who qualify as their “brothers and sisters.”  Nice try, but since you can’t see into the souls of other people, you’re still in a mess.  Because that jerk who just totaled your car could be a Christian, and you’re not loving on him.  That guy who ran over your kid, that hussy who stole your husband, that doctor who misdiagnosed you, that really bad smelling homeless guy—what happens if they’re Christians or if they become Christians and you can’t find it within yourself to sincerely love them?  Then you’re walking in darkness.  You see, John says that true believers don’t struggle with this love business.  They love everyone with ease, because they’re as perfect as Yahweh.  But wait—since when is Yahweh such a loving Guy when He’s shunning us every time we sin?  You’ll find a lot of contradictions happening with John.  He wants us to be perfect—that’s all he cares about.  He can’t stand the thought of certain kinds of sinners getting into Heaven, so he just keeps slamming us with impossible commands.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. These are the ways of the world: wanting to please our sinful selves, wanting the sinful things we see, and being too proud of what we have. None of these come from the Father, but all of them come from the world. The world and everything that people want in it are passing away, but the person who does what Yahweh wants lives forever. (1 Jn. 2:15-17)

So, do you love the world or the things in the world?  Of course you do.  This place has some pretty appealing perks.  And just in case you think you pass this test, John makes sure to crush you by telling you that merely wanting to please your sinful self is evil.  Do you ever want to please your flesh?  Of course you do.  There are times when sinning sounds like a boatload of fun and you do it with gusto.  Well, get out of here, you nasty little darkness dweller.  No real believer could ever want the things you want.  True believers are above all of that.  What a spiritual zero you are.

So given John’s totally despairing view of salvation, it’s really not hard to picture people leaving the churches who are under his control.  And, like all cult leaders, John has no tolerance for anyone who walks out.  Clearly if they don’t agree with everything John says, they’re of the devil.

These enemies of Christ were in our fellowship, but they left us. They never really belonged to us; if they had been a part of us, they would have stayed with us. But they left, and this shows that none of them really belonged to us. (1 Jn. 2:19)

Actually, a thinking soul should leave John’s group, because John is grossly misrepresenting who Yahweh is.  As for Christ—well, He’s just the Messiah.  Sure, we need to “confess” or “acknowledge” that Christ is the Messiah, but notice that John says nothing about submitting to Christ as God.

Who is the liar? It is the person who does not accept Jesus as the Christ. This is the enemy of Christ: the person who does not accept Yahweh and Yahweh’s Son. Whoever does not accept the Son does not have the Father. But whoever confesses the Son has the Father, too. (1 Jn. 2:22-23)

Really?  We just have to “confess” that Jesus is Yahweh’s Son and that’s good enough?  No, it’s really not.  We have to submit to Christ as God Almighty.  Christ is not just the Son of God, He is God.  The Holy Spirit is also God.  We have three Gods: three non-human Creators who reign with Supreme Authority over all things.  Christ isn’t just some Jewish man who had a special calling from the one true God.  Yahweh is not the only God we have to deal with.  But John’s not going to take us there because John’s too busy making salvation a matter of endless striving to reach a totally impossible goal.

Yes, my dear children, live in Christ so that when Christ comes back, we can be without fear and not be ashamed in His Presence. Since you know that Christ is righteous, you know that all who do right are Yahweh’s children. (1 Jn. 2:28-29)

So how do we avoid having to be afraid and ashamed in Christ’s Presence?  We “do right,” and by now we know that by “do right,” John means “be as perfect as Yahweh.”  Well…how defeating.

This is the pattern with Paul and John: they throw out some great sounding promises, only to slam you back down onto the ground with impossible commands.  One minute it’s “Just confess your sins and Yahweh will accept you.” But then it’s: “He’ll accept you as long as you don’t make a habit out of sinning, because that’s just you dwelling in darkness.”

One minute it’s: “It’s going to be so great when Christ returns.”  And the next minute it’s: “But it will only be great as long as we’ve been living on earth as perfectly as He did.”

Chapter 3 starts with this famous perky line that Christians have included in many worship songs:

Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! (1 Jn. 3:1)

But then John rips our hope away again by reminding us that we must be sinless to qualify for this outpouring of love.

The person who sins breaks Yahweh’s law. Yes, sin is living against God’s law. You know that Christ came to take away sins and that there is no sin in Christ. So anyone who lives in Christ does not go on sinning. Anyone who goes on sinning has never really understood Christ and has never known Him. (1 Jn. 3:4-6)

If you’re paying attention, you’re going to feel increasingly stressed as you read through John’s letter.  He keeps saying things that you desperately want to be true—like Yahweh loving you and Christ being on your side. But then he blows all hope away with new reminders that you must be perfect.  Then he slowly ramps up his condemning language.  First, if you keep on sinning then obviously you’re not accepted by Yahweh.  Then he says that no one who keeps sinning could ever even have known Christ—there’s some nice fuel for an epic faith crisis.  Here’s where the earnest little soul who is owned by some nasty addiction says: “Wait—so the fact that I can’t stop sinning means I never really knew Christ?  But it seemed so real when Jesus showed up that day and told me He would accept me.  He gave me such compassion and hope.  So all of that was just a delusion??”

According to John, yes, it was.  John says that if you keep sinning—which you do—then not only are you delusional to think you have ever known Christ, but you’re also a child of Satan.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you the wrong way. Christ is righteous. So to be like Christ a person must do what is right. The devil has been sinning since the beginning, so anyone who continues to sin belongs to the devil. The Son of Yahweh came for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s work.

Those who are God’s children do not continue sinning, because the new life from God remains in them. They are not able to go on sinning, because they have become children of God. So we can see who God’s children are and who the devil’s children are: Those who do not do what is right are not God’s children, and those who do not love their brothers and sisters are not God’s children. (1 Jn. 3:9-10)

John says a true believer has lost his ability to sin.  Well, have you lost your ability to sin?  Not hardly.  According to God’s definition of sin, you sin every day.  You sin so often and in so many ways, that we can’t even keep an accurate tally of it all.  And according to John, that’s rock solid proof that you belong to the devil.  Wow.  Talk about terrifying language.  But this is what he says, and there’s no way we can wiggle out of it.  John says that the very fact that sin is more than an occasional issue for you proves that you cannot be a child of God.  Instead, you are clearly a child of the devil.  Then he reminds you again that you have to love everyone, but by now you don’t need that last kick in the head.  John has already defeated you.  He has proven over and over again that there’s no way in the world you can ever qualify as a true believer, because you sin.  We can all see it.  You are so far from being Yahweh’s equal in the perfection department that it’s laughable. So congratulations: you’re going to Hell.  This is what John is going to tell you.  This is what the apostle Paul is going to tell you as well.  They were real rays of sunshine, those New Testament apostles.  What a bummer that you’ve missed the opportunity to participate in the early years of the Church. If you’d known John personally, he could have told you to your face that you’re a child of the devil, instead of you just having to be condemned through his writings.

CONCLUSION

So why is 1 John 1:9 such a lousy summary of salvation?  First, it says nothing about the importance of soul submission.  Second, it’s really part of a much longer speech by a man who says salvation can only be acquired through sinless living.  Third, modern day Christians are totally confused on the subject of confession.  They don’t understand what its value is, they’re constantly taught to confess their sins for wrong reasons and to confess those sins to humans when they should be discussing their concerns directly with God.  Lastly, the apostle John’s teaching is a terrible cocktail of condemnation and lies, so why would you want to lead any earnest soul to his nasty little epistle by encouraging them to cling to 1 John 1:9 like it’s some beacon of truth that can guide them through the darkness?  This verse is only going to lead them on to read John’s argument for why they are walking in the darkness—so much so that both Yahweh and Jesus have written them off as damned.

The truth is that our Gods are very easy to succeed with.  You’d never know it to listen to John, but think about it: any man who says only sinless people can really know God while claiming that he personally knows God is clearly delusional.  Don’t listen to John.  Listen to Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit instead.  Ask Them to teach you Their unadulterated truth and They will.

FURTHER READING:
False Formulas for Salvation – John 3:16
Understanding Salvation: How We Find the Real Gods & The Irrelevance of Titles
Understanding Salvation: Who God Accepts
Intercession: Exposing the Lies
Understanding Divine Judgment: How God Ranks Sin
Soul Attitudes That Please God: What They Are & How We Develop Them
Understanding Jesus: “Whoever denies Me before men…”
Understanding Jesus: Many Will Try To Enter But Won’t Be Able (Luke 13)
Hellfire Legalism & Prosperity Theology: Two Different Applications of the Same Lie
Spiritual Discernment According to John

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