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 (NASB)
Listen to most christian pastors and teachers explain this verse, and you will end up believing that this is telling believers to keep up with their repentance concerning sins of the flesh that they commit from time to time.
There are even some camps within christianity that falsely teach that, if a saved person has any unconfessed sins in his life when he dies, he will be sent to hell. What a horrible false god those folks serve!
Because of a significant mistranslation commonly found in English translations of scripture, most people don’t understand what this verse is even talking about. The false translation in this verse is the word “sins” where it should be “sin.”
The Greek word ἁμαρτία (hamartia) gets translated in English scripture versions as both “sins” and “sin,” but the former is incorrect, as the word describes a singular condition, not multiple fleshly offenses. The sinful condition of hamartia is the result of unbelief, the only sin that condemns. It is the sin that was passed down by Adam, and is the condition into which all human beings are born.
Essentially, the sinful condition of unbelief is having a spirit that is dead, which means that a person has never received the Holy Spirit. When one is given the Holy Spirit after he has believed and confessed Messiah before others (endured in belief), the spirit in him that was dead in sin (unbelief) is raised by the Holy Spirit to newness of life.
It is then that a person’s flesh will battle against his resurrected spirit. Until a person’s spirit has been raised to new life (born from above), he is controlled by only one nature—his flesh. Those whose hearts have been circumcised by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are then faced with a lifelong struggle between feeding the spirit and feeding the flesh.
Those who choose to feed the spirit by denying (sacrificing) their flesh will receive reward for it, but those who choose to feed their flesh and deny their spirit will lose reward because of it, but they still possess eternal life (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
So, how do we know for certain that 1 John 1:9 speaks about a one-time event, and not a constant confessing of sins of the flesh? We know because of what the verse says the outcome of the action is—being cleansed from unrighteousness.
One is either righteous, or he is unrighteous. There are not varying degrees of righteousness. When one is given the covenant (seal of the Holy Spirit), he is covered by the righteousness of Messiah Yahoshua—the bride is covered by the Bridegroom’s garment of righteousness.
And, for those who are given the covenant, it is an eternal judicial decree of justification before the Father. Once the covenant is given to the bride, it forever makes the bride righteous.
So, the sin (not “sins”) that must be confessed in order to be made righteous is the sin of unbelief. To repent of unbelief is to believe, and that is first step on the path to being made righteous—the prerequisite necessary to BE ABLE TO be born from above.
Once one has been made righteous, there is no longer any repentance from unbelief necessary to be saved. Those who have been given the Holy Spirit are not able ever again to commit the sin of unbelief (1 John 3:9), as that is defined as NOT having the Holy Spirit. Having the eternal seal of the Holy Spirit, thus, means it is impossible to be guilty of not having the Holy Spirit (unbelief, dead spirit, hamartia).
And, those who do not have the Holy Spirit do not belong to Christ (Romans 8:9).
As is often the case, pastors and teachers in christianity use verses like this to conflate justification and sanctification, which essentially nullifies both. One cannot work to be holy until after he has been made righteous. But, christianity often melds the two things together, as if stopping certain sins of the flesh (drunkenness, sexual immorality, lying, stealing, etc.) is a requirement to receive salvation. That is a lie.
Sins of the flesh are the basis of relationship and eternal reward, not of eternal destiny. Eternal life is the result of BELIEF in Messiah Yahoshua and CONFESSING HIM before others (enduring in belief, regardless of the ridicule, mocking, and/or rejection one receives from family and friends). Those who believe in Messiah Yahoshua and confess Him before others (present tense) SHALL BE saved (future tense).
And, those who have received the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, that they have been made children of Yah, never again have a need to confess their sin of unbelief, for they have the Holy Spirit, which means that the Father sees them as believers (1 John 5:10).
1 John 1:9 has nothing to do with confessing the sins of the flesh all humans commit—saved and unsaved. The verse does not teach that one must “stay current” with his repentance to remain saved, which is a false teaching peddled by several different flavors of christianity.
When one has been cleansed of all unrighteousness, he has eternal life. Period. Nothing can change that for those who are Messiah’s bride Y’isra-el, for they are eternally sealed by the Holy Spirit (if they have received the direct, personal confirmation from the Holy Spirit that they are Yah’s children—which is not something a person can decide or declare).
For more information: Do Sinners Go to Heaven?