If We Confess Our Sins: What Does 1 John 1:9 Mean?


1 John 1:9, reads, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” King James Version (KJV)

Translation1 John 1:9
ESVIf we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
NASBIf we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
NIVIf we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
NLTBut if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

If We Confess Our Sins: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

1:5-10 A message from the Lord Jesus, the Word of life, the eternal Word, we should all gladly receive. The great God should be represented to this dark world, as pure and perfect light. As this is the nature of God, his doctrines and precepts must be such.

And as his perfect happiness cannot be separated from his perfect holiness, so our happiness will be in proportion to our being made holy. To walk in darkness, is to live and act against religion.

God holds no heavenly fellowship or intercourse with unholy souls. There is no truth in their profession; their practice shows its folly and falsehood.

The eternal Life, the eternal Son, put on flesh and blood, and died to wash us from our sins in his own blood, and procures for us the sacred influences by which sin is to be subdued more and more, till it is quite done away.

While the necessity of a holy walk is insisted upon, as the effect and evidence of the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus, the opposite error of self-righteous pride is guarded against with equal care.

All who walk near to God, in holiness and righteousness, are sensible that their best days and duties are mixed with sin.

God has given testimony to the sinfulness of the world, by providing a sufficient, effectual Sacrifice for sin, needed in all ages; and the sinfulness of believers themselves is shown, by requiring them continually to confess their sins, and to apply by faith to the blood of that Sacrifice.

Let us plead guilty before God, be humble, and willing to know the worst of our case. Let us honestly confess all our sins in their full extent, relying wholly on his mercy and truth through the righteousness of Christ, for a free and full forgiveness, and our deliverance from the power and practice of sin.

1 John 1:9 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

9. confess—with the lips, speaking from a contrite heart; involving also confession to our fellow men of offenses committed against them.

he—God.

faithful—to His own promises; “true” to His word.

just—Not merely the mercy, but the justice or righteousness of God is set forth in the redemption of the penitent believer in Christ. God’s promises of mercy, to which He is faithful, are in accordance with His justice.

to—Greek, “in order that.” His forgiving us our sins and cleansing us, &c., is in furtherance of the ends of His eternal faithfulness and justice.

forgive—remitting the guilt.

cleanse—purify from all filthiness, so that henceforth we more and more become free from the presence of sin through the Spirit of sanctification (compare Heb 9:14; and above, see on [2638]1Jo 1:7).

unrighteousness—offensive to Him who “is just” or righteous; called “sin,” 1Jo 1:7, because “sin is the transgression of the law,” and the law is the expression of God’s righteousness, so that sin is unrighteousness.

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