What is the Meaning of 1 John 1.9

“Guaranteed Complete Forgiveness of Sin If Confessed”

1 John 1:9

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of 1 John 1.9

In my personal counselling ministry, I have turned to one passage more often than any other verse. So in preparation for the Lord’s Supper, I would like to preach from 1 John 1:9. You could turn in your Bibles to that passage, 1 John 1:9.

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John is writing to believers that they might know for certain that they have eternal life. He is writing to give a basis for the assurance of eternal life. In 1 John 5:13, John gives us this very purpose for his writing this letter.

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1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

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John is writing to believers that they may have an assurance in their heart of having received eternal life: that you may know that you have eternal life. John in 1 John is giving evidences for someone who has received eternal life…. “so that you may know that you have it, that you have eternal life.”

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Eternal life is, therefore, not something that will be possessed off into the future. There is an aspect of eternal life that will be experienced off into the future; that is, of course, the fact that it is everlasting. But the quality of life that eternal life affords is experienced today. Believers possess an eternal kind of life today. And whose life is eternal but God’s? God is the only one to have lived from all eternity. Thus, eternal life is none other than the life of God within the believer. John writes this epistle so that you may know that you have eternal life … so that you know that you have God’s life in you.

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And in our passage, John gives assurances for having this eternal life. Let’s read verses 6-10. You can have personal assurance of eternal life if you pass these tests.

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1 John 1:6-10 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous 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.

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These verses present some possible hindrances to our fellowship with God. In verses 8-9, John is writing concerning one of those possibilities … the possibility that someone could possibly deny their own sinfulness. And then John offers the correction to that error.

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Look at those verses again 1 John 1:8-9 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 […now here is the corrective verse 9 … Instead … ] If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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So we have the error in verse eight that someone could say that they have reached a point of sinlessness, either in nature or in actual works. But instead of committing that error… instead we should take John’s counsel in verse nine when he writes again 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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I’d like to preach on this topic of forgiveness and the title of the message is “Guaranteed Complete Forgiveness of Sin if Confessed.” We have the guarantee of complete forgiveness of sin if we confess our sin to God.

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First we have the condition for forgiveness: “If we confess our sins.”

Second we’ll see the Assurance of Forgiveness: God’s character… He is faithful and righteous

Third, we’ll see the Provision if the condition is met: He forgives us our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

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I. Condition for Forgiveness: Confession of sins

   A. We

First we have the condition for forgiveness: “If we confess our sins.” Forgiveness is guaranteed only if you met the qualifications, sort of speak. There is a condition for forgiveness: we must confess sins to God.

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We must confess! Who? The “we” refers to believers. Remember John is writing to all those who “believe in the name of the Son of God.”

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So believers confess their sins and are they who receive the benefits of forgiveness. Now, a believer is simply someone who trust in Jesus Christ to be saved. Jesus’ death was an eternal life-giving death. Jesus’ resurrection, a righteousness-giving resurrection. By trusting Him, you believe Him and are a believer.

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Simply, Jesus says John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

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People today will either receive eternal life or receive the eternal wrath of God. If you trust in Christ, obeying His call to receive Him, you receive eternal life.

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For those of us who have received the message of Jesus and embraced Jesus’ promise of eternal life, we receive ongoing forgiveness of our sins. That’s what 1 John 1:9 is promising under certain conditions.

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This is a promise for believers. Those who have placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and in what he has come to do for them. If someone doesn’t trust Jesus alone, they are not guaranteed forgiveness at all if they confess their sins. Someone who trusts in their works to save them and yet confesses sin has no reason to think he is forgiven. This is a promise for believers, for His disciples.

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Jesus Himself instructs His disciples to pray this way…

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Matthew 6:12–15 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘…[Jesus explains this verse 14] “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

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If you are a believer, to the degree that you forgive others, the Father will forgive you. Jesus instructs you to confess your sin. Followers of Jesus confess their sin.

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Are you a follower of Jesus?

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TRANS: So, believers confess their sins. But what do we mean by confession?

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   B. Confess

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1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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To be forgiven requires confession: If we confess our sins. Confession means simply to say the same thing. In other words, you must agree with God that your sin is indeed sin and it is sin against him. And then tell him these things: tell Him you have sinned against Him.

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To confess means to agree with God about your sin that it is sin. And it also says you’re taking responsibility for your sin. “I sinned against You!” You agree with God that it is sin, that you did it, and you agree with God not only that it is sin against Him, but when you confess you are also agreeing that you should properly respond to it. “Turn away from it and hate it!”

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So you must not hide your sin. If you are hiding your sin, you are not taking responsibility for your sin before the Lord and you are not talking to him about your sin and you don’t want to turn away from your sin, you are walking in the darkness and can’t expect forgiveness. There is then something in between your soul and the Saviour. You must confess your sins to God. Confess and forsake of your sins.

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Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

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One of the reasons for a lack of assurance of salvation is a lack of regular heartfelt sensitive confession of sin to God. Confess your sins in order to receive forgiveness from God.

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ILL: And confess right away; don’t wait! As soon as you recognize that there is sin on your heart, lips or actions, confess it right away!

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When I was driving home one day, there was a lollipop that got near my gas pedal. I immediately kicked it out, lest it get stuck under the gas pedal and hinder my ability to drive.

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If I had waited, disaster could have struck! In the same way, you must confess your sin to God immediately. You don’t want to be found with something stuck in between your soul and the Saviour lest it hinder your entire life’s work for His glory.

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Confess it right away!

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And do so with humility. Don’t confess with a “my bad.” Tell the Lord you’ve sinned greatly against Him, because He is great…tell Him what it was specifically of how you’ve sinned.

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TRANS: Confess right away and confess with humility. Let’s keep in mind what we’re confessing.

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C. Sin

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“If we confess our sins.”

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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To sin is literally to “miss the mark.” And in this context, it therefore has the idea to miss the mark of God’s requirements. It is a failure either to do or to think what God desires us to do or think … or it is a failure not to do or think what God desires us not to do or think. We either sin by doing or not doing, by committing something we shouldn’t have done or by leaving out something we should have done.

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Sin, no matter how private, is directed against God Psalm 51:4 David can write … Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight,

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And even what we consider to be small sins, God considers large.

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Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Covetousness, the Bible says, is idolatry. Both witchcraft and idolatry were worthy of stoning in the Old Testament. Jesus says that whoever is sinfully angry with someone is guilty of murder and whoever looks at a woman with lust commits adultery. Murder and adultery also under God’s Law in the Old Testament deserved the penalty of death.

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But before God, the wages that these sins earns is spiritual death Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.” That’s separation from God.

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Sin brings about spiritual and eternal separation from God. That’s how bad sin is. But it gets worse. In order to bring about the sentence of death, sin uses a good thing. Sin uses God’s good and holy Law to bring about the pronouncement of the sinner’s eternal condemnation.

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Romans 7:13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? [Did the Law become a cause of death for me?] May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.

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This is how utterly sinful sin is: it uses the good Law of God to effect my death. But the Law was there to give life!

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The Puritan Ralph Venning in his book The Sinfulness of Sin says, “Sin is therefore exceedingly sinful and wicked. It is most immeasurably spiteful, poisonous and pernicious (deadly), because it kills men. And not only so, but it kills them by the good Law, [which Law] was appointed to man for [his] life; [sin] turns food into poison. In order that it may be recognized how vicious is the sinner, and how pernicious the matter, … [sin uses] the commandment[s of God] [that were designed] [to yield] a healthy result, [but instead sin] produces its own poison). Venning writes that sin is “like the horrid and cursed wickedness of a King … wickedly poisoned by the Cup of Blessing.”

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And this horrible, deceitfully vile wickedness is in you and it will betray you to death.

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It is this sin that we must, we must confess. This is the nature …the twisted nature of sin. We must confess it quickly!

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ILL: No poison would you keep in your coat pocket, you wouldn’t knowingly keep any deadly poison near your young children. How quick you are even to rid your house of the smallest crumb or the tiniest speck of dirt! You sweep the floor and wipe the table.

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But are you that quick to rid your own soul of the horrendous sin that so easily seeps into your life like raw sewage seeps back up into your home?

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Last week we talked about our forbearance, not demanding our own wants and even our rights from others, being gracious when wronged. And I had 5 or so people mention to me how convicted they were from the message. Have you confessed this week? Did you confess that sin? Have you turned away from that this week?

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Too often we’re convicted in the moment, but we wait, we play at it, and go on with the poison yet in our souls.

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You need to be more sensitive to your sin. How will you do that?

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How to be more sensitive to your sin…

ILL: This morning, if your washroom was dark, and you don’t have proper lighting, you probably saw very few imperfections on your face in the mirror. So you couldn’t fix them properly Or if your washroom was well lit, but you simply didn’t look in the mirror, you didn’t get any look at all at your imperfections and so nothing got fixed. You need the mirror and you need proper lighting along with the will to look in the mirror and to fix things up.

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It’s the same with us being sensitive to sin.

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The mirror is the word of God (1 Co. 13:12) and the light is God Himself (1 John 1:5, 7). When you draw near to God to behold his glory and as you look deeply into His word, your sin will become exposed and you will be sensitive to it that you might fix it.

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To be sensitive to sin that you might confess it more knowledgeably demands that you draw near to God who is Light and draw near to His Word. “Read your Bible and pray everyday and you’ll grow, grow, grow… you’ll grow sensitive to sin.”

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1 John 1:7 …if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

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TRANS: Now, as a believer, if you confess your sin to God, you can have assurance that He will forgive you. Secondly, the assurance of forgiveness.

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II. The Assurance of Forgiveness: God’s character

How can you have that assurance? Because of God’s character.

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1 John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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    A. God is faithful to forgive

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First, God is faithful to forgive. The idea here is that he is trustworthy. Your confession will not be denied by God because God is trustworthy to do what He has promised He would do. God is trustworthy to forgive your sin when you confess because He has promised to do it.

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Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

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TRANS: God is trustworthy. You confess, He forgives. That’s the deal. But secondly, God is righteous to forgive.

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    B. God is righteous to forgive

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How can God be righteous to forgive you when you confess your sins?

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ILL: Because we all know that if a human judge just forgave the murderer of his murder and didn’t give the proper punishment and just let him go free, the judge would be an unrighteous judge. So how can God, the righteous Judge of all the earth, simply forgive sinners and not punish them for their sin?

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God can be righteous and still forgive unrighteous sinners like you of their horrible sin because God Himself paid the penalty due you for your sins.

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God is angry with people for their sin; but in His love for you, He willingly became man and died for you.

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So to compare to a human court room, God is at one time the Law-giver, the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense! And He is our defense lawyer if we have trusted in Him. And as Judge, He can pronounce you forgiven if you confess your sins.

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TRANS: Because God is faithful, you can trust Him to forgive when you ask and because He is righteous, He will forgive your sin if you confess. He will not delay.

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APP: Counsel was given to me when I was a young believer about confessing sin. The counsel was this: when you confess your sin as sure as you take your next breath, he forgives you your sin.

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So I remember confessing my sin to the Lord and then taking a deep breath out of faith that God had forgiven me.

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And that’s what the Lord does. He forgives, guaranteed. You are promised cleansing of sin before Him if you confess your sin.

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Let’s look closer now at what has been provided for us, the provision.

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III. The Provision: Forgiveness and Cleansing

1 John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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     A. Forgiveness

Thus the provision is forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness.

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If you confess, you will be forgiven and cleansed. To be forgiven means to be released from any penalty that is due. You owe nothing to God. For the believer, this is relational forgiveness…this is not confessing so that we can assure ourselves of eternal forgiveness. Eternal forgiveness is granted upon regeneration, the moment of salvation. Relational forgiveness is under discussion here. You don’t want sin in between you and God or you will not be close to Him.

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And if you hide your sin God has every right to discipline you to restore you. But if you openly confess your sin he will be faithful and righteous to forgive you of your sin. If you are his child and you are running from him, he will bring you back… He will bring you back to the point where you confess and forsake your sins.

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But when you do confess, God forgives immediately and freely no strings attached. He knows that you are imperfect even in your confession and repentance! But He doesn’t get into that at all but simply says… If you confess, I will forgive.

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That is the promise of God!

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Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

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     B. Cleansing

And the second provision here is cleansing. Once someone receives Christ as their Savior, they have been cleansed and are part of the church. When salvation is given, that person is counted among the number that God has purified for himself. He has purified for himself a people for his own possession Titus 2:14 [Christ] gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

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And so the cleansing here means to enjoy the blessed removal of sinful defilement between us and God. After salvation, we need cleansing as well.

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ILL: Like Peter when Jesus washed the disciples feet. Peter didn’t need a bath, Jesus said, since he was already cleaned. But he did need a foot washing. If you are a believer, you need only a foot washing.

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Upon confession, in God’s sight, we are clean … Free from impurities. As you walk in the light as He is in the light, the blood of Jesus Christ His Son is constantly cleansing you from all sin.

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Your sin is cast behind his back and is buried in the uttermost depths of the sea.

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Psalm 103:11 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

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Complete and entire forgiveness! Can it be? Yes! Psalm 103:1–5 1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; 3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; 5 Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

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ALL!

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The Extent of Forgiveness: All

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1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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If you in your heart know you have sinned against God, and if you confess your sins, God will forgive you and cleanse you from all … from every single one of your unrighteousness acts. Notice that John does not say that you must have knowledge of every sin in order to confess every sin, to receive cleansing of every sin.

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Who could possibly know all of his own sin?

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Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

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So who can claim to know all of their sins? No one. John knows this. This is why David prays … Psalms 19:12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.

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If you’re walking in the light as Jesus is in the light and you are seeking his face and your desire is to be close to him and to be in close fellowship with him and to do his will, as you confess your sins now God will prove himself trustworthy and righteous to you when he forgives you of the entirety of your unrighteousness before Him.

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“Return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on you, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

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We have guaranteed complete forgiveness and cleansing of every sin if confess our sins to Him.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of 1 John 1.9

And this, dear Christian, is the assurance that you have as we come to this table. Let’s pray…

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Heavenly Father,

You have prepared a feast here before us. Not a feast of bread and the fruit of the cup, but a feast of the knowledge that we are yours and we are your Son’s people, cleansed and forgiven.

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We feel ourselves unworthy to be called to such a Table, but we know we rest not on our own righteousness, but on the righteousness of Christ.

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We desire to obey His command now to “Take and Eat” knowing that it pleases you that we do so and knowing that it represents His body broken and His blood shed on our behalf.

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Help us to eat and drink in a matter in keeping with the death that he died.

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In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Transition to Supper

The Bible says in 1 Co. 10:21 that this is the Lord’s Table; 1 Co. 11 calls it the Lord’s Supper. It is therefore not our church’s table, it is not a Baptist table, it is the Lord’s Table. If you are the Lord’s, this table is for you. You do not need to be a member of this church to participate; 1 Co. 11 says you are to sit in judgment on yourself. If you are seeking to follow Jesus and you have confessed your sin for cleansing, this table is for you.

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The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 11 that one of the goals of this table is unity among his people. If you are out of fellowship with one of God’s people you need to pursue making that right and commit to seeking to restore that relationship. This table is to show that we are in fellowship with one another underneath the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

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In a moment I will invite _______ to stand and pray briefly concerning broken body of the Lord Jesus. We will then pass the bread. When you receive the bread continue waiting in confession and prayer until all are served. I will then read a brief verse as our heads are bowed, which will tell us that this bread represents His body. After I have read the verse, we will eat together.

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The same with cup. I will invite _______ to stand and pray briefly concerning the blood of the Lord Jesus. We will then pass the cup and each of us will wait in self-judgment and prayer until all are served. After a brief moment of silence, I will then read a verse as our heads are bowed, which will tell us that this blood represents His blood. And then we’ll all drink together.

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We’ll then sing the one stanza Amazing Grace and close with 2 more hymns.

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Now, if you are trusting Jesus there is no reason for you not to eat. Jesus says Matt. 26:26, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

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Do not disobey Him; confess your sin, sit in judgment on yourself, and obey His command.

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o Greg invites __________ to come and take the bread and pray. Everyone waits to eat while in quiet self-judgment and prayer.

o Greg reads 1 Co. 11:23b-24 and immediately after, all eat.

o Greg invites (________) to come and take the cup and pray briefly concerning shed blood of the Lord Jesus.

o Everyone waits to drink while in quiet self-judgment and prayer.

o Greg reads 1 Co. 11:25-26 and immediately after, all drink.

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  • Sing acapella first stanza of Amazing Grace
  • [deacon name] leads hymn #332 “Just As I Am”
  • [deacon name] leads hymn #276 “Saved by the Blood”

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  • Greg prays and dismissed.
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