Q. I would like to know the following. I am aware that Jesus Christ died for my sins, once and for all (me and everybody). I believe this means all my sins past, present, and future are forgiven, wiped away, and I am clean. So, when my “sinful nature” sins again, if I can put it that way, do I still have to ask for forgiveness of sins, or do I just admit that I’ve sinned and that I know it is wrong, and then thank Him that He has forgiven me already?
A. Most scholars believe 1 John was written to the churches in modern Turkey. That means the recipients were already believers. In 1 John 1:9 we are advised to confess our sins in order to be purified from all unrighteousness.
The Greek word translated “confess” means to agree. When we confess our sins we are agreeing with God that our behavior is sinful. This confession has nothing to do with our eternal salvation, which is guaranteed. It concerns our earthly relationship with God.
Unconfessed sin can cause interruptions in that relationship, temporarily depriving us of its benefits. But confession immediately restores us, and it will be like we never sinned at all.
Whether we ask Him to forgive us or thank Him because He already has, the most important thing is confessing that our behavior has been sinful.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) is a good illustration of this, and I encourage you to read it. The Prodigal never stopped being his father’s son, but when he left home to squander his wealth in wild living he was deprived of the benefits of the relationship. As soon as he turned back and confessed his sin (Luke 15:21) their relationship was immediately restored (Luke 15:22-24) and it was like nothing had ever come between them.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).