Confessing Sin the Key to Vertical & Horizontal Fellowship

This last Sunday, I preached over 1 John 1:5-10. Part of John’s message is that admitting we are sinners and confessing our sin is the only way we can experience true fellowship with God (Vertical) and with one another (Horizontal). In 1 John 1:7,9 we read:

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin…If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

John tells us that we have fellowship with one another if we walk in the light. The same light that God Himself walks in. A light we are able to walk in by confessing our sins. Let’s look at this one piece at a time.

Confession of Sin

In order to confess our sin, we have to first understand sin. Sin is more than just breaking the commandments of God, even though it is that. Sin is more heinous though. It is an outright attack and denial of who God is. It is to follow ourselves rather than to follow God. Now that we understand the heinousness of sin, we can answer the question:

What does it mean to confess sin?

It means that we first recognize we are a sinner, that we have rebelled against God to seek after the things of the world, thinking ourselves to be wiser than God.

Second, it means that we confess to God our rebelliousness against Him. We confess that we have tried to go at it on our own because we thought that our wisdom was greater than His. And in doing so we have sinned against Him.

The Cleansing Blood of Christ

When we confess our sins, Christ acts as our propitiation. He removes our sin and the wrath of God from us. In doing so, He is our substitute, standing in our place, taking the punishment we deserve because of our sinfulness.

Once we confess our sins, Christ’s blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness. When God looks down on us, He sees Christ’s blood and not our sin. This results in our relationship with God being reconciled.

It also shows that Christ’s blood is the only way we are cleansed from our unrighteousness, meaning our works will not do. Thus, confessing our sin, not performing works, is the only way we can be reconciled to God

Walk in the Light

Our confession of sin results in a changed heart and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Jer. 31 & Acts 2). Our changed heart and the Holy Spirit empowers us to live in accordance with the commandments of God, as well as we are able to walk in the light with Him.

Because of Christ’s cleansing blood, we are freed from the bondage of sin. Where we once lived for ourselves, we now have the ability to live for God. Where we once used one another for personal gain, we now have the ability to love and serve each other. This means that the cleansing blood of Christ not only results in us having fellowship God, but it also results in us having true fellowship with one another.


When we confess our sins, recognizing Christ is our Savior – that He is the one who took our punishment for us – then we are cleansed from all our unrighteousness and our relationship with God and one another is restored. John’s message then is that true fellowship with God and one another only happens when we confess our sins. There is no other way. May we all recognize this truth, confess our sins, and be saved from all unrighteousness, which results in true fellowship with both God and one another.


7 thoughts on “Confessing Sin the Key to Vertical & Horizontal Fellowship

  1. Pingback: Bible Note #10 — 1 John 1:5-10 — Light & Darkness, Truth & Deception « Gary Chorpenning's Blog

  2. Mike

    You’ve done a nice job of laying out the gospel – a great message of hope for unbelievers and encouragement for members of the Body.

  3. Pingback: HOLINESS: GOD IS LIGHT « Kevin Nunez

  4. Pingback: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness « bummyla

    1. I am not exactly sure what you mean by vertical sin. What I think you are getting at is related to our concept of God and the gospel.

      The gospel or good news that Christians believe tells us that we are all inherently sinful. No one is righteous, nor can they make themselves righteous through their own works.

      Our sin (rebellion against God) separates us from God. Meaning we cannot have a relationship with God because He is repulsed by our sin. That is because a holy God cannot have a relationship with an unholy people, no matter how hard these unholy people try to make themselves holy.

      Think about it like this: It is like your father telling you he will give you a hug if you go and wash all the mud off, but when you get in the shower to wash it off, no matter how hard you try, it will not come off.

      In order to remedy this broken relationship, God the Father, in His grace and mercy, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth. Essentially, God goes on a rescue mission to redeem a people for Himself. No other religion can claim that action since all other religions claim that man must work their way to God.

      As I have already said, in order to have a relationship with God, we must be holy, but we can’t make ourselves holy because we are inherently sinful. Sin is in our DNA and we cannot remove it from ourselves. But Jesus was born of a virgin. Mary miraculously conceived of a child. Since Jesus was not the product of two humans, he was not born inherently sinful. This allowed him lived a perfect life and keep the Law of God.

      Since Jesus was perfect, he was able to act as man’s sacrifice. When He died on the cross, God poured His wrath out on Him. The wrath that is reserved for sinful man. So that all those who believe Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross paid the price for their sins have their sins paid for. The result is a relationship with God and eternal life.

      This had to be so because God is a just God. Someone had to be punished for mankind’s sins. Just like someone has to be punished for a crime in our court system. To keep with the courtroom analogy. It is as if Jesus told the judge that He would serve out the convicted felon’s sentence of death by execution. The felon goes free because Jesus took his punishment.

      I hope that answers your question. Let me know your thoughts.

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