Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Deception

Exposing the Dangerous Teachings of the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Denomination

‘Sin Breaks Fellowship’ Deception


A faithful reader asked the question; “Does the IFB incorrectly teach that the Believer loses fellowship with God when he/she sins?”. That question got me thinking about the topic of losing fellowship with God and it brought up some memories of what I was taught in the IFB church. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is yet another major error in the exegesis of scripture committed by the IFB.

Unfortunately, this concept of losing fellowship with Christ when the Believer sins is pervasive among the teachings of most modern Christian denominations. The teaching goes something like this: When a Believer sins he/she loses fellowship with Christ. If a Believer wants to restore that lost fellowship, he/she needs to repent of his/her sin and be forgiven.

In my personal experience with the IFB I was taught this and the idea that we lose fellowship with Christ when we sin has always troubled me. I remember as a child and teen feeling extremely conscientious about my behavior and thoughts because I was terrified of “losing fellowship with Christ.” In my mind the only way to have fellowship with Christ was to be in a constant state of prayer for forgiveness. I remember trying so hard to be in a constant state of prayer so that I restored fellowship with God as quickly as possible. It became exhausting, but because of the fear of “breaking fellowship with God” I kept on confessing every single thing I did that was sinful. I was even careful enough to confess things which I thought may be sins so that I didn’t lose fellowship with God. I remember that my prayers consumed me because there was always something I had to ask forgiveness for such as having an impure thought, a poor attitude, delayed obedience, not doing my best in school, being lazy, and the list went on forever. It was exhausting and I never felt that I had the time or capacity for anything other than asking for forgiveness.

I remember thinking that it would be more practical to wait till a certain time of the day to ask forgiveness, but as I went throughout my day I couldn’t help but focus on all the wrong things I was doing. I didn’t want to wait until that time of day when I confessed my sins up until that point because I didn’t want to be ‘out of fellowship’ with God for that length of time. Freedom came when I realized how wrong this idea of “losing fellowship with God when we sin” is.

Someone once scolded me, when discussing this issue, that I was sacrificing the truth for the convenience of not having to pray constantly and that I needed to work on my behavior rather than try to change what the scripture teaches (that we lose fellowship with God when we sin).

As I contemplated what this person was saying I came up with only 4 available options:

Option 1 was to continue living my life consumed by all the wrong I was doing and remain in a constant state of prayer so as to maintain as much fellowship with God as possible. This option wasn’t working for me and was becoming so burdensome that trying to maintain fellowship itself because a road block to maintaining fellowship.

Option 2 was to just give up all together and forget about fellowship with God since it was impossible for me to do what was necessary to maintain fellowship with God. This option wasn’t a good one for me since I value my relationship with God.

Option 3 was to not worry about constantly trying to maintain fellowship with God and just go through my day and if I sinned then so be it, I would confess it later. This option didn’t appeal to me because, like I said earlier, I didn’t want to be out of fellowship with God for the day. After all what good is it to be out of fellowship with God during the day and then in fellowship with God during the night while I was sleeping?

Option 4 and the only other option I can think of was to delve into scripture and figure out for myself why this was so burdensome to me and perhaps I would see a better alternative to what I was being taught. I ended up seeing a very different picture of who God is and what He expects of us. As a result I chose this option and I’ve never looked back.

Now that I’m free from this manipulative line of thought, I can clearly see that trying to maintain fellowship with God by my efforts is an impossible task. We are constantly sinning or in a state of sin. We are imperfect human beings. It is impossible for us to not sin. We often sin and don’t even realize it. God does not refuse fellowship with us just because we sin. In fact, the opposite is true. Everything I read about God in the Bible is about a God that pursues us and especially pursues us in times of sin and unrighteousness.

Michael Youssef writes about this very topic in his book “The God Who Pursues Us”. He writes on his website:

At the beginning of Luke 15, we see the religious leaders murmuring against Jesus: “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them'” (v. 2). The Pharisees considered anyone who admitted his need for God’s forgiveness as ignorant and weak. Though they studied the Scriptures, they were far from knowing and comprehending the heart of God.

Jesus was not intimidated by their intellectual arrogance or elitist attitude toward faith. He responded to their muttering by telling the parable of the lost sheep. “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them,” Jesus said. “Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep'” (Luke 15:4-6).

As I read that excerpt, I remember being taught that the ‘lost sheep’ represented the unsaved person or unbeliever. As I grew in my knowledge of the Bible, however, I found out that the exact opposite is true. Christ being referenced as the Shepard and Believers as sheep is pervasive in the Bible, especially the New Testament. This parable represents a Believer who as ‘gone astray’. Lost here, by the way, doesn’t refer to being lost or unsaved as we think of it today. The idea is a sheep that has gone astray or been separated from the flock in some way. Christ pursues that ‘lost sheep’ until found and returned to the fold.

I realize and believe that blatant and chronic sin hurts God and there is something to the idea that our blatant sin causes stress in our relationship with God, just like doing something wrong can strain a relationship we have with a family member or friend. But God isn’t human and I reallly think that the IFB has taken this way out of context. This idea of sin breaking fellowship with God is often used to coerce people into a legalistic righteousness. I see it being used by the IFB to make people feel guilty for not living perfect lives or at least for not striving for perfection. Some leaders of the IFB will even go as far as to say that if you aren’t repentant from your sin you probably aren’t saved. I find this rather arrogant and judgmental. Just because a Believer has a chronic sin or is living a sinful lifestyle doesn’t mean that God has turned His back on him/her. He will continue to pursue that person until that person either returns to a relationship with Him or dies.

Our relationship with God is not dependent on our behavior. We do not have to do anything to have fellowship with God. Jesus took care of what was needed to have fellowship with God when He died on the cross. When God looks at me He sees the Blood of Christ, NOT my sin. It’s freeing to know that my fellowship with God is not dependent on my behavior.

When the IFB teaches this they often use Old Testament scriptures to support their belief. What they fail to realize, however, is that the Old Testament was governed by the ceremonial laws of cleanness which no longer apply to us NT Christians. The purpose of breaking fellowship in the OT was to avoid that which was unclean. NT Christians are purified and cleansed by the Blood of Christ’s work on the Cross and no longer need to worry about ceremonial cleanliness.

Paul tells the church at Corinth in I Corinthians 1:8-10 that God has called the believer into fellowship with Christ and is faithful to that person. It doesn’t say that God has called the believer into fellowship with Christ and is faithful unless that person sins! How ridiculous.

The IFB also uses passage like 1 John 1:5-7 to teach that Christians lose fellowship with Christ when they sin. This is simply an unfortunate misinterpretation of scripture. This passage is talking about salvation not sinning. The “walking in darkness” mentioned in this passage is referring to the darkness of those who are not believers. It has nothing to do with a Believer who sins. Believers who sin are not walking in darkness because they are Believers. They may be walking in sin, but not darkness since darkness is a reference to being a non-Believer. If you notice, as the passage continues, verse 9 is the famous I John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It’s interesting to note that the verse stops with the thought of cleansing rather than restoring fellowship. The verse doesn’t say “…and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and restore lost fellowship.” It ends with a cleansing from unrighteousness nothing more because nothing more is needed.

There are many more passages that the IFB uses to support this idea such as Acts 8:13-24, 1 Corinthians 5:1-7, Matthew 18:15-17 and Galatians 6:1. The purpose of this post is not to address each instance of scriptural manipulation in this area, but to inform and help people see that it is a mistake to think that fellowship with God is broken when a Believer sins.

Some churches use this concept to teach that a person can lose his/her salvation as a result of sin. I hope we all know that that is incorrect. I think the IFB does a good job, in my experience, of not taking this idea that far, however, I would imagine, given the diversity of IFB churches, that there are those that do take it too far.

This concept is also used in a manipulative way to justify disassociating with people who are hard to get along with or who have some type of addiction or chronic/habitual sin they are struggling with. It’s easier for a church to teach that we should break fellowship with that person rather then try and help him/her which I think is a shame. I’ve been to some IFB churches that teach the congregation to ‘dis fellowship’ or permanently cut off the relationship from people they deem are sinning “too much”.

This leads people to believe that they need to somehow play the role of Holy Spirit to try and convict others of what they feel is a need to restore fellowship. Many relationships have been broken as a result of this teaching. Wouldn’t it be nice if we helped each other rather than turn our back on someone because we are being taught that God turns His back on people who sin? How sad it is to think of all the people who are so confused and tormented by this teaching that they simply reject the faith because they feel that they can’t measure up! I can’t stress enough how freeing it is to know that I don’t have to be sin free in order for God to like me and want to have fellowship with me.

52 Comments

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  1. I appreciate your article on fellowship with God. So many are confused and actually controlled I believe by fear hearing this preached. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.. 1 Cor 1:9 … it was Christ who bought back or fellowship with God as believers.If we were able to earn or keep our fellowship with God, we would not have needed the work of Christ to begin with! 2 Tim 2:13 States that even when we are faithless he remains faithful because he cannot deny himself. We are in Christ, Christ is in us. Thank you again for bringing out the truth.

  2. @ Tim

    Tim, you must not have read the article, or at least not very carefully. This is address very clearly…

    The IFB also uses passage like 1 John 1:5-7 to teach that Christians lose fellowship with Christ when they sin. This is simply an unfortunate misinterpretation of scripture. This passage is talking about salvation not sinning. The “walking in darkness” mentioned in this passage is referring to the darkness of those who are not believers. It has nothing to do with a Believer who sins. Believers who sin are not walking in darkness because they are Believers. They may be walking in sin, but not darkness since darkness is a reference to being a non-Believer. If you notice, as the passage continues, verse 9 is the famous I John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It’s interesting to note that the verse stops with the thought of cleansing rather than restoring fellowship. The verse doesn’t say “…and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and restore lost fellowship.” It ends with a cleansing from unrighteousness nothing more because nothing more is needed.

    That’s a direct quote from the article. I’m not sure how you missed it.

  3. When we sin we loose fellowhip with God but not our eternal salvation. All you have to do to get back in fellowship is 1john 1:9. This is a real basic that any christian should know.

  4. We don’t attend an IFB church, however, my daughter does attend an IFB school. Several years ago, when she was about 12 years old, she became obsessed with praying. Just as the author says in this article, she was in a constant state of prayer, afraid of losing fellowship with God. It became so bad that she couldn’t concentrate in school and couldn’t eat or sleep because her mind was always asking to forgive her of any perceived sins, real or imaginary. Present or future. I finally had to take her to a psychologist and a psychiatrist who put her on medication and treated her fro three years in order to get her over her obsession. But it’s not until now, having found this site, that I know what her school’s beliefs are! I’m appalled and feeling much guilt over keeping her in this environment that has created this guilt for her. Thank you for your website and the information you are putting out there!

    1. Thanks for sharing Elizabeth. I’m glad to know the information has been helpful and that you found some answers for those behaviors. We desperately need to educate the mental health community about these dangers. It’s the IFBs fault not yours so please try to not feel guilty. You didn’t know. Just try to make a difference somehow.

  5. Miss G. – Been there done that! Isn’t it terrible! Of course if you are like me, you have many friends and your entire social network is built around the church and its activities.

    I have shared parts of my story on this site before, but briefly my wife of 16 years left me, taking my two children, I was devastated beyond words. We had been members at my old fundy church for our entire marriage. Not one person visited or called to see how I was doing. the Pastor lived on my street and didn’t stop by, and still I continued to go to this so-called church. I was in deeeeep. The good news, God truly is faithful, we can really trust Him, His words are true. I began to rely on Him and His Word and eventually left that legalistic mess of a church, and you can too!! My car kept running, my house didn’t burn up, I wasn’t in any bad accidents, in other words the brainwashing lies that I was told by the MOG (man of god) didn’t come true.

    God bless Miss G. and keep on coming back and sharing, I am interested in your story and care about you and your family.

  6. Thank-you for this article (blog post). Our Pastor (IFB church) constantly harps on “getting right with the Lord”. We are threatened of all the bad things that will happen to our family if we leave fellowship with the Lord (which really means…leave THAT church).

    It’s amazing how this type of indoctrination can mess with your mind. I know it’s not right, but I still have to convince myself that the Lord loves me, and isn’t out to get me. Truth is, I am scared for my family to leave. I know we shouldn’t be, but after years of fear mongering, it’s hard to shake it.

    The other sad fact, is that typically, when our Pastor is speaking about broken fellowship with the Lord, and the need to “shore up” and get things right…it’s over issues that aren’t even Biblical sin.

    Thank you for this blog. I look forward to reading more.

  7. MissPants
    Many people are not professional musicians; however, if you sing quite well and have formal instruction or even choir experience, you may be asked to perform at church as well as at other events such as weddings, funerals, and other public ceremonies. in addition to other things I mentioned about concentration and team work, it teaches dexterity. Many who play instruments also can apply this dexterity to typing. If you have made public speeches, there is always need for presentations in the business world. Even though you may not be performing professionally, I think that chorale experience you had in class may be useful in other ways. They actually discussed this in an employment class I took when I returned to work after raising my family. Some people list this on their resumes and during interviews. Other times word just gets around. For me, I just love the lyrics and melodies of many great Christian hymns, Gospel music, and even contemporary choruses and poems. They lift me up. I hope that whatever experience you had doesn’t diminish your passion for music whether it’s in a choir or with an instrument or perhaps even dance. Some people accept liturgal or inspirational dance and others do not. I accept it.

  8. Our entire life is a refinement process. We become perfect only when we join Jesus Christ in heaven. Too many expect perfection on earth after a few classes in Sunday School, youth group, membership, or after graduation from college at a religious seminary. Does this mean we should continue to sin. No. Paul said God forbid in the epistles. It is the work of the Holy Spirit withiin the Christian to help one desire and make an effort to turn away from sin. However, too often we try to live on our own strengths and collapse in our own weaknesses without giving Do the chance to intervene in every aspect. I know this is not what is preached, but it seems to happen in action.

  9. MissPants:

    I do think there is a value in chorale as well as instruction with musical instruction on instrumentation just as I feel there is a value with courses in physical education. They teach concentration and teamwork. Mostly, I love the lyrics of the great hymns, Gospel songs, and even contemporary Christian music. These lyrics have sustained me even during times when I too was cynical. However, I do agree with you that in life, we do have to go to the employment office, and while a few are fortunate to have jobs within the church administration and Christian ministries and missionary work, many are required to work in the secular world. We have to be prepared with skills and many have to work just to make ends meet so occupations are not necessarily options in this tough economy. I do think there has to be a standard of education which teaches the basics of reading, writing, math, speech, social studies, and science. However, I too find myself struggling with lax standards. I also think that there must be regional accreditation to require a standard but I don’t necessarily agree with everything that is taught and sometimes that too conflicts with my beliefs and values. Also God created people with gifts. Sometimes churches only emphasize a few gifts and those with other gifts are not given the chance to develop them to their full capacity in a Christian environment. I definitely feel that preparation is needed for work abroad since our laws stop at our borders. It’s important to know about a culture and perhaps even have some knowledge about foreign languages when visiting abroad. Even American in secular occupations get in trouble overseas if they come in without adeuqate preparation. Most of all though, there has to be a balance between judgement and grace. There has to be a level of accountability. Church is about teamwork. Sometimes i didn’t see a team. In sports one improved. In music instruction led to improvement in technique. Ifi one is thrown out before the skill is developed, how is one ever going to learn?

  10. In my experience with my particular situation, I did feel after I reflected from my past years later, that the emphasis was out of balance. A lot focused on judgment more than grace.

    Steve, I’m not sure if you got a previous message I tried to type because i got an error message at the same time I got the Welcome back message. The error message said something about cookies.

  11. Great subject Steve. I have been telling Christians this for years and you would be amazed (maybe not) at the resistance I have been met with when raising this subject. It’s like Christians WANT to keep asking for forgiveness or WANT to be in a state of “being out of fellowship” with God so they can “get back into fellowship”.

    So many “leading voices” in Christendom preach incorrectly on 1 John 1:9.

    This is how it was with tithing twenty five years ago. One would get strange looks from Christians if you mentioned tithing wasn’t NT teaching. I used to tell them, giving to God is – tithing is not. Even non-tithers were uncomfortable with speaking out against it – I suppose they thought they may be seen as being “unspiritual”.

    Thank the Lord for the Internet and the freedom to discuss and learn. Christians have become bolder over the years with what they have learnt and discovered. There’s been a “it’s not only me that feels this way” feeling.

    Tithing has been exposed for the false teaching it is and the bondage it creates.
    1 John 1:9 is being understood by more Christians and they are being set free from bondage.
    The one pastor system is seen for what it is – control by one man answerable to no one – Christians again being set free from bondage.

    Hmm – that word “bondage” keeps coming up.

    This is what it is all about – control by man. 1 Tim 2:5 – For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; No Pope, Priest, Pastor, Elder or Deacon or any other man. Don’t tell anyone your deepest thoughts or all the bad things you’ve done – you have Jesus for that. Don’t get caught up in this “accountability” nonsense. All the “bad things” you’ve done and told someone will come back to haunt you. You don’t want people knowing about your baggage (which we all have) especially people in your Church.

    I would encourage every believer to be a Berean – Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Challenge your Pastor if you have one (in love of course) if you think he is off base and don’t fall for “you need to submit to authority” nonsense or “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft”. This is what normally happens with IFB pastors. I’m sure you can tell I’m an ex-IFB. I’m too old for their cultish ways. My children are older than a lot of them.

    Stay strong in the Lord.

  12. A distinction must be made between fellowship and relationship. A believers relationship with God is based on the finished work of Christ and therefore is permanent. Nothing can touch the Father/son relationship a believer has with God. His position is settled as certain as Christ death was accepted by God as a substitutionary sacrifice.
    Fellowship is a different issue and has to do with the experience of that relationship. That is why John writes in 1 John 1:4 “these things we write so that our joy may be made complete”. The main message of 1 John 1 is that fellowship with God cannot include sin. We are always dealing with known sin. When a believer sins and refuses to acknowledge his sin for what it is, there will be a loss of joy and the experience of a relationship with Christ will be injured.
    The analogy is similar in a human parent/child relationship. The child is always a member of the family, and even if the child were to disobey and run away, the child would not cease to be a member of the family. However, the child’s unwillingness to obey it’s parent and refusal to do what is right will affect the experience of that relationship. As believers, we are always dealing with God who is our loving heavenly Father.
    Take king David for instance, he sinned by committing adultery and murder. He refused to acknowledge his sin for a period of time until he was confronted by Nathan the prophet. Psalm 32 gives an account of how “God’s hand was heavy upon David” until he confessed his sin. Psalm 51 which also records Davids confession, mentions that he looked forward to being restored to the “joy of his salvation”. God is always our loving and infinitely patient heavenly Father. He always desires us to be close to Him and enjoy our relationship with Him. Our God is also a Holy God and a God of truth. If we are to enjoy a close personal relationship with God, we will have to deal with known sin in our lives by agreeing with God about our disobedience.

  13. Hi David – While I agree with your 2nd comment to me, in two of your posts you say essentially the same thing. You said “many of whom have been influenced by proto-gnostic doctrine” I still submit that there was no large-scale following in this “belief” system. It just leaves me wondering, one can certainly mis-speak/write once, but you said the same thing twice, but then you seem to agree with me in your 2nd post by saying “The first century is far too early to read any fully developed gnostic doctrine into the occasion of John’s first letter.” I agree completely with this 2nd statement.

  14. The theme of 1 John chap. 1 is fellowship with God. The key verse here is v.7 which tells us that “if we walk in the light” we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. Walking in the light is simply being honest with God and ourselves about our lives and our own sinfulness. This is the key point. Next there are three “if we say” statements. All three of these statements tell us what is the wrong way to deal with sin. To deny our sinfulness, or maintain that we can have fellowship with God while tolerating known sin is error. The solution to sin in the believers life, is to be honest with God and confess our sin for what it is. This is what it means to walk in the light.

    1. Bob,

      “Walking in the light” is obviously a metaphor for living in the reality of a saving relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ. That is what fellowship with God is. Fellowship with God is not an aspect of our relationship to God our Savior; an aspect that may come or go. “Fellowship”, “relationship”: practically synonymous.
      “Walking in darkness”, “the truth not in us”: do these sound like they are descriptive of someone who is a child of God? Consider.

  15. Try reading 1 John chapter 1 from a new perspective. John doesn’t address the child of God until the second chapter. The first chapter is written primarily to those on the outside- many of whom have been influenced by proto-gnostic doctrine. 1 John 1.9 suddenly takes on a whole new meaning doesn’t it?

  16. I think it is cool that God is willing to forgive us all of our sins past, present and future. We know when we sin. It is good to notice this and to confess and to try not do it again. Like quitting drugs, you will fail and restart thousands of times. Eventually, you won’t do that thing anymore. Also true is that God pursues us. That makes me love Him even more. The “separation” from God is on our parts, because we feel guilty ie. forgot He already forgave us. How many people have rejected human love because they thought they weren’t worthy? Probably even more have rejected God’s love for similar reasons. Confession is for the human’s benefit.

  17. I like to also read John 3, 10, and 14 as well as Luke 16.

    God knows our hearts. The Holy Spirit also intervenes when we can’t express ourselves for some reason. The atonement has already been paid for when Jesus Christ died for our sins.

    I have to remind myself sometimes that God never forsakes us! It’s definitely in the Bible in several passages too.

    Our prayers are not required to be public. We are not even required to pray with another Christian. This can sometimes help in the sense another Christian can help counsel or provide emotional support and guidance or help us in fellowship where sin is a temptation. Soemtimes others feel isolated or can be helped when they realize they are not alone and that others have also struggled with the same issue and that as believers, while we are alive, it’s an ongoing process.

    Many churches do require a confession of sin and a statement of belief upon membership. Many churches also include such confessions in their music in their liturgy, creeds, responsive readings, and hymns and music.
    Some of my favorite hymns do include songs like Take My Life and Lord I Want to Be a Christian It does not have to be public or group prayer to be effective. But sometimes sharing a sin can be helpful in resisting future attempts to sin, being held accountable, and helping others realize that one can rebuild life even after sin. It’s a lifetime struggle that doesn’t end and begin with every single sin, but just a desire to improve and live within God’s will.

  18. I love John 17. I love to read the entire chapter.

  19. I think we need to make a distinction between “fellowship”
    and ” relationship”. A believer’s relationship is secure and not
    broken by sin. Fellowship, however, is affected by sin. A son’s
    relationship is permanent in the family and a believer is a son.
    The union between Christ and the believer is one of permanence. The
    issue of sin in the daily life of a believer will effect the
    fellowship or the experience of the relationship. We are always
    dealing with “known” sin. When we sin and fail to deal with sin
    appropriately, we contend that sin is ok, and that God doesn’t care
    if I live in disobedience. The remedy for sin is and always has
    been confession. Read Psalms 32 and 51 and see how David was under
    heavy guilt until he “confessed” his sin. Confession is agreeing
    with God about known sin and saying the same thing about our sin
    that He says. It is different than asking for forgiveness.
    Forgiveness for sin has been accomplished by the sacrifice of
    Christ, once for all. For the believer, all our past and future
    sins have been forgiven when we accepted Christ and His finished
    work on the cross. We can not, However, live with ongoing sin and
    enjoy a close personal fellowship with God. 1 John chap. 1 gives
    believers instructions on how to deal with sin. Also, John chap.
    13, Jesus gives His disciples instructions about how to deal with
    the defilement of sin while living in a sinful world. The divine
    remedy for sin in the life of a believer is confession.

    1. I’ve noticed that a lot of discussion keeps centering on 1 John 1.9 and the promise that God will cleanse us from all unrighteousness if we confess our sins. The standard assumption that is made is that John is writing to the little born again ones in chapter 1 of his letter. I would contend that the first chapter is addressed primarily to those that are not little born again ones. The audience of chapter 1 is almost certainly those that (though they may be Christian in name) have been significantly influenced by proto-gnostic doctrines. Thus 1 John 1 is an invitation on the part of the aged apostle for those who have been confessing that they are sinless to instead repent, agree with God, acknowledge their sin, and place saving faith in the Savior who has come in the flesh, Jesus Christ. That is the door. From chapter 2 onward John addresses those that have already entered into a saving relationship with God – the ones who have already confessed their sins and found it to be true that God is both faithful and just to forgive our sins on the basis of his son’s finished work.

      1. David – Did you just discover the subject of gnosticism? You seem awfully excited about it. There is not a hint that anyone had been influenced, much less significantly influenced by “proto-gnostic” doctrines in the 1st century, so there is no evidence whatsoever that this little known belief system played any role in John’s writing here.

        1. Hi Greg,

          No I did not just discover the subject of gnosticism neither am I at all excited about it. I agree that the first century is far too early to read any fully developed gnostic doctrine into the occasion of John’s first letter. I suspect that my chosen term “proto-gnostic” was unfortunate in that it led you to think that this was what I was asserting. While gostic doctrines as such were not the target of John’s warnings, it does seem that the seeds of heresy that would be common to gnostic sects were addressed. Hence the apostle’s emphasis upon the fact of the incarnation throughout the letter and his charge in chapter 1 that those who deny there sinful state apart from Christ walk in darkness not light. This was my point and I am sorry that I had not made it clearer for the readers.

        2. Greg,

          It’s often difficult to accurately discern tone when communicating through this medium. At first blush it felt to me that your tone in replying to me was perhaps intentionally condescending and insulting. I hope I read you wrong because those are two ungracious qualities.

  20. The way I understand your article is to focus more om
    freedom to sin rather than freedom from sin. Anyway, God is
    forgiving and pursues whenwe are astray. My friend we are no longer
    slave of sin but slave of righteousness in Christ. You are sending
    a wrong message that it is ok to be a Christian and still enjoy
    worldliness anyway God is merciful. Remember God’s message in I
    John 2:15, “Love not the world neither the things that are in the
    world”. You will really be miserable if you are the one making
    effort to be righteous rather being righteous beause of the grace
    of God and Christ’s righteousness.

  21. @ Michael Alesis Point of Correction – You said, that Jesus
    rebuked “ALL 7 churches in Asia Minor”. Actually He only rebukes
    six of the seven. The Church in Philadelphia received no rebuked.
    Instead they were commended and given a promise because they had
    been willing to endure patiently. However as far as breaking
    fellowship or better yet, breaking communion – The church in
    Laodicea would be good to reference. First Jesus is addressing the
    Church (Those who are saved). This verse is not talking about those
    who are unsaved and Jesus is knocking on your heart to let Him in.
    It is clearly addressed to the church. Secondly, the church is
    neither cold nor hot in their deeds (Works). Thirdly the church
    thinks they are independant, rich and wealthy and Jesus declares
    that they are wretched, poor, blind and naked. Fourthly and lastly
    notice where Jesus is located. He is outside knocking on the door.
    The Bible goes on to state that Jesus say’s ” Behold, I stand at
    the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I
    will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” The
    word sup in the Greek is ??????? it means “To eat with, dine with,
    to have supper with.” It is the same word that Paul uses in 1 Cor.
    11:25. So metaphorically this church was out of spiritual communion
    with Jesus.

    1. Actually Christ rebuked 5 of the 7. Smyrna received no warning or correction either.

  22. I understand the comments about the exclusionary fellowship practices mentioned on the post because this was also my experience with the first church and the requirement that I attend the particular colleges and institutions they recommended at the exclusion of 100-200 other traditional and regionally accredited schools or even Christian ministries on campus or near public and private colleges and universities. I wasn’t part of the wild fraternity or sorority life nor did I spend much time at night clubs and secular concerts. I was just looking for a more traditional environment to practice my faith. I think of the 100-200 accredited colleges, there were about five within the tri-state area of my residence that might have been a much closer commute by car or bus for me. There were also other independent and denominational and non-denominational or interdenominational ministries at or near the colleges and universities.

    I really don’t go into much detail with the second IFB church I attended since I only attended it a very few times. The primary reason I left that ministry was because it was outside my local community. I didn’t attend it enough to be satisfied or dissatisfied one way or another. I actually liked the third church except for the fact that it was outside that walking distance I really wanted since I wanted the church I attended to be part of the neighborhood and community. I do believe that there is a social ministry expected of Christians that goes beyond the religious instruction and education often taught at the sanctuary and Sunday School or Vacation Bible School or Bible Studies and mid-week activities. The social ministries do include reaching out to the unmet needs of people in the community. I mention the church becauae it gave me something to compare. But the experience was different in a very positive way. It was also open about its affiliations and the leadership was willing to accept and respect me as well as members of my family. Again though, while it was not as far from the first two churches, it still was not within walking distance. I really wanted the neighborhood church or something that was at least in the city and county limits. It does make life a whole lot easier if one can walk to the church to pariticipate in the activities during the week as well as Sunday morning. So I really wanted eitiher a walking distance or at least a direct bus route. Even with driving, I liked to keep it within 5 miles of my residence.

  23. Greg, I really appreciated your previous comment. Prayer, by itself is a request for the Holy Spirit to intercede in our lives whether we pray privately, another person, or a larger group. I had to read the Apostle of Matthew, Chapter 6 to understand what was expected in prayer. There are so many verses about prayer I need at least a concordance or Lexicon to cover the entire New Testament for the apostles, disciples, and converted believers in the Books of the Apostles and epistles. We go into prayer with an attitude of humility and reverance for God. it’s not supposed to be some type of meaningless robotic repetition though.
    The Gospel is about change in our hearts from what we naturally do to what God wants us to do. The sins are covered by the atonement from the crucifixion and resurrection. And the apostles were by no means perfect. God didn’t give up on them before or after the resurrection either. He met them where they were at any particular point in their walk.

  24. You have brought up some good points here and the IFB’s do a good job of messing with people’s minds. I want you to know that if you have called upon Jesus Christ as Saviour He has forgiven you for all of your sins, past,present and future in one split instant. Now when God looks at you He sees His sinless Son’s blood which covers all your sins and mine. It is really great, drink it in for a moment, everything sin that you ever committed, are committing or ever will committ is already forgiven. Rest in it, know it to the center of your being. Its because of His great love for us that we love Him and want to serve Him to the best of our ability. We still sin because we are in this body, if anyone says that they don’t sin, they are a liar and the truth is not in them, the bible says. So yes you will struggle with various sins while still in this body and on this planet and yet as we draw closer to Him and learn more of His ways and grow mature in our faith I believe that our incidence of sinning wanes, but yet perfection is not possible in this body.

    I went through a very similar thing as young christian and had similar thought patterns. I finally just beging to rely on what the Word said and rested in it. I stopped worrying about unconfessed sins and just told the Lord if there is anything else that I have forgotten you know what it is and I’m sure you have forgiven me for it. He knows our hearts and wants what is best for us, He knows what we need before we even ask.

    Don’t give up, keep on keeping on. Stay in the Word and keep on praying and ask God to lead you to a good christian group that will support you in your walk with Him.

    In His Grace,
    Greg

  25. Hello, to my knowledge, you are the only person who has addressed this. I to used to walk home from school confessing my sins, then a bad thought would flit through my mind, and I’d confess that, then I’d lose track of my prayer, and I’d confess interrupting my prayer to God, and try to get back to my original prayer. The effect was that I walked home mumbling to myself, and my brain/emotions felt somewhat wrought up.

    Then I had a worse thought and it was this – what if I either forgot, or neglected to confess a sin that I should have? I would forever be out of fellowship with God, and not even know it! Would I then be condemned to hell because I was separated from God?

    I was also taught that God does not hear us when we sin, so this led me to wonder how I could possibly confess my sins, since by that teaching, He wouldn’t hear me.

    But this teaching conflicted with later teachings that told me ‘all my sins past, present, and future were all forgiven’ and also conflicted with 1 John 1:9 which says, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    So to summarize my general confusion in this area resulting from IFB teachings;

    a. What is point of confessing anything if all our sins are forgiven?
    b. But, why is 1 John 1:9 telling me that I should confess my sins?
    c. How could I confess my sins with any success if God won’t hear me while I’m in sin?
    d. But how could I be in sin if God declared me righteous, and looked at me the same way He looked at His Son?

    One could see that this can easily lead to a myriad of other convoluted thoughts, and has, but I’ll stay on subject.

    Currently, I’m sick of it all, rarely attend church, and think that I have been taught a lot of conflicting narratives that by well-meaning but ignorant? folks that has really screwed me up – I’ve come to the conclusion that the Baptist god is a man-made synthesis of conflicting ideas and theories that has little to do with tangible reality.

  26. Luke, I don’t want you to be disillusioned about your choice of bible, the kjv is definitely God’s word in 17th century english, that is for sure, but there are certainly problems. I will simply ask you one question. Do you believe that the romans killed Jesus and then hung his lifeless corpse upon the cross? No, well go look at Acts 5:30 “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” Now let me say I know that the kjv is not promoting that a dead Jesus was placed on a cross, but it is what this verse conveys. There are at least two things at work here. First just the translation itself (manuscript used etc.) and the time of the translation work (early 17th century) Most new versions say “The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead-whom you had killed by hanging on a tree.

    This is but one of many examples I could give, get a good dictionary if you continue using your kjv and be assured that it is the Word of God, but perfect, nothing except the original autographs were “perfect” but you can be confident that God’s word is contained in the king james translation as well as many newer translations.

    God Bless,
    Greg

  27. @Michael Alessi

    You know, I agree with nearly everything on this site EXCEPT, I still believe the KJB is the pure word of God. It is a shame that many awake to the truth of the IFB deception, but also reject one major truth that they hold to – that God has preserved His word for us today perfectly without error.

  28. @Ashley

    AshleyKJB, 95% of IFB churches teach this. If you sin, you are out of fellowship with God until you repent (usually at the altar, publically), and get back to work for God. I know. I was an IFB. I still know heaps of IFB’s that teach this. I am now a believer in God’s pure grace according to right division of the scriptures.

    1. I agree Luke. I spent 7 years with the IFB church and was in constant brokenness. To this day I attend non denominational churches. The Baptist are extremely legalistic and so are the Pentecostal. I could go on with denominational errors but even in our non denominational churches there are errors in teaching. Grace is Grace no matter how you look at it. You can not mix the old covenant with the new. Jesus came to abolish the law not add to it. If you are covered by the blood of Christ you are covered. The work He did “It is finished” Praise God to have that kind of peace. I spent most of the 7 years living in fear and working for my righteousness. I would think God would have us living in the victory Jesus won for us and not under a bush afraid, lonely and thinking we are out of fellowship with Him.

      1. I couldn’t have said it better Lisa and I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      2. No Lisa read what he actually said again in Scripture…he didn’t come to abolish it at all but to Fulfill it.

  29. Interesting. I have never participated in the Lord’s Supper because I have always had such a fear of unconfessed sin in my life and believed that I could be struck dead if I did so. I just knew that there was always some sin that I wouldn’t remember or didn’t even know it was a sin. Also with so much sin in my life every day, I really haven’t believed that God could hear my prayers and have pretty much given up praying or even thinking about having fellowship with God. That would be very freeing if I could pray and study the Bible again.

    1. You must read “The Naked Gospel” by Andrew Farley. It is spiritually life-changing.

  30. Independent fundamental Baptists have a wide range of views. There is no central doctrine to follow. I am in an IFB church that teaches exactly what was stated here. In fact, my pastor goes further and says that you must confess your major sins to the whole congregation! He also would like to have closed communion but some members would object. So he has “close communion” where he has the Lord’s Supper on an odd night that only members know about. He has a huge fear that somebody might take communion and have “sin in their life”. I doubt that I will last much longer in my present church. I don’t do well with heresy.

  31. EXCUSE ME!! IBF doesn’t teach that you lose fellowship with God when you sin. You have the wrong denomination altogether. That falls in the line w/Pentecostal and another one I know of and 100% certain. You need to stop with your falsehoods. What’s that about speaking untruths about others? You are so guilty!

  32. I never said that sin doesn’t “affect” our fellowship with the Lord. Please try to understand what I’m saying. Our fellowship with the Lord can’t be broken, it’s impossible. It can be affected, but not broken. There is a HUGE difference.

    But to answer your question:

    Forgiveness, humility, growth, maturity, just to name a few. Confession simply means to acknowledge or admit. There is nothing special about confessing our sins. There is nothing magical or overtly spiritual about confession. Confession is supposed to be about admitting we are wrong and asking for forgiveness. Confession forces us to humble ourselves by bringing our faults and sins to light. When we refuse to admit our faults we are carrying a sense of pride. Confession is a tool to remove pride from our hearts. See Paul’s teachings on pride for more information.

  33. @Steve
    So, if sin does not affect our fellowship with the Lord, then what is the purpose in confessing our sin?

    1. We confess our sins at the point of salvation, the moment we turn to the Lord, believe in Him, the moment His Blood washes and covers our sins. In the flesh we are sinners, in the spirit we are a new man and should by faith walk in the newness of life. Simply accepting the victory that Christ won! Christ paid that debt, even the future debt “sin”. So, to answer your question on what is the purpose of confessing our sins, it’s for our salvation. Thankfully my Lord and Savior doesn’t require me living my life in a confessional!

  34. @TFT
    I’m afraid that you’ve missed the entire message of the post. I never said that we don’t need to confess our sins. The point is that the IFB exploits the idea that we need to confess our sins and manipulates scripture to promote the idea that one is “out of fellowship with the Lord” as a result of our sins, which is false. The message is one that dictates that a person attempt to be perfect lest he/she “fall out of fellowship with Christ.” It’s a goal that is unattainable and harmful to the body of believers.

    It is because of our POSITION in the body of Christ we are seen as blameless and guiltless (see Colossians 1:20-22) in the eyes of God.
    1 John 1:5-2:2 is about salvation because we don’t “walk in darkness” once we are saved. Once we are saved we “in the light” and are granted fellowship with God because the blood of Christ has purified us from all sin (see v. 7) – all sin, by the way, includes future sin not just past sin.

    If you are relying on your good works to find favor and fellowship with God then you are performing a works based righteousness which is not biblical. Loosing fellowship with God because we sin is not biblical and is a gross misinterpretation of scripture.

  35. 1 John 1:5-2:2 is not in fact talking about salvation. John addresses the spritual state of the people he is writing to in 1 John 2:12-14 as believers. When a son disobeys his father, his position in the family is not in jepardy, but he asks for forgiveness to restore the fellowship (partnership, joint participation) that they have in their relationship as father and son. Yes, when God looks at those who have placed their faith in Christ alone for salvation POSITIONALLY He sees Christ, but that is not to be mistaken that God will ignore us living in daily unconfessed sin and fellowship(partnership, joint participation) with us. Jesus spoke on confession of sin when He was teaching His followers how to pray in Matthew 6:11-12.

  36. This post was moved to Here by site Moderator.

  37. @Laura
    Laura, you are entirely entitled to your opinion, but I think you really are really off base. Firstly, Michael didn’t say that if you question or challenge the KJV you are being influenced by Satan. Keep statements in their context.

    Secondly, you say that you’ve been comparing translations to the original Greek text. First, have you even had an instruction in the Greek language. If I never took any formal training in German, then would I be qualified to analyse Martin Luther’s German translation of the NT? Then why would you think you can analyse the translations if you haven’t had any training.

    Thirdly, if King James was gay (and I think the true historical prrofs prove him no to be), it has no bearing on the quality of the KJ translation. The translation bears his name, but thats it. He had nothing to do with the translation. Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.
    Lastly, the Baptists having the highest divorce rate isn’t a fact…there are two things that you neglect to mention. First, its not just the Baptists, but it is Christians in general. Baptists have a divorce rate of course, but its every denomination in the polls. Secondly, most atheists do not get divorced because they do not beleive in marriage, and the percentage of people today who are not getting married but living in adultery makes the Christian divorce rate seem high. The fact is, its all smoke and mirrors.

    From your comments it seems that you are desperately trying to find things wrong with the IFB and their churches. You condemn us for “judging” others, when we are simply stating the truth. (Now I understand that people have different levels of tact than others.) However, you are the one who is turning and condemning because you just don’t like hearing the truth. I strongly ergue you to stop judging things based upon half-facts, and simply turn to the Scriptures, because “thy word is truth.”

  38. @Michael Alessi
    Michael,you sound more like Pharisees your being very judgemetal
    to think that anyone who DARES question the King James Bible is
    influenced by satanism. Though I believe the KJV to be a good translation
    I don’t believe it to be the ONLY translation. I know this I have taken
    bibles and have compared them to the original Greek text.
    Im just now learning that King James actually MIGHT have been GAY.
    Though know one is sure of this,there is a possibility that he might
    have. Go research it yourself if you don’t belive me.
    And another thing to keep in mind, the Baptist have the highest divorce
    rates, even higher than the athiest. It is my opinion that this could
    come from bottling up emotions and living such a strict lifestyle,
    as the Baptist church are the strictest.

  39. I say thank God for the IFB, because I didnt understand the WORD(Jesus) of God until I read a King James Bible. I belonged to a Pentecostal NIV church for 3 years until I finally realized I was being deceived by a phony bible and then deceived by the emotionalism and experience of speaking in tounges. The History behind the modern versions speaks for its self. We should live strict to the bible. Its the WORD of God. TEST everything to the WORD(Jesus) of God. Imagine Jesus Christ compromising his own WORD just to avoid being called a legalist. Imagine Jesus Christ being called a legalist for rebuking ALL 7 churches in Asia Minor. I think your website is bashing the IFB and taking them WAAAAY out of context.. These websites are designed for those who want to have a little worldly fun without all the guilt. I say your weak in the faith and need to pray harder, read the WORD(Jesus) harder and subject your flesh to the spirit and then maybe you wont have these satanic influences confusing you. Does that mean I agree with every IFB church thats out there. No one is perfect. No church is perfect. But for the most part and from experience in many different denominations, I find my faith has exploded through the preaching and understanding of the KING JAMES BILE! Thank GOD for the IFB Church!

  40. Interesting article. I have wondered those same things myself. We had some revivals and were encouraged to read certain books, and yes, I remember telling God that kind of repentance seemed awfully exhausting to me! I thought I must be much worse than the people I know, because I would have something to confess every minute of the day! Thanks for the article. It gives me something to think about and to study.

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