When John writes in 1 John 3:14 that we know we have passed from death to life because we love our brethren, he is not talking about how we know we have eternal life, but how we know we are in fellowship with God and one another.
Many believe that God does not and cannot forgive us unless and until we confess our sin. This idea comes from 1 John 1:9, but represents a misunderstanding of the context of 1 John, and the differences between a relationship with God and fellowship with God. Confession restores fellowship within an already existing relationship.
This post was written in 2007, and launched me on a study about the church, much of which is found in various other posts on this blog. Some of the results of this study about the church can be found in my eBook, Skeleton Church.