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Effective Praying

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April 11, 2010 Sunday morning and evening

First Baptist Church, Comanche, OK

Series: "" / Praying for Others

Text: Ps 66:18 [Isaiah 59:1-2]; 2 Cor 7:10 [Ps 139:23-24; John 16:7-11]; James 5:16; 1 John 1:9

Thesis: Prayer is the most powerful and most effective ministry, because when we intercede on behalf of others, we're literally asking almighty GOD to intervene and to intersect the life of the one for whom we are praying.

Memory verse: 1 John 1:6 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.

"Effective Praying"

Introduction: What makes prayer effective, and what hinders prayer?

James 5:16

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Eph 3:20-21

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

PS 66:16-20

16 Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul. 17 I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. 18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear; 19 But certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer. 20 Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer nor His lovingkindness from me.

1. Convicting [2 Cor 7:10; Ps 139:23-24; John 16:7-11]



2. Confessing [James 5:13-16; 1 John 1:6-10]



3. Cleansing [Eph 5:26; Heb 9:22; James 1:21-22; 1 John 1:7-9]



Conclusion: Prayer is the most powerful and most effective ministry, because when we intercede on behalf of others, we're literally asking almighty GOD to intervene and to intersect the life of the one for whom we are praying.

" Love

" Loathe


" Lost

" Light


(Asking, Communicating, Meditating)


What is prayer?

BIBLE READING: Genesis 18:16-33

KEY BIBLE VERSE: The two other men went on toward Sodom, but the LORD remained with Abraham for a while. Abraham approached him and said, "Will you destroy both innocent and guilty alike? Suppose you find fifty innocent people there within the city-will you still destroy it, and not spare it for their sakes?" (Genesis 18:22-24)

Prayer is an opportunity to bring our will into line with God's plan. Did Abraham change God's mind? Of course not. The more likely answer is that God changed Abraham's mind. Abraham knew that God is just and that he punishes sin, but he may have wondered about God's mercy. Abraham seemed to be probing God's mind to see how merciful he really was. He left his conversation with God convinced that God was both kind and fair. Our prayers won't change God's mind, but they may change ours just as Abraham's prayer changed his. Prayer helps us better understand the mind of God.

Prayer is an opportunity to demonstrate our trust in God. Why did God let Abraham question his justice and intercede for a wicked city? Abraham knew that God must punish sin, but he also knew from experience that God is merciful to sinners. God knew there were not ten righteous people in the city, but he was merciful enough to allow Abraham to intercede. He was also merciful enough to help Lot, Abraham's nephew, get out of Sodom before it was destroyed. God does not take pleasure in destroying the wicked, but he must punish sin. He is both just and merciful. We should be thankful that God's mercy extends to us.

BIBLE READING: Psalm 4:1-8

KEY BIBLE VERSE: You can be sure of this: The LORD has set apart the godly for himself. The LORD will answer when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3)

Prayer is speaking with God. The godly are those who are faithful and devoted to God. David knew that God would hear him when he called and would answer him. We too can be confident that God listens to our prayers and answers when we call on him. Sometimes we think that God will not hear us because we have fallen short of his high standards for holy living. But if we have trusted Christ for salvation, God has forgiven us, and he will listen to us. When you feel as though your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, remember that as a believer, you have been set apart by God-and he loves you. He hears and answers, although his answers may not be what you expect. Look at your problems in the light of God's power instead of looking at God in the shadow of your problems.

BIBLE READING: Hebrews 4:14-16

KEY BIBLE VERSE: So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. (Hebrews 4:16)

Prayer is an awesome privilege. Prayer is our approach to God, and we are to come boldly. Some Christians approach God meekly with heads hung low, afraid to ask him to meet their needs. Others pray flippantly, giving little thought to what they say. Come with reverence because he is your King. But also come with bold assurance because he is your Friend and Counselor.


Why should we pray?

BIBLE READING: Genesis 25:19-34

KEY BIBLE VERSE: Isaac pleaded with the LORD to give Rebekah a child because she was childless. So the LORD answered Isaac's prayer, and his wife became pregnant with twins. (Genesis 25:21)

Prayer reflects our dependence on God. As Isaac pleaded with God for children, so the Bible encourages us to ask-and even plead-for our most personal and important requests. God wants to grant our requests, but he wants us to ask him. Even then, as Isaac learned, God may decide to withhold his answer for a while in order to (1) deepen our insight into what we really need, (2) broaden our appreciation for his answers, or (3) allow us to mature so we can use his gifts more wisely.

BIBLE READING: Exodus 17:1-7

KEY BIBLE VERSE: Tormented by thirst, they continued to complain, "Why did you ever take us out of Egypt? Why did you bring us here? We, our children, and our livestock will all die!" (Exodus 17:3)

Prayer is far better than complaining to each other. Again the people of Israel complained about their problem instead of praying. They had followed God's leading into the desert, but now were doubting his ability to take care of them. Some problems can be solved by careful thought or by rearranging our priorities. Some can be solved by discussion and good counsel. But some problems can be solved only by prayer. We should make a determined effort to pray when we feel like complaining, because complaining only raises our level of stress. Prayer quiets our thoughts and emotions and prepares us to listen.

BIBLE READING: Judges 16:23-31

Under = KEY BIBLE VERSE: Samson prayed to the LORD, "Sovereign LORD, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me one more time so that I may pay back the Philistines for the loss of my eyes." (Judges 16:28)

Prayer can restore relationship with God. In spite of Samson's past, God still answered his prayer and destroyed the pagan temple and worshipers. God still loved him. He was willing to hear Samson's prayer of confession and repentance and use him this final time. One of the effects of sin in our life is to keep us from feeling like praying. But perfect moral behavior is not a condition for prayer. Don't let guilt feelings over sin keep you from your only means of restoration. No matter how long you have been away from God, he is ready to hear from you and restore you to a right relationship. Every situation can be salvaged if you are willing to turn again to him. If God could still work in Samson's situation, he can certainly make something worthwhile out of yours.


How should we pray?

BIBLE READING: Ezra 8:1-36

KEY BIBLE VERSE: There by the Ahava Canal, I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that he would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled. (Ezra 8:21)

We should pray with an attitude of deep respect for God. Ezra knew God's promises to protect his people, but he didn't take them for granted. He also knew that God's blessings are appropriated through prayer; so Ezra and the people humbled themselves by fasting and praying. And their prayers were answered. Fasting humbled them because going without food was a reminder of their complete dependence on God. Fasting also gave them more time to pray and meditate on God.

Too often we pray glibly and superficially. Serious prayer, by contrast, requires concentration. It puts us in touch with God's will and can really change us. Without serious prayer, we reduce God to a quick-service pharmacist with painkillers for our every ailment.

BIBLE READING: Neh. 2:1-10

KEY BIBLE VERSE: The king asked, "Well, how can I help you?" With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, "If it please Your Majesty and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried." (Neh. 2:4-5)

We should pray with confidence in God's grace. With little time to think, Nehemiah immediately prayed. Eight times in this book we read that he prayed spontaneously (Neh. 2:4; Neh. 4:4-5, 9; Neh. 5:19; Neh. 6:14; Neh. 13:14, 22, 29). Nehemiah prayed at any time, even while talking with others. He knew that God is always in charge, is always present, and hears and answers every prayer. Nehemiah could confidently pray throughout the day because he had established an intimate relationship with God during times of extended prayer (Neh. 1:4-7). If we want to reach God with our emergency prayers, we need to take time to cultivate a strong relationship with God through times of in-depth prayer.

BIBLE READING: Matthew 6:5-15

KEY BIBLE VERSE: When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. Don't be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! (Matthew 6:7-8)

We should pray with humility and sincerity. Some people, especially the religious leaders, wanted to be seen as "holy," and public prayer was one way to get attention. Jesus saw through their self-righteous acts, however, and taught that the essence of prayer is not public style, but private communication with God. There is a place for public prayer, but to pray only where others will notice you indicates that your real audience is not God.

BIBLE READING: Col. 1:1-14

KEY BIBLE VERSE: We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard that you trust in Christ Jesus and that you love all of God's people. (Col. 1:3-4)

We should pray for others. Sometimes we wonder how to pray for missionaries and other leaders we have never met. Paul had never met the Colossians, but he faithfully prayed for them. His prayers teach us how to pray for others, whether we know them or not. We can request that they (1) understand God's will, (2) gain spiritual wisdom, (3) please and honor God, (4) bear good fruit, (5) grow in the knowledge of God, (6) be filled with God's strength, (7) have great endurance and patience, (8) stay full of Christ's joy, and (9) give thanks always. All believers have these same basic needs. When you don't know how to pray for someone, use Paul's prayer pattern for the Colossians.


What are the characteristics of prayers in the Bible?

BIBLE READING: Joshua 7:1-26

KEY BIBLE VERSE: Joshua and the leaders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed down facing the Ark of the LORD until evening. (Joshua 7:6)

Biblical prayers are marked by humility. Joshua and the elders tore their clothing and sprinkled dust on their heads as signs of deep mourning before God. They were confused by their defeat at the small city of Ai after the spectacular Jericho victory, so they went before God in deep humility and sorrow to receive his instructions. When our life falls apart, we also should turn to God for direction and help. Like Joshua and the elders, we should humble ourself so that we will be able to hear his words.

Biblical prayers are marked by honesty. Imagine praying this way to God. This is not a formal church prayer; it is the prayer of a man who is afraid and confused by what is happening around him. Joshua poured out his real thoughts to God. Hiding your needs from God is ignoring the only one who can really help. God welcomes your honest prayers and wants you to express your true feelings to him. Any believer can become more honest in prayer by remembering that God is all-knowing and all-powerful and that his love is everlasting.

BIBLE READING: 2 Chron. 6:1-42

KEY BIBLE VERSE: He prayed, "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven and earth. You keep your promises and show unfailing love to all who obey you and are eager to do your will." (2 Chron. 6:14)

Biblical prayers are wide-ranging and specific. As Solomon led the people in prayer, he asked God to hear their prayers concerning a variety of situations: (1) crime (2 Chron. 6:22-23); (2) enemy attacks (2 Chron. 6:24-25); (3) drought (2 Chron. 6:26-27); (4) famine (2 Chron. 6:28-31); (5) the influx of foreigners (2 Chron. 6:32-33); (6) war (2 Chron. 6:34-35); (7) sin (2 Chron. 6:36-39). God is concerned with whatever we face, even the difficult consequences we bring upon ourself. He wants us to turn to him in prayer. When you pray, remember that God hears you. Don't let the extremity of your situation cause you to doubt his care for you.

BIBLE READING: Matthew 6:5-15

KEY BIBLE VERSE: Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food for today, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And don't let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:9-13)

Biblical prayer is personal. The phrase "Our Father in heaven" indicates that God is not only majestic and holy, but also personal and loving. The first line of this model prayer is a statement of praise and a commitment to honor God's holy name. We can honor God's name by being careful to use it respectfully. If we use God's name lightly, we aren't remembering God's holiness.

Biblical prayer recognizes God's position. The phrase "May your Kingdom come soon" is a reference to God's spiritual reign, not Israel's freedom from Rome. God's kingdom was announced in the covenant with Abraham (Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28), is present as Christ reigns in the believer's heart (Luke 17:21), and will be complete when all evil is destroyed and God establishes the new heaven and earth (Rev. 21:1).

Biblical prayer recognizes our position. When we pray "May your will be done," we are not resigning ourself to fate, but praying that God's perfect purpose will be accomplished in this world as well as in the next.

Biblical prayer demonstrates complete dependence. When we pray, "Give us our food for today," we are acknowledging that God is our Sustainer and Provider. It is a misconception to think that we provide for our own needs. We must trust God daily to provide what he knows we need.

Biblical prayer asks God for guidance. God doesn't lead us into temptations, but sometimes he allows us to be tested by them. As disciples, we should pray to be delivered from these trying times and from Satan ("the evil one") and his deceit. All Christians struggle with temptation. Sometimes it is so subtle that we don't even realize what is happening to us. God has promised that he won't allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13). Ask God to help you recognize temptation and to give you strength to overcome it and choose God's way instead.

BIBLE READING: John 17:1-26

KEY BIBLE VERSE: I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father-that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me. (John 17:20-21)

Biblical prayer recognizes the spiritual warfare around us. This entire chapter is Jesus' prayer. From it, we learn that the world is a tremendous battleground where the forces under Satan's power and those under God's authority are at war. Satan and his forces are motivated by bitter hatred for Christ and his forces. Jesus prayed for his disciples, including those of us who follow him today. He prayed that God would keep his chosen believers safe from Satan's power, setting them apart and making them pure and holy, uniting them through his truth.

Biblical prayer is not escape from the world. Jesus didn't ask God to take believers out of the world, but instead to use them in the world. Because Jesus sends us into the world, we should not try to escape from the world, nor should we avoid all relationships with non-Christians. We are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), and we are to do the work that God sent us to do.

Biblical prayer binds us with other believers. Jesus prayed for all who would follow him, including you and others you know. He prayed for unity (John 17:11), protection from the evil one (John 17:15), and sanctity (holiness) (John 17:17). Knowing that Jesus prayed for us should give us confidence as we work for his kingdom.


(1:6) John here again deals with the heresy of Antinomianism teaching to the effect that a person may be living in sin and compromising with it, and at the same time have fellowship with God. "If we say" is a deliberative subjunctive, proposing a hypothetical case. John puts the case as a supposition, not an assumed fact. He deals gently and humbly with his readers, including himself in the statement. The claim of this hypothetical person is that he is having fellowship with God. Again, our word "fellowship" (koin?nian (?????????), has the primary meaning of "to have joint-participation with someone else in things possessed in common by both," and the secondary meaning of "companionship" or "comradeship." This person claims to have things in common with God, common likes and dislikes, a common nature, the divine, which basic things eventuate in a communion of interest and activity which we call fellowship.

This person is said to be walking in the darkness which is not in God, namely, sin. The verb is present subjunctive which speaks of habitual action. Thus, this person is sinning habitually, continuously, which shows that he is an unsaved person. No child of God sins habitually to the exclusion of righteous acts. We learn that from John's use of modes and tenses as we proceed in our exegesis of this epistle.

Furthermore, he walks in the darkness. The case of the noun is locative of sphere. He walks, that is, orders his behavior, conducts himself (peripate? (?????????) in the sphere of the darkness of sin. His actions and words are ensphered by sin. Nothing of God's righteousness or goodness ever enters that circle of sin which surrounds this person. The individual making this claim of fellowship with God while at the same time ordering his behavior within the sphere of sin, is an unsaved person. John says that in making that claim, he is lying, and he is not doing the truth.

Translation. If we say that fellowship we are having with Him, and in the sphere of the aforementioned darkness are habitually ordering our behavior, we are lying, and we are not doing the truth.

(1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.) Now John supposes another case, that of a person walking in the sphere of the light which God is and in which He dwells. "Walk" is again present subjunctive, stressing habitual action. It is the habitual actions of a person that are an index to his character. This is a Christian, for only Christians are able to walk in the light that God is and in which He dwells. If we Christians order our behavior within the sphere of the light, John says, "we have fellowship one with another" (A.V.). Now, to whom does the pronoun "we" refer? Does John mean here that we Christians have fellowship with one another, or is it that the Christian and God have fellowship with one another? The theme of the epistle and the immediate context must decide. The theme of First John is "The Saint's Fellowship with God." In verse six, John tells his readers who does not have fellowship with God. In verse seven he tells them who does have fellowship with God. While it is true that when saints order their behavior within the sphere of the light they do have fellowship with one another, yet John is not teaching that here. He is concerned with the heresy of Antinomianism and its relation to the Christian in the latter's relation to God. Thus, those referred to by the pronoun "we" are God and the believer.

The words "one with another" are the translation of a preposition and a reciprocal pronoun in the Greek text. A reciprocal pronoun shows reciprocity. Wonder of wonders, not only do we have fellowship with God, but He reciprocates in having fellowship with us! This fellowship is not a one-sided affair like that of a couple, only one of which is in love with the other. God condescends to have fellowship with worms of the dust, sinners saved by grace, creatures of His handiwork.

And while we are having this fellowship with Him, the blood of Jesus, His Son, keeps constantly cleansing us from sins of omission, sins of ignorance, sins we know nothing about in our lives and for the reason that we have not grown in grace enough to see that they are sin. These would prevent our fellowship with God if this divine provision of the constant cleansing away of the defilement of sin in our lives was not taken care of by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. So holy is the God with whom we have fellowship.

Translation. But if within the sphere of the light we are habitually ordering our behavior as He Himself is in the light, fellowship we are having with one another. And the blood of Jesus His Son keeps continually cleansing us from every sin.

(1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.) Here John again combats the Gnostic heresy which held that we do not have any principle of sin within us, since matter is evil and the soul is not contaminated by sinful flesh. Smith, commenting on this verse says: "The heresy of Perfectionism. Some might not say, with the Antinomians, that they were absolved from the obligation of the moral law, but they maintained that they were done with sin, had no more sinful propensities, committed no more sinful acts." Here we have the heresy of the eradication of the totally depraved nature during the earthly life of the Christian. The heresy of perfectionism and of the eradication of the evil nature is the present day form of this problem of the indwelling sinful nature.

"Sin" here is singular in number and is used without the definite article, all pointing to the fact that the nature is referred to, not acts of sin. Here we have the denial of the indwelling, totally depraved nature passed down the race from Adam. John says therefore, "If we say that sin we are not having, ourselves we are deceiving." Notice, if you will, the emphatic position of the pronoun "ourselves." The Christian who believes his evil nature has been completely eradicated is deceiving himself, nobody else. All others can see sin stick out all over his experience. And that sin must come from the indwelling sinful nature.

John says that the truth is not in that person. In the case of the Gnostics, that statement must be taken in an absolute sense. They were unsaved. In the case of a misinformed and mistaken present-day Christian, the statement will have to be qualified to mean that the truth of the indwelling sinful nature is not in him. The context would require this interpretation.

Translation. If we say that sin we are not having, ourselves we are leading astray, and the truth is not in us.

(1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.) Now John instructs the saints what to do about sins in their lives. The "we" includes John here, and it would seem that he is speaking of believers, for in other places he gives directions to the unsaved as to what they must do with relation to their sinful state and their sins.

The sinner is to believe (John 3:16). The saint is to confess. The word "confess" is homologe? (????????), from homos (????), "the same," and leg? (????), "to say," thus, "to say the same thing as another," or, "to agree with another." Confession of sin on the part of the saint means therefore to say the same thing that God does about that sin, to agree with God as to all the implication of that sin as it relates to the Christian who commits it and to a holy God against whom it is committed. That includes the saint's hatred of that sin, his sense of guilt because of it, his contrition because of it, the determination to put it out of his life and never to do that thing again. This is what confession of sin means here. The English word "confess" means "to admit the truth of an accusation, to own up to the fact that one is guilty of having committed the sin."

But the Greek word means far more than that, as was shown above. The verb is present subjunctive, speaking of continuous action. This teaches that the constant attitude of the saint toward sin should be one of a contrite heart, ever eager to have any sin in the life discovered for him by the Holy Spirit, and ever eager to confess it and put it out of the life by the power of that same Holy Spirit. David wrote concerning that kind of heart when he penned the words: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" (Psalm 51:17).

If we confess our sins, John says, God is faithful to forgive them and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The word "faithful" is pistos (??????). Vincent says of its usage here: "True to his own nature and promises; keeping faith with Himself and with man. The word is applied to God as fulfilling His own promises (Heb. 10:23; 11:11); as fulfilling the purpose for which He called men (I Thess. 5:24; I Cor. 1:9); as responding with guardianship to the trust reposed in Him by men (I Cor. 10:13; I Pet 4:19). 'He abideth faithful. He cannot deny Himself' (II Tim. 2:13). The same term is applied to Christ (II Thess. 3:3; Heb. 3:2; 2:17). God's faithfulness is here spoken of not only as essential to His own being, but as faithfulness toward us; 'fidelity to that nature of truth and light, related to His own essence, which rules in us as far as we confess our sins' (Ebrard)."

God is also just in forgiving our sins and cleansing us from their defilement. The word "just" is dikaios (???????). Vincent has this comment: "Rev. righteous. From dik? (????), 'right.'… The two words, faithful and righteous, imply each other. God, who is absolute rightness, must be faithful to His own nature, and His righteous dealing with men who partake of that nature and walk in fellowship with Him, is simply fidelity to Himself. 'Righteousness is truth passing into action' (Westcott)."

"To forgive" is hina aph?i (??? ????), "in order that He may forgive." Aph?i (????) is second aorist subjunctive, speaking, not of a process, but of a single act here. In 1:7 we have durative action, "keeps on continually cleansing," referring to the constant cleansing of the saint from the defilement of sins of ignorance by the blood of Jesus. These are habitual in the life of the believer. But sins we confess, as in 1:9, are not habitual. No child of God knowingly sins habitually. These sins for which confession is required are infrequent, isolated instances in the well-ordered life of a believer. Therefore, the aorist tense is used here, speaking of a single act of forgiveness. The word is the second aorist subjunctive form of aphi?mi (??????), "to send away, dismiss," hence of sins, "to remit" as a debt, "to put away." All sin was remitted, paid for, put away on the basis of the satisfaction offered for the demands of God's holy law which sinners broke, when the Lord Jesus died on the Cross. The law was satisfied. All the sins the believer commits, past, those in his unsaved condition, and future, those in his saved state, were put away on a legal basis at the Cross, and are in that sense forgiven the believer the moment he places his faith in the Lord Jesus. But the forgiveness spoken of here has to do, not primarily with the breaking of God's law, for that was taken care of at the Cross and recognized as such at the time the sinner placed his faith in the Saviour.

Therefore, sin in a Christian's life is a matter, not between a lawbreaker and a judge, but between a child and his father. It is a matter of grieving the Father's heart when a child of God sins. The putting away of the believer's sin upon confession is therefore a forgiveness granted by the Father and a restoration to the fellowship that was broken by that sin. When the saint confesses immediately after the commission of that sin, fellowship is not broken except for that time in which the sin was committed.

Not only does God forgive the believer, but He cleanses him from the defilement which he incurred in committing that act of sin. Here the verb "to cleanse" is aorist subjunctive, speaking of a single act of cleansing, for known sin in the life of a saint is not habitual, but the out of the ordinary thing.

Translation. If we continue to confess our sins, faithful is He and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from every unrighteousness.

(1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.) In verse eight, we have the denial of the indwelling sinful nature. In this verse we have the denial of specific acts of sin. The verb is in the perfect tense, which tense in Greek refers to an action completed in past time, having present results. The denial here is of any acts of sin committed in past time with the implication that none are able to be committed at present. This is sinless perfection with a vengeance.

The person who makes that claim, John says, makes God a liar, and does not have the Word of God in him. Smith comments: "Perfectionism has two causes:

(1) The stifling of conscience: we make Him a liar, i.e., turn a deaf ear to His inward testimony, His voice in our souls.

(2) Ignorance of His Word: it 'is not in us.' Such a delusion were impossible if we steeped our minds in the Scriptures."

Translation. If we say that we have not sinned and are not now in such a state that we could sin, a liar we are making Him, and His Word is not in us.

Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament - 1 John 1:6-10

1 John 1:6

If we say (??? ???????)

The subjunctive mood puts the case as supposed, not as assumed.

Walk in the darkness

The phrase occurs only in John's Gospel and First Epistle. Darkness here is ??????, instead of ?????? (v. 5). See on John 1:5. Walk (???????????), is, literally, walk about; indicating the habitual course of the life, outward and inward. The verb, with this moral sense, is common in John and Paul, and is found elsewhere only in Mark 7:5; Acts 21:21.

We lie and do not the truth

Again the combination of the positive and negative statements. See on v. 5. The phrase to do the truth occurs only in John's Gospel and First Epistle. See on John 3:21. All walking in darkness is a not doing of the truth. "Right action is true thought realized. Every fragment of right done is so much truth made visible" (Westcott).

1 John 1:7

We walk in the light (?? ?? ???? ???????????)

The phrase occurs only in the First Epistle. Walk, as above. In the light, having our life in God, who is light.

He is in the light

God is forever and unchangeable in perfect light. Compare Psalms 104:2; 1 Timothy 6:16. We walk, advancing in the light and by means of the light to more light. "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18).

One with another (???' ???????)

Not, we with God and God with us, but with our brethren. Fellowship with God exhibits and proves itself by fellowship with Christians. See 4:7, 12; 3:11, 23.

Of Jesus Christ His Son

Omit Christ. The human name, Jesus, shows that His blood is available for man. The divine name, His Son, shows that it is efficacious. I shall be rendering a service to students of John's Epistles by giving, in a condensed form, Canon Westcott's note, classifying the several names of our Lord and their uses in the Epistles.

The name in John, as in the Bible elsewhere, has two distinct, but closely connected meanings.

1. The Revelation of the Divine Being by a special title.

2. The whole sum of the manifold revelations gathered up so as to form one supreme revelation.

The latter sense is illustrated in 3 John 7, where "the name" absolutely includes the essential elements of the Christian creed, the complete revelation of Christ's work in relation to God and man. Compare John 20:31; Acts 5:41.

In 2:12, the term is more limited, referring to Christ as He lived on earth and gave Himself for "the brethren." In 3:23; 5:13, the exact sense is defined by what follows.

Actual Names Used.

(I.) His Son Jesus Christ. 1:3; 3:23; 5:20. The divine antecedent is differently described in each case, and the difference colors the phrase. In 1:2-3, the Father (compare John 3). In 3:23, God. In 5:20, He that is true. Thus the sonship of Christ is regarded in relation to God as Father, as God, and as satisfying the divine ideal which man is able to form. The whole phrase, His Son Jesus Christ, includes the two elements of the confessions which John makes prominent.

1. Jesus is the Son of God (4:15; 5:5).

2. Jesus is the Christ (2:22; 5:1).

The constituents of the compressed phrase are all used separately by John.

(1.) Jesus. 2:22; 5:1; 4:3 (where the correct reading omits Christ). The thought is that of the Lord in His perfect historic humanity.

(2.) Christ. 2 John 9. Pointing to the preparation made under the old covenant.

(3). Jesus Christ. 2:1; 5:6; 2 John 7. Combining the ideas of true humanity and messianic position.

In 4:15, the reading is doubtful: Jesus or Jesus Christ.

On 4:2, see note.

(4.) The Son. 2:22, 23, 24; 4:14; 5:12. The absolute relation of Sonship to Fatherhood.

(5.) The Son of God. 3:8; 5:10, 12, 13, 20. Compare His Son (4:10; 5:9), where the immediate antecedent is ? ???? God; and 5:18, He that was begotten of God. Combination of the ideas of Christ's divine dignity and divine sonship.

(6.) Jesus His (God's) Son. 1:7. Two truths. The blood of Christ is available and efficacious.

(7). His (God's) Son, His only Son. 4:9. The uniqueness of the gift is the manifestation of love.

The Son in various forms is eminently characteristic of the First and Second Epistles, in which it occurs more times than in all Paul's Epistles.

?????? Lord, is not found in the Epistles (omit from 2 John 3), but occurs in the Gospel, and often in Revelation.

The expression, the blood of Jesus His Son, is chosen with a profound insight. Though Ignatius uses the phrase blood of God yet the word blood is inappropriate to the Son conceived in His divine nature. The word Jesus brings out His human nature, in which He assumed a real body of flesh and blood, which blood was shed for us.

Cleanseth (?????????)

See on Mark 7:19. Not only forgives but removes. Compare Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:13 sq.; 22 sq.; Ephesians 5:26 sq.; Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:3. Compare also v. 9, where, forgive (???) and cleanse (????????) occur, with an obvious difference of meaning. Note the present tense cleanseth. The cleansing is present and continuous. Alexander (Bishop of Derry) cites a striking passage from Victor Hugo ("Le Parricide"). The usurper Canute, who has had a share in his father's death, expiring after a virtuous and glorious reign, walks towards the light of heaven. But first he cuts with his sword a shroud of snow from the top of Mt. Savo. As he advances towards heaven, a cloud forms, and drop by drop his shroud is soaked with a rain of blood.

All sin (????? ????????)

The principle of sin in all its forms and manifestations; not the separate manifestations. Compare all joy (James 1:2); all patience (2 Corinthians 7:12); all wisdom (Ephesians. 1:8); all diligence (2 Peter 1:5).

1 John 1:8

That we have no sin

??? that, may be taken merely as a mark of quotation: "If we say, sin we have not." On the phrase to have sin, see on John 16:22, and compare have fellowship, v. 3. Sin (????????) is not to be understood of original sin, or of sin before conversion, but generally. "It is obvious that this ????? ???????? (to have sin), is infinitely diversified, according to the successive measure of the purification and development of the new man. Even the apostle John does not exclude himself from the universal if we say" (Ebrard).

Heathen authors say very little about sin, and classic paganism had little or no conception of sin in the Gospel sense. The nearest approach to it was by Plato, from whose works a tolerably complete doctrinal statement might be gathered of the origin, nature, and effects of sin. The fundamental idea of ??????? (sin) among the Greeks is physical; the missing of a mark (see on Matthew 1:21; see on 6:14); from which it develops into a metaphysical meaning, to wander in the understanding. This assumes knowledge as the basis of goodness; and sin, therefore, is, primarily, ignorance. In the Platonic conception of sin, intellectual error is the prominent element. Thus: "What then, I said, is the result of all this? Is not this the result-that other things are indifferent, and that wisdom is the only good, and ignorance the only evil?" ("Euthydemus," 281). "The business of the founders of the state will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which has been already declared by us to be the greatest of all-they must continue to rise until they arrive at the good" ("Republic," vii., 519). Plato represents sin as the dominance of the lower impulses of the soul, which is opposed to nature and to God (see "Laws," ix., 863. "Republic," i., 351). Or again, as an inward want of harmony. "May we not regard every living being as a puppet of the gods, either their plaything only or created with a purpose-which of the two we cannot certainly know? But this we know, that these affections in us are like cords and strings which pull us different and opposite ways, and to opposite actions; and herein lies the difference between virtue and vice" ("Laws," i., 644). He traces most sins to the influence of the body on the soul. "In this present life, I reckon that we make the nearest approach to knowledge when we have the least possible communion or fellowship with the body, and are not infected with the bodily nature, but remain pure until the hour when God himself is pleased to release us. And then the foolishness of the body will be cleared away, and we shall be pure, and hold converse with other pure souls, and know of ourselves the clear light everywhere, which is no other than the light of truth" ("Phedo," 67).

We find in the classical writers, however, the occasional sense of the universal faultiness of mankind, though even Plato furnishes scarcely any traces of accepting the doctrine of innate depravity. Thus Theognis: "The sun beholds no wholly good and virtuous man among those who are now living" (615). "But having become good, to remain in a good state and be good, is not possible, and is not granted to man. God only has this blessing; but man cannot help being bad when the force of circumstances overpowers him" (Plato, "Protagoras," 344). " How, then: is it possible to be sinless? It is impossible; but this is possible, to strive not to sin" ("Epictetus," iv., 12, 19).

We deceive ourselves (??????? ????????)

Lit., we lead ourselves astray. See on Mark 7:24; see on Matthew 27:63, 64; see on Jude 13. Not only do we err, we are responsible for it. The phrase only here in the New Testament. For the verb as applied to deceivers of various kinds, see Matthew 24:4; Revelation 2:20; 13:14; 19:20; 12:9; 20:3. Compare ?????? deceivers (2 John 7); ????? error (Jude 11; 1 John 4:6).

The truth

The whole Gospel. All reality is in God. He is the only true God (???????? John 17:3; see on John 1:9). This reality is incarnated in Christ, the Word of God, "the very image of His substance," and in His message to men. This message is the truth, a title not found in the Synoptists, Acts, or Revelation, but in the Catholic Epistles (James 5:19; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 2:2), and in Paul (2 Corinthians 8:8; Ephesians 1:13, etc.). It is especially characteristic of the Gospel and Epistles of John. The truth is represented by John objectively and subjectively.

1. Objectively. In the person of Christ. He is the Truth, the perfect revelation of God (John 1:18; 14:6). His manhood is true to the absolute law of right, which is the law of love, and is, therefore, our perfect pattern of manhood.

Truth, absolutely existing in and identified with God, was also, in some measure, diffused in the world. The Word was in the world, before as after the incarnation (John 1:10. See on John 1:4, 5). Christ often treats the truth as something to which He came to bear witness, and which it was His mission to develop into clearer recognition and expression (John 18:37). This He did through the embodiment of truth in His own person (John 1:14, 17; 14:6), and by His teaching (John 8:40; 17:17); and His work is carried out by the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13), sent by God and by Christ himself (John 14:26; 16:7). Hence the Spirit, even as Christ, is the Truth (1 John 5:6). The whole sum of the knowledge of Christ and of the Spirit, is the Truth (1 John 2:21; 2 John 1). This truth can be recognized, apprehended, and appropriated by man, and can be also rejected by him (John 8:32; 1 John 2:21; John 8:44).

2. Subjectively. The truth is lodged in man by the Spirit, and communicated to his spirit (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). It dwells in man (1 John 1:8; 2:4; 2 John 2), as revelation, comfort, guidance, enlightenment, conviction, impulse, inspiration, knowledge. It is the spirit of truth as opposed to the spirit of error (1 John 4:6). It translates itself into act. God's true children do the truth (John 3:21; 1 John 1:6). It brings sanctification and freedom (John 8:32; 17:17). See on John 14:6, 17.

1 John 1:9

Confess (??????????)

From ????, one and the same, and ????, to say. Hence, primarily, to say the same thing as another, and, therefore, to admit the truth of an accusation. Compare Psalms 51:4. The exact phrase, ????????? ??? ???????? confess the sins, does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. Compare ?????????????? ???????? (???????????) Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:5; James 5:16. See on Matthew 3:6; see on 11:25; see on Luke 22:6; see on Acts 19:18; see on James 5:16.


Note the plural, as compared with the singular, sin, in the previous verse. See note. The plural indicates that the confession is to be specific as well as general. Augustine's words are exactly to the point, but his play upon pardon and confess cannot be reproduced in English. "Vis ut ille ignoscat? Tu agnosce." Do you wish Him to forgive? Do you confess.

Faithful (??????)

True to His own nature and promises; keeping faith with Himself and with man. The word is applied to God as fulfilling His own promises (Hebrews 10:23; 11:11); as fulfilling the purpose for which He has called men (1 Thessalonians 5:24; 1 Corinthians 1:9); as responding with guardianship to the trust reposed in Him by men (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 4:19). "He abideth faithful. He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:13). The same term is applied to Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 3:2; 2:17). God's faithfulness is here spoken of not only as essential to His own being, but as faithfulness toward us; "fidelity to that nature of truth and light, related to His own essence, which rules in us as far as we confess our sins" (Ebrard). The essence of the message of life is fellowship with God and with His children (v. 3). God is light (v. 5). Walking in the light we have fellowship, and the blood of Jesus is constantly applied to cleanse us from sin, which is darkness and which interrupts fellowship. If we walk in darkness we do not the truth. If we deny our sin the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, "God, by whom we were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful" (1 Corinthians 1:9) to forgive our sins, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and thus to restore and maintain the interrupted fellowship.

Just (???????)

Rev., righteous. From ???? right. The term is applied both to God and to Christ. See Revelation 16:5; John 17:25; 1 John 2:1; 3:7; 1 Peter 3:18. The two words, faithful and righteous, imply each other. They unite in a true conception of God's character. God, who is absolute rightness, must be faithful to His own nature, and His righteous dealing with men who partake of that nature and walk in fellowship with Him, is simply fidelity to Himself. "Righteousness is truth passing into action" (Westcott).

To forgive (??? ???)

See John 20:23; 1 John 2:12. Primarily the word means to send away, dismiss; hence of sins, to remit, as a debt. Cleansing (v. 7) contemplates the personal character of the sinner; remission, his acts. See on Matthew 6:12; see on James 5:15. To forgive is, literally, that he may forgive. On John's use of ??? in order that, see on John 15:13; see on 14:31. Forgiveness answers to the essential purpose of His faithful and righteous being.

Our sins (??? ????????)

Sin is defined by John as ??????, lawlessness. Compare Romans 6:19. A.V., transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). It may be regarded either as condition or as act; either with reference to the normal, divine ideal of manhood, or to an external law imposed upon man by God. Any departure from the normal ideal of man as created in God's image puts man out of true relation and harmony with his true self, and therefore with God and with his fellowman. He thus comes into false, abnormal relation with right, love, truth, and light. He walks in darkness and forfeits fellowship with God. Lawlessness is darkness, lovelessness, selfishness. This false principle takes shape in act. He doeth (?????) or committeth sin. He doeth lawlessness (??? ??????? ?????; 1 John 3:4, 8). He transgresses the words (??????, John 17:8) of God, and His commandments (???????, 1 John 2:3) as included and expressed in His one word or message (?????, 1 John 2:7, 14). Similarly the verb ??????????, to sin, may signify either to be sinful (1 John 3:6), or to commit sin (1 John 1:10). Sin, regarded both as principle and act, is designated by John by the term ???????. The principle expressed in the specific acts is ? ??????? (John 1:29), which occurs in this sense in Paul, but not in the Synoptists, nor in Acts. Many of the terms used for sin by other New Testament writers are wanting in John; as ??????? ungodliness (see on Jude 14); ??????? to be ungodly (2 Peter 2:6); ??????????? to transgress; ????????? transgression; ????????? transgressor (see on Matthew 6:14; see on James 2:11); ?????????? to act contrary to the law; ????????? breach of law (see on Acts 23:3; see on 2 Peter 2:16); ????????? trespass (see on Matthew 6:14).

To cleanse

See on v. 7.

Unrighteousness (???????)

With reference to ??????? righteous. The righteous One who calls us into fellowship with Himself, purges away the unrighteousness which is contrary to His nature, and which renders fellowship impossible. The word occurs in John's writings only at John 7:18; 1 John 5:17.

1 John 1:10

We have not sinned (??? ???????????)

Committed sins. Sin regarded as an act. The state is expressed by ???????? ??? ?????? we have no (or not) sin (v. 8).

We make Him (???????? ?????)

A phrase characteristic of John. See John 5:18; 8:53; 10:33; 19:7, 12.

His word (? ????? ?????)

Not the personal Word, as John 1:1, but the divine message of the Gospel. See Luke 5:1; 8:11; Acts 4:31; 6:2, 7, etc. Compare "the truth is not in us" (v. 8). The truth is the substance of the word. The word carries the truth. The word both moves the man (John 8:31, 32) and abides in him (John 5:38; 8:37). The man also abides in the word (John 8:31).

Word Pictures in the New Testament - 1 John 1:6-10

I John 1:6

If we say (??? ??????? [ean eip?men]). Condition of third class with ??? [ean] and second aorist (ingressive, up and say) active subjunctive. Claiming fellowship with God (see verse 3) involves walking in the light with God (verse 5) and not in the darkness (?????? [skotos] here, but ?????? [skotia] in John 1:5). See 2:11 also for ?? ?? ?????? ????????? [en t?i skoti?i peripate?]. We lie (????????? [pseudometha]). Present middle indicative, plain Greek and plain English like that about the devil in John 8:44. Do not the truth (?? ???????? ??? ???????? [ou poioumen t?n al?theian]). Negative statement of the positive ????????? [pseudometha] as in John 8:44. See John 3:21 for "doing the truth," like Neh. 9:33.

I John 1:7

If we walk (??? ??????????? [ean peripat?men]). Condition of third class also with ??? [ean] and present active subjunctive (keep on walking in the light with God). As he (?? ????? [h?s autos]). As God is light (verse 5) and dwells in light unapproachable (I Tim. 6:16). One with another (???? ??????? [met‚ all?l?n]). As he has already said in verse 3. But we cannot have fellowship with one another unless we have it with God in Christ, and to do that we must walk in the light with God.

And the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin (??? ?? ???? ????? ??? ???? ????? ????????? ???? ??? ????? ???????? [kai to haima I?sou tou huiou autou katharizei h?m?s apo p?s?s hamartias]). This clause with ??? [kai] in true Johannine style is coordinate with the preceding one. Walking in the light with God makes possible fellowship with one another and is made possible also by the blood of Jesus (real blood and no mere phantom, atoning blood of the sinless Son of God for our sins). John is not ashamed to use this word. It is not the mere "example" of Jesus that "cleanses" us from sin. It does cleanse the conscience and life and nothing else does (Heb. 9:13; Tit. 2:14). See in verse 9 both forgiveness and cleansing. Cf. I John 3:3.

I John 1:8

If we say (??? ??????? [ean eip?men]). See verse 6. We have no sin (???????? ??? ?????? [hamartian ouk echomen]). For this phrase see John 9:41; 15:22, 24. That is, we have no personal guilt, no principle of sin. This some of the Gnostics held, since matter was evil and the soul was not contaminated by the sinful flesh, a thin delusion with which so-called Christian scientists delude themselves today.

We deceive ourselves (??????? ???????? [heautous plan?men]). Present active indicative of ?????? [plana?], to lead astray. We do not deceive others who know us. Negative statement again of the same idea, "the truth is not in us."

I John 1:9

If we confess (??? ?????????? [ean homolog?men]). Third-class condition again with ??? [ean] and present active subjunctive of ???????? [homologe?], "if we keep on confessing." Confession of sin to God and to one another (James 5:16) is urged throughout the N.T. from John the Baptist (Mark 1:5) on. Faithful (?????? [pistos]). Jesus made confession of sin necessary to forgiveness. It is God's promise and He is "righteous" (??????? [dikaios]). To forgive (??? ??? [hina aph?i]). Sub-final clause with ??? [hina] and second aorist active subjunctive of ?????? [aphi?mi]. And to cleanse (??? ?????? [kai hagias?i]). So again with ??? [hina] and the first aorist active subjunctive of ???????? [kathariz?] (verse 7).

I John 1:10

If we say (??? ??????? [ean eip?men]). As in verses 6, 8. We have not sinned (??? ??????????? [ouch hamart?kamen]). Perfect active indicative of ???????? [hamartan?]. This is a denial of any specific acts of sin, while in verse 8 we have the denial of the principle of sin. David Smith observes that the claim to personal perfectionism has two causes, one the stifling of conscience in making God a liar (??????? [pseust?n], the word used of the devil by Jesus in John 8:44), and the other ignorance of God's word, which is not in us, else we should not make such a claim.

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