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If We Say We Have Not Sinned

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If We Say We Have Not Sinned

Sunday, January 20, 2008

“If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:10

1.In the past few weeks we have seen that the fall lied to us in the matter of sin. It lied about its cost, its power, its payment required and most of all it lied about its very own existence. The second false teaching in which John denies - that sin has been eradicated in the true believers is the claim that we are “without sin” (v. 8) and has now progressed into a third false claim. The one who has said he is “without sin” is now saying he “has never sinned.”

2.There is a change of tense, from the present (“to be,” v. 8) to the aorist (“have not sinned,” v. 10). This is a denial of any specific acts of sin, while in verse 8 we have the denial of the principle of sin. The observation is that the claim to personal perfectionism has two causes, one the stifling of conscience in making God a liar (ψευστην [pseustēn], 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.

3.This third false claim is the most serious of all. It is the claim, that not only are we not sinning now, but that we have never sinned. This is so blatant an affirmation in view of the evidences of sin that all men have in themselves that John drops the idea of deception and returns to the thought of lying once again.

4.But now even this is strengthened. For John says not that the man himself lies, although this is true, but that he makes God out to be a liar; for God has declared that all are sinners and in need of his grace.

“The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:2-3)

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;” (Isa 53:6a)

“For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:9-12)

“If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46a)

“God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 53:2-3)

5.Who is right? The man who denies the reality of sin in general and in himself in particular, or God, who declares that all have sinned? There is only one answer. “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).

6.“If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Some have the audacity to make this third claim—that, even if they did have a sinful nature, they had never actually sinned! This is a lie that ignores one basic truth: all people are sinners by nature and by practice. This verse parallels 1:8, except that here the focus is on the actual acts of sin emanating from the sinful nature.

7.The application of this section must be to each man or woman individually. John has contrasted the nature of God (“God is light”) with the nature of man; and he has begun to show the characteristics of those who walk in the light as opposed to those who walk in darkness. It is not enough that a man should claim to be in the light. He must actually walk in it. He must be a child of the light.

8.What will be true of the individual if God is actually the light of his life? Obviously, the light of God will be doing for him what light does. It will be exposing the darkness so that the dark places are increasingly cleansed of sin and become bright and fruitful places for God’s blessing. This does not mean that the individual will become increasingly conscious of how good he or she is becoming.

9.On the contrary, a growth in holiness will mean a growth in a true sensitivity to sin in one’s life and an intense desire to eliminate from life all that displeases God. Instead of boasting in his progress, the person will be increasingly ready to acknowledge sin and seek to have it eliminated.

10.If God’s light is really shining on us, we will rather say, as did Isaiah, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!” (Isa. 6:5); or with Peter, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8); or with Paul, “I am the worst [of sinners]” (1 Tim. 1:15).

11.This claim went beyond telling a lie (1:6) or merely fooling themselves (1:8); this claim was calling God a liar. God says that all have sinned—otherwise he would not have needed to send his Son. To claim sinlessness treats the Cross with contempt and Christ’s suffering as worthless. To do this, said John, shows that God’s word has no place in our hearts.

12.Today, let us recognize the truth of sin in our lives. Both by nature and by practice we have sinned and continue to sin. If you are a believer you have been forgiven and will enter into heaven someday but remember that you are not perfect yet. If you have not repented of your sins and trusted Christ by faith then you will have to pay for your own sins someday with eternal punishment in the lake of fire. - Don’t delay, repent and believe!

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