What We Say About Our Sin

1 John 1:8-10

The problem of guilt – begins early, two unseen people join family. You’ve heard of them, especially when something has happened, ask question: “who did it?” Favorite response: Not Me or Ida Know. I’ve never met either face-to-face, apparently many others have. Incredibly well-traveled and busy people, credited with doing all sorts of things, even what seems impossible. Are so popular because mankind has extremely hard time acknowledging guilt. By ourselves, have no way to deal with it so have to deny it or shift blame to someone else (Not Me or Ida Know).

Even deeper issue/problem though. Guilt means committing an offense, breaking a law. That implies a lawgiver, and natural man really doesn’t want to go there. At least not in ultimate sense, when it means reckoning with God. Tendency and desire to avoid guilt doesn’t magically disappear at conversion either. Being “elder statesman”, seasoned pastor, John understood people, recognized what he’d said through v.7 could lead to misinterpretation. Labored hard in his writing to ensure that wouldn’t happen.

Established in introductory sermon: apostle John who wrote epistle; immediate audience was (in our language) born-again Christians, those “who believe in the name of the Son of God”. (1 John 5:13) Perhaps, like any church family, a mixed group, but primary target was true converts. Important also to establish who is “we” (76x) and “us” (50x):

those who heard/saw/touched Christ (1:1)
who bear witness of Christ and declare to others (1:2)
who have fellowship with God, Father and Son (1:3c)
by extension, those in audience who have fellowship with them, all of the above (1:3b)

A. say we have no sin v.8

statement at end of v.7 does not mean we are free of indwelling sin, sinful tendencies

means there is hope, John refers to it again in v.9

“There is no stain made by sin so deep that the blood of Christ cannot take it entirely away from the soul.” Barnes

we do have a nature that is being renewed, but live in body still corrupted by sin

a work in process, completed at death/resurrection

he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:6

that already / not yet aspect of Christian life again: already saved, being sanctified, not fully complete until 2nd Coming

to deny presence of indwelling sin is to

practice self-deception – refusal to acknowledge a present reality

remember, this from man who had been “walking with the Lord” for at least 3 decades! Sin still an issue for him

deny what we know to be true

you live with you, what do you know to be true of your own life, especially parts only God can see

what John describes is really impossible for believer: truth must be in us and we know it (1 John 2:21)

to reach this conclusion (being without sin) means

do not have biblical view of

nature of man – made in God’s image, born in sin, sinners by nature and action

process of salvation – ordo salutis (Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Pet. 1:2)

effectual call – accompanies general call of Gospel, distinguishes responders from non-responders
regeneration – once-for-all action of birthing; no partial-birth abortions in God’s maternity ward
justification – once-for-all declaration of “not guilty”; but,…
simul iustis et peccator
sanctification – process of accomplishing predestination, conforming us to image of Christ, moving us toward perfection
glorification – ultimate goal, total freedom in soul
and body from any trace of sin

B. say we have not sinned v.10

statement at end of v.7 does not mean we are free of committed sin, sinful actions

not just propensity, tendency, temptation to sin we deal with – have to face the real thing

even a handful of brain cells connected and functioning remind us:

not just sinful, we are sinners

saved by grace, adopted children in God’s family, having an inheritance in heaven, sinners

John doesn’t say it this bluntly to make discouraged, depressed, hopeless; quite the opposite

he’s talking about real-life experience of those really born again

look back v.7: walk in the light, don’t do that, can’t seem to do that for very long; must mean we’re not saved

point is: can’t deny sin to make foundation for assurance of salvation; must deal with it biblically

we do indeed have a will enabled to do what is spiritually good, but…

do not perfectly or exclusively will what is good

speak, think, act in way that pleases God some (perhaps even most) of the time but not all the time

because we inhabit sin-corrupted bodies, sin comes out at times in spite of best efforts

should happen less as time passes, but never completely free from it

results in life-long, at times intense struggle – see Rom. 7:14-25

to deny presence of sinful acts, even after regeneration, is to

make God a liar

none is righteous, no not one (Rom. 3:10) all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)

not even Abraham was righteous; “faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” (Rom 4:9)

repudiate truth of his word

what John describes is really impossible for believer: word must be in us in order to know the truth

Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

true believer when confronted with plain teaching of Scripture will submit to its authority as word of God

to reach this conclusion means

do not have biblical view of

nature of sin

couple ways to get there:

minimize the infraction – not serious enough to count as sin, especially against God; not a big deal

monkey with the Bible – may be what it says but isn’t what it means; applied back then but not now

man’s responsibility

man as composite being of body and soul is accountable for all of his actions

can’t say “my soul is cool, it’s just my flesh acting up and that’s not important”

Savior’s name reminds us of this: “call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21)

last thing we should want to do is needlessly add to burden of our sin he bore in his own body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24)

so what is proper attitude/response of genuine Christian to sin? It’s not denying we have sin problem, John has made that abundantly clear. Also makes it plain repentance and confession are normal part of Christian life for the duration.

C. say the same as God about sin v.9

confession does not mean “telling on yourself to God”

can tell him what you did, still have wrong attitude about it

besides, God already knows what you did; simply informing him of it serves no good purpose

confession follows repentance

μετάνοια – change of mind or heart

no longer think it’s ok, it’s minor, it’s desirable and we deserve it, we can get away with it, God will overlook it

do think it’s wrong, sinful; do turn away from pursuing or practicing it

confession does mean “to agree with God”

ὁμολογέω – “say the same thing as” God does about our sin

agree with him that we either broke his law or failed to keep his law; either way, we’re guilty

stems from biblical understanding of sin

what it is

WSC A14 Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

not loving God with all heart, soul, mind, strength or loving someone/thing in his place

loving self more than neighbor or not loving neighbor at all

who is offended

all sin is against God – he’s the lawgiver, his law that has been violated

sin may be against someone else in addition to God

David recognized sin against Bathsheba and Uriah ultimately sin against God (Psalm 51:4)

and from biblical understanding of God

what His character is like – faithful and righteous to forgive

when Christ waged war on sin, didn’t end in a truce like Korean War (still at war, just not presently fighting it)

Christ’s war ended in victory – penalty for sins of his people paid in full, completely satisfying demands of God’s justice

God keeps his promises, always does what is right and just

how he demonstrates it

by keeping promise to forgive those who trust in Christ when they confess

means those who trust in Christ can confess confident there’s no sucker punch waiting

we can be certain God will do as he promised

by granting forgiveness and restoration on basis of Christ’s accomplished work

sin wasn’t just swept under rug, laid in full on Christ

he was condemned and punished so that those who trust in him would not be

no condemnation, no wrath for sin hanging over believers – would be unjust, unrighteous for God to do that

results in


covers over our sin with blood of Christ, remembers it against us no more

will not bring it up again, wave it in our face, keep count of how many times it’s happened


purifying from sin’s defilement

removes hindrance to fellowship – means we can come close to God in worship, in communion/fellowship with him, have keen sense of his presence

justification and sanctification

Yes, we’ve been forgiven. Yes, we still need forgiveness, daily. Yes, we’re in constant battle against sin. However, no longer under mastery of sin, do not need to be dominated by it. Should see regular progress in holiness, pressed further and deeper into mold of Lord Jesus each day.

No thanks to our genius or our goodness. All thanks to Christ Jesus, his blood that saves us from wrath of God and purifies us. Seek his forgiveness, experience his cleansing, walk more closely with him in the light, claiming nothing for yourself and depending on him for your every need.


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