If We Say We Have
1 John 1:5-6 ESV
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
God is light. He is truth. He is righteousness. He is holy, pure, good, virtuous, sinless, just, kind, loving, and forgiving, but he does not placate sin. He does not wink at sin. And he doesn’t look the other way when we sin against him, nor does his grace give us the freedom to continue living in sin without guilt and without punishment.
So, if we claim to be in Christ, by faith in him, and we claim we are in intimate relationship with him, and that we are in fellowship with him, but we continue in willful, defiant, deliberate, habitual, and premeditated sin against him, as a matter of practice, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But many people today are teaching a gospel which tells people that a mere confession or profession of him as Savior is enough to secure them heaven when they die but that they don’t have to submit to Christ as Lord or obey his commandments or leave their lifestyles of sin behind them.
But the Scriptures teach the opposite of that. The Scriptures teach that we must die with Christ to sin, not just once, but daily, as a matter of practice, and that we must follow our Lord in obedience to his commands or we don’t have eternal life with God (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 2:3-6).
But if We Walk
1 John 1:7 ESV
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Notice with me that we are being taught here a progressive salvation, not a one-time and you are in, and you can never be out salvation. We must walk in the light as Jesus/God is in the light. Righteousness must be what we practice. Sin cannot be what we practice. A walk is something that happens daily, not just once. It is how we conduct our lives day in, and day out.
For, Paul taught that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For, if we set our minds on the flesh, that ends in death, but if we set our minds on the Spirit, that results in life and peace with God. For, if we live according to the flesh we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (Rom 8:1-17; cf. Rom 6:1-23).
For, when we believe in Jesus with genuine God-given faith, we are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns, and our salvation will then be complete. But it won’t be complete if we don’t stay the course, and if we don’t obey our Lord but if we continue walking in sin (Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Col 1:21-23; Jn 15:1-12).
If We Confess
1 John 1:8-10 ESV
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
We can’t read 1 John 1:9 about confessing our sins apart from this whole section of 1 John 1, or apart from 1 John as a whole, or apart from the New Testament as a whole. For, the Scriptures do not teach that a mere acknowledgment of sin or a verbal confession of sin is what is required for God to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
For, we just read that if we say we have fellowship with God, but if we walk (in conduct, in practice) in darkness (sin) that we are liars. And we just read that we must walk in the light, which means we live holy lives, pleasing to God, and we leave our sinful practices behind us, and we follow our Lord in obedience, and then the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
So, confession of sin is not a mere admittance that one has sinned, for there are many people who confess, sin, confess, sin, confess, sin, but they never change. They keep doing the same sins over and over and confessing them verbally, but they don’t turn away from them to follow the Lord in obedience.
So, confession has to fit with this context, and confession needs to be understood to mean that we are agreeing with God about our sin. And agreeing with God, again, is not a mere acknowledgment of sin, for if we agree with God, we not only call sin what it is, but we turn away from it to follow the Lord in obedience to his ways.
Also, there are many ways to say we have no sin. We can refuse to admit that what we did is sin, or we call it something less, like “I messed up,” instead of “I committed sin against God and against you.” Or we blame someone else for our sins or we minimize them to something much less than what they really are.
For example, if you are addicted to (enslaved to) sin, and you minimize that addiction to just one aspect of that sin, that is not owning up to the magnitude of the sin and calling it what it is. For, if you minimize it, then you end up not dealing with the sin, as a whole, and therefore you don’t really get victory over your sin.
For those who are addicted to sin, the problem isn’t just the acting out of a particular aspect of the sin, but it is the whole cycle surrounding the sin that is also the sin problem. It is the excusing away of the sin, and the blaming of others for your sin, and it is the attacking of those trying to help you out of your sin, and it is the lying to cover up your sin which are all sin.
So, if we are going to get victory over sin, we have to agree with God about the whole area of sin, such as the pride, idolatry, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, blaming of others, attacking those trying to help us, lying to others about our sin, being a hypocrite, putting on a show of righteousness, and the continual act of excusing away and minimizing the sin.
So, we have to be fully honest about the whole thing, and we have to surrender our hearts to Jesus, and we have to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return, for this is what God’s grace trains us to do. And we have to not make sin our practice, or we won’t be forgiven our sins.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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