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1 John 1:1-4 New England Series
1 John 1:5-7 New England series
1 John 1:8-10 New England series
1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:3-6
1 John 2:7-11
1 John 2:12-17
1 John 2:18-27
1 John 3:1-9 1John 3: 10-23
1 John 3:24 to 4:6
1 John 4:7-16
1st John 4:17-21
1st John 5:4-13 1st John 5:14-15
  1 John 5:16-17   1 John 5:18-21  
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1st John 1:8-10


“If we say that 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 that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1st John 1:8-10, KJV).


“You may remember the parable Jesus shared in Luke chapter 18, that parable of the Pharisee, this religious leader, and also the tax collector who came to the temple one day to pray.  Of course it’s a parable, it’s a story to give a picture of a truth to us.  As you remember as Jesus shared the parable, this religious leader, this Pharisee, this man who trusted in himself, trusted in his religious works, that he believed he was in a righteous standing with God, but also that he was better than other men.  He prayed, as noted in Luke chapter 18 verse 11, “God I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”  So this man prayed in that way this religious prayer, ‘I thank God I’m not like other men.’  Well, the tax collector on the other hand, as Jesus went on, this honest man, standing afar off head bowed to heaven, even beating his chest in humility and humble conviction prayed “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”  So according to Jesus in the parable, as you may remember, who’s prayer was then answered?  Who went home justified, who went home in good standing with the Lord?  Well Jesus said the tax collector did, as you remember from the parable.  Now this parable is a great place to start as we look now at 1st John chapter 1, good place to start as we pick up where we left off.  As you may remember last week in the previous verses of our text, John was placing great importance on the need for us to be honest, the need for honesty.  That is honesty with ourselves, honesty before others, but especially honesty before God.  So vital.  As John shared and wrote in verse 6 of chapter 1, ‘If we say that we have close communion, if we say that we have fellowship with God, but yet we walk, we live in darkness—we walk contrary to the ways of God—he said, if we say that and we live that way, he said we lie—exact words—we lie.’  We may profess one thing, but the reality is, because of our lives, the way that we live, we are not being honest.  For God, he said, is light, and in him is no darkness.  Therefore I cannot be living in darkness and expect to be close to God.  So though I declare, I declare that I am near to God, my lifestyle proves otherwise, I’m not what I say, I am lying, I am being dishonest.  So this emphasis, this focus on honesty. 

          This week as we continue in chapter 1, John will repeat this phrase, “If we say”.  Remember we highlighted that last week, “If we say.”  It’s repeated a number of times.  Then on into chapter 2, it’s “he who says”, this thought of profession and things that we speak.  John will continue to focus more attention on this area of honesty.  And especially in these verses that we’re going to look at, honesty about the sin in our lives.  Are we like the humble tax collector, agreeing with God about our sin, about our true condition?  Or are we like the prideful Pharisee, full of pious words about ourselves, words that are not true?  So let’s look together at verse 8.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  Now the word sin, we see it here.  That’s a word maybe makes someone uncomfortable on Mother’s day, not a typical Mother’s Day message, talking about sin.  But certainly a message that’s so vital for us.  A great one to be looking at today.  The word sin appears here in this verse.  It appears in one form or another seven times in this verse and the following four verses.  So sin is where the flashlight is going here, the flashlight of the Holy Spirit as we look at these verses.  Certainly it’s a key-word in this text, so it tells us a lot about the emphasis of the passage.  But as I’ve already noted, not only is the subject of sin central to the flow of this passage, but as we see here in verse 8, what is especially important is how we view the sin in our lives, and what we say about the sin in our lives.  And furthermore, as we look at the next verse in a moment, and then later in chapter 2 next week, we will see what’s even more important and vitally important, is what we then do about the sin in our lives.  Now picking up with the outline that we had last week, you remember we got to two points of our outline.  We’ve got three more points to look at this week.  Simple outline just to lay out the end of chapter 1.  Our first point, beginning in verse 5 was “What John says.”  You remember, he says “This message we’ve heard from him we declare.”  So what John says, he is declaring a message to us that he heard directly from Jesus himself.  And this message in verse 4, when internalized, he says will result in us experiencing the fullness of joy.  Then our second point last week, as you remember verses 6 and 7, was “What our life says”—what we say is important, but what is even more important is what we do.  And does our profession, John was making this point, does our profession about our relationship with God match up with the way that we live?  Now we come to our third point in verse 8, and that is “What someone deceived says.” 


What someone deceived says


Now what does John write that someone who is deceived about their sin, what do they say?—what will they say?  Well he says here, they will say “I have no sin”.  That is somebody who is deceived, he says, “I have no sin.”  John writes that those who say such things are deceived and clearly the truth is not in them.  Now here in this verse when John refers to sin, what exactly is he referring to?  What is exactly does he mean?  Again, the Greek is so exact we can learn a lot about the text by looking at the Greek. The word sin here you can also see is in the singular.  In the next verse, as you see, when he says “sins”, here refers to it in the plural, and that tells you a little about the meaning of sin here in verse 8.  When he says the word “sin” here he is referring to the nature of sin, he is referring to the principle of sin rather than the acts of sin, the individual acts.  So the statement here is the statement of someone who denies that they are a sinner.  Basically someone saying “I’m not a sinner” or “I do not have a sin nature”, somebody who believes they are completely without sin, and that they don’t even have the sin nature.  Again, you recall as we started a couple weeks ago in 1st John, John writes with the purpose, one of the reasons is to refute Gnosticism.  And Gnostic teaching is this teaching that was at the time working its way into the church, and it was this teaching that said that ‘all matter is evil, and what is of the spirit is good, so therefore if I’m a spiritual man, I’m without sin because I’m spiritual, so there’s no sin in my spirit.’  And he’s writing to refute this heresy that was working its way into the church.  Now, of course that was the understanding with Gnosticism, but today in our modern world there’s certainly people around, maybe even some present this morning that would say that “I’m not a sinner”, “I am without sin.”  Of course there are people that believe that today, and believe that ‘maybe I’ve got, I’m not a perfect person, but without Christ in my life, I’m still on good standing with the Lord, I’m still on good standing with God.’   Obviously, that is not consistent with what David believed.  David in Acts chapter 13, in verse 22, he’s described as a man after God’s own heart, and then in Psalm 51 verse 5 he says that he was born into sin.  I’ll just quote to you Psalm 51, verse 5.  “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”  David believed from the very day he got started he had a sin problem, he had a sin nature.  The day he entered this world he was a sinner.  Now this truth of David is consistent with the truth of the Scriptures, but certainly it runs against the notion of what many believe in our society today, and that is ‘Man is inherently good.’  Such an understanding is foundational to psychology, course, and has permeated our society and permeated our world and is so pervasive in our culture, this belief that man is inherently good and therefore there’s no sin in man.  [Just take an honest look around you, read the newspapers, you’ll see the truth.  The entire history of man, all six thousand years of recorded history is one long line of bloody wars, rape, pillaging—a record of man’s inhumanity and cruelty to man.  Tell me that ain’t an evil nature.  As man’s technology increases, so do the evils, and deadliness of his war machines.]  I’ll quote to you from O. Hobert Moer, I believe is how you say his name, a famed researcher in the field of psychology, who before 7,000 psychologists in an annual convention in Cincinnati, he declared “We psychologists have largely followed the Freudian doctrine that human beings are too good.  The patient has within him impulses, especially those of lust and hostility, which he has been unnecessarily inhibiting.  And health, we tell them, lies in recognizing and expressing these impulses.”  That’s interesting.  “As a result, we have largely abandoned belief in ‘right and wrong, virtue and sin.’”  So he says to these 7,000 psychologists at this convention ‘We have abandoned this thought of sin.’  So if John were alive today and he was at that convention, what would he say?  He would say to Moer and to the others that would adhere to that belief, this Freudian doctrine, he would say “You are deceived.”  That’s what he would say, “You are deceived.”  “For if we say we have no sin”—that is, the sin nature, a nature that is corrupted and stained by sin—“we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  So just imagine though, that type teaching, that man is inherently good, that type of teaching that Moer says ‘That health for man lies in expressing his lustful and hostile impulses, that’s good for man.’  Those impulses, he says, doesn’t call them sin, but he says ‘those impulses of hostility and lust, it is good for us, it is healthy for us to explore that and to express that.’  No wonder we see what we do on our television sets, you know, if that is an understanding that has worked its way through our culture.  [That “understanding” has fostered and fueled child pornography, which has resulted in the rape and deaths of thousands of innocent children in this nation of ours, and in the world as well.  That’s one of the fruits of Freudian psychology.]  Now there are some psychologists and psychiatrists, who, looking at our culture, considering Freudian teaching, have said “We need to bring back the understanding of sin into our society.  One such person, such psychiatrist is Dr. Carl Meninger.  This famous psychiatrist evidently is distressed that modern society tries to figure out its problems and to talk about morality without ever mentioning the word “sin”.  He is convinced the only way raise the moral tone of the present civilization and deal with depression and worries that plague so many people is that we revive the understanding of what sin is.  That with all of that, it seems that a study of 1st John chapter 1, verse 8 would be healthy medicine for our society. John says that if we say that we have no sin, something that’s pervasive in psychology, “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  But to say that you are without sin is also to declare that you are without a savior, and without eternal salvation.  Because Jesus came into this world to save sinners.  And if I say that I am without sin, then I’ve got a problem.  [Jesus in his own words said he came to save the sick, not the healthy, and when you meditate on that saying of his, you come to see it meant that he came to save those who know they have a problem, that he can’t save those who think they are well.  This very world is being allowed in these end-times to crash down so low into moral depravity that Jesus said it would be as the very days of Noah before he returns.  That is so all mankind can be brought to the knowledge that they and this world are sick and in need of a savior, and that savior is Jesus Christ.]    Because God came to save sinners.  And that is to save only those like this humble tax collector in the parable, who come to him with an honest and repentive heart over their sins.  Because to say that I am without sin, not only does it deceive myself, but it also says that I am without a savior and that I am without salvation.  [It also, even worse, is saying that “I don’t need a savior”, and Jesus won’t help those who say they don’t need him.]  I’ll quote to you Charles Spurgeon, “God only acts according to the truth.  He will meet us as sinners, for that is our true character.  But if we claim to be innocent, he cannot admit that falsehood and will not commune with us.”  So, if we say that we are sinners, man it is contrary to our character.  But as he says, if we claim that we are innocent, it is to deceive ourselves, it is falsehood.  And God cannot commune with us.  So to say you’re not a sinner, if that’s you here this morning, you say “I’m not a sinner, I don’t believe I’m a sinner, I don’t like to hear that stuff”, there are people that want that ‘out’, they say ‘that’s archaic, let’s get that out of our culture’, but understand, if you say that you’re not a sinner, you’re also declaring “I’m without a savior”, you are without Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ is a savior.  He came to save sinners from their sin.  I read about Eddy Martin speaking with a lady during a meeting in Bluefield, West Virginia.  After this meeting where he shared an evangelistic message, a well dressed woman came to him to speak to him after the service to receive salvation.  He had given an invitation to people to receive Christ as their savior, and she came forward.  And this is what he talks about, writes about his little discussion with her.  I took her hand and prepared to give her a prayer to repeat after me.  The prayer I usually give is “Dear Lord, I know that I am a no-good sinner, I know I can’t save myself, I do need forgiveness for my awful sins, I can’t do without you Jesus.  Please forgive me for my many sins.  I here now receive you into my heart as personal savior.  I’ll try to live for you from this night on.  I pray my prayer in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”  He says thousands of people seeking to be saved have prayed this prayer with me.  I took this woman’s hand and began to give her the prayer to repeat after me.  “Dear Lord, I know I am a no-good sinner…”  She never said a word.  I looked at her and said “Don’t you want to be saved?”  She said “Yes, Eddie.  I do want to be saved, but I am not a sinner.”  “Then you can’t be saved” I said.  “Jesus only died for sinners.”  “But Mr. Martin” she replied, “I am a good sinner.”  [laughter]  “A good sinner?  Lady, there are no good sinners.  You’ll have to take your seat.  God can’t save you until you become conscious that you are a no-good sinner, and need his forgiveness.”  “But Mr. Martin, you really don’t understand, I’m really not a bad sinner.”  I told her to go back and sit down.  She held onto my hand with a vice-like grip.  She finally looked at me in the eyes and said, “Oh, please forgive me.  I know that I am a no-good hell-bound sinner, I am a proud no-good sinner.  I do, I do need Christ to forgive me of my sins.”  “Wonderful.  Now lady, you’re ready to do business with God.”  We prayed together there at the front, thousands of people looking on.  The lady came clean with God, God saved her.  But she never would have been saved if she had not changed her attitude.  None of us are good sinners, we’re all big, bad sinners.”  So, maybe that makes you a little uncomfortable, maybe that kind of makes you a little hot under the collar, but I’m just teaching you and sharing with you what the Bible so clearly declares right here.  This is recorded thousands of years ago.  That is because the apostle John, the apostle of love, the apostle that knew that God loved him infinitely, he writes these very words, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  So, I hope we all understand that this morning.  It’s important to understand that we have a sin nature [called “the flesh” in the Bible.  It is really made up of the spirit in man or spirit of man, as it is called in the Bible.  Satan’s evil wave-length has access to this spirit that gives the human brain of man its intellect, intelligence and thought-processing power.]—something we’re born with.  And therefore we all desperately need the Savior, we need Jesus Christ.  But since John is writing to Christians especially [at the time, Judeo-Christians living in Asia Minor], he’s also essentially refuting the belief that as Christians we can reach a state of sinless perfection.  Years ago, there was a popular teaching that worked its way through the church, and there were Christians who believed that they had become sanctified holy, that they had reached a state of sinless perfection.  Maybe you know somebody like that, even today [they’d have one sin, that of self-righteousness, and so they wouldn’t be sinless!], somebody who says at a certain time in their life, at a certain point in their life they became sanctified, and they stopped sinning and they haven’t sinned since then.  Maybe they’ve not told you that, but maybe they at least act that way, that they don’t sin anymore.  Now, those are Christians that are hard to be around.  We call them holy rollers, we call them “holier than thou” sort of people.  But John is writing to all, including even the church, and those that say we have no sin, no sin nature, no struggle with sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  Personally, I don’t believe that I will ever reach a state of sinless perfection until I get to heaven [or as some believe, until we’re resurrected in the 1st resurrection to immortality, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49-54].  Thus, if some says to me, ‘I don’t sin anymore, I’m sanctified holy’, my response is just to quote this verse here.  “…you are deceive and the truth is not in you.”  My response is to say that.  And I guess if somebody still thinks otherwise, I guess then my response would be “Let’s have coffee with your family, and let’s ask them a few questions—what do they think?  [laughter]  ‘Do they think that you are without sin?’  Sometimes we really can be deceived.  Interesting, the Greek word here for deceived is the present indicative of the Greek word planao, which means literally to wander like a planet.  And it’s true, people get way out there sometimes, out there in other parts of the universe, at least in their minds. 


What someone cleansed says


          Verse 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  And this is why it is so important, verse 8, that we understand that.  You can’t get to verse 9 without verse 8.  So, again, this emphasis about being honest about our sin.  That is where it needs to start, if we’re ever going to find healing in our lives.  This brings us to our fourth point, what someone cleansed says, what someone cleansed says.  What does someone who has been cleansed from their sin, what do they say?  Well here we see they say the same thing that God says about their sin.  The Greek word for confess, if we confess, means to acknowledge in agreement with another.  So when we confess, we are acknowledging, in agreement with God, the Holy Spirit, we are confessing ‘I agreewhat you declare about my sin is true, God—this I’ve done, these things I’ve done are sin, I agree, I confess to you, I also repent in my heart that this is wrong and I chose to turn from my sin.’  So it’s to acknowledge ‘Yes, God, these things that I’ve done are wrong, these things that I’ve done are sin, these things are wickedness, deserving of judgment, these things are evil.’    That’s what it means to confess, to agree with God.  Now the fact that the word for “confess” is also in the Greek in the present indicative indicates this process of confessing continues, it’s in the continual tense.  It is something that we do all along, it’s something that is energized every time the thought comes into my mind, ‘That was wrong, what I said was wrong, what I just did is wrong.’  It’s in that continual tense of when I’m convicted about sin, I then confess to sin immediately.  [The late Dr. Bill Bright called this “spiritual breathing, confessing, then repenting…]   So, the word here, as we noted a moment ago too, is in the plural, it’s “sins”.  He’s referring to specific acts of sins, not like in verse 8, the nature of sin, the sin nature, he’s referring to specific acts of sin. So whenever I sin, any act of sin, if I confess my sin, then the rest of this verse holds true.  So, may we all leave this morning with the understanding that it is vital for us to be honest, honest with ourselves, and honest especially with God, and as we’ll go on, honest with one another. 

          Now, this is also necessary, this is important for me even to become saved, I have to be honest about my sin nature and about my sins.  Like Eddy Martin in his prayer, ‘Lord, I’ve committed many sins, I’m a no-good sinner.’  That’s so important, I have to confess that to God to even get to salvation.  But it’s also important here, this is written to the church, it’s vital for me to continue to have this heart of humility, this seeing my sin in a certain way and confessing it to the Lord, in order for me to continue to walk in the light.  As you just follow the logic of this passage, God is light, in him is no darkness at all, and so, 1st John 1:7, if we walk in the light we have fellowship with God, but what he means by walking in the light is that continual ‘OK, I’m a Christian, I’ve sinned, I confess my sin, I get cleansed, I get made right, I’m forgiven, and I continue now to walk in the light.  It’s being cleansed, as he says in the end of verse 7 “and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  So walking in the light isn’t living a perfect life, walking in the light is just that continual humble heart, walking in the light is an honest heart before God, is what it is.  Continuously, wanting to do the right thing, but when I struggle, when I stumble, as James says, I come honestly before God, I say “God, I’ve sinned.  God, forgive me.”  That’s how we walk in the light.  It isn’t suddenly I become this really holy spiritual person and I live in perfection where I live this sanctified holy life, as this other doctrine had taught, it just means it’s an honest life.  That’s what it is.  To walk in the light is just to be honest continuously before the Lord.  Desiring the right thing, but know when I mess up and I trespass and I get outside of God’s standard, I need to make my heart right before the Lord.  What a great word, too, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful”.  Man, I’m glad it’s put in there.  I’m glad that’s put right there.  “He is faithful.”  “He is absolutely faithful to forgive me of my sin and to cleanse me from all my unrighteousness.”  Now he is perfectly faithful, he is consistently faithful, anytime I come, I can be completely confident “God, forgive me,” he hears me, he is faithful and he’s going to respond and cleanse me, forgive me, heal me of my sin.  I am thankful for that word. 

          Sometimes, you know, I may sin against an individual.  Ultimately my sin is against God, but I can transgress against another individual, so there’s times I have to go and say to somebody, you know, “Forgive me, I didn’t mean to say that to you…Forgive me, I didn’t mean to do that to you.”  But people aren’t always faithful to forgive.  You’ve maybe had those experiences, you come to somebody, you confess your sin and say you’re sorry, and yet they still want to hold a grudge.  And they come back maybe with some venom and they have some choice words to say, and so the hurt and the pain in your life continues in a way, because it wasn’t resolved, and it continues in their life.  But I’m thankful that that’s not the case with God.  God is faithful 100 percent of the time, to forgive and even to forget.  Lyman Beecher, a fiery preacher two centuries ago, was either him or one of his sons that was a preacher, was right when he said “God pardons, like a mother who kisses the offense into everlasting forgetfulness.”  That’s how he pardons.  He just says “Forget it, it’s forgotten, you’re forgiven”, just like a mom would do that with a child, a very gracious mom.  God is indeed merciful and gracious.  And when he forgives a man it is as if he also forgets, separating our sin from us as far as the east is from the west, and thus treating us as if we had never sinned.  The Greek verb for forgive here means to cause our sins to stand away from us, to free us in such a way that we will not repeat them and we are not held guilty for them.  So it’s essentially to declare that you’re innocent as if you’d never committed the wrong, that’s what it means to be forgiven.  The penalty is removed from you, the consequence is removed from you, you’re cleansed, it’s just separated from you.  And that’s tremendous, that experience.  It would be like us going to the department or Registry of Motor Vehicles, I forget, California it’s RMV, DMV, back and forth, I don’t know, it’s RMV or DMV here—it would be like you and I going to the DMV or RMV, whatever it is in this state, and going to pay a fine for a speeding ticket, or maybe you sent it in the mail, you knew you were caught driving 50 miles per hour above the speed limit, it was very clear, the Police officer caught you.  So you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and because you were honest to the cop when he pulled you over and gave you the ticket, and you were all honest to him, and also very repentant and determined never to do it again—it would be like getting there and talking to the lady behind the counter, she goes into the computer, you’ve got the ticket, ‘I want to pay this fine’, she goes into the computer and says ‘There’s no record, I can’t find you in the system.’  It would be like you leaving, and you’re completely innocent, like you never did it.  That’s what it means in that Greek word when you’re forgiven.  So you walk out now from the RMV, and there’s no fine you have to pay, there’s no insurance premiums that have increased, it’s like you never did it.  That’s what it means to be forgiven.  In that sense, it means that God separates your sin from you as far as the east is from the west.  Now I know the experience of that in a degree.  There’s been a couple times in my life, been twice, where I’ve known a police officer, I’ve got a speeding ticket that I thought was unfair or I—“I’ll take that ticket, I know the police officer that gave it to you, and I’ll make sure it’s ‘filed’.  And that’s always a good thing when they say that.  When they say “It’s filed” it means they put it in some kind of file, maybe it’s the circular file by their desk, I don’t know, but they put it in the file and it’s forgotten.  You never have to pay the fine, you never have to deal with the insurance, it’s like it’s forgotten.  I don’t know where they put it, what a file is.  I assume it’s the trash can, but they “file it.”  And maybe that’s just they way they say that, in technical terms, “we file it.”  I’ve had it happen to me twice, and it’s really cool when it happens.  It’s very cool, I like, I’m very thankful, I’m joyful and tearful when I’ve had that discussion twice in my life.  Now that’s what he’s saying here, if we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive us, he’s faithful to forgive us.  I come to him, I lay my life before him, I say “I know I said that to my wife, I was very harsh with my child, I know I had that attitude, I saw those things I shouldn’t have seen, I listened to that, I was part of that conversation”, whatever it might be, I come to him, I confess my sins, and he is completely faithful to forgive me of my sins.  I come through the blood of Jesus Christ, I come in faith in what he’s done for me, and I come to my High Priest and I confess, and the Bible says I am forgiven.      John goes even further and says not only am I forgiven, I’m also cleansed.  I’m cleansed from my sin, cleansed from all unrighteousness. Now this is what David was referring to when he prayed to God, in Psalm 51 he said “Created in me a clean heart, Oh God, renew a stedfast spirit within me.”  That’s what he was saying in words there, “cleanse me, cleans me, heal me from my sin.”  I mean he had committed the sin with Bathsheba and Uriah, and he murdered Uriah and committed adultery, and denied it for a year.  Finally got straight with God and confessed his transgression with God.  And then in Psalm 51 he writes “Create in me a clean heart, heal me of my sin, cleanse me of my sin.”  That’s what it’s referred to there, “cleanse me from all unrighteousness”, there’s a healing that takes place.  God forgives me.  I’m not held accountable anymore for the penalty of that sin, it’s already been taken care of, I’m declared innocent.  But then I’m also healed from my sin.  And many of us, maybe some of us here this morning, we are in need of that type of healing, that type of cleansing.  We have unconfessed sin in our life, we have sin in our life that we’ve tried to hide, we’ve tried to hide from God, we’ve tried to hide from others—and it’s still there in our life—and it’s effecting us today.  You remember, maybe from the Scriptures this year where David, this season of about a year where he had committed awful sin, and he chose to hide it from others and to hide it from God.  And as Solomon his son would later declare in Proverbs chapter 28:13 “He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”  But if you cover it you won’t prosper.  So David for an entire year tried to act like he never did it, never murdered a man, never committed adultery.  And then he writes Psalm 32 about his experience in that season.  He says “When I kept silent my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me, my vitality was turned into the drought of summer.”  I mean, he was not prospering, he was struggling.  There wasn’t a cleansing.  There wasn’t a healing.  There wasn’t a “being made right with God.”  So he carried it.  And maybe some of you here this morning, there are sins that we have committed, things that we’ve known we’ve done, and for whatever reason we’ve been unwilling to bring it to God and make it right.  Or maybe we haven’t confessed it to someone we need to confess it to, so there is no healing.  You remember James says “Confess your faults to one another so that you may be healed.”  But God is faithful when I come to him, I come to my high priest and say “God I have sinned.  God forgive me, and God heal me.”  And to be healed is to be healed.  Maybe that’s you this morning, maybe you’ve been looking at other places, getting counsel here or there, paying money to an individual to sit on a couch and talk to them, and you’re not finding the help you need, when all you need to do is come to God and make it right, and acknowledge, confess, to say “Yes, that is sin, that is wrong, that lifestyle, that behavior, I shouldn’t have done that.  I agree, God, that is wrong.  Forgive me, cleanse me.”  And he’ll heal you, man.  Ah man, to be healed.  David says this in the following verse.  “I acknowledged my sin to you”—that is, to God—“and my iniquity I have not hidden”—this is now a year or so later—“I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sins.”  So later, when he starts that Psalm later after all these experiences, when he begins Psalm 32, this is why he writes these words: “Blessed is he”—that is ‘happy is he’—“who’s transgression is forgiven, who’s sin is covered.  Blessed is the man whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in who’s spirit there is no deceit.”  No deceit, blessed is that man, honest before God, honest with ourselves, and honest before other people.  So the question, are you being honest with God about your sins?  Your sin, are you being honest?  Man, he’s a gracious merciful God.  But we only experience that grace and mercy as we’re honest with him, acknowledging the very things that we need to acknowledge.  Are you being honest with God about your sin, or is there in your life unconfessed sin?  Well if there is, today, today you can make things right with God.  Today you can be forgiven, today you can be healed.  Confess your transgressions to the Lord and find true forgiveness, true cleansing, true healing.  But remember too that passage in James, chapter 5, verse 16.  Sometimes in order to accomplish verse 9 here, “If we confess our sins”, I need to confess it to God, but if I’m really confessing it to God and repentive, I also need to at times to confess to other people if I’ve offended somebody, if I’ve done something against another individual, at times I also have to go to them as part of this whole equation and say “You know, I’ve done wrong.  Years ago, years ago I know I was your parent, and I was not faithful as a parent, and I know I did some harsh things, I know I hurt you, and today I come to you and say please forgive me.”  Or maybe it’s a child to a parent years later.  You know, now you’re in your thirties or forties and there’s things that you know you’ve done, and you’ve never made right with your parents.  And part of confessing and acknowledging my sin to God is also going to them and saying “You know, I confess, I just have to tell you, forgive me for what I did against you, that was wrong.”  Maybe it’s another individual, maybe it’s somebody in the church.  So, confess, confess our sin.  There’s such beauty in honesty.  That’s what he’s saying here, be honest man.  Be honest with yourselves, be honest with others, and be honest before God—in that is power.  If we say otherwise, we deceive ourselves, we deceive ourselves, but if we are honest there is healing for us, and healing is a great thing.

          You know, something we all are learning in our lives is a journey.  I don’t know, even yesterday, I don’t know what it is, but sometimes I have to have a little experience so I can appreciate a point a little bit more so I can teach it a little better, with more conviction.  But even last night I was preparing my study, and my wife and I, we try keep short accounts, we’re pretty honest with one another, and I feel the need to be honest with her.  And so there’s unresolved issues between her and I, something that I just think I need to make right with her, and when I don’t do it, it really bothers me.  I like to be able to look in my wife’s eyes and know that there’s honesty and there’s transparency, and I have that freedom.  And I feel the Lord holds me accountable to that.  Well I’m studying, and there’s this little thing that’s been bothering me, ‘Should I make that right with my wife?’,  ‘Nah, I don’t need to do that’.  I’m debating it.  Right?  And forgetting about it, as we do.  So I’m studying, and I’m kind of ahead on my study, and I’m excited, thinking this is cool.  So I’m starting to type my introduction, and I got total mental-block, I cannot get going.  I’ve got all the other stuff down, I’m ready to roll, man, ‘let’s go Lord.  Come on.’  It just is not happening.  It’s not happening, it’s not happening.  Don’t you know, as I’m doing it, this thought comes, ‘Maybe that thing you’ve been debating, maybe you did need to make things right with your wife, and you know, confess your sin and make it right, get healed, and why don’t you try that George.’  I’m thinking, ‘Ahhh,’ you know, I’m debating it.  So I went up and had a little discussion with my wife, I came back and sat at the computer, and man, it happened.  I sat at the computer, and man, it happened.  Just took off, started to write my notes, no more mental-block.  And maybe you’ve had those experiences too.  But if we’re dishonest, man it’s really debilitating to us, it hurts us.  But when you’re honest about your sin, honest before God, honest with others, honest with yourselves, man, it’s powerful.  I’m not saying that you need to go dump all your filth on people, don’t do that.  Don’t do that.  Be discerning.  But man, when you got to make things right, but when you gotta confess, make it right for your own good.  [And when he says “be discerning”, realize men, there are things you just don’t tell your wife, things like ‘Honey, I was looking at this girl when I know I shouldn’t have.’  Word to the wise.  Be discerning.]  And you may be here today, and you’ve been in a place for a long time, and God is saying ‘I want to heal you, confess, acknowledge, confess to me, repent [which means turn around and go the other way], and go and confess to another [if necessary, if it applies], and today we’ll make it right, and that block in your life will get out of the way, and you can move on.’ 


What God says


          Verse 10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”  If we say we have not sinned,” so this phrase again, “if we say”, we’ll see it more into the next chapter.  This brings me to my fifth point, ‘What God says.’  We have what the deceived says, we have what the cleansed says, now we have what God says—just a simple way to outline this passage.  If we say, if we say that we have not sinned, if we say that we have not sinned, we make him, make God a liar [i.e. we make God out to be a liar].  Now when he’s referring to sin here, what does he mean here?  What is he referring to in the Greek?  This word here when he says here “if we have not sinned” is a denial of any specific act of sin.  So [in] verse 8 you have the general nature [of sin]—I’m not a sinner—verse 9 you have the need to be honest about your specific acts of sin—and then he follows that a little bit further in verse 10 about any acts of sin, [i.e.] if you say ‘That’s not sin, that act is not sin, that issue, I have not committed that sin,’ or ‘I’ve not committed sin.’  If you say that you have not sinned, he says then that you make him a liar, if you say you’ve never committed any sin you’re making out God to be a liar.  Now why is that the case?  Why is that the case?  Because God in his Word has declared otherwise.  God has made it very clear, Romans chapter 3, verse 23, “For all have sinned”—same word, sinned—“and fall short of the glory of God.”  So if I come to God and say “I have not sinned” when I have sinned, if I say “I have never sinned”, I make out God to be a liar if God is saying otherwise.  God’s said very clearly ‘We’ve all sinned’, everybody in this room, so if you’re here today and think you’ve never sinned you’re making out God to be a liar, or maybe there’s an area in your life where you’re not agreeing with God, God is saying it’s sin and you’re saying it’s not sin, and therefore you’re making God out to be a liar also, we’re declaring what God is saying is not true.  So if I declare that I’ve never sinned, then I can be sure if he says in verse 10 that the Word is not in me, and therefore if the Word is not in me, then I can be sure that I am not walking with God, and then I’m not experiencing the fullness of joy.  If I’m not walking with God, in his presence, and in his presence is the fullness of joy, I think here of Amos chapter 3, verse 3, if you don’t agree with God on your sin, Amos chapter 3 says “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?”.  So it’s important that I agree with God if I’m going to walk with God.  If I don’t agree with him about my sin, then I’m making him out to be a liar, and I can be sure that I’m not walking with him, that there’s not fellowship with him.  It’s either I’ve broken fellowship, or I’ve never known him, I’ve never known him in an intimate way.

          There’s an interesting progression here in these verses.  In verse 6 he starts out and says, ‘If you say that you have a close walk with God and your life shows otherwise, you lie, you’re lying.’  Then in verse 8 he says, ‘If you say that you have no sin nature, you’re deceived.’  Now in verse 10 he says, ‘If you say that you’ve not sinned, you make God a liar.’  So there’s a progression from lying, to being deceived, and then actually to even declaring—because you’re not agreeing with God—you’re declaring that God is a liar.  Of course I don’t know about you, I don’t ever want to be told that I’ve been declaring, I’ve been saying, I’ve been indicating that God is not true to his Word, and that God is a liar.  I mean, later in chapter 2 John will actually show a man being a liar, his character a liar.  But it’s one thing to say that God is a liar, that his character is a liar.  Maybe you’ve been here listening to this study this morning, and you for whatever reason have denied that you have sin in your life, you’ve denied even your sin nature, that you’re not a sinner—that’s certainly not uncommon in our culture with psychology and all these things—if that is you, then consider David’s words again in Psalm 32.  He says “Do not be like a horse or like a mule which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they’ll not come near you.  Many sorrows shall be to the wicked, but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.”  Well there’s our study this morning, last part of this study.  Next week we’ll pick up with chapter 2.  The last two studies we’ve considered with John, the truth of our walk, the truth of our talk.  First we looked at what John says, then we looked at what our life says, then what someone deceived says, then what someone cleansed says, and then finally what God says.  My prayer for all of us is that as we leave this morning we will be honest and have humble hearts like that tax collector.  He stood afar off as Jesus gave the story, and said ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner.’  And Jesus said he walked out justified.  The man who said he was righteous, the man who said that he was better than others, the man who said ‘I’m thankful I’m not like those sinners’ did not walk out justified, did not walk out in close fellowship with God.  So, may you and I be honest.  And if there are things we need to get right, we get right with God and with others.  Let’s close in prayer…”  [transcript of 1st John 1:8-10, given by a pastor somewhere in New England.]   

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