1 John 1:5-10
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just 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.
For me, the toughest part about coming to Christ was admitting that I had sinned. I think I am like most people in that I believed I was living a pretty good life, not hurting anyone, that I was pretty honest and helpful–in short, I was a nice guy. It was hard for me to admit that I could have made any mistakes–knowingly or unknowingly–that could be construed as “sin.” Aren’t sins those things we do that defy the Ten Commandments? That’s where most people get their idea of sin. They read what was written on the tablets of the law, and they check them off:
“No other gods, check!
Not take the name of the Lord in vain–well, I don’t cuss much, so, check!
Sabbath day? I don’t work on Sundays. Does that count? Check!
Mom and dad do alright by me, so, check!
No murder, no adultery, no stealing, no lying, no coveting…Yep, I think I’m okay.
We think we’re good when in fact we sin every day. In our modern age, we have gotten into this notion that crime and sin are only such if someone else is hurt, and so long as no one else is apparently hurt, then we have not sinned. “So long as I do what I do with love, then I’m okay.” People read the passage in John’s first epistle that says “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and they think that’s all that matters. So long as they “love” then everything else is alright with God.
Nothing could be further from the truth. As we see in today’s verses from that same epistle, our own sense of our sinfulness is not the same as God’s. We are deceiving ourselves if we think we are without sin.
1 Chronicles 28:9
“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.”
As Jesus pointed out time and again, the letter of the law is not the measure of sin, the measure of sin is in our hearts. God knows the INTENT of our actions, knows that we look with lust, that we get angry with our brothers, that we covet all manner of things, that we idolize people and things, that we only give Him lip service one day a week–and those are the sins we commit. God knows! He WANTS to forgive us, to bring us to righteousness, to get us back into a proper relationship with Himself, but He can’t do that if we won’t admit our own sin. Without repentance and faith, we cannot know the peace of the gospel of the kingdom of God.
So how do we know whether or not we have sinned? Well, a good place to start is to always begin with the premise that God was right in the days before the Flood:
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Ever since Adam, the heart of every man has been set on going his own way, doing his own thing, defying the Lord God. We set our own measure of morality and assume that we can create God in our image to forgive us no matter what we do. But we forget that God created us in HIS image, and therefore, whenever we stray from His law and commandments and judgments, we are distorting His image. As John puts it, “the truth is not in us.” What truth would that be?
For there is not a just man on earth who does good
And does not sin.
Jesus told us that “No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Matthew 19:17) We must proceed from there and measure our lives by the Greatest Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37, Deuteronomy 6:5) If we love GOD first–above ourselves, above our friends and families, above all the material things of this world–then we will put HIS commandments first, HIS will first, HIS purpose for our lives above our own. Measuring ourselves against our holy and righteous God, we cannot help but see that we have sinned.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Praise God that He sent Jesus to bear the burden of our sins in His body on the Cross! All our sins are cleansed from us by the blood of Jesus Christ, and we need but repent and believe in Him to accept that cleansing and be saved. Therefore, rather than trying to remake God and morality in our own image, we have to acknowledge that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of the one true God. (Romans 3:23) When we admit that we are sinners, then we have taken the first step toward walking in the light of Christ.
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
It all starts in our hearts, in the seat of our intentions. When our hearts are set on God in Christ, then all the rest falls into place. When we truly love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30), then the rest of our lives will follow. We will admit our own sinfulness, admit that we really do fall far short of the glory of God, admit that we NEED the salvation that only Jesus can bring us. And having admitted that, having confessed our sins and repented of them, we have prepared our hearts for the gospel. You see, if we cannot admit that we have sinned, it is impossible to believe that Jesus paid the price for our sins on the Cross. But if we confess our sins, then believing in Jesus as our Savior is simple!
We all sin, and we all need Christ to help us overcome that sin. If we do not confess to sinfulness, then we will get nowhere, and the Cross will have been emptied of its power to save us. Let us therefore confess our sins to God, come before Him broken and contrite, ready to repent and believe. Let us not deceive ourselves into thinking we’re good enough for God, but let us instead allow Jesus to wash our hearts and renew our minds. Let us admit our sin and allow our faithful and just God to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. For His name’s sake, let us no longer deceive ourselves but admit our need for Christ, and then we shall have fellowship with Jesus and truly walk in the light as He is in the light.
Our Father in heaven, we thank You for being so just and righteous and forgiving and holy. And I thank You, Lord, for opening my eyes to Your gospel, for revealing to me the depths of my own depravity, so that I might find Jesus Christ and be saved. Thank You, Father God, for the Cross of Calvary, where my sinfulness was crucified and where the blood of the Lamb flowed down to cleanse me and make me new. Amen.