WHAT DOES 1 JOHN 1:8 MEAN, “WE DECEIVE OURSELVES?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
“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” (1 John 1:8-10). Do you claim to be sinless?
Years ago, I spoke with a religious family member about the Gospel of the Grace of God. Nearly 90 years old, she had been instructed in her denomination for many decades. When I asked her about her sins, she said, “I have never done anything wrong in all my life!” Just think, friends, about how many times we have sinned in our decades alive. Consider how many times we have sinned today. Now, think about a woman living 90 years, and then saying most seriously, “I have been sinless all my life!” Talk about delusional. But, the people spoken of in 1 John 1:8-10 were equally mistaken.
Instead of realizing “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20), most Israelites from Christ’s earthly ministry thought they were “pretty good” before God. Note how John the Baptist corrected such erroneous thinking in Matthew 3:9. Paraphrased, “Just because Abraham is your ancestor does not automatically make you sinless!” This was directed to the Pharisees and Sadducees, Israel’s religious leaders who thought they were sinless. As the Pharisee in Luke 18:11 prayed, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican [tax collector]!”
First John 1:8-10, while often misunderstood as something for believers to practice today, was actually written to correct this unbelieving, so-called “sinless crowd,” in Israel. In order to be saved into God’s family, they had to confess their national sin of breaking God’s Law Covenant. They had to quit trying to establish their own righteousness and come to understand God’s righteousness manifested in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:1-13). Many today need to learn this lesson. They too hide behind their religion. God is not fooled. Until they realize they are lost and going to hell, they have no chance of being saved and going to heaven!
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