1 John 1:8-10
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.…
I. It is not deliberate hypocrisy that we are (ver. 8) warned against; but a far more SUBTLE FORM OF FALSEHOOD, and one apt more easily to beset us, as believers, even when most earnestly bent on "walking in the light as God is in the light." In its subtlest form it is a kind of mysticism more akin to the visionary cast of ancient and oriental musing than to the more practical turn of thought and feeling that commonly prevails among us. Look at yonder attenuated and etherealised recluse, who has been grasping in successive philosophic systems, or schools of varied theosophic discipline, the means of extricating himself out of the dark bondage of carnal and worldly pollution, and soaring aloft into the light of pure spiritual freedom and repose. After many trials of other schemes, Christianity is embraced by him; not, however, as a discovery of the way in which God proposes to deal with him, but rather as an instrument by which he may deal with himself; a medicine to be self-administered; a remedy to be self-applied. By the laboured imitation of Christ, or by a kind of forced absorption into Christ, considered simply as the perfect or ideal, his soul, emancipated from its bodily shackles and its earthly entanglements, is to reach a height of serene illumination Which no bodily or earthly stain can dim. From such aspirations, the next step, and it is a short one, is into the monstrous fanaticism which would make spiritual illumination compatible with carnal indulgence and worldly lust; his inward and sinless purity being so enshrined in a certain Divine sublimity and transcendentalism of devotion that outward defilement cannot touch it. Church history, beginning even with the apostle's own day, furnishes more than one instance of men thus deplorably "deceiving themselves, saying they have no sin,"
II. As to THE CONFESSION (ver. 9), it is the confession of men "walking in the light, as God is in the light"; having the same medium of vision that God has; it is the continual confession of men continually so walking and so seeing. For the forgiveness, on the faith of which and with a view to which we are thus always to be confessing our sins, will always be found to be a very complete treatment of our case. What is the treatment? The sins we confess are so forgiven that we are cleansed from all unrighteousness with regard to them. The forgiveness is so free, so frank, so full, so unreserved, that it purges our bosom of all reserve, all reticence, all guile; in a word, "of all unrighteousness." And it is so because it is dispensed in faithfulness and righteousness; "He is faithful and just in forgiving our sins." He to whom, as always thus dealing with us, we always thus submit ourselves, is true and righteous in all His ways, and specially in His way of meeting the confidence we place in Him when we confess our sins.
III. If, in the face of such a faithful manner of forgiveness on the part of God, we continue to shrink from that open dealing and guileless confession which our walking in the light as God is in the light implies — we not only wrong ourselves and do violence to our own consciousness and our own conscience; but, "saying that we have not sinned, WE MAKE HIM A LIAR, and His Word is not in us" (ver. 10). To prefer now, even for a single instant, or with reference to a single sin, the miserable comfort of wrapping ourselves in fig leaves and hiding among the trees of the garden, to the unspeakable joy of coming forth and asking God to deal with us according to His own loving faithfulness and righteousness and truth — that surely is a high affront to Him and to His Word, as well as a foolish mistake for ourselves. There can be no fellowship of light between us and Him if such unworthy sentiments of dark suspicion and reserve as this implies are insinuating themselves into our bosoms. Let me rather, taking Him at His word, try the more excellent way of carrying with me always, in the full confidence of loving fellowship, into the secret place of my God, all that is upon my mind, my conscience, nay heart; all that is harassing, or burdening, or tempting me; my present matter of care or subject of thought, whatever that may be. I would keep beck nothing from my God. I will not deceive myself by keeping silence about my sin. I will not make my God a liar — I will not do my God and Father so great a wrong as to give Him the lie — by refusing entrance into my soul to that Word of His which gives light, even the light of life.
(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
WEB: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.