Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Meditations on the Word: 1 John 8-10

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. (1Jn 1:8-10)

Is there anything harder than this? Saying "I am a sinner" and realizing what that means? It is an easy thing to say, it is a harder thing to mean. Admitting our own sin requires us to realize just how condemned we are and how helpless we are. It lays bare our own utter helplessness and dependence on Him. Humans by nature are rebellious and proud. The Gospel shows us how foolish our self-dependence and self-reliance truly is. I believe one of the great stumbling blocks in the human heart is pride and talk of sin pricks that pride. How dare anyone say that I am inherently bad! How dare anyone say that I am helplessly lost and must depend on the death of a Jewish man who lived like a pauper two thousand years ago! Nowhere is the truth of the sovereignty of God in salvation more apparent than in the inherent lostness in sin of the unregenerate heart.

Some people seem to think that being justified means that they no longer sin, that they are walking in perfection in their sin wracked bodies. That deceit is as great as any other heresy. Paul said it simply and powerfully in Romans 7: 19 when he wrote:

I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

What a refutation that is to those who think that they are without sin. How true that is and how helpless we are. How gracious it is that Christ forgave us!

Others think that because they prayed a prayer they are forgiven and can live however they want. As John states boldly and clearly here and later on in this letter, that is not the case. If we say we are His but make a practice of sinning, the truth is not in us.

How wonderful though the these words of our God who cannot lie:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

That is the great promise. That if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us. Note the utter lack of stipulations there. Not if we confess our sins and say a few Hail Mary's. Not if we confess our sins and join a church. Not if we confess our sins and agree with this confession. Not if we confess our sins and do these acts of piety. Not if we confess our sins and are baptized. The great missing "and" is what makes the Gospel so precious and true. Salvation is all of Christ and not of ourselves, not one bit. Even the faith to confess Christ is itself a gift from Him. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone.

Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be the glory!

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Steve said...

Sins vs sin.

When we focus on the individual sins, we often think we can improve, knock them down, become better Christians.

If we focus on sin (our condition) we realize that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves (but need a Savior).

Somewhere in Scripture there is a verse that says if we believe and are batized we will be saved. (so don;t poo-poo baptism) It is important enough for Jesus to command us to do it.

Galatians 3:27 says "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

Anyway, my 2 cents.

gloria said...

Interesting post, Arthur and timely. We are covering the book of Romans in Bible study at Church. Yesterday's lesson was on Romans 7... paul's remarks on how he does what he doesn't want to do and he doesn't do what he should...

There was a debate about whether paul was speaking of himself before he came to the Lord or after....

Pastor was open to hearing our thoughts on it.

What do you think? Do you think Paul was speaking of himself after receiving the Lord? Or prior?

Look forward to hearing your remarks,


ps. we were also discussing this idea of do we still sin as saved individuals... we are no longer slaves to sin, but to righteousness ( Romans 6)
What do you think?

I personally believe I am still a sinner. Some in the class said "no"... but I said "yes".. the flesh is weak, but the spirit is willing.