By Randy Dillon
1 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 we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
There are some Christians who believe that once they accept Jesus as their savior that they have been freed from sin either because their sin will be always overlooked or that their sin is not sin since they were once forgiven. In these instances such people are misled by Satanic influence to believe that somehow their daily lives and their eternal destiny are not in any way linked. This is a perversion of scripture and the teachings of Jesus. Human beings are born with a sin nature inherited from Adam and they are subject to sinful behavior by nature and by choice. Even after receiving God's grace in their lives, the sin nature remains as a portion of their shared human experience.
Paul speaks extensively in his epistles about his own struggles with inherited sin and his desire to be free from the nature that tempts him to leave his spiritual home. He calls it a "war" between his natural and spiritual desires. John also deals with this dilemma in his first of three general letters to Jesus' followers as cited above. John here addresses Christians, those who have been called and graciously accepted by God. He is not addressing those unforgiven in the world, but rather those who accept Jesus and strive to follow his teachings. To those who say they are sinless, John reminds them that if they (or we) testify to this doctrine, we are deceiving ourselves. We are allowing our minds to be led astray from the truth.But he also provides our escape by acknowledging that we have hope if we are willing to confess our sins to God and ask forgiveness. When we do so, John tells us that God will be faithful in his commitment to us and forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
As humans we are often frail and misled in our natural state. We too often allow our sin nature to hold us in its sway. Even more often we allow it by our choice not simply by the blinding hold of our inherited nature. The crux of this issue lies in our heart's ability to acknowledge our sin and to confess it. This requires both an awareness of the sin that we have committed and also a humility to confess our weakness to the Father. This is something that is difficult for many people who let pride enter the equation and therefore will not humble themselves before a merciful and gracious God. The example of King David in the Old Testament is profound in part because when confronted by sin David quickly realized his sin and just as quickly humbled himself before God.
Because God has provided a way to regain a right standing before the Father through Jesus, our advocate, we cannot be delusional in thinking that we have been freed from our physical body and its sinful nature and therefore that we are no longer sinful. Our spiritual nature has been redeemed, it is true, but we must yet "war" with our temporary sinful nature until our physical release from this prison when we finally face death. If we do not recognize this duality in our present condition, we indeed make God a liar because we essentially are saying that we no longer require God's provision of the blood of Jesus to bring us once again into fellowship with Him since we have no need for his provision. If we do so, we do not have His truth in us and we are not in close fellowship with our Savior and Lord.