The word of God teaches that we do sin! A student of God’s word will not deny this. In fact, if he does, he places himself in the very presumptuous category of making God a liar. Read 1 John 1:8-9: “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 is us”. The “we” and the “us” in these verses must refer to those who have established covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As they prayerfully confess their sins, they are the only ones God has promised to forgive. (vs. 9) God will hear their prayers that their sins might be forgiven. These are “my little children” as John graciously and affectionately refer to them in the beginning of Chapter 2. So we should humbly and shamefully recognize that we do sin!
Regarding the subject that we have under consideration, a few points need to be pointed out:
There is a classification of sin. This may startle some readers, as they have heard throughout their lives that sin is sin or one sin is not to be considered more heinous than another. Perhaps we could improve upon the word classification; nevertheless, the book of 1 John makes a distinction with sin. John writes in 1 John 3:8, “He that committeth sin is of the devil;” We are told in the first chapter that we all sin and if we deny such, we make God a liar. Therefore, if no classification or distinction exists, we are all of the devil and to deny such, makes God nothing more than a liar. This is obviously a false conclusion. Sin is classified by John: “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” (1 John 5:16-17). There is sin “not unto death” and there is “sin unto death” (1 John 5:17). The sin unto death is a sin that a brother will not confess that God might forgive him. (1 John 1:9). I am far from admitting that “we all sin” in a rebellious and habitual manner. In 1 John 1:8-10, John is saying that we have not reached a sinless state in which we no longer need the blood of Christ to cleanse us. He is establishing the need for our continually walking in the light (vs. 7) that the blood of “Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” A part of our walking in the light involves recognizing our imperfect state and confessing our sins unto the Lord when they are committed.
Sins are to be confessed and forsaken. When individuals say, “But we all sin:”, they seem to suggest that God licenses sin or that He will ignore such. I never read of any such principle in the word of God. Even in the proper evaluation of the subject, John isn’t writing to encourage sin or endorse it with his statements in 1 John 1:7-10. In these words, he is calling upon Christians to appreciate that God doesn’t ignore sins, but is ready to forgive them as we confess our sins, which certainly implies forsaking them. When we sin and we are aware of such, what do we do about it? Do we with an arrogant, defiant spirit say “But we all sin” and leave it there? Or do we humbly evaluate the subject and with a penitent heart ask the forgiveness of God, and then proceed to do what we have to do in making the matter right? In some respect, we may all sin, but not all are so hardened and indifferent that they will continue on in their sins. To do so is to “sin unto death” and forfeit any right for an eternal home with God. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9) John does not contradict himself. To commit sin here refers to a practice of sin. Even Williams, a Baptist scholar, renders it to practice sin in his translation of the New Testament. We need to obey the Lord and cease trying to justify our sins by saying “But we all sin”!
by Bobby K. Thompson
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