John is writing this letter to believers. He begins by exposing the “lies” that were entering into the first century church. It is probable that these claims were real statements made by people in the church to which John was writing, and that they reflect the outlook of the people who were causing trouble in the church. Not only did the false teachers walk in darkness, but went so far as to deny totally the existence of a sin nature in their lives.
John’s writes as a father protecting his “little children.” He is warning them that these new teachings are not only wrong, but they will steal the greatest joy any believer will ever know—the joy of life in the family of God.
What John is telling us in this first letter is that believers have come into a day-by-day experience with Christ, working, living, and manifesting Himself through them. There is nothing more exciting that that!
Now we come to verses 6-10 with the question, “What does God expect from us?” Probably every Christian has asked that question. We ask this question in times of anguish, during a crisis and when critical decisions must be made on a day-to-day basis. What does God require of those who want to offer their sincere allegiance and devotion to Him?
Verse 6a: God requires that the believer is honest with God and with himself. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie…”
People who deny their sin are lying to themselves! Some people think they are perfect, no sin to be confessed, no sin for God to forgive. The fact is if one says, “I have no sin” that in itself is a sin. Recently a politician said, “I have never told a lie,” that statement itself was a lie! We may say that there is no sin but that would be false. It would be saying that we are already perfect. When a person says, “I have no sin” they just have a bad memory. Have you ever told a lie, even just a little white lie? Of course you have! Let me give you a couple of examples: “It’s good to see you.” “You look like you’ve lost weight.” “You look a lot younger.” The Bible says in Revelation 21:8, “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” And the Bible also says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
“If you don't believe in the existence of sin you cannot be born again. Your belief undermines the Gospel by removing a need for a Savior. If there is no sin then there is no need for a Savior. Why would you call upon a Savior that you don't believe you need? If you don't believe in sin then you don't believe you need the blood of Jesus to cleanse you from sin. This is the description of those who are walking in the darkness of a lie. If they were to come into the light by confessing or acknowledging their sin then the blood of Jesus would cleanse them of that sin.” –http://www.ccihk.com
Oswald Chambers writes, “No one fully knows what sin is until he is born again. Sin is what Jesus Christ faced at Calvary. The evidence that I have been delivered from sin is that I know the real nature of sin in me. For a person to really know what sin is requires the full work and deep touch of the atonement of Jesus Christ, that is, the imparting of His absolute perfection.”
Verse 6b: God requires believers to practice the truth. “And do not practice the truth…”]
Liars do not practice truth! “Practice” in Greek is, prassó, “to perform, accomplish, require.” So God requires that Christians perform the truth. James 1:22, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
Verse 7a: God requires that believers walk in the Light. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light…”
“Not in the light of my own conscience, but in God’s light. If I will walk there, with nothing held back or hidden, then this amazing truth is revealed to me: “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses [me] from all sin” so that God Almighty can see nothing to rebuke in me…To walk in the light means that everything that is of the darkness actually drives me closer to the center of the light.” –Oswald Chambers
Verse 7b: God requires that believers practice Koininia. “We have fellowship with one another…”
Koininia means “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” Philippians 2:2, “Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Psalms 133:1-3, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity [harmony]!”
It is practicing the “one another’s” of Scripture. “Be devoted to one another” (Romans 12:10), “honor one another” (Romans 12:10), “live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16; 1 Peter 3:8), “accept one another” (Romans 15:7), “serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13), “be kind and compassionate to one another” (Ephesians 4:32), “admonish one another” (Colossians 3:16), “encourage one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13), “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24), “offer hospitality” (1 Peter 4:9), and “love one another” (1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11; 3:23; 4:7; 4:11-12). That is what true biblical Koinonia should look like.
Verse 7c: God requires that His servants are washed in the blood of Jesus. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
What does walking in the light have to do with this great truth? What happens to our sensitivity to sin when we walk in the light? Clearly, light exposes or reveals sin. Christ's perfect, precious blood shed once for all time on the Cross almost 2000 years ago, provided perfect propitiation to the Father. He is eternally satisfied with Christ's sacrifice for sin and complete, eternal redemption
Hebrews 9:12, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
Verse 7d: God requires that His children are cleaned and pressed. “Cleanses us from all sin…”
Ephesians 5:27, “Not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” “Cleanses” in Greek is katharizo, meaning, “pure, clean, without stain or spot.” We get our word, “catharsis,” emotional or physical purging, from this word.
Verse 8a: God requires that His children are not deceptive. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…”
“Sin is the hindrance to fellowship and the blood of Jesus, received by faith as the payment for our sin, solves the problem of sin and opens the way to fellowship with God.
•You can't come to fellowship with God through philosophical speculation
•You can't come to fellowship with God through intellectual education.
•You can't come to fellowship with God through drugs or entertainment.
•You can't come to fellowship with God through scientific investigation.
You can only come to fellowship with God by dealing with your sin problem through the blood of Jesus. We might say that the only sin that cannot be cleansed by the blood of Jesus is the sin of continuing to reject that blood as payment for sin.” –blueletterbible.org
James Denney emphasizes the danger of continual denial of sin…”There is in truth only one religious problem in the world—the existence of sin. Similarly there is only one religious solution to it—the atonement.” Failure to recognize one's personal sin leads to failure to recognize one's personal need for a Perfect Savior!”
“The tragic thing about this doctrine (if we say we have no sin) is that once people believe themselves free from sin, they believe that what they do is not sin. Thus they have low views of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of sin.”–Barnhouse
Charles Spurgeon once described a woman who claimed to be without sin and past sinning, until someone stepped on her toe, and as Spurgeon describes it “her sinless perfection departed her like the morning dew.”
Dr. Combs, the man who led me to Christ told me about a pastor who believed in sinless perfection. The pastor said, “I have not sinned in many years! If every woman on the street were naked it would not effect me.” Dr. Combs said, “What made you think of naked women?” He said, “Lord, I’ve sinned.”
Verse 8b: God requires that His children do not stray from the truth. “We deceive ourselves…”
“Deceive” in Greek is planao, which describes a wandering, literally made to wander and so to go, or to be led, in a passive sense as of sheep going astray. Brooke writes that planao always suggests the idea of leading astray from the right path. The mistake must have fatal consequences until we lead ourselves back into the way of truth.
“Man in this his degenerate state is of a straying nature, thence compared to a lost sheep; this must be sought and brought back, and guided in the right way, Psalm 119:176, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.” He is weak, and ready to be imposed upon by the wiles and subtleties of Satan, and of men lying in wait to seduce and mislead.”–Matthew Henry
“Oh! what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”
“To think of ourselves as sinless is not merely to err or to be deceived, but to lead ourselves astray. We are willfully blind to what is in us. The light is shining, but we are like a man who pulls down the blinds and sits in a self-made darkness. The truth which is Christ Himself (John 14:6), who is also the light, is not in us and so we are blind to our sin.” –Alexander
Verse 8c: God requires that His children walk in truth. “The truth is not in us…”
“The truth” is one of John's favorite terms. “Truth” is used 20 times by John in his three epistles and 23 times in his Gospel.
When John states that “the truth is not in us,” he is saying the same thing as 1 John 2:4, “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” which is a description of one who is not born again. In short, John is saying here is that individuals who continue to claim they have no sin are not born again! Here we see that truth is one of the marks of a believer - they know the truth by experience. 2 John 1:1,2, “The Elder, to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever.” Believers walk in truth.
Verse 9a: God requires that His children confess their sin. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The one thing that God hates, that grieves Him, and that He will destroy, is sin. The one thing that makes man unhappy, is sin. The one thing for which Jesus had to give His blood was sin. In all the relationship between the sinner and God, the first thing that the sinner must bring to his God, is his sin.
The primary Greek word for “confess” is homologeo which basically means “to say the same thing” and then “agree, admit, acknowledge.” it can mean to acknowledge sin or to confess or acknowledge someone as something.
“When we confess our sin, we are willing to say (and believe) the same thing about our sin that God says about it. Jesus' story about the religious man and the sinner who prayed before God illustrated this; the Pharisee bragged about how righteous he was, while the sinner just said God be merciful to me a sinner. (Luke 18:10-14) The one who confessed his sin was the one who agreed with God about how bad he was.” –https://www.blueletterbible.org
Verse 9 is the reverse of verse 8. Confession of sin is the opposite to the claim that we have no sin. God requires all people to admit that they are sinners, when they come to Christ for salvation. In contrast are those people who say that they have not sinned. Sin is something that affects all of our lives. But sin does not have to spoil our unity with God. We should admit that we have sinned and confess our sins to God. When we do this, God forgives us completely and He will keep his promise.
“If, from a deep sense of our guilt, impurity, and helplessness, we humble ourselves before God, acknowledging our iniquity, His holiness, and our own utter helplessness, and implore mercy for His sake who has died for us; He is faithful, because to such He has promised mercy, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah” (Psalm 32:5). “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13)…For Christ has died for us, and thus made an atonement to the Divine justice; so that God can now be just, and yet the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.” –Adam Clarke
Verse 9b: God requires that His children know that He is Faithful and just. “He is faithful and just (righteous)…”
God is “faithful and just (righteous)” assures us of God’s response whenever we confess our sin. God is “faithful” to His Word, He will fulfill His promises of mercy to the penitent sinner; He is also “righteous” in the way He deals with the confessing sinner. The two terms indicate that in dealing with a Christian’s sins God is true to His word and acts consistently with His holy nature. His attributes of mercy and justice find their perfect reconciliation in the cross of Christ. 1 John 2:1, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
“The two words, faithful and righteous, imply each other. They unite in a true conception of God’s character. God, who is absolute rightness, must be faithful to His own nature, and His righteous dealing with men who partake of that nature and walk in fellowship with Him, is simply fidelity to Himself. “Righteousness is truth passing into action” –Westcott
“God’s faithfulness is shown in the fulfillment of His promises. He is just, in that, in spite of men’s failures to fulfill their obligations, He remains true to the covenant which He made with them; and this includes forgiveness on certain conditions.” –Brook
Verse 10a: God requires that His children simply believe Him. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
“When we rationalize about sins, it is as if we are calling God ‘the devil.’ The Greek text should probably be translated, ‘If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him [God] to be the liar, and the truth is not in us.’ To deny our sin is to turn heaven into hell and hell into heaven. We need to be honest with God about who we are and who we were.” –bible.org
Notice that John says that making God a liar is associated with not believing in Jesus which is clearly a description of a non-believer. In other words the unbeliever is the one who makes God a liar! 1 John 5:10, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.” He makes God a liar by not believing in the “Word of life,” in Whom alone is eternal life! Here he makes God a liar by not believing His Word about his sinful state!
J B Phillips paraphrase hits the proverbial "nail on the head" (and hopefully "the sinner in his heart")... For if we take up the attitude we have not sinned, we flatly deny God's diagnosis of our condition and cut ourselves off from what He has to say to us.”
Verse 10b: God requires that His children walk in truth. “And His word is not in us.”
The “Word” is “the Truth.” 1 John 1:6; 8, compare John 17:17
The ESV Study Bible sees “Word” here as equivalent to the Gospel and concludes that… “A person may have heard and assented to the Gospel message, but until it brings him to acknowledge his sin, it has not taken root.”
“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11).
“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).
Pilate asked the question, “What is the truth?” (John 18:38) John tells us that Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). In fact, Christ Himself claimed, “I am…the Truth” (John 14:6). Then He also said, “Your Word is Truth” (John 17:17). “The Spirit is Truth" (1 John 5:6).
“So, what is truth? Here’s a simple definition drawn from what the Bible teaches: Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of God. That is the biblical meaning of truth. Because the definition of truth flows from God, truth is theological. Truth is also ontological—which is a fancy way of saying it is the way things really are. Reality is what it is because God declared it so and made it so. Therefore God is the author, source, determiner, governor, arbiter, ultimate standard, and final judge of all truth.” –John MacArthur
I have God’s guarantee, through His Word, I am completely forgiven!
There's a wonderful story about the cardinal of the Philippines, named, oddly enough, Cardinal Sin. When Cardinal Sin was a bishop, a young woman in his parish claimed that she had visions of Jesus. Bishop Sin was given the task of determining if these visions were authentic. He called her in for an interview, after which he made this request: “Daughter, the next time you see Jesus, would you ask Him what sin your bishop committed as a young priest and then come and tell me His answer.” She agreed. The bishop, aware that nobody knew his sin except himself, his confessor, and Jesus, felt this would be a valid test.
Months later the young woman returned, reporting she had seen Jesus again. The bishop said, “Good. Did you ask Him about my sin?” She said, “Yes,” “What did He say?” “He said, ‘I've forgotten.’”
Isaiah 38:17, “For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.”
Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”
Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Jeremiah 31:34, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Micah 7:19, “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
My sins are G.O.N.E. gone! They are hidden behind God’s back; blotted out; not remembered by God; and hidden in the depths of the sea, then in Revelation 21:1, “There was no more sea.” God not only hides our confessed sins in the depths of the sea, he is going to do away with the sea.
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV) and The Living Bible (TLB).