Are you a sinner? This might be the question John would ask us today.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. … If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
John made the same point twice, which probably means it is important. A Christian knows he or she is a sinner. A Christian not only knows this, but he or she is willing to admit it.
I think a lot of people, when pressed, would admit the sin in their lives. Most people, I think, would confess to falling short of moral perfection.
That’s good – because the truly proud person who claims to be perfect is probably the furthest you can get from God. Salvation requires humility on our part.
We can’t be saved if we don’t admit our need for a Savior.
And in John’s circle of influence, some people clearly were claiming to have no sin in their lives. Perhaps they were claiming moral perfection now that they had come into contact with Christ.
We know our salvation doesn’t mean we no longer sin. We are “born again,” as Jesus and Peter said. That means we become babies in Christ. We still aren’t perfect, but we are growing up in him with the help of the Holy Spirit. As we grow, we become more and more Christlike, more and more perfect.
But none of us is perfect yet. We still sin – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
And John seems to be saying a person can’t be a Christian without a clear acknowledgment of his or her continued sinfulness.
We ought to pay attention to the sins in our lives, even if we are longtime Christians – perhaps especially as longtime Christians. Where am I still falling short? Where does my own selfish desire still have a foothold in my life? When do I fail to do the things I know God would want me to do? When do I wrongfully look out for myself first rather than for other people?
Sin is not something we like to talk about as a church. The world would never have us talk about sin at all. The world doesn’t believe in the concept of sin.
But a church is to be a place where sinners come. They know their sin. They can confess their sin. And they have found the remedy for their sin.
Maybe a good way to say it is this: What people do with their sins is a good indication of their eternal state.
A person who ignores his sins or claims he has no sins is in a perilous position. A person who admits his sin but then tries to outweigh those sins with good deeds is going to be sorely disappointed in the end. But a person who admits she’s got plenty of sin and who takes those sins to God in humble confession has all the hope in the world.
What are you doing with your sin today?