It's Not a Sin to Stop Sinning

 "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." -1 John 1:8

When a Christian tells another Christian that we shouldn't be sinning every day in thought, word, and deed, the first verse out of the Bible quoted is 1 John 1:8. Here is what they mean when they quote that verse:

1. That if you don't admit you have some kind of sin in your life at this present time, then you are deceived and the truth is not in you.

2. That this verse is against perfection.

3. That we cannot be completely obedient to God and have complete victory over sin through the blood of Christ and power of the Holy Spirit.

What Biblical Perfection is Not.

1. Biblical perfection does not mean that the Christian has never sinned in his lifetime.  "For all have sinned," according to the Bible, except for Jesus of course.

2. It doesn't mean we don't have the ability to sin.  We do because we all have a free will.  We can choose to sin anytime we want to.  But for a Christian, if he loves God like he professes, he will not sin against Him. The Bible says I can do all things through Christian who strengthens me (Php. 4:13).  And the Bible says when we are faced with temptation, there is a way of escape. (1 Cor. 10:13).  No Christian has to give into sin.

3. Biblical perfection doesn't mean that we will reach a state in our life where we are forced to stay that way.

4. Biblical perfection doesn't mean we are going to be intellectually perfect and know everything.

5. It does not mean if you do sin that you are automatically damned to hell.  It does teach that if you do sin, you are in danger of hell if you should die in your sins.  If you do sin, you must repent and ask forgiveness and never do it again.

Jesus Means What He Says.

 We are going to see that what John talks about agrees with what Jesus taught him and the rest of the disciples.  Nothing throughout the New Testament, after the resurrection of Christ, contradicts what Jesus taught while here on this earth. There are two words Jesus said that should make the difference in everyone's life.  He said, "FOLLOW ME."  He also talked about keeping His commandments.  What is contained in the four gospels are meant for US, just as all the books that follow.  All the disciples preached Jesus! Everything Jesus taught, we ought to heed.  We are to follow Him and obey His commandments.

Robert Shank put it well when he said:

"It seems strange that men should forbid Jesus the privilege of his teaching, during His earthly ministry, any great principles governing man's relation to God - not only during the few remaining days of His brief earthly ministry, but throughout the age to follow, for which He was even then preparing His disciples.  It seems even stranger that men who so easily reject much of our Lord's later teaching as 'not applicable to the present dispensation' do not hesitate to accept much of His earliest teaching (to Nicodemus, for example) as being fully applicable to the present age.  (One friend, in conversation with the author, even denied that our Lord's words in John 15 have any bearing on the question of our relation to Christ today, since they were spoken 'before Calvary' - a few hours!  What delicate, fragile hairs skilled 'rightly dividers' can sometimes neatly split with one swift, sure stroke of their hermeneutical broadaxe!)."

 Back to First John's Epistle:

Going to verse 5 and 6, John says,

"This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth."

According to that verse, if we are walking in darkness, we do not have fellowship God.  Not only do we not have fellowship with God by walking in darkness, we also lie and the truth is not in us.

Now notice verse 7,

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

Remember that verses 5 and 6 come before verse 7.  If we are not walking in the light then the blood of Jesus does not cleanse us from all of our sins, and means we possibly cannot be Christians.  If we are not walking in the light, we do not have fellowship with God and the truth is not in us!

Verses 5 and 6 are very clear that we must be walking in the light, and if we are walking in the light, Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.  Not some of them, but all of them.

Now for verse 8.

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

Just before this John said you're cleansed of all sin!  Why?  Because those who walk in the light have fellowship with God, those who walk in darkness do not have the truth.   Why would John say you are cleansed of all sin and then turn around and tell them if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us?   How can one be cleansed from sin by the blood of Christ and at the SAME time have sin?  It's impossible. 

"If we have sin, then we are not walking in the light, but in darkness, and that would mean we lie and do not have the truth in us." (v. 6)

John is simply talking about people who say they HAVE NEVER SINNED, as he says in verse 10.  "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."  THAT is what John is talking about in verse 8 as well. 

John is talking about people who say they have never sinned. 

Now for verse 9.

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

Now if we are to believe this verse as a majority of professing Christians would have us believe - to always have sin in in our life, that we sin EVERY day in thought, word, and deed, then verse 9 cannot be true.  In other words, at the moment of confessing their sin, at that moment at least, they are cleansed from all unrighteousness (unless they sin the next second after confessing), is really hypocritical, for they are at least perfect for that moment to the next time they sin.  They would be perfect that amount of time until they sin again (and by their confession, at least sometime during that day). But what would happen if they did not confess their sins?  Well, the blood of Christ would not forgive their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness.  If you sin, you must confess your sin, because if you don't, you are temporarily in danger of going to hell should you die in your sin.  If you are in sin, you are not walking in the light!  You have no fellowship with God and the truth is not in you according to the words in this epistle.

See more here about this topic: Concerning 1 John 1:8

John chapter 2.

The whole reason for John writing this epistle is so that we may NOT sin.  In John 2:1 we read,

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that YE SIN NOT. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:"

As said above, Biblical perfection doesn't mean we don't have the ability to sin, because we all have a free will.  John 2:1 is not an excuse TO sin, but he is writing to us that we may NOT sin. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that he means Christians should not be sinning.  It's the same thing Jesus says, "Go and sin no more."  And if Jesus frees us from sin, we are free indeed!  We are no longer servants to sin.

 If John 1:8 is to mean that we will always have sin in our lives everyday, then John simply wasted his time writing any further.  The chapters that follow would absolutely mean nothing.  He simply is a confused man, but we know this is not true, it's just that people want to defend sin in their life.

Years ago I used to babysit for my sister-in-law.  She had one unruly child.  He would always do something and she would make him come to me to apologize.  He has had to do this on several occasions.  Finally one day I told her to please not make him come and apologize to me because obviously he doesn't mean it.  It's the same way with professing Christians.  If you have to sin every day, then obviously you are not serious about not sinning.  If you were truly sorry, you would not do it again and again and again.  Please tell me, for those who want to keep 1 John 1:8 as their safeguard or their excuse that they can't help but have sin everyday in their life, do you commit the same sin(s) everyday?  In all honesty, is it something you can't stop?  Paul said,

“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

The same man who said, “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness,” also said, “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”

Either we will be a servant to sin, or a servant of righteousness for holiness.

Jesus said,

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

These are just samples that let us know we do not have to sin.

John is not writing anything different than what Jesus has told us.  If we love God we will keep His commandments. (John 14:15)

John is writing his epistle to Christians and he knows the Christian life is obeying God's commandments and not sinning.  As stated above, Jesus said on occasions, "Go and sin no more."  That means, "Go and sin no more."  John is not writing to Christians who are in the habit of sinning, for he says, "And IF any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

Those words should be words of comfort to us.  John said IF any man sin. Not "when" but IF.  If you should sin, do not yield to despondency and despair, for we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ.  That's comfort my friends for the times that we may fail Him. 

Sin is never the foregone conclusion in a Christian's life.  It's not a sin to stop sinning.  If you are abiding in Christ, you are not sinning!  If you are walking in the light, you are not sinning!  You are not in darkness if you are not sinning!

If you sin, you can't blame it on the false doctrine of original sin, or your flesh, or your supposed sinful nature that is falsely claimed you are born with, or the principle of sin, or the devil made you do it, or whatever you want to call it so as not to take any responsibility for your own sin.  The problem is with your free will and what you choose to do.  You simply choose to sin.  How can you confess your sin if it is not your fault?  What you did was give into temptation.  Also understand that temptation in itself is NOT sin.  All of us are tempted, even Jesus was tempted, but temptation is not sin.  It is when you start entertaining the temptation and live it out that it becomes sin, because when you dwell on it and entertain it, it soon bears its fruit, which is death. (James 1:15)

Now, how do you know if you know God?  Verse 3,

"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments."

We know God if we keep his commandments.  If you say you know him, why do you cling to 1 John 1:8 by saying a saint has to sin everyday in thought, word, and deed?  To say that you always have to have sin in your life everyday, and then say you know God, you are a liar and the truth is not in you according to John.

"He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."  

"But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him."

The word "perfect" is not a cuss word.  We should be in complete obedience to God.  It is not a sin to obey God. 

"He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."

How did Jesus walk?  Did he sin every day?  No.  He was perfect.  Jesus also expects us to be perfect. (Matt. 5:48).  God didn't die on the cross because we couldn't obey his commandments, it is because we didn't obey them.

 John says in 1 John 2:15,

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

1 John 2:18

"Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous."

Now some will say that the ONLY way we are righteous is through the blood of Christ.  Wrong, according to this verse.  It is true that we must have the righteousness of God in Christ, which means our PAST sins are forgiven (Rom. 3:5; 2 Peter 1:9), they are under the blood of Jesus.  God pardoned all those sins, and in that sense I am positionally righteous at the moment of coming to Jesus in saving faith even though there was sin on my record.  Practically speaking, we must live out our lives righteously.  If you claim to be positionally righteous, but don't practice righteous living, you are not righteous as he is righteous.  Sin still separates us from God!

1 John 2:29 says,

"If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him."

Doing righteousness means you are living a life of righteousness.  If you claim to sin every day in thought, word, and deed, you are not living a life of righteousness. You are simply sinning, confessing, sinning, confessing, with no regard to repent from that particular sin or sins. How can you be living a righteous life if you sin every day?  John is clear that if you are not living a righteous life, you are not born of God.

1 John 3:3,

"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."

If you want hope of eternal life, you must purify yourself.  Read James 4:8.  God wants us holy. (Matt. 5:48; Heb. 12:14; 1 Peter 1:16;  2 Peter 3:11 Php. 4:13)  God forgives us of our sins, but He's not going to force us to live righteously. 

1 John 3:6,

 "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him." 

 According to the verse, if you sin, you are of the devil.  Christ came to forgive you of all your past sins and to destroy the works of sin in your life (John 8:36).  Christ wants to change us from a sinful person to a holy person.

1 John 5:3

"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."

True love for God will show by us keeping his commandments.  It is easy to obey God when our hearts are right.  If you are not keeping his commandments, your heart is not right, you walk in darkness and are not born of him.

A lot of times we hear from the crowd that "No amount of 'good works' can make you or me deserving of going to heaven or approaching God."   It is true that no amount of good works can make us deserving of salvation; however, do some homework and read some of the writings of the early Christians, I'm talking those close to the apostles, those taught under Paul and the other apostles.  Those Christians believed that obedience plays an essential role in our salvation, and which the Scriptures affirm.  David Bercot said it best when quoting the early Christians about salvation and obedience:

You may be saying to yourself, "I'm confused.  Out of one side of their mouths they say we are saved because of our works, and out of the other side they say we are saved by faith of grace.  They don't seem to know what they believe!"

Oh, but they did.  Our problem is that Augustine, Luther, and other Western theologians have convinced us that there's an irreconcilable conflict between salvation based on grace and salvation conditioned on works or obedience.  They have used a fallacious form of argumentation known as the "false dilemma," by asserting that there are only two possibilities regarding salvation: it's either (1) a gift from God or (2) it's something we earn by our works.

The early Christians would have replied that a gift is no less a gift simply because it's conditioned on obedience.  Suppose a king asked his son to go to the royal orchard and bring back a basket full of the king's favorite apples.  After the son had complied, suppose the king gave his son half of his kingdom?  Was the reward a gift, or was it something the son had earned?  The answer is that it was a gift.  The son obviously didn't earn half of his father's kingdom by performing such a small task.  The fact that the gift was conditioned on the son's obedience doesn't change the fact that it was a still a gift.

The early Christians believed that salvation is a gift from God but that God gives His gift to whomever He chooses.  And he chooses to give it to those who love and obey him.

Is their understanding really strange?  I so often hear evangelical Christians say that welfare should only be given to those persons who are truly deserving.  When they say that certain poor persons are "deserving," do they mean that welfare constitutes wages earned by such persons?  Of course not.  They still consider welfare to be a gift.  Simply because a person is selective in his giving, it doesn't change the gift into a wage.  ("Will the Real Heretic Please Stand Up," by David W. Bercot, pp. 61,62) 

Don't listen to the lies that you have to sin everyday in thought, word, and deed.  These are people who simply want to defend sin by quoting 1 John 1:8, as if they can't help but do it every day, and try to convince you that you cannot stop sinning either.  That's the devil's lie, "Yeah, hath God said?"  That is not Christ's way. Christ says to "go and sin no more."   He wants us to be free from sin.  He gives us the power by His Holy Spirit so that we may walk in the Spirit, to walk in the light.  In Him there is no darkness.

"And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" -Luke 6;46

"Not everyone who says to Me, Lord! Lord! shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven." -Matt. 7:21

"Many will say to Me in that day, Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name, and through Your name throw out demons, and through Your name do many wonderful works?  And then I will say to them I never knew you! Depart from Me, those working lawlessness! Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock." -Matt. 7:22-24 

 "And being perfected, He became the Author of
eternal salvation to all those who obey him."
Heb 5:9

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