Today the final paired statement we can use to see the genuineness of our fellowship with God:
“If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.
(My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.)
But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One…”
We see that for those who claim to be living a Christian life, there is a call to admit when we have done wrong. Rather than claim we have not sinned, we are to humbly, contritely, and honestly confess. By claiming that we have not sinned when we see in God’s Word His definition of sin we are, essentially, making Him a liar. We cannot pick and choose which parts of His Word we follow and take seriously.
Given that this might have come across as serious and stern to his original readers, John pauses to reassure them, as a loving parent might, that his message is actually for their benefit and to make them aware of the pitfalls of trying to live a life of obedience and love (here, trying so hard that we’re convinced we never sin).
So, John says, if we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar. But, he then goes on to say, if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One…Of course John didn’t want his readers to sin (who wants anyone to sin?), but, ultimately, he knew that they were human and would inevitably sin (Romans 3.23, 6.12, Galatians 5.17).
When this inevitably happened – and when this inevitably happens for you – we have an advocate with the Father. This carries the sense of a legal council defending their client before a judge. Inserting His own righteousness into the equation, so to speak, Jesus stands between an all-together holy and righteous God and you, the sinner pleading for forgiveness and acceptance.
We see John’s point a little clearer now: if you say that you don’t ever sin or struggle with sin, you’re actually calling God a liar because He knows that you do and that you will, but, don’t worry, because if you are honest and open and humble and contrite about your sinful and fleshly self, if you trust Him and His Word, there is One who will advocate for you. If you say you haven’t sinned, you’re saying you don’t need the advocate.
As John wraps up this section on the principles of fellowship, we see that as believers there are certain standards of character and conduct we should be aiming for (1.7, 9, 2.1). Many of them come down to honesty, and being honest with and about yourself. Walking in the light (1.7) and having fellowship with God will never happen whilst we are telling ourselves things about ourselves that just aren’t true (1.6, 8, 10).
Today then, take a moment to look at this section (1.5-2.1) and see if you are being honest with, and about, yourself.
Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.
If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.
(My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One…”