"If we say..."
“If we say...”
by Pastor Garth Gaddy
The book of 1 John begins right out of the gate by focusing on Christ and making the proclamation of what John and the other apostles heard, saw, and touched (our Savior). John's desire--by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit--was for us to have fellowship with God and one another, made possible by cross.
With the goal of his writings set, John goes on to tell us the first thing we need to know in order to have this fellowship, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. If you want to understand the fellowship that we can have with God, you must begin at the same point we begin when we explain the Gospel to an unbeliever: with God and His character. He is light. He is holy. No blemish, without spot, no evil, no sin.
But what about us? We are the other "party" to the fellowship that can be enjoyed with God. What do we need to understand about ourselves? Again, just like in sharing the Gospel with an unbeliever, we need a right understanding of our sinful nature. John gives us a lesson on the doctrine of sin. There is a phrase repeated in verses 6, 8, and 10. "If we say...." Let's pay close attention to these statements and their implications.
In verse 6, "If we say we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth" means a complete lack of understanding of the nature of sin in general. The result is to claim to be a Christian and have fellowship with God but to be a liar. We must understand that sin is bigger than simply actions. Second Corinthians 4:4 says there is a god of this world that can blind us; Ephesians 2:2 says there is a prince of the power of the air who is at work; and Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the whole armor of God to fight spiritual battles. Sin is a battleground for the believer, and to walk in darkness is to not engage and recognize the battle even exists.
In verse 8, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" is a failure to recognize our sinful nature. This is not necessarily about specific sins but rather a view of our sins in general. For a person to say "We have no sin" is a statement about man's nature. The truth is not just that we have committed actions that are wrong (sin) but where does this pattern come from? A sinful nature. Paul gives us a clear picture of his struggle and the sin that dwells within us in Romans 7.
In verse 10, "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" comes right after John's statement about confession of sin and God's faithful forgiveness and cleansing. To say we have not sinned is a failure to see specific sins in our life and see our need for forgiveness. You and I should know our weaknesses and temptations. Ask God to reveal wicked ways and seek His forgiveness. To do otherwise makes Him a liar.
Fellowship with God is made possible by the cross. The cross leads to a correct understanding of God's holiness, the battleground of sin, our sinful nature, and our personal sins.
Portions from Martyn Lloyd-Jones commentary on 1 John