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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : 1John 1:8

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Joined: 2005/7/17
Posts: 1791

 1John 1:8

[b]1John 1:7[/b] [color=990000]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 cleanses us from all sin.
[b]:8[/b] If we say that we have no sin[/color] (on our past record)[color=990000], we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
[b]:9[/b] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
[b]:10[/b] If we say that we have not sinned[/color] (in the past)[color=990000], we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.[/color]

1. 1John 1:8 must always be looked at in context. The entire book of John must be consulted, especially verses 1:7-10, 2:1. Those who isolate this passage usually twist its meaning to be contrary to the rest of the epistle which is about moral perfection. The meaning of a verse is always lost or misunderstood when scripture isolation is practiced. The immediately surrounding context gives us much clarity into this verse.

2. The phrase, "have no sin" in verse 8 could mean two things. It could mean "have no sin" in your present conduct, or it could mean "have no sin" on your record. Verse 10 is very clear that John is talking about those who deny having any disobedience on their record by saying "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." None can deny that they have sinned or disobeyed in the past, but Christians can say that they presently obey God.

3. Verse 7 and 9 promise, not merely the pardon of sin, but also cleansing from sin. There is a proper distinction made between forgiveness and cleansing, “to forgive us our sins, AND to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” These passages promise not only forgiveness of sin but also freedom from sin. They promise freedom, not merely from some sins, but freedom from "all" sins, "to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness".

4. The man spoken of in verse 8 is the man who had not yet experienced verse 9. That is, the deceived man who denies having any sin is the one who has not yet confessed their sins, been forgiven of their sins, and has had their sins cleansed out of their life. Verse 8 is directed to, or specifically talking about, the man who has not yet been forgiven and cleansed as described in verse 9. Verse 9 is written as the solution to the sin described in verse 8.

5. If 1:8 means that nobody can state that Jesus Christ has cleansed them from all sin, then saying that you have experienced 1:9 makes you a liar. This interpretation of 1:8 would mean that believing 1:9 would make you “deceived”.

6. If "have no sin" means that no Christian can state as Paul did that we are presently "free from sin" (Romans 6:22), then John immediately contradicts his purpose as stated in 2:1, "these things write I unto you, that ye sin not." This interpretation would mean that John was writing this epistle so that we would “deceive ourselves” and so that “the truth” would not be “in us”. Why would John write them so that they “sin not” if when they believe that they “sin not” they are simply “deceived” without “the truth”?

7. If 1:8 means that you are a liar if you claim to presently keep God's commandments, then 2:3-4 is a total contradiction. These passages state that "we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." Such an interpretation would amount to this: if you claim to keep God's commandments, you are a liar and the truth is not in you (1:8), but if you claim to know God but do not keep His commandments, you are a liar and the truth is not in you (2:4). So the truth would not be in the one who claims to keep God's commandments, and the truth would not be in the one who says they know God yet breaks His commandments. Then the only logical conclusion would be that nobody knows God, if the Bible teaches that everyone presently breaks God’s commandments and you cannot know God if you presently break His commandments.

8. If 1:8 means that we all always have sin in our lives, then we do not "abideth in him" and have "not seen him, neither known him" according to 3:6, we are all "of the devil" according to 3:8, and we have not been born of God according to 3:9.

9. If 1:8 means that you are a liar if you state that you no longer break God's commandments, then the Apostle John is a liar because he says "we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" in 3:22. According to the popular interpretation of 1:8, this would make the Apostle “deceived”, it would mean that the Apostle was without “the truth” because he claimed to “keep his commandments”.

10. The difference between the children of God and the children of the devil, is that the children of God do what is righteous, but the children of the devil commit sin, according to 3:8-10. This could not be a proper or accurate distinction if 1:8 means that everyone converted or not has present disobedience in their life.

11. The meaning of this passage is clear: If a man claims that they have never sinned, that they have no sin on their record, they are deceived. But if they confess that they have sinned, their sin can be both forgiven and cleansed out of their lives, so that they will walk in holiness and righteousness.

 2009/9/24 9:58Profile

Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 Re: 1John 1:8


You are welcome to discuss moral perfection (and any other belief system) in the forum, provided the topic doesn't become "spammed" within numerous threads. There is already a thread running in the forum concurrently to this one, dealing the same topic of moral perfection.

Please limit the discussion to that thread.

Thank you.


Paul Frederick West

 2009/9/24 14:05Profile

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