8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
The greatest form of deception is self-deception. When we make a conscious decision not to take heed of the knowledge, wisdom, and experiences of those we trust we have set our course toward self-destruction.
This may sound like harsh words, but this is exactly the problem with any and every person who chooses not to acknowledge that there they are fundamentally broken. I think that the Church (big “C”) has done the lost world a disservice by saying that there is something broken inside of us, rather than something broken with us. What John implies in verse 8 is that the problem is far more critical than we are willing or maybe able to admit.
If we say that there is nothing wrong with us, that there is nothing broken, not just in, but with who we are, we are lying to ourselves. The irony of this phrasing by John is that others are not as easily fooled by our deception as we are. The world outside the church has no problems pointing their fingers in judgment. It has always been easy to identify the flaws in others. But, when we have to look in the mirror, we want to whitewash the problems. We want to minimize the real issues. This is possibly the most harmful tendency that we have as human beings.
You see, John is not saying that we are denying having done something wrong. John is pointing to the denial of the fundamental problem we all have. The problem of what our natures actually incline our hearts toward. Now, I know that some will read this and be like, “No one is all bad.” Or, they may counter by arguing, “We are just human. We all make mistakes.” And I would rejoinder that this defensiveness is exactly the problem that John is pointing to. I am not denying this. I don’t anyone who would. However, our sentimentality about our sinfulness will lead to our eternal ruin.
John is moving beyond the excuses and pointing to the source of the problem. We are sinners, not merely because we make mistakes. We are sinners because our natures are tainted by sin. Everything we do, no matter what we say our motives are, are tarnished and bent because of our sinful natures.
We don’t want to talk about sin anymore in the church. We don’t want to acknowledge that the Gospel; the reality of Jesus’ coming and dying for us on the cross only makes sense if there is something so bad in us that only God himself could fix it. That is what the Gospel points to. We are so broken, so utterly messed up that only God could heal us and restore us to a right relationship with God.
John’s offers the true state of affairs for those who fail to acknowledge their sinfulness. He says that the truth is not in us. Not even a little bit. In essence, we not only are liars, we are the worst kind of liars because we will lie to ourselves to cover up the truth.
The first and most important task of every believer is to remember that what Jesus did on the cross is the way we measure what was wrong with us. Whenever we let this slip in our thinking, the farther we move from the truth that saves us.
God’s love and grace have overcome our sin. This is the promise of the Gospel. This is the power contained in the blood of Jesus. What we must do is to continually remember that without the grace of God, without the sacrifice of Jesus, and without the power of the Holy Spirit we will not be able to live in God’s will.