All through the Bible God has always commanded people to live a holy life. God is against people sinning and wants them to stop committing sins.
As unbelievers, we lived a life of sin. Some are more steeped in it than others. However, when a person comes to Christ in faith in repentance, Jesus saves him from his sins. He is forgiven of all his past sins, and by the power of the holy Spirit, and His grace, he can now live righteously.
The worst and most discouraging thing I hear today from other “Christians,” is to tell another brother or sister in the Lord that they are not free from sin, and that they sin everyday in thought, word, and deed. So what it boils down to is that the Christian was totally defeated as an unbeliever and is still totally defeated as a believer.
What does the Scriptures say about sin?
“Stand in awe and sin not.” Ps. 4:4
“Awake to righteousness and sin not.”—I Cor. 15:34.
“Go and sin no more.”—John 8:11.
“How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”—Rom. 6:2.
“He that committeth sin is of the devil.”—I John 3:8.
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.”—I John 3:9.
“Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not.” —1 John 3:6.
The Bible is plain. We are not to sin. For that matter, a Christian should NOT want to sin.
One of the famous verses pulled out of context to try and deceive a brother or sister in the Lord is 1 John 1:8. I read a story today from W.E. Shepard concerning this topic. I thought it was an excellent article. And here it is:
WRESTED SCRIPTURES MADE PLAIN
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”—1 John 1:8.
The quotation of this text is used probably more than that of any other in the Bible in the attempt to refute the doctrine of holiness. Perhaps it would be better to say the attempted quotation, for few ever get it right, and we never knew one to give chapter and verse. It is generally quoted thus:
“He that saith he liveth and sinneth not is a liar and the truth is not in him ;“ and that said over so very rapidly that one can scarcely catch the words. Perhaps this rapidity is due to its frequent use. “Practice makes perfect,” and practice in thus repeating such texts makes perfect adepts in denouncing Christian perfection.
We are reminded of a certain lady who quoted these words to a young preacher, a friend of the writer, and was told that such a text was not in the Bible. She replied that it was in her Bible. In about two weeks or so the preacher asked her if she had found that text yet. She said she had read through the Psalms, the four Gospels, and most of the Epistles, and had not found it, but still declared, “It is there.” One good result was that she got to reading her Bible.
If we take this verse away from its context it would seem to teach that it is self-deception for one to lay claim to freedom from sin. But is it honest to snatch a text, or a portion of one, from the context either to prove or refute a doctrine, when the tenor of Scripture teaches otherwise?
For one to take this text for a weapon against the experience or profession of holiness, proves that he is either ignorant of the Word of God, or else he is a designing man. If he is ignorant, he should not attempt to teach; if he is a designer, then he should be shunned.
If one is justified in taking a verse, or a part of the same, out of its place, then anything can be proved from the Bible. In one place it says, “There is no God ;“ but taking in the context it says, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Again we read, “Let him that stole, steal ;“ but when we read the whole verse it says, “Let him that stole, steal no more.” Three verses below the one in question, the apostle John could be made to say, “My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin.” But who would have the audacity to say that John taught the people to sin? When we add the next word and read, “that ye sin not,” we get just the opposite thought.
So it is with I John 1:8 and many other wrested Scriptures. Instead of teaching what opposers of holiness claim they do, they convey quite a different thought, and sometimes the very opposite.
What, then, does our text teach? Read the verse above, which is I John 1:7: “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.” Suppose a garment were spotted with ink, and it were put through a process which cleanseth from all ink, how much ink would remain? Now, if a statement were made to the effect that there was no ink left, would there be any self-deception in that? On the same principle, then, if “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin,” how much sin is left? Then, if all sin is cleansed, where is the self-deception if a testimony should be given to that effect? Of course we would not advocate self-righteousness nor self-exaltation, but on the contrary always put Jesus first, and let everybody know that all we are is through Christ Jesus. Instead of saying, “I am saved” and “I am sanctified,” putting “I” first, say, “Jesus saves” and “Jesus sanctifies.” Let the people see Jesus and not ourselves. We should be hidden away, but at the same time magnify what the Lord has done for us. Give Him all the glory.
To get at the true meaning of the verse in question, let us suppose a conversation between a Christian depending, as all must, on the blood of Christ for salvation, and a self-righteous sinner, who thinks he is good enough and has no sin, consequently no need of the cleansing blood.
Christian: My friend, did you know that “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?” I have proved this to be true, and if you will come to Him as I did you may prove it for yourself, and be cleansed from all sin.
Self-Righteous: But I have no sin to be cleansed away; I have no need of the blood of Jesus.
Christian: What? You say you have no sin? “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Surely you are wrong and self-deceived. You should repent, confess your sins, and be saved, for we read in I John 1 :9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Self-Righteous: But I have never sinned, and do not feel that I have anything to confess or repent of. I pay my honest debts, and treat my neighbors well, and support my family, and I believe I am just as good as anyone. I am not a sinner, and have never done anything wrong.
Christian: Surely, in saving that, you are making God a liar, for in I John 1:10 it says: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him. liar, and His word is not in us.”
Thus we get at the meaning of the last four verses of I John 1. The text in question, then, does not have any reference whatever to one who has been cleansed from all sin, but to one who says he has no sin to be cleansed from, when he really has sin in his heart. It is also just as applicable to the unsanctified Christian who denies the further need of cleansing.
Why should we turn lawyer and plead for sin as if the atonement was a failure and sin a necessity? How some people fly to these wrested Scriptures and there pillow their heads, and slumber on in their carnal security, when God is thundering in tones of Sinai, “Sin no more !“ He is swinging the awful danger signal down the ages, “Stand in awe, and sin not.”
What sad disappointment it brings to some people when God’s prohibitions diametrically cross their carnal desires! And so they seek for comfort and ease in those misconstrued passages which will allow them to sin “just a little.”
A professing Christian lady, living in the 7th chapter of Romans, doing things that she ought not, and leaving undone the things she ought to do, because she was carnal, sold under sin, and it was no more she that did it, but sin that dwelt in her—pleading her cause one day in a conversation with a sanctified lady, asked her to read a verse in the 7th chapter of Romans, as she supposed, for her vindication. The sanctified lady, knowing that she had made a mistake in the chapter and verse, nevertheless read the one cited, when lo, it read: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein ?“ Whereupon the pleader for sin exclaimed, “That is not the verse I meant.” An unsaved person, overhearing the conversation, spoke out and said, “Hold on! That’s Bible, just the same.”
Surely we have need of consistency; it is a great jewel.