If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ESV
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. NIV
As we’ve unpacked and explored the Story of Redemption, we’ve seen that all humanity is corrupted by sin. We all fall short; each of us misses the mark. We know intuitively that we’re sinful, but if we’re honest, we don’t like to admit our brokenness. Our natural response is to run, hide, or deflect the blame onto someone else. We don’t like being guilty, so we do everything we can to make ourselves look better than we truly are. There are many ways we try to avoid or diminish sin. Here are a few examples:
1: Denial: Maybe the way you try to avoid sin is through denial. Perhaps you’ve tried to justify sin by saying that your actions or thoughts aren’t really that bad. You probably know deep down that you’re a sinner. But when asked to think of specific sins, your natural response is to deny that you‘re struggling.
2: Comparison: Maybe for you, the temptation isn’t denial but comparison. Whenever the Spirit convicts you of sin, you immediately think of someone in your church or connection group who struggles worse than you. Like the Pharisee who compared himself to the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), you find it easy to compare yourself to others. You know you’re sinful, but you also think, “At least I’m not as bad as them.”
3: Blame: Perhaps, the way you downplay sin is by blaming others for it. You feel shame or guilt over something you’ve done, but rather than taking responsibility, you blame people or circumstances for your sin. This is what happened in the Garden immediately after Adam and Eve sinned. Listen to the excuses they made.
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12-13)
In these verses, we see that from the very beginning, mankind has tried to avoid feelings of guilt and shame by avoiding or diminishing the seriousness of our sinful nature. We refuse to walk in the light because we are scared of what we will find. And yet this week’s verse is clear. ”If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) When you pretend to be sinless, you live a lie. And the danger of living a lie is that, eventually, you begin to believe it. That’s why John says, “we deceive ourselves.” When you deny your sin, minimize your sin by comparison, or blame others for it, the primary person it hurts is you. Sin is like mold; it grows in the dark. Ignoring your sin will only make it grow. Denying your sin will not make it go away. And that’s why the first step toward healing is learning to walk in the light.
Walk In the Light
To walk in the light means that you’re honest. When God convicts you of sin, confess it. You don’t make excuses, you don’t shift the blame. You simply admit the fact that you’ve fallen short. Walking in the light doesn’t mean that you never sin. It means that you don’t try to hide your sin from God. Walking in the light means living honestly before God and honestly before others. This type of honesty, however, is often uncomfortable. We would rather tell people we were misinformed than admit we’ve sinned against them. And yet the moment you admit your sin, all of heaven rejoices because that’s the first step towards healing.
You can’t be helped by a doctor unless you’re willing to admit that you’re sick. And the same is true of your sin. Honesty about your sin is the first step towards healing because you humbly place yourself before the one who can save you. You say, “I can’t fix me. I need you to fix me.” So today, whether you struggle with denial, comparison, or blame, I hope you will take the first step toward healing by walking in the light.
Written By: Nick Harsh
Nick Harsh (MDiv, Clarks Summit University) is a ministry leader with The Salt Company, a ministry of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. While publishing regularly at nickharsh.com, his writing has also been featured at The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Relevant Magazine.