Lies have an awkward way of snowballing. Most begin simply.
Did you eat those chocolate chip cookies we were saving for dessert tonight?
Then you need more lies to cover up the first one.
That’s funny—it looks like you’ve got chocolate smeared around your mouth.
It’s not chocolate, it’s . . . um . . . just dirt
Then the lie keeps getting bigger.
Why on earth would you be eating dirt?
I was playing out back, when Roger pushed me and I fell on my face in the garden.
And on it goes.
. . .
The Bible’s quite clear about our ability to disobey. Stott offers a quick list of passages that I’d like you to consider (all NRSV):
There is no one who does not sin. (1 Kings 8:46)
They [humankind] have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse;
there is no one who does good,
no, not one.
Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Any single one of these verses would sound like a simple proof-text ripped out of context. However, when you take the cumulative effect of all these verses, spread out over time, the full weight of their message seems unavoidable: we all sin.
. . .
The false-teachers that were speaking in John’s churches made a threefold claim:
- They had fellowship with God while walking in darkness (v. 6).
- They had no sin (v. 8).
- They had never sinned to begin with (v. 10)!
These three claims are exposed by John as nothing but three lies. Here are the corresponding lies:
- We lie to others.
- We lie to ourselves.
- We make god a liar!
You can see how the lie snowballed. It’s easy to lie to others. It’s more difficult (but quite possible) to lie to ourselves. Claiming to have never sinned at all is tantamount to denouncing God as a liar!
. . .
For the last two weeks, we’ve looked at the deception, the effect, and the solution to each of the
if we say statements in 1 John 1.
This week, the deception is:
If we say that we have not sinned.
The effect is twofold:
we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.
The solution begins in chapter 2, which we’ll look at next week. For now, let’s focus on the second part of the effect:
his word is not in us.
John identified Jesus in the first chapter of his Gospel as the Word incarnate. If we claim to love God (or even each other), then we are followers of that Word who has been placed into our lives by the Spirit. How, then, can we act in a way that contradicts both the Word incarnate and the word written?
The application here is quite simple, but takes discipline to implement. In order to love the Word incarnate, we must love the word written. If we want to be followers of Jesus, we need to spend time devouring Scripture—sinking it deep within our hearts until it overflows in our actions. An obvious scripture comes to mind:
I treasure your word in my heart,
so that I may not sin against you.
(Psalm 119:11, NRSV)
If you need some motivation, read more of Psalm 119. It’s a bit repetitive, but it demonstrates the Psalmist’s great love for God’s word—a love we need to engender.
Learning and loving the written word will keep us safe from the sort of false-teaching that was around in John’s day, and certainly has not abated since then.