8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
No, I’m not a sinner. Yes, I am a sinner. But… I’m a sinner saved by grace. Now wait a minute; I’m saved. I do not sin anymore. If I sin, that proves the Holy Spirit is not in charge of me. And if the Holy Spirit is not in charge, then I am not saved. In fact, I am lost. If I am lost, then I am a sinner.
And so on. Circular reasoning?
The author of 1 John writes that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” He adds that “if we say that we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar.”
If we claim to be sinless, “[God’s] Word is not in us.”
What we are to do is:
1) Recognize that we are sinners.
2) Confess our sins which we fall into each and every day.
3) Trust that God forgives these sins and make us righteous by His sacrifice.
Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
My little sons, love we not in word, neither in tongue, but in work and truth. (Wycliffe)
But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (King James Version)
Jesus says exactly the same thing as His disciple says. Jesus says that the least kindness you show to the least is a kindness you show to Him – if you visit the prisoner, you visit Jesus. If you feed the homeless man, you feed Jesus. If you adopt the orphan, you adopt our Lord. And so on.
If we talk love but never show love, then the love of God is not in us. Worse, if we talk love and show hate, then our spirit is not of the Holy Spirit but of our own corrupted nature. We are like pigs remaining in our own mud and corn husks.
God calls us to love in action, not in talk.
Therefore all things, whatever things ye will that men do to you, [and] do ye to them, for this is the law and the prophets.
Almost every person – at least every person who grew up in the Western world – knows this saying of Jesus. Jesus says, “If you want it done to (or for) you, then by all means be sure you do it for (or to) others.”
Don’t be spewing hate at other people if you don’t like hate spewed at you. Don’t throw rocks at dogs if you don’t want dogs to bite you. Don’t drop a nuclear weapon on your enemy if you don’t want a nuclear weapon dropped on your neighborhood. Don’t steal from your government if you don’t want your government to steal from you. Don’t cheat on your spouse if you don’t want your spouse to cheat on you. Don’t whisper and gossip about poor Mrs. Jones down the block if you don’t want Mrs. Jones to whisper and gossip about you.
And so on.
Except Jesus says one more thing. He says that the so-called Golden Rule is the sum – the whole – of the Law and the Prophets. The Golden Rule is the whole shebang.
Yes, yes! I hear you. The first part is critical to the second part – Jesus says to love the Lord your God with your all, with everything you have, everything you are. But He also reminds that if you do not love the one you see next door, how can you possibly love the One you can not see!
And do ye all things without grumblings and doubtings; [Forsooth do ye all things without grutchings and doubtings;] that ye be without plaint, and simple as the sons of God, without reproof, in the middle of a depraved nation [in the middle of a shrewd nation] and a wayward; among which ye shine as givers of light in the world [among whom ye shine as givers of light in the world;]. And hold ye together the word of life to my glory in the day of Christ; for I have not run in vain, neither I have travailed in vain. [holding together the word of life to my glory in the day of Christ; for I have not run in vain, neither in vain travailed.]Philippians 2:14-16WYC
What are the enemies of a simple, reproof-free Christian life? Grumblings (or grutchings) and doubtings, if you read Paul. I imagine Paul bemoans the critical soul who wrings his hands and shakes his head at the world as it rushes by in its waywardness and depravity. I see Paul weeping over the Ebenezer Scrooges of the Christian world who bah-humbug their way through the Christian life. Paul does not wish to run his own race in vain. He desires the Christians he leads to “shine as givers of light in the world.” He wishes Christians to “hold…together the Word of Life” to his “glory in the day of Christ.”
Paul doesn’t say, “Do some things without grumblings and doubtings.” Rather he says to do all things with joy and faith which come of knowing the Lord. Then, and only then, will we shine as givers of light to the world.
“This, then, is the judgment” writes John, the beloved one. The judgment is that those who do evil avoid the Light because they hate the Light while those who do good seek out the Light because their deeds are done by God Himself. The Light exposes evil and those who do evil things hide from exposure.
And those who do good discover that those good things can not originate from themselves; instead the good emerges from the Light Himself.
19 “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”
Real love, genuine agape love is unconditional, period. If you doubt this truth, re-read Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth. He boldly tells the church – a church battling crippling sins – that “love is kind” and “keeps no record of wrongs.”
And in his first letter, John writes:
And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
John doesn’t write, “The one who remains in God remains in love.” Rather, he turns it on its heels and states emphatically that “the one who remains in love remains in God.” You cannot hate people who you are able to see and touch while you claim to love God. You can not refuse to forgive others while expecting God to forgive you. Frankly love and hate are like oil and water – incompatible in the mix.
You can not be a Christian and hate people.
Solomon strongly suggests teaching your child early “about the way he should go.” He says:
Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The pertinent questions, however, are:
1) What to teach?
2) How to teach it?
Solomon readily answers the first question by imploring the parent to teach wisdom. And for the second question, Solomon implies the work is primarily that of the child who must willingly listen to instruction. If the child refuses to listen, no amount of words will matter. Solomon implores the child to listen to instruction so that “wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart.” ( Proverbs 2: 10 )
Solomon says to his own child:
My son, don’t forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commands;
for they will bring you
many days, a full life, and well-being.
Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.
Tie them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will find favor and high regard
in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. Don’t consider yourself to be wise; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. ( Proverbs 3: 1-7 )
What Solomon does not offer is advice to model the behavior you expect from your child. He knows better than that. Instead, he calls on the parent to speak truth, write truth, think about truth and “trust in the Lord with all your heart” and “not rely on your own understanding.”
Solomon wisely says not to “consider yourself to be wise.”
Instead, “fear the Lord.” For awe of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Exasperated, Paul wonders at the Galatians’ desire to place themselves back under the yoke of the Law. He worries over them as they fall victim to Judaizers who wish them circumcised, observant of certain days and specific customs. Paul says “it is always good to be enthusiastic about good;” but he also says he is “suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you.” Paul strongly suggests to the church at Galatia that observing the Law does not and can not make them any more Christ-like!
15 What happened to this sense of being blessed you had? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They are enthusiastic about you, but not for any good. Instead, they want to isolate you so you will be enthusiastic about them. 18 Now it is always good to be enthusiastic about good—and not just when I am with you. 19 My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you. 20 I would like to be with you right now and change my tone of voice, because I don’t know what to do about you. 21 Tell me, those of you who want to be under the law, don’t you hear the law?
Paul then tells them a story. He reminds the Galatians of the children of the free woman, Sarah and the slave woman, Hagar. Both children come from Abraham, but only one is the true heir.
Rid yourself of the yoke of slavery and take up the cloak of freedom in Christ.
Like a baby in the arms of a loving mother, so we – as Christians – rest in our trust of God who loves us. If we fully trust a perfect God, then we are kept in perfect peace, for we are trusting in the God who is perfect. Hence we have a perfect peace.
You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.