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.
10 Say ye among the Gentiles, the Lord hath reigned. For he hath corrected the world, which shall not be moved: he will judge the people with justice.
11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, let the sea be moved, and the fulness thereof:
12 the fields and all things that are in them shall be joyful. Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice
13 before the face of the Lord, because he cometh: because he cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with his truth.
An appropriate view of God is to recognize Him as Parent. Jesus is smart to introduce God, His Father as our Father when He prays, “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.” David calls God “King” and “Judge.” And yes, God is our King and our Judge. But above these roles, He is our Parent. He corrects us like the perfect parent corrects – with justice and love.
And so, the heavens rejoice; and the earth is glad. Everything on the earth is joyful “because He comes; because He comes to judge the earth…with justice, and the people with HIS TRUTH.”
Why do you suppose Jesus tells the believing Jews to “dwell in” His Word? After all, the Word was given to their people first, many years before Jesus’ physical birth. These Jews may argue this point; some do.
Jesus informs them that He is the great “I Am,”(v. 24) “the Beginning, or the first of all thing, the which and I speak to you.” (v. 25) Some Jews listening to Jesus reject this claim, but many believe.
“Therefore Jesus said to the Jews, that believed in him, If ye dwell in my word, verily ye shall be my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
They believe. Aren’t they already free? Why do they have to “dwell in [His] Word?” They believe. Why don’t they already “know the truth?”
They’ve just heard, just now. They process this awesome good news. They aren’t sure; they need time. They need to sit down at His feet, so to speak, and hear more.
Dwell in His Word. Learn of His yoke; feel how light the burden. These Jews carry a heavy load, the heavy load of the Law of Moses, a task-master and instructor that has finally guided them to the Messiah, who stands before them claiming to be One with God. Jesus’ Word is overwhelming.
Learn the Truth; the truth sets you free.
The one who knows the truth; who believes in the Lord — in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — loves mercy. That those who believe in Jesus and His sacrifice also love mercy should come as no surprise. Jesus is the epitome of mercy. The opposite of mercy is evil. “They err that work evil.”
“He that believeth in the Lord, loveth mercy; they err that work evil. Mercy and truth make ready goods (Mercy and truth bring forth good things);”
A lot of wrath rolls off the tongues of those who ought to remember that “mercy and truth bring forth good things.”
“Every inspired Scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, or for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind.”
The Word of God enables us to “be efficient and equipped for good work.” The Word teaches us the Truth and shows us error; it reforms and disciplines us. “The Word of God is alive and active. It cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the place where life and spirit, joints and marrow, divide. It sifts the purposes and thoughts of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
The Word is not just written information on pages in a book; it is the very breath of God. The Word enters us through sight and hearing and changes us through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who enables us to comprehend its truth and amend our lives.
Stay in the Word of God. Don’t rely on your memory of sermons, of commentaries, of secondhand exposure to it. Rather, read it for yourself. Study the Word; allowing God to transform you from the inside out.
If God is an eagle, then you are safe beneath His wings as “He covers you with His pinions.” (Psalm 91: 4) Here you find shelter as you “lodge under the shadow of the Almighty.” God is your “safe retreat.”
“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand close at hand, but you it does not touch; His truth is your shield and your rampart. With your own eyes you see all this.” (Psalm 91: 7, 8)
If God is an eagle, “He Himself snatches you away from the fowler’s snare;” and “you do not fear the hunter’s trap by night.” (Psalm 91: 3, 5) You do not fear as you “live in the shelter of the Most High.”
God Himself says, “You see with your own eyes…how I carry you on eagles’ wings and bring you here to Me. If only you now listen to Me and keep My covenant, then out of all peoples you are my special possession; for the whole earth is Mine.” (Exodus 19: 4 – 5)
“Make the Most High your refuge.” (Psalm 91: 9)
God gives us the law through Moses, carved by His finger on tablets of stone.
God gives us His grace and His truth through Jesus Christ His Son, both carved not on tablets of stone by on our hearts.
As God promises, so He delivers.
“I remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them.” (Ezekiel 11: 19)
Again, He says, “I give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances… I save you from all your uncleanness.” (Ezekiel 36: 26 – 27, 29)
God saves us. He rescues us from our uncleanness by putting His Spirit within us, by changing our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh.
Paul tells us to “be strengthened by the Lord.” Our strength is not our own, but comes from “His vast strength.” We are to “put on the full armor of God” in order to withstand “the tactics of the Devil.”
This armor is to be taken up, carried; and consists of: truth, righteousness, readiness for the gospel, faith, salvation, the Word of God — and is sustained through prayer in God the Holy Spirit.
God sustains us; He strengthens us and enables us to stand. Through Him, we persevere.
The Christian walk is akin to a marriage, says Paul. We are Christ’s bride, and He is our husband. As husband, Christ loves His wife, the church, the body of believers. He keeps His bride safe. He enables her to stand victorious. If she falls, He picks her up in His mighty arms and washes her face; He cleans her, and sets her on her feet once again. If she should fall again, again He rights her. He has a love for her that no one fully comprehends. After all, He died for her. Why should He leave her? Never! She belongs to Him, for He paid an enormous price to call her His own. She is His, and His alone.
“Chris loves the church and gives Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the Word. He does this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5: 25 – 27)
Jesus asks each of us, “Who do you say that I Am?”
The answer we give marks us for eternity. If we say with our mouths, “You are the Christ,” then we know the truth, and this truth sets us free — free from sin and death.
If we say, “You are a great teacher,” then we do not know the truth, and the lie we believe does not serve us well. Believing Jesus is only a great teacher may comfort us, but this lie does not save.
The Pharisees in an attempt to test Jesus demand a sign from heaven. “But sighing deeply in His Spirit, [Jesus] says, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign? I assure you: No sign is given to this generation!’ ” (Mark 8: 12)
Jesus asks His disciples who the people say He is. Some people say, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.” (Mark 8: 28) In other words, the people recognize Jesus is an extraordinary man, but miss the obvious truth that He is more than just a man.
When Jesus asks Peter, Peter responds rightly, “You are the Messiah!” (Mark 8: 29)
Jesus does not deny Peter’s statement. Instead He warns His disciples to keep this truth to themselves for now.
“All things work together for good,” says Paul. Paul does not say that only some things work together for good, but all things. He includes those events which, on the surface, appear and feel terrible – the death of a loved one, the abandonment and betrayal of a spouse, the loss of employment, the straying of the heart, the end of good health. None of these happenings are welcome. No one seeks them.
God is the ultimate weaver, taking the broken painful bits of our lives and weaving these in with the less broken, even joyful bits to make a beautiful tapestry. Through all things, He perfects us.
We who belong to Christ are “led by God’s Spirit.” (Romans 8: 14) As His sons, “[we] do not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but [we] receive the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ ” (Romans 8: 15) Because God calls us “according to His purpose,” we know that He foreknows us, predestines us, conforms us to His image, justifies us, and glorifies us. (Romans 8: 28 – 30)
Since God does all these things for us, what have we to fear? asks Paul. Nothing. We have nothing to fear for God is on our side. “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus sets [us] free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8: 1 – 2)
We are free. Jesus says that He is the truth, and that as the truth, He sets us free.