Attributes of Sin

The second part in my series on 1 John.

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:5–10 ESV)

John begins here by the nature of God. God is described as light. This is the first of three descriptions of God in this letter. By describing God as light, John is not suggesting that God is a sun god, such as the pagan gods. Rather God is light in that his nature is in truth and holiness. This leads into his discussion of sin.

While sin is not a popular topic today, John did not shy away from it. Nor did he give a one sided description of sin. What follows is a very full and healthy understanding of sin.

Although it comes last, one of the first things we need to know is that sin is inevitable. If a person says they have no sin, they are lying. But at the same time, sin is unacceptable. God is not a kindly grandpa that just winks at sin. God is light and that means he expects his children to walk in the light. With sin inevitable and sin unacceptable, this seems to leave Christians in a difficult position. The answer is in the forgiveness of sin. We are expected to confess our sins. God will not refuse us his forgiveness. This is not a simple sorry to get away from God’s anger. Confession requires genuine sorrow and determination to change.

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