3 Apr 2006

Why does John seem to contradict himself in 1 John?

Submitted by theshovel
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I remember how confused I used to get over 1 John 3:9 –

“Whosoever is born of God doth not sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

This verse is practically singlehandedly responsible for all the guilt I’d felt most of my life. And they constantly pounded it into us at church. Supposedly I was ‘saved’, but I knew I was still sinning. So what did that mean? That I wasn’t really saved? The way they resolved the issue in church was to rename a sin a ‘mistake’. As in, she didn’t commit a sin, she just made a ‘mistake’! LOL!! There are no greater spin doctors than churchfolk. It wasn’t until after I came to theshovel.net that I realized the truth of this verse. I am born of God and I cannot sin, because in Him, there is no sin! It was like a thunderbolt went off when I got that revelation! The issue of sin, however you define it, has been done away with – he nailed it to the cross. —Valerie

Do you know why then there is a verse in I John where it says that if anyone says they do not sin, they are a liar. I get that thrown at me at different times from others and don’t know how to answer. Thanks. —Joyce

Hi Joyce!

Those two verses are:

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:10

No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 1 John 3:9

First, always keep in mind that 1 John is not a collection of verses but instead is a cohesive letter. The same can be said about the other “Biblical” letters. Most of us learned to view the writings found in the Bible according to the principle I call Versitis, because it’s a random verse-centered ailment. Having been influenced by this fragmented view is the only reason these two verses seem to clash. Otherwise, we would have not let one statement negate the other. Instead, we would have to admit that there is far more to what John wrote and would have been forced to consider something other than what is commonly passed off as “truth”. The fact that this glaring apparent contradiction leaves you confused only highlights the confusion of the fleshly system of thought that spawned it.

So let’s consider something here: What does “if anyone says they do not sin, they are a liar” contrast with? And no, this is not a trick question. For even though it seems to always be overlooked, John presented a clear-cut contrast to make his point to his hearers. The contrast to verse 10 is found in 1 John 1:9, and it is simply the difference between confessing and concealing. So, how does that bit of info help to answer Joyce’s question?

I guess namely that what she said actually is TRUE.Before we come to the knowledge of the Truth if we say we have no sin..then ..geez we are a liar! So if we are “concealing” this and standing in self/pride/righteousness…and we say we have no sin to forgive…we suppress the truth and Jesus is not in us..or at least the truth isnt in us..this attitude can definitely continue on in us after salvation..however i would assume after we realize we are already forgiven it may become less of a preoccupation… —Adam

So is the “we” in the verse referring to us as Christians?? Or those that do not have Christ?? Cause, isn’t the truth that we as Christians have NO sin?? Or is the verse simply saying that Christians aren’t afraid to admit the “sins” of their flesh because that is not what identifies them? —Dave

Good question about the “we” in that verse as it was actually John’s designation for himself and the other apostles as being the bearers of the good news.

What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us (and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ). 1 John 1:3 NET

The truth that you and Adam are testifying to is the very same reality that John was declaring, and I love how you worded it: “Or is the verse simply saying that Christians aren’t afraid to admit the ‘sins’ of their flesh because that is not what identifies them?”

If you follow how John wrote what he wrote, instead of the usual habit of getting bogged down with religious buzz words and phrases and legalistic teachings, you will realize that he was sticking himself and the others out as representations of the truth of Christ. You see, the good news isn’t just the “message” it is the reality of true life that cannot be hidden. John had called attention to this so that those he wrote to would see it for themselves so that they would stop paying attention to those who spoke out of both sides of their mouths.

John declared through Christ a coming out of darkness and into the light, coming out of death and into new life, of having been forgiven of all sins and trespasses and now being totally clean of the former. The false preacher will harp on sin and yet, once you get past all his religious BS, will always seem to find a way to excuse himself of any real need for the “forgiveness” he himself preaches. As Adam was saying, those with life “confess” to the very truth of what needed to be done away with, those without life will “conceal” while professing whatever seems necessary to say in order to create their illusion.

There is a vast difference between knowing and declaring one’s reality in Christ versus boasting in one’s lack of sin. After all, when we declare we are no longer sinners are we boasting in anything we’ve done or changed to make that happen … or are we simply declaring our truth in Christ? Those who John spoke of as claiming they hadn’t sinned had nothing to do with union in Christ but in a standing based upon their own righteousness.

Jim :)

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Random Shovelquote: Positional Truth (view all shovelquotes)

Positional was simply a theological way (as in Systematic Theology) to hold to the teaching of our new life in Christ without actually believing it. Source