Sermon Study Guide
Dealing with Sin, Part 1
1 John (Lesson 3) - Jan. 17, 2021 - Pastor Alan Cousins
Text: 1 John 1:8-10
Introduction: Last week I explained that there were people in this local congregation (probably in Ephesus, where John had pastored for a number of years) who were opposing Jesus’ and the apostles’ teaching about the issue of sin in the Christian’s life.
These false teachers (who became known as the Gnostics in the second century) taught that how you lived after you were saved didn’t matter because Christianity was not about the flesh; it was about the spirit. So since we’ve been made perfect in our spirits, how we live in the flesh doesn’t matter. The flesh is of this world; the spirit is of the heavenly world.
To put it another way, since Christianity is about the things of the spirit in the heavenly or upper world and you’re not there yet, you can live however you want to and it doesn’t matter. Basically, they taught that you could have fellowship with God while living immorally because the flesh is not the spirit. (For more information on Gnosticism, please see my article on the subject on near the bottom of our resources page).
John gives a warning to the church: “These men are not teaching you from the true Word of God about the issue of sin in the Christian life. To say it doesn’t matter how one lives is wrong.”
I. THE SECOND ERROR: The Christian is Free from Sin (1 Jn. 1:8)
John says that claiming to be without sin is far from being a sign of spiritual superiority, in fact it is definitive evidence of self-delusion as well as a false indoctrination which is opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gnostics argument ran like this: “We are united to Christ, He is in us, and we are in Him. Therefore we no longer have sin. We are inherently new creations. The old creature that we were has so completely passed away that there is no sin left in us.”
II. THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO THIS ERROR (1 Jn. 1:9)
John stresses that the proper Christian response to sin in the Christian life is confession.
Confession is the expression of our ongoing repentance.
Confession and repentance of sin are a normal part of the Christian life, not some exception to the rule.
Faith and repentance inaugurate the Christian life; and they continue to characterize it throughout one’s mortal life.
So, how are we supposed to do this and not be overwhelmed by the seriousness of our sin?
- God is faithful to forgive us of our sins.
- God is righteous to forgive us of our sins.
Some might respond to this and say, “But I’m confused. The Bible says when we trust in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. So, why in the world would I need to go on confessing my sins if I’m already forgiven?”
- It is a fact attested to by Scripture that without confessing our sins to God we will never attain a sense of God’s forgiveness (Psalm 32).
- The Bible teaches that believers, though united to Christ, still sin (Rom. 6:12).
- Repentance is not a one time, past action in the Christian life; it’s an ongoing project (Rev. 2:5).
- We confess our sins in prayer because first and foremost all of our sin is offensive and displeasing to God.
- The ultimate goal of our salvation is not to be rescued from Hell, but to be holy and Christlike before God.
III. THE THIRD ERROR: CHRISTIANS CAN’T SIN (1 Jn. 1:10)
John says that claiming not to have sinned is an assault on God’s honesty, and it’s definitive evidence that His Word has been rejected.
You make God out to be a liar when you claim that you are perfect, because God’s Word from cover to cover says the exact opposite -- temptations and sin are an ongoing experience for even the most dedicated believer.
Four Truths About Us That We Need to Remember:
- Believers are still sinners (Rom. 7:14-25).
- With the Holy Spirit’s assistance, believers must strive against sin.
- Believers are no longer is slavery to sin.
The Christian life is characterized by growth and holiness, but not perfection (Mk. 2:17).