1 John 1:10
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
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1:5-10 A message from the Lord Jesus, the Word of life, the eternal Word, we should all gladly receive. The great God should be represented to this dark world, as pure and perfect light. As this is the nature of God, his doctrines and precepts must be such. And as his perfect happiness cannot be separated from his perfect holiness, so our happiness will be in proportion to our being made holy. To walk in darkness, is to live and act against religion. God holds no heavenly fellowship or intercourse with unholy souls. There is no truth in their profession; their practice shows its folly and falsehood. The eternal Life, the eternal Son, put on flesh and blood, and died to wash us from our sins in his own blood, and procures for us the sacred influences by which sin is to be subdued more and more, till it is quite done away. While the necessity of a holy walk is insisted upon, as the effect and evidence of the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus, the opposite error of self-righteous pride is guarded against with equal care. All who walk near to God, in holiness and righteousness, are sensible that their best days and duties are mixed with sin. God has given testimony to the sinfulness of the world, by providing a sufficient, effectual Sacrifice for sin, needed in all ages; and the sinfulness of believers themselves is shown, by requiring them continually to confess their sins, and to apply by faith to the blood of that Sacrifice. Let us plead guilty before God, be humble, and willing to know the worst of our case. Let us honestly confess all our sins in their full extent, relying wholly on his mercy and truth through the righteousness of Christ, for a free and full forgiveness, and our deliverance from the power and practice of sin.If we say that we have not sinned - In times that are past. Some perhaps might be disposed to say this; and as the apostle is careful to guard every point, he here states that if a man should take the ground that his past life had been wholly upright, it would prove that he had no true religion. The statement here respecting the past seems to prove that when, in 1 John 1:8, he refers to the present - "if we say we have no sin" - he meant to say that if a man should claim to be perfect, or to be wholly sanctified, it would demonstrate that he deceived himself; and the two statements go to prove that neither in reference to the past nor the present can anyone lay claim to perfection.

We make him a liar - Because he has everywhere affirmed the depravity of all the race. Compare the notes at Romans 1; 2; 3. On no point have his declarations been more positive and uniform than on the fact of the universal sinfulness of man. Compare Genesis 6:11-12; Job 14:4; Job 15:16; Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 51:5; Psalm 58:3; Romans 3:9-20; Galatians 3:21.

And his word is not in us - His truth; that is, we have no true religion. The whole system of Christianity is based on the fact that man is a fallen being, and needs a Saviour; and unless a man admits that, of course he cannot be a Christian.

Remarks On 1 John 1

(1) The importance of the doctrine of the incarnation of the Son of God, 1 John 1:1-2. On that doctrine the apostle lays great stress; begins his Epistle with it; presents it in a great variety of forms; dwells upon it as if he would not have it forgotten or misunderstood. It has all the importance which he attached to it, for.

(a) it is the most wonderful of all the events of which we have any knowledge;

(b) it is the most deeply connected with our welfare.

(2) the intense interest which true piety always takes in this doctrine, 1 John 1:1-2. The feelings of John on the subject are substantially the feelings of all true Christians. The world passes it by in unbelief, or as if it were of no importance; but no true Christian can look at the fact that the Son of God became incarnate but with the deepest emotion.

(3) it is an object of ardent desire with true Christians that all others should share their joys, 1 John 1:3-4. There is nothing selfish, or narrow, or exclusive in true religion; but every sincere Christian who is happy desires that all others should be happy too.

(4) wherever there is true fellowship with God, there is with all true Christians, 1 John 1:3-4. There is but one church, one family of God; and as all true Christians have fellowship with God, they must have with each other.

(5) wherever there is true fellowship with Christians, there is with God himself, 1 John 1:3-4. If we love his people, share their joys, labor with them in promoting his cause, and love the things which they love, we shall show that we love him. There is but one God, and one church; and if all the members love each other, they will love their common God and Saviour. An evidence, therefore, that we love Christians, becomes an evidence that we love God.

(6) it is a great privilege to be a Christian, 1 John 1:3-4. If we are Christians, we are associated with:

(a) God the Father;

(b) with his Son Jesus Christ;


10. Parallel to 1Jo 1:8.

we have not sinned—referring to the commission of actual sins, even after regeneration and conversion; whereas in 1Jo 1:8, "we have no sin," refers to the present GUILT remaining (until cleansed) from the actual sins committed, and to the SIN of our corrupt old nature still adhering to us. The perfect "have … sinned" brings down the commission of sins to the present time, not merely sins committed before, but since, conversion.

we make him a liar—a gradation; 1Jo 1:6, "we lie"; 1Jo 1:8, "we deceive ourselves"; worst of all, "we make Him a liar," by denying His word that all men are sinners (compare 1Jo 5:10).

his word is not in us—"His word," which is "the truth" (1Jo 1:8), accuses us truly; by denying it we drive it from our hearts (compare Joh 5:38). Our rejection of "His word" in respect to our being sinners, implies as the consequence our rejection of His word and will revealed in the law and Gospel as a whole; for these throughout rest on the fact that we have sinned, and have sin.

If we say that we have not sinned: see 1Jo 1:8,9.

We make him a liar; which they make him that believe not his word, 1Jo 5:10, expressly charging all men with sin, Romans 3:19,23.

And, consequently, his word, or truth, as 1Jo 1:8, which we contradict, is not in us. The sum is: That we are not to he received into God’s holy society and communion under the notion of always innocent and unoffending persons, but as pardoned and purified sinners.

If we say that we have not sinned,.... Have never sinned, in time past as well as now; deny original sin, and that men are born in sin, but affirm they come into the world pure and holy; and assert that concupiscence is not sin; and so not regarding internal lusts and desires as sinful, only what is external, fancy they have so lived as to have been without sin: but if any of us give out such an assertion,

we make him a liar: that is, God, who in his word declares that the wicked are estranged from the womb, and go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies; that his own people are transgressors from the womb; that all have sinned and come short of his glory; and that there is none that does good, no, not one, but all are under sin, under the power and guilt of it, and become filthy by it, and so obnoxious to the wrath of God:

and his word is not in us; either Christ the Word of God, or rather the word of God which declares these things; no regard is had unto it; it "is not with us", as the Syriac and Ethiopic versions render it; it is not used and attended to as the rule and standard of truth, but is east away and despised; at least it has no place in the hearts of such, nor does it work effectually; for, was this the case, they would have other notions of themselves than that of sinless creatures. The apostle has regard either to the Gnostics, a set of heretics of this age, who fancied themselves pure, spiritual, and perfect, even in the midst of all their impurities, and notwithstanding their vicious lives; or to judaizing Christians, and it may be to the Jews themselves, who entertained such sort of notions as these of being perfect and without sin (h).

(h) Vid. T. Bab. Temura, fol. 15. 2. & Bava Kama, fol. 80. 1. T. Hieros. Sota, fol. 24. 1. &. Chagiga, fol. 77. 4.

{7} If we say that we have not sinned, we make him {i} a liar, and his {k} word is not in us.

(7) A repeat of the former verse, in which he condemned all of sin without exception: so much so that if any man persuade himself otherwise, he does as much as in him lies, make the word of God himself useless and to no effect, yes, he makes God a liar: for to why in times past did we need sacrifices, or now Christ and the gospel, if we are not sinners?

(i) They do not only deceive themselves but are blasphemous against God.

(k) His doctrine shall have no place in us; that is, in our hearts.

1 John 1:10. Not a repetition, but “a strengthening of 1 John 1:8” (Baumgarten-Crusius). As 1 John 1:8 is connected with the end of 1 John 1:7, so is this verse with 1 John 1:9.

ἐὰν εἴπωμεν] as in 1 John 1:8.

ὅτι οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν] is substantially synonymous with ὅτι ἁμαρτ. οὐκ ἔχομεν, only distinguished from it in this way that the former describes an activity, the latter a state (so also Braune); the expression used here is called forth by the plural τὰς ἁμαρτίας and the idea ἡ ἀδικία (1 John 1:9), by which the sinful character is more definitely specified as an activity than by ἁμαρτία in 1 John 1:7. The perfect does not prove that ἡμαρτήκαμεν is meant of sins before conversion (Socinus, Russmeyer, Paulus, etc.); the subject here, as in all the verses before, is the sinning of Christians; for to deny former sin could not occur to a Christian.[74] The perfect is explained both by John’s usus loquendi, according to which an action lasting up to the present is often represented in this tense, and also by the fact that the confession every time refers to sins previously committed.

ΨΕΎΣΤΗΝ ΠΟΙΟῦΜΕΝ ΑὐΤΌΝ] corresponds to ἙΑΥΤΟῪς ΠΛΑΝῶΜΕΝ; it brings out that the Christian by the denial of his sin accuses God (ΑὐΤΌΝ, i.e. τὸν Θεόν) of lying. In ΠΟΙΕῖΝ there lies, as Düsterdieck remarks, a certain reproachful bitterness; comp. John 5:18; John 8:53; John 10:33; John 19:7; John 19:12. This thought presupposes the declaration of God that even the Christian sins, which 1 John 1:9 ΠΙΣΤΌς ἘΣΤΙ Κ.Τ.Λ. also suggests; for if God has promised Christians forgiveness of their sins on condition of their confessing them, the above declaration is thereby made on God’s side.

ΚΑῚ Ὁ ΛΌΓΟς ΑὐΤΟῦ (i.e. τοῦ Θεοῦ) οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν] ὁ λόγος, corresponding to the thought Ἡ ἈΛΉΘΕΙΑ in 1 John 1:8, refers directly to the preceding ΨΕΎΣΤΗΝ Κ.Τ.Λ. Lücke explains it correctly: “the revelation of God, especially the gospel of Jesus Christ” (so also Brückner, Düsterdieck, Braune); to understand by it (with Oecumenius, Grotius, de Wette, etc.) especially the O. T., is forbidden by the train of thought, for the subject here is not the sinfulness of man in general, but the ἁμαρτάνειν of Christians.[75] Ebrard interprets Ὁ ΛΌΓΟς Τ. Θ. as the “self-proclamation of the nature of God, which has taken place both in the verbal revelations of the O. and N. T. and in the revelations of deeds,” so that even the ΛΌΓΟς of Gospel of John 1:1 is to be regarded as included; but from the fact that the elements mentioned here are very closely connected, it does not follow that that idea has here, or anywhere else, this extensive signification. The words ΟὐΚ ἜΣΤΙΝ ἘΝ ἩΜῖΝ are erroneously explained by Baumgarten-Crusius: “we have given it up, or also: we are not qualified or fit for it;” it means rather: “it is not vividly imprinted in our hearts” (Spener); it has remained external to us, inwardly unknown.

[74] Therefore it is also not correct to refer ἡμαρτήκ. to present and past, as Hornejus explains: si dixerimus nos non tantum peccatum nunc non habere, sed nec peccatores unquam fuisse.

[75] This has been more or less overlooked by the commentators (even by Düsterdieck and Ebrard), although it is also important for the understanding of chap. 1 John 2:1-2. But John may with justice assume that the word of God denies the absolute sinlessness of Christians, since—apart from the fact that even the O. T. does not depict the δίκαιοι as perfectly holy—in every evangelical announcement the παράκλησις is an essential element for believers, which presupposes their having and doing sin.

10. that we have not sinned] This is not the same as ‘that we have no sin’ (1 John 1:8), and therefore we have once more not repetition, but expansion and strengthening of what precedes. ‘Have no sin’ refers to a sinful state; ‘have not sinned’ refers to the actual commission of particular acts of sin: the one is the inward principle, the other is its result. But the whole context shews that neither expression refers to sins committed before baptism: no Christian would have denied these: moreover S. John does not write to the recently converted, but to those who have had time to grow lukewarm and indifferent. Both expressions refer to sin after baptism, and the perfect (ἡμαρτήκαμεν) has the common meaning of the Greek perfect, present result of past action; ‘we are in the condition of not having sinned’. This use of the perfect is specially frequent in S. John.

we make Him a liar] Worse than ‘we lead ourselves astray’ (1 John 1:8), as that is worse than ‘we lie’ (1 John 1:6). This use of the verb ‘make’ in the sense of ‘assert that one is’ is frequent in the Gospel: ‘He made Himself the Son of God’; ‘Every one that maketh himself a king’ (John 19:7; John 19:12; comp. John 5:18, John 8:53, John 10:33). God’s promise to forgive sin to the penitent would be a lie if there were no sin to be repented of. And more than this; God’s whole scheme of salvation assumes that all men are sinful and need to be redeemed: therefore those who deny their sinfulness charge God with deliberately framing a vast libel on human nature. Whereas S. Paul says, ‘Let God be found true, but every man a liar’ (Romans 3:3).

His word is not in us] God’s revelation of Himself has no home in our hearts: it remains outside us, as the light remains outside and separated from him who shuts himself up in darkness. The expressions, ‘to be in’ and ‘to abide in’, to express intimate relationship, are characteristic of S. John: and either of the things related can be said to be in the other. Thus, either ‘His word is not in us’ (comp. 1 John 2:14), or ‘If ye abide in My word’ (John 8:31): either ‘The truth is not in us’ (1 John 1:8), or ‘He standeth not in the truth’ (John 8:44). Sometimes the two modes of expression are combined; ‘Abide in Me, and I in you’ (John 15:4). ‘His word’ means especially the Gospel: as it is the sins of Christians which are being considered, the O.T., though not excluded, cannot be specially meant. ‘Word’ is more personal than ‘the truth’ (1 John 1:8), which does not necessarily imply a speaker.

1 John 1:10. Ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτὸν, we make Him a liar) God says, Thou hast sinned; to deny this is impious. Comp. ch. 1 John 5:10.—ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ, His word) which is true: 1 John 1:8. The word accuses us with truth; and by contradiction it is driven from the heart.—ἐν ἡμῖν, in us) and therefore we are liars: ch. 1 John 2:4.

Verse 10. - Once more we have no mere repetition, but a fresh thought. "We have not sin" (verse 8) refers to our natural condition; "we have not sinned" (verse 10) refers to definite acts. Note the climax: we lie (verse 6); we lead ourselves utterly astray (verse 8): we make God a liar (verse 10). The whole of God's dealing with man since the Fall, especially in the Incarnation, is based on the fact of man's innate sinfulness. To deny this fact, therefore, is to charge the God of light and truth with acting and maintaining a vast and persistent lie. It is difficult to see how this strong language can be reconciled with the Roman dogma of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary: why does not her "son" (John 19:26, 27) except her from its sweep? His word is not in us; i.e., we are cut off from all communication with him (John 5:38; John 8:31). "His Word" is the sum total of the Divine revelation. That which in itself is "the truth "(verse 8), when communicated to us is "his Word." How thoroughly the Church of England enters into the spirit of these verses (8-10) is shown by the fact that it appoints confession and absolution as part of public service every morning and evening throughout the year, as well as of every celebration of the Eucharist. As Bede points out, the Lord's Prayer itself, with the petition, "Forgive us our trespasses," is a conclusive answer to Pelagian opponents of St. John's doctrine.

1 John 1:10We have not sinned (οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν)

Committed sins. Sin regarded as an act. The state is expressed by ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν we have no (or not) sin (1 John 1:8).

We make Him (ποιοῦμεν αὐτὸν)

A phrase characteristic of John. See John 5:18; John 8:53; John 10:33; John 19:7, John 19:12.

His word (ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ)

Not the personal Word, as John 1:1, but the divine message of the Gospel. See Luke 5:1; Luke 8:11; Acts 4:31; Acts 6:2, Acts 6:7, etc. Compare "the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). The truth is the substance of the word. The word carries the truth. The word both moves the man (John 8:31, John 8:32) and abides in him (John 5:38; John 8:37). The man also abides in the word (John 8:31).

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