1 John 1:8
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
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1 John 1:8-10. If we say — Before Christ’s blood has cleansed us; that we have no sin — To be cleansed from; or if, even after we have experienced the cleansing virtue of his blood, and are acquitted through the merit of it from all past guilt, and saved from all evil tempers, words, and works; if, even after this, after we are both justified, regenerated, and sanctified, we say we have no sin, but are perfectly sinless, and that our spirit and conduct can bear the scrutiny of God’s holiness and justice, as exhibited in his spiritual and holy law; we deceive ourselves — And that in a very capital point; and the truth is not in us — Neither in our mouth nor in our heart; we must be destitute even of that self-knowledge which, in the nature of things, must necessarily precede every other branch of experimental and practical religion. If we confess our sins — With penitent and believing hearts; he is faithful — Having promised this blessing by the unanimous voice of all his prophets; and just — Surely then he will punish: no; for this very reason he will pardon. This may seem strange, but, upon the evangelical principle of atonement and redemption, it is undoubtedly true. Because when the debt is paid, or the purchase made, it is the part of equity to cancel the bond, and consign over the purchased possession; both to forgive our sins — To take away all the guilt of them, and to give us peace with himself, and peace of conscience; and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness — From all iniquity of heart and life, and to purify our souls from all vile affections and unholy dispositions, from every thing contrary to the pure and perfect love of God. Yet still we are to retain, even to our lives’ end, a deep sense of our past sins: still, if we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar — Who saith, all have sinned; and his word is not in us — We give it no place in our hearts. 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 no sin - It is not improbable that the apostle here makes allusion to some error which was then beginning to prevail in the church. Some have supposed that the allusion is to the sect of the Nicolaitanes, and to the views which they maintained, particularly that nothing was forbidden to the children of God under the gospel, and that in the freedom conferred on Christians they were at liberty to do what they pleased, Revelation 2:6, Revelation 2:15. It is not certain, however, that the allusion is to them, and it is not necessary to suppose that there is reference to any particular sect that existed at that time. The object of the apostle is to show that it is implied in the very nature of the gospel that we are sinners, and that if, on any pretence, we denied that fact, we utterly deceived ourselves. In all ages there have been those who have attempted, on some pretence, to justify their conduct; who have felt that they did not need a Saviour; who have maintained that they had a right to do what they pleased; or who, on pretence of being perfectly sanctified, have held that they live without the commission of sin. To meet these, and all similar cases, the apostle affirms that it is a great elementary truth, which on no pretence is to be denied, that we are all sinners. We are at all times, and in all circumstances, to admit the painful and humiliating truth that we are transgressors of the law of God, and that we need, even in our best services, the cleansing of the blood of Jesus Christ. The fair interpretation of the declaration here will apply not only to those who maintain that they have not been guilty of sin in the past, but also to those who profess to have become perfectly sanctified, and to live without sin. In any and every way, if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. Compare the notes at James 3:2.

We deceive ourselves - We have wrong views about our character. This does not mean that the self-deception is willful, but that it in fact exists. No man knows himself who supposes that in all respects he is perfectly pure.

And the truth is not in us - On this subject. A man who should maintain that he had never committed sin, could have no just views of the truth in regard to himself, and would show that he was in utter error. In like manner, according to the obvious interpretation of this passage, he who maintains that he is wholly sanctified, and lives without any sin, shows that he is deceived in regard to himself, and that the truth, in this respect, is not in him. He may hold the truth on other subjects, but he does not on this. The very nature of the Christian religion supposes that we feel ourselves to be sinners, and that we should be ever ready to acknowledge it. A man who claims that he is absolutely perfect, that he is holy as God is holy, must know little of his own heart. Who, after all his reasoning on the subject, would dare to go out under the open heaven, at midnight, and lift up his hands and his eyes toward the stars, and say that he had no sin to confess - that he was as pure as the God that made those stars?

8. The confession of sins is a necessary consequence of "walking in the light" (1Jo 1:7). "If thou shalt confess thyself a sinner, the truth is in thee; for the truth is itself light. Not yet has thy life become perfectly light, as sins are still in thee, but yet thou hast already begun to be illuminated, because there is in thee confession of sins" [Augustine].

that we have no sin—"Have," not "have had," must refer not to the past sinful life while unconverted, but to the present state wherein believers have sin even still. Observe, "sin" is in the singular; "(confess our) sins" (1Jo 1:9) in the plural. Sin refers to the corruption of the old man still present in us, and the stain created by the actual sins flowing from that old nature in us. To confess our need of cleansing from present sin is essential to "walking in the light"; so far is the presence of some sin incompatible with our in the main "walking in light." But the believer hates, confesses, and longs to be delivered from all sin, which is darkness. "They who defend their sins, will see in the great day whether their sins can defend them."

deceive ourselves—We cannot deceive God; we only make ourselves to err from the right path.

the truth—(1Jo 2:4). True faith. "The truth respecting God's holiness and our sinfulness, which is the very first spark of light in us, has no place in us" [Alford].

In pursance of which scope, he fitly adds: If we should say, i.e. either profess it as a principle, or think in our minds, or not bear in our hearts a penitential, remorseful sense, correspondent to the contrary apprehension; such as is implied in confessing, 1Jo 1:9; for saying usually signifies the habitual bent and disposition of the heart and practice, Job 21:14 Jeremiah 22:21.

That we have no sin; viz. that we are so innocent creatures as not to need such an expiatory sacrifice as that above mentioned, and such purifying influence thereupon, but that we may be admitted to communion with God upon our own account, and for our worthiness’ sake, without being beholden to the blood of Christ.

We deceive ourselves, delude our own souls.

And the truth; i.e. the system and frame of gospel doctrine, as 2Jo 1:1,2,4.

Is not in us; cannot be duly entertained, lies not evenly and agreeably with itself in our minds, or hath no place with effect in us, as John 8:37. If we say that we have no sin,.... Notwithstanding believers are cleansed from their sins by the blood of Christ, yet they are not without sin; no man is without sin: this is not only true of all men, as they come into the world, being conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity, and of all that are in a state of unregeneracy, and of God's elect, while in such a state, but even of all regenerated and sanctified persons in this life; as appears by the ingenuous confessions of sin made by the saints in all ages; by their complaints concerning it, and groans under it; by the continual war in them between flesh and spirit; and by their prayers for the discoveries of pardoning grace, and for the fresh application of Christ's blood for cleansing; by their remissness in the discharge of duty, and by their frequent slips and falls, and often backslidings: and though their sins are all pardoned, and they are justified from all things by the righteousness of Christ, yet they are not without sin; though they are freed from the guilt of sin, and are under no obligation to punishment on account of it, yet not from the being of it; their sins were indeed transferred from them to Christ, and he has bore them, and took them and put them away, and they are redeemed from them, and are acquitted, discharged, and pardoned, so that sin is not imputed to them, and God sees no iniquity in them in the article of justification; and also, their iniquities are caused to pass from them, as to the guilt of them, and are taken out of their sight, and they have no more conscience of them, having their hearts sprinkled and purged by the blood of Jesus, and are clear of all condemnation, the curse of the law, the wrath of God, or the second death, by reason of them; yet pardon of sin, and justification from it, though they take away the guilt of sin, and free from obligation to punishment, yet they do not take out the being of sin, or cause it to cease to act, or do not make sins cease to be sins, or change the nature of actions, of sinful ones, to make them harmless, innocent, or indifferent; the sins of believers are equally sins with other persons, are of the same kind and nature, and equally transgressions of the law, and many of them are attended with more aggravating circumstances, and are taken notice of by God, and resented by him, and for which he chastises his people in love: now though a believer may say that he has not this or that particular sin, or is not guilty of this or that sin, for he has the seeds of all sin in him, yet he cannot say he has no sin; and though he may truly say he shall have no sin, for in the other state the being and principle of sin will be removed, and the saints will be perfectly holy in themselves, yet he cannot, in this present life, say that he is without it: if any of us who profess to be cleansed from sin by the blood of Christ should affirm this,

we deceive ourselves; such persons must be ignorant of themselves, and put a cheat upon themselves, thinking themselves to be something when they are nothing; flattering themselves what pure and holy creatures they are, when there is a fountain of sin and wickedness in them; these are self-deceptions, sad delusions, and gross impositions upon themselves:

and the truth is not in us; it is a plain case the truth of grace is not in such persons, for if there was a real work of God upon their souls, they would know and discern the plague of their own hearts, the impurity of their nature, and the imperfection of their obedience; nor is the word of truth in them, for if that had an entrance into them, and worked effectually in them, they would in the light of it discover much sin and iniquity in them; and indeed there is no principle of truth, no veracity in them; there is no sincerity nor ingenuity in them; they do not speak honestly and uprightly, but contrary to the dictates of their own conscience.

{5} If we say that we have no sin, we {e} deceive ourselves, and the {f} truth is not in us.

(5) There is none but need this benefit, because there is none that is not a sinner.

(e) This fully refutes that perfectness of works of supererogation (doing more than duty requires, the idea that excess good works can form a reserve fund of merit that can be drawn on in favour of sinners) which the papists dream of.

(f) So then, John speaks not thus for modesty's sake, as some say but because it is so indeed.

1 John 1:8. Purification from sin presupposes the existence of sin even in believers; the denial of this is self-deception.

ἐὰν εἴπωμεν] as in 1 John 1:6; thereby is meant not merely “the speech of the heart” (Spener), but the actual expression and assertion.

ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν] The view of Grotius,[59] that this refers to sinning before conversion, and that ἁμαρτία therefore means the guilt of sin, is rightly rejected by Lücke, Sander, etc.

The question, especially of earlier commentators, whether ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑ is here original sin (or sinfulness, as Weiss still thinks) or actual sin (pecc. actuale), desire (concupiscentia) or deed, is solved by the fact that the idea is considered quite generally by the apostle (so also Braune)—only, of course, with the exception of the sin spoken of in chap. 1 John 5:16. The 1st person plural ἜΧΟΜΕΝ is to be noticed in so far as the having sin is thereby represented as something that is true of all Christians. The expression ἁμαρτίαν ἔχειν describes in a quite general way the taint of sin; only of the absolutely pure, in whom no trace of sin exists, is it true that he ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑΝ ΟὐΚ ἜΧΕΙ; the relation of this ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑΝ ἜΧΕΙΝ to ΠΕΡΙΠΑΤΕῖΝ ἘΜ Τῷ ΣΚΌΤΕΙ (1 John 1:6), in which the will of man serves sin (or in which sin is the dominating principle of life), is therefore not that of contrast (say in this way, that ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑΝ ἜΧΕΙΝ is a being tainted with sin, where no act of will takes place),[60] but is to be defined thus, that the latter (ΠΕΡΙΠΑΤΕῖΝ ἘΝ Τῷ ΣΚΌΤΕΙ) is a particular species of ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑΝ ἜΧΕΙΝ. Even though as Christians, who are born of God, we have no longer sin in the sense that ΠΕΡΙΠ. ἘΝ Τῷ ΣΚΌΤΕΙ is true of us, nevertheless we do not yet cease to have sin; if we deny this, if we maintain that we have no sin at all, then what John says in the following words is the case with us. ἙΑΥΤΟῪς ΠΛΑΝῶΜΕΝ] not = “we are mistaken,” which ΠΛΑΝΏΜΕΘΑ would mean;[61] but, as Sander explains: “we mislead ourselves, take ourselves astray from salvation (or better: from truth);” by that assertion, which is a lie (not an unconscious mistake), the Christian (for the apostle is not here speaking of non-Christians) deceives himself about the truth, for which he leaves no room in himself. Braune rightly observes that ἑαυτὸν πλανᾶν emphasizes the self-activity, which the middle with its passive form leaves in the background.

καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐν ἡμῖν οὐκ ἔστιν] is not a mere repetition of ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν, but adds to this another new element.

ἡ ἀλήθεια, as in 1 John 1:6, is neither = studium veri (Grotius), nor = castior cognitio (Semler), nor even = uprightness, or truthfulness (Lücke in his 2d ed.), or, as de Wette explains: “the veracity of self-knowledge and self-examination;”[62] but truth in its objective character (Lücke in his 1st ed., Baumgarten-Crusius, Düsterdieck, Brückner, Braune). Baumgarten-Crusius rightly says: “ἀλήθεια does not need to be taken in subjective sense, the subjective lies in οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν.” The expressions used here: ἑαυτ. πλανῶμεν and ἡ ἀλ. οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν, are not milder (Sander) than the corresponding expressions in 1 John 1:6 : ψευδόμεθα and οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν, but stronger (Ebrard), since in ἑαυτ. πλ. the self-injury, and in ἡ ἀλήθ. οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν the negation of possession of the truth, are more sharply marked.

[59] Habere peccatum, non est: nunc in peccato esse, sed ob peccatum reum posse fieri.

[60] Even Ebrard does not correctly state the relation of the two expressions to one another, when he says that “in ἔχειν ἁμαρτίαν man is not in ἁμαρτία, but ἁμαρτία is in man,” for plainly he also who is in ἁμαρτία has this in himself.

[61] When Ebrard, in opposition to this, remarks that it cannot be asserted “that the middle πλανᾶσθαι means ‘to be mistaken,’ and πλανᾶν ἑαυτόν, on the other hand, ‘to mislead oneself,’ ” this is not at all to the point, since it is not said that πλανᾶσθαι has always the meaning “to be mistaken,” but that the German “sich irren” [Engl. “to be mistaken”] is expressed in Greek not by πλανᾶν ἑαυτόν, but by πλανᾶσθαι.

[62] Ewald’s explanation is also unsatisfactory: “truth about this relation of things, and therefore easily about every other also.”1 John 1:8-10. The heresy of Perfectionism. Some might not say, with the Antinomians, that they were absolved from the obligation of the moral law, but they maintained that they were done with sin, had no more sinful propensities, committed no more sinful acts. In opposition hereto the Apostle asserts two facts: (1) Inherent corruption. Distinguish ἁμαρτίαν ἔχειν (“to have sin”) and ἁμαρτάνειν (“to sin”), corresponding to the sinful principle and its manifestation in specific acts. Our natures are poisoned, the taint is in our blood. Grace is the medicine, but recovery is a protracted process. It is begun the moment we submit ourselves to Christ, but all our lives we continue under treatment. πλανῶμεν, “lead astray” (cf. Matthew 18:12). ἡ ἀλήθεια, in Johannine phraseology not simply “der Wahrheitssinn, die Wahrhaftigkeit der Selbstprüfung und der Selbsterkenntniss” (Rothe), but the revelation of “the True God” (ver. 20; John 17:3), which came “through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), Himself “the Truth” (John 14:6). Nearly equivalent to ὁ λόγος (1 John 1:10). The Truth is a splendid ideal, never realised here, else it would cease to be an ideal; always as we pursue it displaying a fuller glory, And thus the nearer we approach it the further off it seems; when we walk in the light we see faults which were hidden in the darkness. Self-abasement is a characteristic of the saints. When Juan de Avila (A.D. 1500–69) was dying the rector of his college approached him and said: “What joy it must be to you to think of meeting the Saviour!” “Ah!” said the saint, “rather do I tremble at the thought of my sins.” (2) The frequent falls of the believer. We all “have sinned (ἡμαρτήκαμεν),” i.e., committed acts of sin (ἁμαρτίας) manifesting the strength and activity of the sinful principle (ἡ ἁμαρτία) in our souls. This, however, is no reason for despair. There is a remedy—forgiveness and cleansing in the blood of Jesus; and there is a way of obtaining it—confession. πιστός, i.e., to His promise (cf. Hebrews 10:23). δίκαιος: He would be unrighteous if He broke His promise ratified by the blood of Jesus. Peace is not got by denying our sinfulness and our sins, but by frankly confessing them and availing ourselves, continually and repeatedly, of the gracious remedy. “Woe to that soul which presumes to think that he can approach God in any other way than as a sinner asking mercy. Know yourself to be wicked, and God will wrap you up warm in the mantle of His goodness” (Juan de Avila). “Remission of sins cannot be sundered from penitence, nor can the peace of God belong to consciences where the fear of God does not reign” (Calv.).

Perfectionism has two causes: (1) The stifling of conscience: “we make Him a liar, i.e., turn a deaf ear to His inward testimony, His voice in our souls. (2) Ignorance of His Word: it “is not in us”. Such a delusion were impossible if we steeped our minds in the Scriptures. Consider the lapses of the saints, e.g., David, Peter.8. If we say] See on 1 John 1:6. Doubtless there were some who said so, and more perhaps who thought so; ‘say’ need not mean more than ‘say in our hearts’. S. John’s own teaching might easily be misunderstood as encouraging such an error, if one portion of it (1 John 3:9-10) were taken without the rest.

we have no sin] ‘To have sin’ is a phrase peculiar to S. John in N. T. There is no need to inquire whether original or actual sin is meant: the expression is quite general, covering sin of every kind. Only One human being has been able to say ‘The things pleasing to God I always do’; ‘Which of you convicteth Me of sin?’; ‘The ruler of the world hath nothing in Me’ (John 8:29; John 8:46; John 14:30). The more a man knows of the meaning of ‘God is light’, i.e. the more he realises the absolute purity and holiness of God, the more conscious he will become of his own impurity and sinfulness: comp. Job 9:2; Job 14:4; Job 15:14; Job 25:4; Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20.

we deceive ourselves] Not merely we are mistaken, or are misled, but we lead ourselves astray. In the Greek it is neither the middle, nor the passive, but the active with the reflexive pronoun: the erring is all our own doing. See on 1 John 5:21. We do for ourselves what Satan, the arch-deceiver (Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:10) endeavours to do for us. The active (πλανᾷν) is frequent in S. John, especially in the Apocalypse (Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:7; Revelation 2:20; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 13:14; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:3; Revelation 20:8; Revelation 20:10). An examination of these passages will shew that the word is a strong one and implies serious departure from the truth: comp. John 7:12.

the truth is not in us] Because we are in an atmosphere of self-made darkness which shuts the truth out. The truth may be all round us, but we are not in contact with it: it is not in us. One who shuts himself in a dark room has no light, though the sun may be shining brightly. All words about truth, ‘the truth, true, truly,’ are characteristic of S. John. Note the antithetic parallelism, and see on 1 John 1:5.

8–10. Consciousness and Confession of Sin

8–10. Walking in the light involves the great blessings just stated,—fellowship with God and with our brethren, and a share in the purifying blood of Jesus. But it also involves something on our part. It intensifies our consciousness of sin, and therefore our desire to get rid of it by confessing it. No one can live in the light without being abundantly convinced that he himself is not light.1 John 1:8. Ἁμαρτίαν, sin) There is an opposition between those who say, We have no sin, and those who confess their sins (plural). He is therefore speaking of actual sins, which flow from original sin. In proportion as each person has contracted less or more, so he deems it necessary to confess less or more; Proverbs 28:13; and that either respecting the past, 1 John 1:10, or the present, 1 John 1:8. John comprises in his discourses all to whom that declaration comes, both good and bad; without distinction, according to their measure. But there were even then some who extenuated sin, and therefore also disparaged grace.—ἡ ἀλήθεια, the truth) John often comprises faith also together with the notion of truth: ch. 1 John 2:4. אמת and אמונה are conjugate words.—οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν, is not in us) is not in our heart, and therefore not in our mouth. The fault is in us; is ours: the glory belongs to God: 1 John 1:9.Verse 8. - After the great message," God is Light" (verse 5) and its application to ourselves (verses 6, 7), we are now told what walking in the light involves:

(1) consciousness of sin and confession of sin (verses 8-10);

(2) accepting the propitiation of Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 John 2:1-2);

(3) obedience (1 John 2:3-6). If we say that we have not sin. The present ἔχομεν again shows that the daily falls of those who are walking in the light are meant, not the sins committed in the days of darkness before conversion. The Lord's Prayer implies that we must daily ask forgiveness. We lead ourselves astray from the truth, and have no right estimate of the gulf between our impurity and God's holiness, if we deny this habitual frailty. In the sunlight even flame throws a shadow; and that man is in darkness who denies his sin. The truth may be near him; but it has not found a home with him - it is not in him. Πλανᾷν is specially frequent in the Revelation, and always of arch-deceivers - Satan, the beast, antichrist, false teachers; it seems to imply fundamental error (comp. 1 John 2:26). That we have no sin

Ὅτι that, may be taken merely as a mark of quotation: "If we say, sin we have not." On the phrase to have sin, see on John 16:22, and compare have fellowship, 1 John 1:3. Sin (ἁμαρτίαν) is not to be understood of original sin, or of sin before conversion, but generally. "It is obvious that this ἔχειν ἁμαρτίαν (to have sin), is infinitely diversified, according to the successive measure of the purification and development of the new man. Even the apostle John does not exclude himself from the universal if we say" (Ebrard).

Heathen authors say very little about sin, and classic paganism had little or no conception of sin in the Gospel sense. The nearest approach to it was by Plato, from whose works a tolerably complete doctrinal statement might be gathered of the origin, nature, and effects of sin. The fundamental idea of ἁμαρτία (sin) among the Greeks is physical; the missing of a mark (see on Matthew 1:21; see on Matthew 6:14); from which it develops into a metaphysical meaning, to wander in the understanding. This assumes knowledge as the basis of goodness; and sin, therefore, is, primarily, ignorance. In the Platonic conception of sin, intellectual error is the prominent element. Thus: "What then, I said, is the result of all this? Is not this the result - that other things are indifferent, and that wisdom is the only good, and ignorance the only evil?" ("Euthydemus," 281). "The business of the founders of the state will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which has been already declared by us to be the greatest of all - they must continue to rise until they arrive at the good" ("Republic," vii., 519). Plato represents sin as the dominance of the lower impulses of the soul, which is opposed to nature and to God (see "Laws," ix., 863. "Republic," i., 351). Or again, as an inward want of harmony. "May we not regard every living being as a puppet of the gods, either their plaything only or created with a purpose - which of the two we cannot certainly know? But this we know, that these affections in us are like cords and strings which pull us different and opposite ways, and to opposite actions; and herein lies the difference between virtue and vice" ("Laws," i., 644). He traces most sins to the influence of the body on the soul. "In this present life, I reckon that we make the nearest approach to knowledge when we have the least possible communion or fellowship with the body, and are not infected with the bodily nature, but remain pure until the hour when God himself is pleased to release us. And then the foolishness of the body will be cleared away, and we shall be pure, and hold converse with other pure souls, and know of ourselves the clear light everywhere, which is no other than the light of truth" ("Phedo," 67).

We find in the classical writers, however, the occasional sense of the universal faultiness of mankind, though even Plato furnishes scarcely any traces of accepting the doctrine of innate depravity. Thus Theognis: "The sun beholds no wholly good and virtuous man among those who are now living" (615). "But having become good, to remain in a good state and be good, is not possible, and is not granted to man. God only has this blessing; but man cannot help being bad when the force of circumstances overpowers him" (Plato, "Protagoras," 344). " How, then: is it possible to be sinless? It is impossible; but this is possible, to strive not to sin" ("Epictetus," iv., 12, 19).

We deceive ourselves (ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν)

Lit., we lead ourselves astray. See on Mark 7:24; see on Matthew 27:63, Matthew 27:64; see on Jde 1:13. Not only do we err, we are responsible for it. The phrase only here in the New Testament. For the verb as applied to deceivers of various kinds, see Matthew 24:4; Revelation 2:20; Revelation 13:14; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:3. Compare πλάνοι deceivers (2 John 1:7); πλάνη error (Jde 1:11; 1 John 4:6).

The truth

The whole Gospel. All reality is in God. He is the only true God (ἀληθινός John 17:3; see on John 1:9). This reality is incarnated in Christ, the Word of God, "the very image of His substance," and in His message to men. This message is the truth, a title not found in the Synoptists, Acts, or Revelation, but in the Catholic Epistles (James 5:19; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 2:2), and in Paul (2 Corinthians 8:8; Ephesians 1:13, etc.). It is especially characteristic of the Gospel and Epistles of John. The truth is represented by John objectively and subjectively.

1. Objectively. In the person of Christ. He is the Truth, the perfect revelation of God (John 1:18; John 14:6). His manhood is true to the absolute law of right, which is the law of love, and is, therefore, our perfect pattern of manhood.

Truth, absolutely existing in and identified with God, was also, in some measure, diffused in the world. The Word was in the world, before as after the incarnation (John 1:10. See on John 1:4, John 1:5). Christ often treats the truth as something to which He came to bear witness, and which it was His mission to develop into clearer recognition and expression (John 18:37). This He did through the embodiment of truth in His own person (John 1:14, John 1:17; John 14:6), and by His teaching (John 8:40; John 17:17); and His work is carried out by the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13), sent by God and by Christ himself (John 14:26; John 16:7). Hence the Spirit, even as Christ, is the Truth (1 John 5:6). The whole sum of the knowledge of Christ and of the Spirit, is the Truth (1 John 2:21; 2 John 1:1). This truth can be recognized, apprehended, and appropriated by man, and can be also rejected by him (John 8:32; 1 John 2:21; John 8:44).

2. Subjectively. The truth is lodged in man by the Spirit, and communicated to his spirit (John 14:17; John 15:26; John 16:13). It dwells in man (1 John 1:8; 1 John 2:4; 2 John 1:2), as revelation, comfort, guidance, enlightenment, conviction, impulse, inspiration, knowledge. It is the spirit of truth as opposed to the spirit of error (1 John 4:6). It translates itself into act. God's true children do the truth (John 3:21; 1 John 1:6). It brings sanctification and freedom (John 8:32; John 17:17). See on John 14:6, John 14:17.

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