“If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
(1 John 1:10 ESV)
Throughout the season of Lent, we’ve been hearing two series of sermons. On Sunday mornings, we’ve been working our way through the Ten Commandments. We’ve been looking at what these commands mean and the various ways we break them. On Wednesday evenings, we’ve been hearing a series titled The Searching Questions of Lent. We’ve been looking at some questions, drawn out of the Passion account, and what they suggest to us about our own heart.
If we’ve been truly listening, and if we’ve been sincerely searching our heart, we can come away from these messages with only one conclusion: We are guilty. It’s clear to us that we have sinned against the Lord in many ways. And it’s clear to us that we deserve his judgment.
The intent of this is that it might reveal to us our need for a Savior. The intent is that, realizing the depths of our depravity and the wrath that we deserve, we’ll look to Jesus. The intent is that we’ll trust in him, and in his sacrifice, for the forgiveness of sins.
However, our tendency in this society today is very different. As we’re confronted with our sin, our tendency is to justify ourselves. We attempt to explain away our sinful actions. We try to deny the sinfulness of our sin.
Another response, which has become common today, is to deny the truth of Scripture. We tell ourselves: “My God would never say something like that.” We try to tell ourselves that, if the authors of Scripture knew what we know today, they would have never said the things that they did.
When we do this, when we fail to accept the fact that we are sinful, we are doing something quite blasphemous. According to the apostle John, in the above passage, we make God a liar. We are declaring that God had delivered to us false statements or untruths.
Most of us would be reluctant to make such an accusation outright. We wouldn’t dare look God in the eye and call him a liar. But, when we declare ourselves innocent, when we deny the truths his Word brings to us, this is what we’re doing.
We’re telling God that, although he has told us we’re sinners, this is not true. We’re telling God that, although he’s declared us to be deserving of judgment, this is not true. We’re telling God that, although he’s stated we’re in need of a Savior, this is not true.
When we respond to God in this way, his Word is not in us. We are not trusting in him or the truth he’s revealed to us. We’re trusting, instead, in ourselves. We’re relying only on our wisdom and understanding.
When we respond to God in this way, we reveal ourselves to be outside of his salvation. Since we don’t acknowledge our sin, we don’t believe ourselves to be in need of a Savior. We believe ourselves to be good and deserving of salvation. And, for this reason, we won’t receive the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. We won’t look to him for mercy.
May we never accuse God of being deceptive. May each one of us recognize our sin, confess it to the Lord, and ask him for his forgiveness. And may we trust in Christ, and in him alone, for the salvation we so desperately need.