1 John 1:8
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
John here rights to add further clarity to what it means to walk as a believer. In 1 John 1:6, he wrote “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth”. This is a place where we are deceiving others.
In verse 8 he builds upon that statement. Now John moves our claim to saying “If we say have no sin, we deceive ourselves”. Here he is speaking to the church. Making an explicit statement that uses the word deception.
Deception is the Greek word planaó which is defined as to cause to wander or to wander. Helps gives the description:
4105 planáō – properly, go astray, get off-course; to deviate from the correct path (circuit, course), roaming into error, wandering; (passive) be misled.
[4105 (planáō) is the root of the English term, planet (“wandering body”). This term nearly always conveys the sin of roaming (for an exception – see Heb 11:38).]
Strong’s also addresses the metaphorical use, to lead away from the truth, to lead into error, to deceive.
In the previous statement we were said to be misrepresenting the gospel, now we are moving to error within the church, as John states this deception is a self deception; “We deceive ourselves”. Ourselves can be used not only in a singular sense to address an individual, but in a plural sense and in this case John again is talking about us, the church, the body of Christ.
The result of this deception is the truth is not in us. John had been building an argument for Jesus, speaking of the truth of who He is. He also uses that word in again, which refers to the internal state that we operate from.
In John’s gospel there are the I am statements, and in John 15:1-17, Jesus says I am the true vine and explains what this means.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Observation: John seems to reminding his audience as to what the gospel is, and what it is we are saved from. It is our sin. If we have no sin, we have no truth. Truth is a person, and His name is Christ. If truth is not in us, than Christ is not in us and by contrast if Christ is not in us, than truth is not in us. If we say we have no sin, than we are denying Christ because this is error. Christ came that we might be saved from our sin. If we do not have Christ then we cannot call ourselves Christians, as we cannot belong to Him.
Father, how hard it is sometimes for us to see truth. Your Word and Your claims are explicit, yet we find ways to make it fit for our own purpose. Let us not misrepresent You, nor be in error. Let truth abide in us, that we may have fellowship with You and one another. That we may represent You on this earth and bear testimony to Your goodness and Your mercy, to the church and to the world around us. Lord forgive us, for none of us is without sin, and none of us are without error. Let your truth touch those places within us, to bear witness and bring change. Change that lines us up with Your Word, by the power of Your Spirit. Let us know truth as Your Spirit bears witness and brings these things to light. In Jesus name we ask and we pray. Amen
God bless you,