“Be Not Deceived”

(1 John 1:8) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

The Bible warns us over and over about being deceived. Being deceived is very dangerous. The reason that being deceived is dangerous, is that if one is deceived he will not know that he is deceived.  

Note, that it is ourselves that do the deceiving not someone else. Here is how Williams put it, “If we claim ‘We are already free from sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in our hearts.” 

John uses the first person plural pronoun “we” which means that the speaker is referring to himself and at least one other person. In effect, he is saying “I cannot say that I am free from sin.”

My point is that John cannot say he does not have sin, for if he does, he will be deceiving himself. Also, note that this sentence is written in the present tense. This means that the time when we are saying that we have no sin is right now, not in the past. 

Now, we know that John is saved, so we conclude that just because one is saved does not mean that he does not have sin in his life. In 1 John 3:9 we have, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 

This seems to counteract Chapter 1 verse 8: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  If John is saved and he has sin in him, how can be it true that “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin?”

Williams translates 1 John 3:8 like this: “No one who is born of God makes a practice of sinning, because the God-given life-principle continues to live in him, and so he cannot practice sinning, because he is born of God.” We have reason to believe that the ones being talked about in 1 John 1:8 are not practicing sinning because the “we” includes John himself. What it does say is this–that nobody can say that he is not a sinner even though he is not practicing sinning. Because all are sinners and he does sin even though he is trying not to sin. 

When we do sin, we need to confess our sins so that God can forgive us of our sins, and cleanse us from all our unrighteousness. It seems that John is not talking about the ones that say they are saved but continues to practice sinning, in 1 John 1:8. I believe that he is talking about the ones that have the hope of being a son of God. (1 John 3:3) “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

The way we are to purify ourselves is by walking in the Spirit and confessing our sins. 

The real dangerous deception is the belief that one can continue to practice sinning after he is saved. This is taught by some men. They say something like this: “we should continue in sin, that grace may abound.” These men teach this; that if one is justified he is not condemned even though he is guilty so that we can sin all we want to, as we did before we were saved. 

(Ephesians 5:6) “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” We cannot keep on sinning after we are saved just like we did before we were saved and think that God will not condemn us. Yes, we are saved by grace through faith. We are not saved by works, but when God does save us, he starts working on us. He put his Spirit in us so that we can have the power of the Spirit in the way we live. (Romans 8:8-9) “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

When John says, “No one who is born of God makes a practice of sinning” he is talking about being in the flesh when we practice sinning. When there is no change in the way one lives after he is saved there must be one of two things happening:

1. You were not saved… that is you did not mean it so that God did not save you. This could happen so that you need to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves…” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

2. Or you are saved and you have been deceived into thinking that you can live in the darkness and still have fellowship with God. You cannot! Even if you are saved and deceived you too need to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves…”

When one is saved he should not make a practice of sinning and if he does there is something wrong. This is why we all need to examine ourselves to be sure that we are in the faith and that we can know our sins so that we can confess them. (1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  

*Devotional written by Ralph Williams, retired pastor and member of One Hope Mobile.

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