Make no mistake about it, there is a lot of self-deception in Christianity. If we aren’t actually saying we have no sin, we are at least acting like we don’t, and if we are acting like we don’t have any sin, we must believe we don’t, or we have at least talked ourselves into believing that whatever sin we might be guilty of is so minor compared to everything else out there, that we render our little smidgen of sin insignificant for the most part.
But John is trying to make a point here that there is no one without sin. If you want to keep everything on a purely mystical level, you can get away with at least making sin irrelevant, but when you talk about blood and skin, sin becomes harder to avoid.
Indeed, in the day John wrote this letter, the church was being threatened by the doctrine of gnosticism that placed little or no significance on the physical realm which it taught was all an illusion anyway. And because it was an illusion, it didn’t matter what you did with it. The only thing that mattered was the spiritual. So as long as you held to the right spiritual credos, it didn’t matter what you did with your life in the physical realm. Sound familiar? That’s because we live in the day of a modern gnosticism that allows us to do whatever we want as long as we believe the right things.
Once again, John combats this thinking with blood and skin. The physical realm is just as important as the spiritual realm. Jesus came in blood and skin, therefore what we do and think and imagine in these bodies matters. Everything matters. Sin matters; and there is no one exempt from it. “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). You heard that right: saying I have no sin makes God a liar.
But “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Being honest about sin is the best way to deal with it; in fact, it is the only way. Being honest about sin puts us in fellowship with all those who want to do the same, and in the context of walking and talking with all those folks, we are in good company, made even better, because we all get cleansed together. Not just once, but as a way of life.