“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
I once read an interview with a celebrity who identifies themselves as a Christian. Because some have accused this person of holding only a shallow, superficial religious belief, the interviewer began to ask probing questions about how deep their Christianity goes. Finally, they were asked if they had ever asked God for forgiveness for their sins. The answer given was no, and they added that they really didn’t feel that they needed to.
Now whether or not this person is truly a Christian is not for any of us to determine, it is between them and God. But we can safely say that it is concerning for someone to claim that they are trusting in Christ and also state that they really do not need to go to God for the forgiveness of their sins. And if this person’s answer was sincere, then we have the testimony of the Bible that the Truth is not in them.
Most religions lay out a path for their adherents to walk that brings them ever-closer to some sort of greater and greater enlightenment or perfection. And while we as Christians may be “sanctified”, that is, live a life that grows into more Christ-likeness the further along we go, we acknowledge that sin is never completely vanquished in us until we enter into Heaven. In other words, the need to confess our sins to God and ask for His forgiveness will be necessary until the day we leave this world.
For most people, apparently including the celebrity I mentioned above, the problem is not that they feel they have reached perfection, but that they have no real sense of their own sinfulness in the first place. It is human nature to excuse, justify, and mitigate our own guiltiness rather than honestly recognize our own shortcomings. We can always point to someone else who is a lot “worse” than we are.
One of the things that the Holy Spirit will do in our hearts, if we will hear Him, is to convict us of the sin we commit. This is not so that God can condemn us, but so that we may confess our sin to God and be forgiven. Conviction of sin is a great gift that makes it possible to remove the one obstacle that can stand between a person and the Lord. May we be thankful when God shows us the sin in our life that we may bring it to Him for forgiveness.
[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]