1 John 1:8
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us"

Many antinomians attempt to use 1 John 1:8 as a proof text that Christians cannot overcome willful sin. Here, you will see their error:

First, please note that John is NOT saying the following...

"If we say we DO NOT COMMIT SIN we are deceived."

Now please note what John IS saying:

I John 1:8
"If we say that we HAVE NO SIN, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

So what does the term "we have no sin" mean?

It means: "we have no guilt".

The Greek phrase translated as "have no sin" is:
hamartian ouk echomen.

This is the same phrase Jesus used when he told the Pharisees:

John 9:41 "Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should **have no sin:** but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." (KJV)

The KJV translates "have no sin" which is quite literal but does not convey the sense of Jesus' meaning. The RSV and NIV both point out that "have no sin" is better rendered "have no guilt". For example:

John 9:41
"Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would **have no guilt;** but now that you say, 'We see,' your **guilt** remains." (RSV)

John 9:41
"Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would **not be guilty of sin;** but now that you claim you can see, your **guilt** remains." (NIV)

Jesus was declaring that if they were ignorant they would have no guilt but because they could see they would be guilty.

Moffat correctly translates 1 John 1:8 as: "If we say we are not guilty"

John was saying that the false teachers would say in some way or another that if we commit sin, our spirit would "have no guilt"
Daniel Steele D.D. speaking of the verse "...we have no sin" writes: "Because" said the Gnostics, "sin never defiles the soul but the body only, and hence we need no cleansing, having in our spirits no sin to be cleansed from."

“Bengel, Bishop, B.F. Wescott, and others have noted that the phrase, “to have sin", is found only in Johns writings (John 9:41, 15:22,24, 19:11) and that it expresses guilt." Half-hours With John's Epistles 1901

Harold and Donna Kupp

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