If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
— 1 John 1:8 —
Carlos Montoya: Evangelical Ministries of the Americas | Honduras
A distorted or weak view of sin results in one of two spiritual ills: legalism or licentiousness. The Latin culture is steeped in a religion with a distorted view of sin, which teaches that man in his own effort can fulfill the demands of the law (legalism). On the other hand, in this same culture, a weak view of sin has fueled an unrestrained lifestyle of promiscuity, marital unfaithfulness, and other social and moral ills even among professing believers (licentiousness). Trusting and confessing—that’s how we avoid legalism and licentiousness; and that’s how we defeat surviving sin! The apostle John’s words are clear. Any denial of surviving sin in the believer is self-deception and a sign of one’s departure from the truth. There is no question. We are still affected by the principle of sin within us. It might be argued, then, that the presence of surviving sin implies a defeated life or an unbearable burden we must live with. But this is not at all the case! The very context surrounding this verse presents the answer to surviving sin: grace! In 1 John 1:7, we see the grace of Christ’s atoning blood that “cleanses us from all sin.” In 1 John 2:1–2, we see the grace of Christ, our advocate, as “the propitiation for our sins.” Though we still fight with sin, the decisive battle has been won by Christ. Now we stand as righteous before the Father, resting solely on the merits of His Son. We trust in these great truths, knowing that, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Trusting and confessing—that’s how we avoid legalism and licentiousness; and that’s how we defeat surviving sin!