The only unforgivable sin is not acknowledging your sin, not owning your sin, not recognizing that you have sinned, trying to say your sin isn’t really sin. That’s what John is saying here:
1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Our first take is that, “walking in the light,” must mean something like not sinning, but if you keep reading you realize that can’t be true because:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Walking in the light allows us to be cleansed of all sin, so walking in the light can’t mean not sinning. The result of walking in the light is that when we do sin the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. Walking in the light is that which allows you to receive forgiveness of sin.
Walking in the light means something like, calling things the way God calls them, or walking according to God’s view of reality, or being governed by God’s opinion about the matter. In this instance John is talking about sin so he’s dealing with what God calls sin, God’s view as to what is sin, God’s opinion as to whether or not what you’re doing is sin. Walking in the light, in the context which John is using it here, is calling sin what God calls sin.
Verse 7 is parallel to verse 9, they’re saying the same thing:
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Walking in the light and confessing your sin produce the same result, one cleanseth us from all sin, the other, cleanseth from all unrighteousness. Walking in the light means confessing your sin, i.e. not trying to justify, rationalize or excuse your sin, but acknowledging that it is indeed sin. To walk in the light means to call your sin, sin. You can see that in verse 8:
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Some people take this to mean that everybody sins, which is pretty much true, but that’s not what he’s talking about here. Here he’s saying that if you deny that your sin is sin, you’re deceiving yourself. He’s saying that, when you sin, when you’re sinning, if you deny that you’re sinning you’re deceiving yourself. Verse 8 also has a parallel verse, verse 10, they say the same thing:
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
In verse 8 we say we have no sin, in verse 10 we say we have not sinned. In verse 8 we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, in verse 10 we make him a liar and his word is not in us. He’s saying the same thing, if we say that we have not sinned, when in fact we have sinned we’re lying, we’re not walking in the light, we’re not walking with God, we’re not fellowshipping with God, we’re deceived, we’re walking in darkness.
The bad news is that your mind is really, really, really, good at coming up with reasons why your sin isn’t really sin, why it’s really okay to do what you’re doing, why it’s okay in this particular instance not to walk in love. Not walking in love is the main sin for Christians, it’s the one emphasized throughout the New Testament:
Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Romans 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Here, in 1 John, love is mentioned in at least 23 verses, for example:
1 John 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. 13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
I know for me walking in love is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a Christians, particularly when it comes to walking in love towards people who have hurt or are trying to hurt Becky or one of our kids. My mind will keep coming up with reasons why it’s okay to not walk in love towards these dastardly people. But guess what, as long as I try and justify not walking in love, as long as I accept the excuses my mind comes up with for not walking in love, I’m not in fellowship with the father, I’m not walking in the light, I’m walking in darkness, I’m subject to stumbling, I can’t see, I don’t know where I’m going, my heart is condemning me, I can’t have confidence before God and I will find it difficult, maybe even impossible to get my prayers answered.
But here’s the good news. If we acknowledge that our sin is sin, if we confess our sins, if we say about our actions what God says about them, then the blood of Jesus washes us from all sin, God cleanses us from all unrighteousness, and I can get my prayers answered.
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
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