WRESTED SCRIPTURES MADE PLAIN
By W.E. Shepard
we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not
in us.”—1 John 1:8.
quotation of this text is used probably more than that of any other in
the Bible in the attempt to refute the doctrine of holiness. Perhaps it
would be better to say the attempted quotation, for few ever get it
right, and we never knew one to give chapter and verse. It is generally
that saith he liveth and sinneth not is a liar and the truth is not in
and that said over so very rapidly that one can scarcely
catch the words. Perhaps this rapidity is due to its frequent use.
“Practice makes perfect,” and practice in thus repeating such texts
makes perfect adepts in denouncing Christian perfection.
are reminded of a certain lady who quoted these words to a young
preacher, a friend of the writer, and was told that such a text was not
in the Bible. She replied that it was in her
Bible. In about two weeks or so the preacher asked her if she had
found that text yet. She said she had read through the Psalms, the four
Gospels, and most of the Epistles, and had not found it, but still
declared, “It is there.” One good result was that she got to reading
we take this verse away from its context it would seem to teach that it
is self-deception for one to lay claim to freedom from sin. But is it
honest to snatch a text, or a portion of one, from the context either to
prove or refute a doctrine, when the tenor of Scripture teaches
one to take this text for a weapon against the experience or profession
of holiness, proves that he is either ignorant of the Word of God, or
else he is a designing man. If he is ignorant, he should not attempt to
teach; if he is a designer, then he should be shunned.
one is justified in taking a verse, or a part of the same, out of its
place, then anything can be proved from the Bible. In one place it says,
“There is no God ;“
but taking in the context it says, “The fool hath said in
his heart, There is no God.” Again we read, "Let him that stole,
but when we read the whole verse it says, “Let him that
stole, steal no more.” Three
verses below the one in question, the apostle John could be made to say,
“My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin.” But
who would have the audacity to say that John taught the people to sin?
When we add the next word and read, “that ye sin not,”
we get just the opposite thought.
So it is with I John 1:8 and many other wrested Scriptures. Instead of teaching what opposers of holiness claim they do, they convey quite a different thought, and sometimes the very opposite.
then, does our text teach? Read the verse above, which is I John 1:7:
“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.” Suppose a garment were spotted with ink,
and it were put through a process which cleanseth
from all ink, how much ink would remain? Now, if a statement were
made to the effect that there was no ink left, would there be any
self-deception in that? On the same principle, then, if “the blood of
Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin,” how much sin is left? Then,
if all sin is cleansed, where is the self-deception if a testimony
should be given to that effect? Of course we would not advocate
self-righteousness nor self-exaltation, but on the contrary always put
Jesus first, and let everybody know that all we are is through Christ
Jesus. Instead of saying, “I am saved” and “I am sanctified,”
putting “I” first, say, “Jesus saves” and “Jesus
sanctifies.” Let the people see Jesus and not ourselves. We should be
hidden away, but at the same time magnify what the Lord has done for us.
Give Him all the glory.
To get at the true meaning of the verse in question, let us suppose a conversation between a Christian depending, as all must, on the blood of Christ for salvation, and a self-righteous sinner, who thinks he is good enough and has no sin, consequently no need of the cleansing blood.
My friend, did you know that “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?” I have proved this to be
true, and if you will come to Him as I did you may prove it for
yourself, and be cleansed from all sin.
But I have no sin to be cleansed away; I have no need of the blood
What? You say you have no sin? “If we say that we have no sin, we
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Surely you are wrong
and self-deceived. You should repent, confess your sins, and be saved,
for we read in I John 1 :9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
But I have never sinned, and do not feel that I have anything to confess
or repent of. I pay my honest debts, and treat my neighbors well, and
support my family, and I believe I am just as good as anyone. I am not a
sinner, and have never done anything wrong.
Surely, in saving that, you are making God a liar, for in I John
1:10 it says: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him. liar,
and His word is not in us.”
we get at the meaning of the last four verses of I John 1. The text in
question, then, does not have any reference whatever to one who has been
cleansed from all sin, but to one who says he has no sin to be cleansed
from, when he really has sin in his heart. It is also just as applicable
to the unsanctified Christian who denies the further need of cleansing.
should we turn lawyer and plead for sin as if the atonement was a
failure and sin a necessity? How some people fly to these wrested
Scriptures and there pillow their heads, and slumber on in their carnal
security, when God is thundering in tones of Sinai, “Sin no more !“
He is swinging the awful danger signal down the ages,
“Stand in awe, and sin not.”
sad disappointment it brings to some people when God’s prohibitions
diametrically cross their carnal desires! And so they seek for comfort
and ease in those misconstrued passages which will allow them to sin
“just a little.”
professing Christian lady, living in the 7th chapter of Romans, doing
things that she ought not, and leaving undone the things she ought to
do, because she was carnal, sold under sin, and it was no more she that
did it, but sin that dwelt in her—pleading her cause one day in a
conversation with a sanctified lady, asked her to read a verse in the
7th chapter of Romans, as she supposed, for her vindication. The
sanctified lady, knowing that
she had made a mistake in the chapter and verse, nevertheless read the
one cited, when lo, it read: “What shall we say then? Shall we
continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that
are dead to sin live any longer therein ?“
Whereupon the pleader for sin exclaimed, “That is not the
verse I meant.” An unsaved person, overhearing the conversation, spoke
out and said, “Hold on! That’s Bible, just the same.”
Surely we have need of consistency; it is a great jewel.
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