“Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin?”
Scripture is clear: There are no perfect people. Everyone has been touched and tainted by sin. Scripture is also clear that no person can cure themselves of their imperfections. No one is capable of completely eradicating sin from their life. That is the message of this proverb.
The NT book of 1 John sheds more light on this topic: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1.8-10)
John teaches something enormously important here. Being a follower of Christ does not mean that we never sin. To claim that we do not sin is an act of self-deception, and it reveals that we are living a lie. The reality is that we do sin, and our sin separates us from God. Romans 3.23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
To say that we have no sin puts us in a very dangerous place, because God's grace and mercy is extended to sinners. It is not extended to people who proclaim platitudes like "we all make mistakes" or "I'm only human" or "no one is perfect.” Grace is extended to those who acknowledge they are sinners. Scripture makes it clear that a right relationship with God requires confessing our sin, repenting, and trusting in Christ's sacrificial death. Forgiveness comes from saying, "Lord, I confess that I am a sinner, and I humbly receive the forgiveness you offer in Jesus your Son."
The Greek word for "confession" in First John 1.9 is homologeo, which means "say the same as." Genuine confession goes beyond simply admitting that we have sinned. Confession is saying the same thing about our sin that God says about it. John tells us that confession is connected to walking in the light. When you walk in the light you see God more clearly and you see yourself more clearly. You have a much better understanding of where your life does -- and does not -- align with the life God wants you to live.
Walking in darkness creates a false view of self, and it causes self-deception. People who walk in darkness are blind to the reality and depth of their sin. They are blind to the impact of sin on themselves, and they are blind to the impact of sin on God.
Walking in the light creates an honest view of self, and it activates self-awareness. People who walk in the light are aware of their strengths and blessings, but they also see the reality of their sin. Most importantly, they see their sin not just from their own viewpoint, but also from God's perspective.
Most people see sin from the perspective of self; they feel badly about what sin does to them. However, a profound shift takes place when a Christian begins to see sin from God's perspective, and they recognize what sin does to God. This is the sense of homologeo ... see sin as God sees it, and say about sin what God says about it.
This same message will be echoed in a future chapter of Proverbs: “The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.” (Proverbs 28.13)
More tomorrow ...