Here’s what’s been stuck in my head for the last several weeks: 1 John 1:8 which states “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us.” We say these words as often as we recite liturgy, yet we seldom take time to analyze them, to really understand what they mean, what we say by reciting them.
When we refuse to admit that we are sinners, we are basically saying that we are blameless, and we can do this in a myriad of ways. We can reject our own guilt, we can deny that we are wrong in our thinking or our actions, or we can hold ourselves guiltless for the events of our lives. If we claim to be blameless, that an action we take, or even the result our actions, the reaction, is not our fault, then what we really claim is that we are without sin. It’s a splendid falsehood, making excuses for our behavior, claiming that we can’t help ourselves, but to act in a certain manner, in irrational and self-obsessive ways, figuring that if we lie to ourselves enough times, the lie will become truth. It’s so easy to make excuses, to lead ourselves astray, to give ourselves a “get out of jail free” card by twisting our perception; by looking at it wrongly and telling ourselves that we are justified in our delusions, because the situation was fostered upon us rather than created by us, or the result of what we have done.
Holding ourselves blameless is the ultimate avoidance of responsibility, of saying that we are not the liar, the cheater, the deceiver, the thief; we are instead the victim or our behavior, not the perpetrator of it. So, who is to blame, anyway? If it’s not us, who? 1 John 1:10 tells us this: “if we say (claim) we have not sinned, we contradict His Word and make Him out to be false and a liar.” And, for this reason, we cannot have the truth in us, because we must accept responsibility for what we say to and how we treat each other, if we intend to lead truthful and authentic lives.