One of the greatest necessities for maturity is a freedom from sin-consciousness. As long as there is an undertone or overtone of sin-consciousness, there can never be real maturity of character and life. For sin—being an aberration, a departure from that for which we are inwardly made, a missing the mark—always results in a sense of frustration, of out-of-gearness. No person can be mature, with a gnawing sense of sin-consciousness within. It is life living itself against itself. The word “evil” is the word “live” spelled backward.
There are three great attempts to get rid of sin-consciousness. One is the way of the Gnostics. They denied that it existed—for the Gnostic. He lived “in the spirit” and was unaffected by his contacts with matter, which he looked on as evil. So he denied he had any sin. The second way is the way of the modern neo-orthodoxy, which brings sin in and makes it a natural part of life, including the Christian life, and the Christian life especially. This passage in the Epistle, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8), is the golden text of neo-orthodoxy. But John was writing here, not about the real Christian, but about the pseudo-Christian, the Gnostic, who denied that he had any sin to be cleansed from. He waved sin out with a gesture. To take that reference to the Gnostic and make it universal is to “wrest the Scriptures” and make John contradict himself. For John plainly says: “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1:7), and, “He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). “All sin” and “all unrighteousness” means exactly what it says, or it means that John is involved in a hopeless contradiction. But John is clear-cut and consistent: We have all sinned and all are corrupted by sin—personal and inherited; in Jesus, however, sin is not waved out but wiped out—we are cleansed from “all sin.”
Taken from “Christian Maturity” by E. Stanley Jones