Denying Any Wrongdoing?

Posted at Reformation Scotland:

Any news bulletin about an allegation seems inevitably to include the phrase that the accused “denies any wrongdoing”. It seems to indicate a reflex response of stoutly resisting the glare of scrutiny. Whether accused in the court of public opinion or the law courts, no guilt can be admitted. Its constant use gives the impression of a society of either very scrupulous or unscrupulous consciences. It comes straight from the lawyer’s office of course. It is used in the narrow sense of breaking civil law and the liability that this would involve. The phrase makes us think more deeply, however, about the nature of what is required from us morally. Can any of us say that in any action or event we have not been guilty of any kind of wrongdoing whatsoever? Are we tempted to claim that? What should be our response to the claims of God’s law on us?

Scripture makes it clear that we cannot say that we are without sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20). There is a constant battle (Galatians 5:17) in which we all offend in many things (James 3:2). None of us are able “perfectly to keep the commandments of God” we “daily break them in thought, word, and deed” (Larger Catechism, Q149). Sin is present with us in our best actions (Romans 7:18-19). But do our prayers, words and attitudes reflect this? In this updated extract, Hugh Binning addresses this in applying 1 John 1:8,10, verses that deal with denying our sin. Isn’t it striking that the same phrase is repeated in those two verses?

1. Does Anyone Really Secretly Deny Any Wrongdoing?

Solomon gives a challenge to the whole world, “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9). No one is so great a stranger to themselves that they will not confess this. If they soberly and calmly retreat into their own heart, the very evidence of its impurity will make them confess it. Inwardly they feel what outwardly they deny. They cannot but sometime or other be filled with horror and anguish in their consciences. The time will come (either when the mighty hand of God is on them here, or when they must enter eternity) that they will awake. They will find all their iniquities mustered by the Lord of hosts in battle array against themselves in their conscience.