1 John 1:5-2:11 | Walking in the Light
5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
- God is light, in him there is no darkness – God is only good, kind, honest, truthful and loving. This is how God has revealed himself to us
- Exodus 34:6-7 “6And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
- God is compassionate, gracious, patient, loving, faithful, loyal, forgiving, holy and just! – this is how God is light
- Just as darkness is an absence of light, so the darkness God talks about is an absence of these qualities
6If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
- Fellowship with God and walking in darkness cannot go hand in hand
- We lie if we say we do both because it’s not they shouldn’t go hand in hand, it’s that they can’t!
- So walking in the light and having fellowship with God are intrinsically linked
- The more we walk in the light, the greater fellowship we can have with God (because we come to God with a clean conscience not weighed down by the burden of sin), and the more fellowship we have with God the empowered we are to live right
- This not saying that we can earn favour with God in any way, for as John says next: the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
- Part of walking in the light is coming to terms with our own sinfulness and confessing it before God. If we ignore our sin then we ignore the truth and we try and deceive both ourselves and God
- When we present our darkness to God by confession, he shines his light of faithfulness, justice and forgiveness on it to purify us
- We might not feel we want to expose ourselves before God, to bring our darkness out into the open, but that is the way in which it becomes dealt with
- Again, to claim we have not sinned is to present ourselves equal with God and challenge his judgment, making him out to be a liar. Yet we do this because the ‘word is not in us’, because it is the word of God which brings truth and revelation
- This is the stance of all that are opposed to God, not wanting to accept their sinfulness, and our prayer is that the word of God would enlighten their hearts
2:1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
- John writes to give a challenge not to sin, but also an encouragement that our sins have been atoned for
- These are two great truths that we must hold in tension: that our sin has been atoned for, but that we must also persevere towards holiness – that our lives need to be marked by rigorous holiness but also assurance in the saving work of Christ
3We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
- So again, John is reiterating that to have fellowship with God means walking in the light
- We have come to know God if we keep his commands
- God’s love is made complete in us if we obey his word
- We know we are in him if we live as Jesus did
- So really, walking in the light is about living in obedience to God’s commands, in his word, and according to the example that Jesus set for us
- This might seem like an impossible task for us, but as we have already seen it simply requires us accepting the word into our lives and being in relationship with God
7Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
- This is an old command which we can see from the very start of the Bible – even in Eden, is that God desires a holy people.
- But this is also a new command because now that holiness and righteousness is actually possible whereas before it was not, and its truth is seen in the gospel as the darkness is passing and the light is shining – God is rebirthing the world into a righteous state
9Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
- Walking in the light is certainly not about outward actions, but inward motives – for whoever hates brother or sister is still in darkness
- Our own darkness becomes a stumbling block for ourselves – we are our own worst enemy!
- ‘Walking around in darkness, not knowing where we are going’ – when we live in darkness we become reactive and simply respond to the thoughts and feelings of our flesh, which is why we say things we don’t mean, do things we didn’t intend to do. We do not know where we are going or why we do the things we do
- So to walk in the light is also to become self-controlled, although really it is the word of God that does the guiding and shaping