1 John 1:5-10

John again reminds us that he himself knew Jesus personally. He spent some three years of his life travelling in a group of disciples with Jesus and now he passionately wants to share with his readers the truth about who Jesus is, what His relationship is with God and all that He taught His disciples when He was alive on earth.

Light and darkness

John begins his message with the simple statement: "God is light". Light stands for holiness, righteousness, truth, purity and reliability. Darkness stands for sin and evil. Light and darkness cannot co-exist. When God’s Son, Jesus Christ, came into the world, He was "the light shining in the darkness". (John 1:5-9; John 3:19; John 8:12; John 12:46)

We are so used to everyone we know having flaws that we find it hard to see God as totally pure in every way. He has no history that He needs to hide. He is light and we can rely on His word, His actions and His promises. As we live in the light of Jesus, we see ourselves as we really are but He enables us to walk His way, always shining His light on our journey and making sure that we do not fall blindly into darkness or sin of any kind. Those who walk in darkness – in sin – can have no fellowship with God. When we are doing things that are wrong - committing sin - and saying (to ourselves or others): "We have fellowship with God" we are lying. We are not living by the truth. "Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of the light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)

We do not want any of the things we have done with wrong motives to be exposed, so we hide ourselves - just like in the "Garden of Eden" after the fall. (Genesis 3:10) It is nonsense for a person to claim to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, yet willingly to behave in a way that is dishonouring to God. John says that there is a contradiction in the life of a person who claims to be in close relationship with God, but who is living a wilfully, sinful life. God cannot exist with evil and sin, so He cannot be in communion with a person who is choosing to lead a sinful life.

Note, however, that John is not talking about people who may be struggling with sinful behaviour, all the while knowing that they desperately need God’s help. John is thinking about those who are living a life of deceit, who are claiming to be holy and yet living a life of ungodliness. These words are a reminder that it is not Christian to go to church, sing along with all the amazing words from worship songs, give testimony about tremendous spiritual experiences from God but, at the same time, continue being unkind behind closed doors, dishonest at work or indulging in immoral behaviour.

"Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." (John 3:21)

The truth is not just something one speaks; truth is something one does or lives. We must live by the truth. We must worship God in spirit and truth. (John 4:23) Truth is a way of life. Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6) God so wants us to "walk the walk" not just "talk the talk". As we walk in the light that God is shining on areas of our lives, it is clear that He wants us to deal with things that need change. As Christians, we need to be people of integrity whose lives can be totally transparent to anyone. We can have no hidden areas or hidden agendas in our behaviour or speech. Our responses inside and outside of church should be totally in line with the word of God.

How does God shine His light?

  • Through His word; (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 6:23-25)
  • Through the life of Christ; (John 12:35-36)
  • Through the leading of the Holy Spirit; (John 14:26)
  • Through prayer; (Matthew 6:6)
  • Through the voice of the "Good Shepherd"; (John 10:3-5)
  • Through other believers; (Psalm 141:5)
  • Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 1 Corinthians 12:27-31)

What dims the light in us?

  • A fear of people. (Proverbs 29:25 - take the example of Pilate)
  • Rebellion and wilful sin. (Jude 19)
  • Hardening our hearts, especially through unwillingness to forgive. (Hebrews 3:7-11)
  • Closing our ears. (Romans 11:8-10)
  • Repeated disobedience. (See the example of Jacob in Genesis, chapters 26-37.)

1 John 1:7

As Christians, we are to be Christ’s "light bearers", pointing people to Jesus and letting His light shine through us to everyone around. (Matthew 5:15) John gives a fantastic description of the exciting, victorious Christian life in 1 John 1:7 saying that, when we walk in the light just as Jesus is in the light, we can have total, unbroken fellowship with all other believers who are walking in the same way. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin and guilt (and keeps us free from sin in all its forms and manifestations).

The blood of Jesus is the only means by which our sins can be "washed away". The "Lamb of God" committed no sin, so He was able to offer His blood for all the sins of the whole world. He did not die for His own sins (because He had none) but He died so that we did not have to die. This is the amazing life that our wonderful Father has given us - if only we would take up all that Jesus has paid for: eternal life, health in our bodies, wholeness in our emotions and soundness in our minds. Just as Jesus rose from the grave, we too can rise to a whole new life. We may not understand this perfectly with our finite minds, but we can accept it by faith. We do this by trusting in, clinging to and relying on His promises. Let's grasp these great and precious promises, put our trust in their truth and establish them firmly as His word in our hearts!

To have "fellowship" with one another as believers means to love one another. (1 John 4:7-11) In order to be able to have valuable, meaningful, eternal "fellowship" with one another, we need to be living in the light together. If we are living in the darkness of sin, we cannot "see" our sisters in the light of the truth and so cannot have quality "fellowship" that will be fruitful for eternity. We must first be in partnership with God by walking in His light, checking out how He sees us through the regular "quiet times" that we spend with Him. We must be perfect as He is perfect. What an awesome thought! Yet He wouldn't ask us to do this without making it possible as well. Matthew 5:48 (Amplified Version) says: “You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity] as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This lifestyle only comes about through "walking in the Spirit" and putting aside the temptation and desire to live as we used to before becoming Christians. (Galatians 5:16-18) It does not come from just hard effort. We choose to "die" to our "old self" (our former nature), surrender every area of our lives and live in the power of His Spirit and His Name. It means allowing the light of God’s word to shine on our relationships and understanding that we are all part of one another. We are all parts of one body through one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:26) We need to wake up to the dangers of endlessly falling out with one another and start showing God’s love to each other. When we do not take note of God's word so far as our relationships are concerned and are critical of each other, then we limit God’s power in our lives and in our prayers. (1 Peter 3:7) Strife has a very profound effect in the spiritual realm. (James 3:16) It opens the door to the devil and keeps our angels from fulfilling their job. (Hebrews 1:13; Colossians 1:16; Matthew 18:10; Revelation 14:6-12; Acts 12:5-11; Psalm 91:11-13)

1 John 1:8-10

It is wonderful to know that "we have been set free from the law of sin and death". Galatians 3:12-14 We never again have to be slaves to sin. A Christian’s previous sinful nature may occasionally cause her to stumble and fall. However, we are no longer in bondage to sin, so we need to get up on our feet again! Christ is our master not Satan! Paul says: "We should no longer be slaves to sin." (Romans 6:6) He also says: "Count yourselves dead to sin." (Romans 6:11) Sin has no power over Christians who are walking in the light, but we must never deceive ourselves by pretending that we can now stand on our own without any sin. That is foolish. New temptations keep springing up constantly in our lives. If we step away from living "in Christ" - in His light - those temptations are likely to become fresh sins. We must keep asking for forgiveness and receive cleansing for them - sooner rather than later. It's good to "keep short accounts with God". Only when our mortal bodies are dead and we are with Christ in heaven will we be completely sinless. It is amazing that, despite these wonderful truths, we still miss the mark.

It is very clear in this passage (and it will be repeated in 1 John, chapter two) that living the Christian life is, in principle, very simple. 1 John 1:9 spells it out and is such an important verse. We all need to be "purified from all unrighteousness". Jesus paid the price for all people, everywhere, to receive forgiveness. We simply need to accept this and not allow His sacrifice to be in vain. It means always being prepared to run to the Father and "confess" our sin - agreeing with Him and speaking it out. Our confession has to be coupled with repentance, which means turning completely in the opposite direction and rejecting the sin that we have committed... "hating" it. It also helps to be as specific as possible about what we have done wrong. Simply making a "blanket confession" about sin in general is unlikely to help us when next we face the temptation to commit a specific sin.

We must also resist the temptation to let fear and guilt overwhelm us and drive us further from our Father God. Let's not allow Satan to persuade us that we are beyond help because of what we've done. Let's ignore him when he says: "Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb!" When we get off track with God, let's be quick to confess it to Him and be filled again with the Holy Spirit, so that we can get back on the right path and keep on going. God knows about our sin long before we get to the stage of confessing it. Let's run to Him, see His arms open wide to receive us and embrace us and let's receive His totally forgiving, "agape" love. (Luke 15:20)

Receive His forgiveness. Receive His cleansing. Don't hang on to guilt, because that's like saying that Jesus' death was not enough for our sin - which is a slap in the face for Him.

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