1 John 1:5-10
5 "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God
is light and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with
him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth;
7 but 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 cleanses us from all sin. 8If we
say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If
we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and
us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a
liar, and his word is not in us."
This is a meaty passage, isn't it? And at first it seems a bit confusing. John
seems to be saying that we cannot fellowship with God if we are still sinning,
but also that we are sinners and to say differently is to make God a liar.
Let's consider the passage as a whole. John speaks of fellowship here--both
with God and with one another. Fellowship is closely related in John's mind
with how we are living our lives. And we deceive ourselves when we try to pretend
this isn't not so (i.e. I can live anyway I want and it should not affect our
friendship in the least). Walking in the light is the way to have real fellowship
with God and each other. In fact , in verses 8 and 10, John says that we
cannot have God's truth (v.8) or his word (v.10) in us if we are not truthful
Now consider how John talks about sin and darkness here. We looked at v.5
last week and noticed that John was excited to share with them the truth that
God is all light and that there is no "dark side" to him so that
we can trust him utterly. Now he continues with this darkness idea in v. 6
by saying that we cannot fellowship, have an intimate relationship with God
when we are walking in the darkness. So what does it mean for us to walk in
the light? Does it mean to be sinless? Actually no, because John goes on
to say in v.8 that we are deceiving ourselves when we claim we have no sin.
And this seems to be following directly on his thought in v.6 about walking
in the darkness. I think that John is saying that darkness involves deceit,
being deceived about yourself and others. When we walk in darkness, we remain
in a place of deceit. And what are we deceived about? About who we are, and
where our source of life and identity truly lie. We say we are fellowshipping
with God, but we are not receiving His light into our lives.
What ultimately is sin? Sin is not trusting God to be our life, not trusting
Him to be the triune God He has revealed Himself to be. Sin is not just what
we do wrong--the deeper part of sin is the lack of trust in God that these
deeds spring from. Sin then is related to this deceit and darkness. And of
course, deceit leads to a greater and greater desire to cover up the truth.
We can become afraid of the light, because of what it may reveal. And this
I think is why John begins by assuring his readers about the character of God.
God is not deceiving us--if there is any light we can count on to be for us,
it is God's light. It will not be easy for it to shine in our lives but we
can be sure that it will lead to full life--fellowship with God and with others.
What may seem ironic is, that the way to step into the light is to admit we
are in darkness, that we sin. God in other words, is not expecting me to be
perfectly trusting of Him on my own, or to be perfect independent of Him (as
if that were even possible!) I begin and continue to move forward by confessing
to God that I am not counting on Him to be all that He is in my life. I hand
over to Him my lack of trust and I stop deceiving myself that I am really very
together already. It seems, in fact, that John is saying that one way we know
the truth is in us is that we see more clearly our sin. God's truth, His words,
moves in and we see more and more as we walk with Him the many ways we have
not yet trusted Him and the many ways we charge ahead on our own every day.
And what does John say about this sin? That when we confess it, God is faithful
and just and will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So John
turns his readers back to the wonderful character of God and expands their
understanding of what it means that He is light. God is faithful, just, forgiving,
and cleansing. Apparently then, it is not our job to make ourselves righteous.
We participate in God's making us righteous by turning over to him all the
junk His light continues to reveal to us.
This has been a very encouraging passage to me these past weeks. I was made
to walk in the light with God and He has enabled this to happen. I can rejoice
over the revealing of the darkness in my life, because as it is confessed and
handed over, I am letting God both forgive me, and take out this darkness slowly
and surely. He is cleansing me, taking away the dirt that is polluting me and
my relationships. And can I trust Him as He does this? Absolutely!! It is His
business and pleasure to destroy the darkness and make me more and more able
to receive His light and love. Every day we are faced with the realization
of the sin that remains in our lives, as we anxiously consider our circumstances
or interact with our children, spouses and friends. John is assuring us that
that is exactly where God wants us: aware of our sin so that we can hand it
right over to Him to forgive and cleanse us from it. When you see that you
are not trusting Him, then trust Him enough to hand Him your anxiety so He
can heal you.
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