Exploring 1 John Session 2 1 John 1:5-7
Exploring 1 John Session 2 1 John 1:5-7
If you have never read the Bible before you may not know that the book we call the Bible is a compilation of 66 different writings. One of those writings is entitled 1 John, most likely written by the Apostle John around 100AD. 1 John is a letter written to a congregation of believers whose fellowship was being disrupted by some of the group having difficulty understanding that Jesus is fully God and fully human and the moral expectations of being a disciple of Jesus. This confusion over the nature of Jesus is the teachings of a heresy known as Gnosticism. Much of what John has written refutes what he will call anti-Christ teachings. If you missed our first session you can find that exploration on our website hbcc.life or YouTube hbcc life; if you view the teaching on our YouTube channel please hit the like and subscribe buttons.
Our reading this day is 1 John chapter 1 verses 5 through 10. John writes:
1 John 1:5-10 (MSG)
This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there's not a trace of darkness in him.
6 If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we're obviously lying through our teeth—we're not living what we claim. 7 But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin.
8 If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. 9 On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. 10 If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.
In our teaching, we are going to consider the difference between light and darkness, our problem with sin, and John’s first of three arguments against claims that those who had fallen into erroneous thinking about the nature of the Christian life.
“God is light.” John is telling us something about the very nature of God, what God is like. Darkness hides things. Light makes things transparent. God hides nothing of Himself from us; He is self-revealing. In the darkness, you bump into things, stumble and fall. In the light, you can see all the obstacles that are in your way. You can see clearly. God is our guide in all things. In the darkness, you can’t see that there is dirt on your face, a smug, that your clothes need to be washed. But in the light, you sure can. God is the revealer of all things. In the darkness, you can’t see the beauty of a Cathedral’s stained glass windows. Once the light shines through it is magnificent. God is all splendor and glory. It’s in the dark that evil is done, that evil is hidden, that deception thrives, that motives are obscured, that the bait and switch happens, that you get conned. But in God, there is no darkness at all, not a trace. In the light, there is no evil, no deceit, no unrighteousness, no disinformation or misinformation, no fraud, no games, no cons, and no impurities.
Another follower of Jesus whose writings are contained in the Bible is Paul and to the congregation, in Ephesus, 40 years earlier wrote:
Ephesians 5:11-14 (MSG)
Don't waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It's a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.
Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light!
A coffin is a dark place for the dead. You can wake up from the barren pursuits of darkness. Christ will bring you the light, show you God the Father—acknowledge to God and yourself that you are stumbling around in the darkness of your life; believe that Jesus makes it possible for you to enter into the light; commit yourself to enter into the light and to continue the rest of your life to follow Jesus. Then simply ask God to accept your faith, that acknowledgment, that belief that commitment is faith. God will honor your faith in Him and His light will illuminate you from the inside out as He takes up residence inside of you. Asking God to claim you as His own is the most important decision you will ever make. Today if you feel a tug on your heart if this truth resonates within you, it is the voice of the Holy Spirit of the Living God calling you into the light. Are you going to enter, or are you going to stay in the darkness? Let me know what you decide.
1 John 1:6-7 (MSG)
If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we're obviously lying through our teeth—we're not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin.
The “if we claim” is a tip-off to the fact that there were those who were claiming that they belonged to the light, that they were walking in the light, that they were part of the “we” of the fellowship but the way they lived their lives, their behavior, their actions refuted their own words. In the light, there is no immorality. Often we instantly associate immorality with sexual behavior but what the word means is “not conforming with the accepted standards of behavior.” The standard for the person who is walking in the light is loving God and loving others, and to this, we can add a righteous loving of self.
Love for God is obeying His commands. One of God’s commands is found in Leviticus (that’s another writing compiled in the Bible)
Leviticus 19:2 (MSG)
Be holy because I, God, your God, am holy.
To be holy is to be like Jesus because Jesus is God incarnate, Jesus fully God, fully human. “He is the image of the invisible God…” (Colossians 1:15 (NIV).
Colossians 1:15 (MSG)
We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created.
To be like Jesus is to be holy, it is to be like God. Also in Jesus, we see original purposes, so to be like Jesus is to be fully human. We learn what Jesus is like in the reading of the gospels, Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, four books in the Bible. Jesus’ teachings give us insight into the man, what He valued, what He desired. We find a courageous person, a person of strength, and fidelity, a person of wisdom and insight into the human predicament. Words such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control describe Jesus’ character (Galatians 5:22-23). In Jesus, you will find a person who is patient and kind, one who does not envy or boast or is proud. Never is Jesus rude or self-seeking, or easily angered instead He is quick to forgive. Only what is righteous, what partakes of Truth does He find joy in. Jesus is the kind of person who always protects, always trusts; always hopes, and always endures (1 Corinthians 13:4-7), One who is willing to lay down His very life so that you can live yours to the full (John 15:13& 10:10). Jesus is the reconciler of relationships (Colossians 1:20&22), the One who gives sight to those who cannot see the Truth, restores the ability for others to walk in the Truth, setting those imprisoned in spiritual darkness free (Luke 4:18) so freed they can live in the Truth and empowering His disciples to do the same (John 14:12). This is what Jesus is like and so much more.
If you claim to be a follower of Jesus and are not striving to live like Jesus, if you are not allowing God to make you holy by willfully disobeying His commands, then something is wrong. There is some self-deception going on or you’re just plain lying, or someone sold you a bogus bill of goods about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
The norm, the expected standard of conduct for a child of God is their demonstrable love for God and others. Love for God is obeying His commands. Love for others is treating everyone with respect and seeking to meet their needs at the cost of personal sacrifice. That personal sacrifice means that out of your abundance, an abundance that you can do with what you please, you give to another to use as they need. Later in this letter of John, we will read:
1 John 3:17 (MSG)
If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
From the pen of another disciple by the name of James we read something very similar:
James 2:15-17 (MSG)
For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
A person of the Light concerns him or herself with meeting the needs of others. Not a handout, but a hand up. Not a band-aide but help with a solution that meets their need. In times gone, by such deeds were called acts of charity. The usage of words changes over the years, today when we use the word charity we usually are referring to an organization that wants us to give money so that they can meet some need. But in the day, charity, meant love, acts of love and those acts included feeding the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned, burying the dead. “To live charitably means not looking out for our own interests, but carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us.” (Pope Francis) (Philippians 2:4). Failing to concern ourselves with the welfare of others indicates that you are still living in darkness. To harm, to ignore, to marginalize another person, to slander, demonize, hate another person is a demonstration that you are still living in darkness.
“But if we walk in the light,” 1 John 1:7, which is self-evident as we demonstrate our love for God and love for others, “we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin.
A shared life is experiencing the “we” of fellowship. The life we share is the one each believer has in Christ. By walking in the light, being like Jesus, loving God, loving others we enjoy fellowship with one another, we live in the right relationship with each other, we are reconciled together. In the solidarity of walking in the light, God purifies us of our darkness. It’s okay to equate sin with darkness. The more intimate our relationships become to one another, the more God light illuminates us. The closer we come together in unity, the closer we come to God. This is why last time we learned that you can’t go it alone, you can’t forsake the congregation of believers, because in isolation, you don’t experience the shared life and the darkness will overtake and consume you. Living out of the fellowship means you are still living in darkness. Don’t fool yourself.
Time is running short, we will stop and next time pick up the teaching right here.
One issue needs to carefully be considered. Ask yourself this question: “Am I in the light?”
I want you to walk in the light. Maybe you have never received the light, never acknowledged your need for the light, never believed that Jesus is the light, never committed to following Jesus, if not then today ask God to bring you into the light. I want you in the light. You can determine if you are or are not by considering how you are living your life. Do you love God? Are you obedient to God’s commands? Do you love others? Respecting everyone and seeing their need attempting to meet their need? Are you in fellowship? Are you working at coming closer to the congregation? By avoiding the congregation you hinder cleansing and purification. If attendance has become inconsequential for you, today is a good day to change your thinking and behavior. I want you in the light.
In the light, we have fellowship with one another and with the Father.