Exploring 1 John Session 3 1 John 1:8-10
Exploring 1 John Session 3 1 John 1:8-10 continued
We are exploring the Book in the Bible we call 1 John. 1 John is a letter written to a local congregation that was dealing with a church split. The church split was over the nature of Jesus and how followers of Jesus are to conduct their lives. We are picking up where we left off last time. If you missed the previous session you can go to YouTube channel HBCC Life and catch the video or you can go to our website hbcc.life and read the manuscript, listen to the podcast or watch the video.
We have learned that the light represents all that is good, all that is righteous. Conversely, the dark is all that is evil. We learned that God is light. Therefore you can know that you are a true follower of Jesus because you do what is right. We learned that what is right is loving God as demonstrated by obeying His commands. We learned that what is right is loving others by treating everyone with respect and as the opportunity arises to meet their need. Two things happen as a follower of Jesus walks in the light. First is the grace gift of sanctification. The blood of Jesus purges the disciple of all sin. Second is the grace gift of fellowship. When we are walking in the light we share life together. Sanctification and fellowship are mutually dependent. You don’t have one without the other. In that shared life there is love, acceptance, belonging, mutual encouragement, and the strength of a group to accomplish what one individual could never do on their own.
Also, we should mention that God has extended an invitation to everyone, to you, to your neighbor, to the people in your world, to enter into the light, to know God, to know the blessings of sin forgiven, the joy of the cleansing process, and the security of the congregation. If you have never taken God up on His invitation, then today you can acknowledge that you are living in the dark, believe that Jesus makes it possible for you to enter into the light, commit yourself to learn how to live in the light and simply asking God to accept your faith. If you acknowledge, believe, commit, and ask, God will change your life in ways that you cannot yet imagine. All those changes you will discover are in accordance with the light, in accord with a life of love. If you have yet to ask God to accept your faith, do so today, let me know of your decision.
Let’s re-read the passage we are exploring.
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.
To reiterate the Truth in verses 6-7—If a person says that they are a follower of Jesus but their actions demonstrate that they are not loving God, that they are not loving others, then they are deluding themselves. In that delusion, they rob themselves from the blessings of the congregation. The blessing bestowed upon the congregation is to be continually cleansed.
It is important to note that this cleansing is not a once and for all experience. It is a continuing event. Together as we walk in the light God purges sin from our lives. As sin is cleansed we become more like Jesus. In the teachings of the Church of the Nazarene, we emphasize both the process and 2 events in that process of becoming more like Jesus. The first event is when God accepts your faith and makes you His own. The second event is when the power of sin to hijack your best intentions is broken; we call his second work of grace entire sanitization. Don’t allow the word entire to confuse you though, after the 2nd event there is continued progress in becoming like Jesus. We call that growing in grace or maturing in the faith.
Our teaching begins with Verse 8 the second of three corrections John is making. Some people in the gathering believed that sin was no longer a problem for them. John writes: “If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense.” This false teaching of being free from sin is part of an error in thinking called Gnosticism. If you acquire the secret knowledge, according to the Gnostics, then your soul which is good and immortal is freed from your body which is evil and temporary. The divine spark, they taught, sets the soul free therefore you are freed from sin since sin has to do with the material world. Maybe John is comparing the Gnostic spark to Jesus’ light. John’s light frees you from the ignorance of living in the dark, illuminates the deeds of sin so that the disciple of Jesus can choose not to indulge in sinful behavior.
We need to define sin. The New Testament uses a word which means missing the mark; not hitting the target let alone the bullseye. The target that is missed is loving God and loving others. When we disobey God’s commands either through omission, commission, or just plain infirmities, we’ve sinned. When we have failed to treat another person with respect, ignored a need that we had the power to meet, we’ve sinned. When it comes to our relationships with people, anytime that we once had a good, healthy, mutually edifying relationship with another, and a problem arose and it deterred, damaged, or destroyed that relationship, then we have experienced sin. In such a situation it doesn’t matter if you are 99% at fault or 1%, when a relationship moves from righteousness to unrighteous sin has occurred. John writes that when you break off meeting together when you forsake the congregation, you’ve sinned. When you disobey God’s commands or ignore another’s need, or break fellowship you’ve sinned.
1 John 1:9 reveals what we are to do with our sins.
1 John 1:9 (MSG)
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.
If a believer realizes they have sinned, they are to confess that sin. Confession involves admitting your unloving action, labeling the action as missing the mark, determining never to fall into the same error again, making things right when possible with the one you refused to love, asking them to forgive your callousness, regardless of their response, you ask God to forgive you of your misdeed, your sin. You are doing all that you can to restore fellowship. What happens in fellowship is that you are cleansed as you return to walking in the light.
Jesus gave His disciples this teaching and this expectation:
Matthew 5:23-25 (MSG)
If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
25 "Or say you're out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don't lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him.
The closer we move towards one another, the close we move towards God. Even if it is 99% the fault of the other, as a follower of Jesus, you are to make the first move to reconcile.
About 50 years after John wrote there will be massive persecution of the church. There will be disciples who will buckle under the oppression of the government. These believers will renounce their faith, some will betray other believers to the authorities, and others will hand over copies of the scriptures to be burned. Those disciples who suffered and survived the persecutions taught that having betrayed Christ that there was no forgiveness of sin available (Donatus Magnus, Donatists). John may be addressing the infancy of such an idea, that after baptism, your symbolic entry into the family of God if you willfully sin that there is no forgiveness available anymore.
1 John 1:9 (NIV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
You don’t have to carry the guilt or the shame of sin. The consequences of sin may remain, but God’s faithfulness to His promises made in Jesus assures you that you can find forgiveness through confession and continue to walk in the light.
One more error in thinking John is seeking to correct.
1 John 1:10 (MSG)
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.
Within this congregation of believers, some taught that they had never sinned, to begin with. This erroneous thought could go one of two ways. The first error in thinking is that because of the sovereignty of God a person is not responsible for their actions. God has predetermined all. You the soul never sinned and it doesn’t matter what you the body did. The second error in thinking that the sins you’ve committed aren’t’ all that bad you can’t even call them sins, they are lapses in judgment or making a mistake, or caused by temperament or you were just caught up in the heat of the moment.
The story of Genesis reveals that the human predicament is one of estrangement from God. The Adam disobeyed the result is what we refer to as original sin. We are all under the curse of estranged from God. Estranged from God we cannot love God, therefore we are not in the light but in the dark and being in the dark we do evil, we sin. The Adam and the Eve covered themselves, no longer capable of relating rightly to one another, the result is we fail to love others today. What’s most important is self.
Apostle Paul wrote that because of Adam’s disobedience everyone is under the curse of sin. “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:22-23 (NIV).
God incarnates. Jesus is fully God, and fully human. In a demonstration of love for God and love for others, sacrifices Himself and because of that love is raised from the grave. His death makes atonement for humanity, God reconciling His creation to Himself. In His resurrection we see that Jesus is the light, He is the light-bringer, the light revealer, and invites you to enter into the light. When you receive the light then “we” Father, Son, Holy Spirit, you and I walk together.
In the text today John is correcting erroneous thoughts about sin. You’ve missed the mark believing you are walking in the light while refusing to be in fellowship, having left the congregation. You’ve missed the mark believing it doesn’t matter what you do, that sin is no longer a problem for you, after all, God forgives you in Christ regardless, right? Don’t bet on it. You’ve missed the mark believing you’ve never sinned in the first place or somehow escaped the possibility of ever sinning again. Believe such things about yourself and you are stumbling around in the dark. I want you in the light.
John makes it clear that confession is the right response to sin.
1 John 1:9 (NCV)
If we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.
Don’t miss the opportunity the Holy Spirit presents to you. If there is a correction in your thinking, make it. I want you in the light. Where there has been a missing of the mark, confess it. I want you in the light. If you have never even asked to walk in the light, then acknowledge, believe, commit, and ask God to let you in. I want you in the light. Good time to make a decision is right now. I want you in the light.