Exploring 1 John Session 8 1 John 2:9-11
Exploring 1 John Session 8 1 John 2:9-11
We are in session 8 in our study of 1 John. If you have missed previous sessions, the video, podcast, and manuscript can be found at www.hbcc.org and the video on YouTube channel HBCC Life
Just to clear up some possible confusion, the writing we call John and the writings we call 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John are different. John was one of the first to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:21-22). He is the author of the Gospel According to John which we identify simply as John. Gospel means “the good news” about Jesus. He is also traditionally accredited for writing The Revelation of Jesus Christ, that’s the last writing in your Bible often referred to as Revelation. Of course, John also wrote the letters we have identified as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. If the scripture cited is John followed by chapter and verse, then that’s directing you to the Gospel According to John. If the scripture text is cited 1st, 2nd, or 3rd John you are being directed to one of the three letters.
In our time together we are going to learn that there is no twilight in the spiritual world. You’re either in the light or in the dark. This of course comes from John's strict distinctions between what is of Christ and what is of anti-Christ. The Light is good, it is truth, it is ethical, it is righteous, the dark not so much.
Reading ahead John tells us:
John 3:19-21 (MSG)
"This is the crisis we're in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won't come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is."
There is no grey in John’s writing, you are either in the light or in the dark. Hate for one’s brother or sister in Christ is an indication you are living in darkness. How we treat one another is extremely important. We have previously learned that the closer we get to God, the closer we get to one another and the closer we get to one another the closer we get with God. It is in this fellowship that we are healed.
I need to put a personal comment here at the risk of offending. Showing respect to all people, regardless of their ideas, their agenda, their culture, is giving another due regard to their personhood, to their being human like you. You may disagree with them on some if not all their agenda, but name-calling, profanity, demonizing, cursing another human being is a demonstration that you are living in the darkness (James 3:10). Respect doesn’t mean accept, agree, or tolerate; rather showing respect raises the dignity of every human being. My friends, if you are a believer, disrespect is beneath you. Don’t give in to the Devil’s trap of incivility. Remove all profanity from your rants (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:18). Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) so we can come up with solutions to society's problems and not go to war with each other. Here I will get off my soapbox.
I want you to live in the light. If you are becoming aware that your life is not heading in the direction you hoped for and have started to search for something bigger than yourself, this awareness is a spiritual awakening. It’s God calling you out of the dark. The gospel is that Jesus came to bring you light. In the light, you are allowed to live your life to the full (John 10:10). The abundant life is a life of acceptance and belonging, of loving and being loved, of inner contentment, and purposeful and meaningful work. I want you in the light. If you want to be in the light acknowledge that desire, that you need to be in the light, believe that Jesus makes it possible to you to enter the light, Jesus makes it possible for your sins to be forgiven and for you to made new inside, commit yourself to become this new light-filled person and ask God to accept your faith and bring you into the light. The lights will come on. Let me know if you want to walk in the light, better yet, make the decision right now. Ask God to save you.
One of the questions we can ask of a letter is what occurred to occasion it, what happened that would cause John to write what he did. We have his answer, but what was the question? The congregation that John is writing to is experiencing a schism. Some have been swayed to follow what historians have labeled as Gnosticism. Some have stayed loyal to John’s teaching about Jesus and the ethical life a disciple is to live. John is encouraging his readers to continue to walk in the light. He has made the case that it is by loving God and loving others that we can know that we are walking in the light. Obedience to God’s commands, respecting all others, meeting the needs of others out of our abundance is demonstrations of a disciple's love.
1 John 2:9-11 (MSG)
Anyone who claims to live in God's light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It's the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God's light and doesn't block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn't know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.
Brothers and sisters can be referring to all others, our neighbors next door, the people in the community in which we live, and the folks we work with. Yet we are safe in the assumption that when John speaks of brothers or sisters he is referring to those who stayed in the congregation. He is speaking about the disciples of Jesus. We know that when we acknowledge, believe, commit, and ask to enter into the light that God the Father adopts us into His family.
Ephesians 1:5, John 1:12, 1 John 3:1, and Romans 8:16 (MSG)
Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ.” “whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.” “Just look at it—we're called children of God! That's who we really are.” “God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.”
How we treat one another is an indicator of whether we are in the light or in the dark. Remember John’s strict dualism, there is no grey. Love the light, hate the darkness. We are to love all, treat everyone with respect, and when the opportunity arises meet another’s need out of our abundance. But there is a special love that is shared in the fellowship. It is a more intimate relationship, it is the communion of saints, it is I’ve got your back while you have mine, it is I can trust you with my heart, it is we are friends.
If we are walking in the dark we take no concern for another person’s welfare, their grief, or their salvation. In the dark, we write people off because we judge that they cannot further our cause, meet our needs, deliver what we want.
If we are walking in the dark we have contempt for another person. We regard them as beneath us, an ignorant fool to be disregarded and brushed aside. In the dark, if someone disagrees with me they themselves, not their idea, disqualifies them from my affection and invites my disdain.
If we are walking in the dark we see people as nuisances. In the dark people are just an unfortunate necessity, their poverty, their plight, the pain are bothersome and tiring, no concern of mine. We turn our backs, close our eyes, and take care of ourselves exclusively.
If we are walking in the dark we see those who are not like us as enemies. Those that don’t look like us, those who don’t think like us, those who don’t agree with us are all adversaries. Xenophobia, the fear of the different, not only race, not only religion, not only country of origin, but ideas cause us to turn those differences into rivals that must be defeated, if not annihilated.
If you are in the dark, your stumbling around and don’t even realize it because you’ve been blinded (2 Corinthians 4:4). Have you ever thought your being feed a line of lies? Seeing is no longer a guarantee that what is depicted is the truth. Propaganda, spin, bias, twist everything into a particular ideology. You are convinced you know the truth, but here’s a little test: Does your understanding of the situations and circumstances of life promote loving God and loving others while exposing everything that is anti-Christ? If you wonder, it’s time for a Holy Spirit optometry appointment.
“Let light shine out of the darkness” (2 Corinthians 4:6). There is to be no darkness in the lives of those living in fellowship with God and one another. Get the darkness out of your heart. If you find darkness in your heart 1 John 1:9 it!
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.
Confess, repent, reconcile, and walk in the light. I want you in the light. A disciple of Jesus doesn’t block the light by dabbling in the darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Dabbling in the darkness is refusing to be a lover.
To be a lover you need the power of the Holy Spirit changing you from the inside out. Love enables you to grow spiritually, to become more mature in your faith, to deepen your knowledge of God. Love enables you to grow socially, to be concerned with the welfare of others, listening to them, hearing them, helping them in their journey. God has already sealed you with the Holy Spirit. A believer has all the help they need to walk in the light (2 Corinthians 4 5-6).
The darkness of hate drives everything in the opposite direction. The darkness of hate drives you into the arms of Satan, the deceiver, the accuser of people, the liar, the blinder of eyes, the murderer. Division, strife, injustice, oppression, anarchy, and chaos are all the fruits of hate. The Apostle Paul writes to the congregation in the region of Galatia, and what he has written is wisdom to those outside the congregation and that much more, for those of the congregation:
Galatians 5:14-15 (MSG)
For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
Walking in the darkness you will think you are doing right but your attitudes and actions are leading to annihilation (Judges 21:25, Proverbs 14:12). Kill, Steal, destroy is the way of darkness (John 10:10). Anger, vengeance, hate is the way of darkness—certainly, you’ve seen Star Wars!
A troubled congregation is quarreling, taking sides, accusing and blaming one another; gossiping and slandering. There are heated exchanges instead of listening (James 1:19). There are rulers instead of servants. There is contention, controversy, and complaining. There is a failure to forgive. Then the congregation is blown asunder. Brothers and sisters part as enemies. A congregation is meant to be a lighthouse, not a house of horrors. If you feel this kind of trouble in yourself 1 John 1:9 it!. Save your fellowship (Philippians 4:2). Do not resent those you are to love.
We know the problem in the congregation John is writing to has been caused by heresy (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Heresy is false teachings about Jesus and living as a disciple. Rightfully heresy was repudiated, those determined to adopt the heresy, left the congregation. This left people wondering if they got things wrong, maybe those that left are right. John is telling us all that you can tell who is in the right and who is in the wrong, who has fellowship with God, and who does not by their behavior.
Hear the Truth:
“It's the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God's light and doesn't block the light from others” (1 John 2:9 MSG).
This is the answer to every social ill, living in the light of God. God-light shines out of you as you love (2 Corinthians 4:6). That love heals the brokenhearted, bandages the soul wounds, encourages the downtrodden, gives cold water to the thirsty. That love sets prisoners free from the habits, attachments, and addictions that bind them. That love offers forgiveness to the repentant. That love lifts up and speaks out against injustice, poverty, violence, and ignorance. That love works towards peace and unity for all. That love opens blinded eyes. That love draws us together and draws us to God. I want you in the light.
John has opened our eyes to the fact that there are no gray shadows in the life of a disciple of Jesus. A person’s deeds demonstrate if they are in the light or in the dark. When a true believer finds a shadow of darkness within them they repent, they 1 John 1:9 it. Be a true believer, walk in the light.