1John: Light, Darkness, Sin, and Forgiveness

Read 1 John 1:5-2:2

John set the stage in the preamble to his brief letter; now he dives right into the problem of sin. While the topic is undoubtedly timeless, it is essential to consider those who would be reading this letter in the first century. Their view of God is probably a lot different than ours, but He is the same. And so we bounce back and forth from ancient to modern, an exercise that’s worth the effort. I’m trying to read the letter from both perspectives to get a better understanding of how this applies to us today.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

The idea of light versus darkness is significant. When John wrote this letter, there were no light switches. Even in our modern age, bad things tend to happen more frequently in the dark of night than in broad daylight, though the latter is possible. I’m hoping to have a Ride-Along with our local police department soon, 12 hours of darkness to learn about our city from the dark side.

God is light, not a statue or some engraved image. In this instance, the right answer begins with, because Jesus said so. John will explain a bit further, but he recalls one of the major themes Jesus made clear during His earthly ministry. Light is pure. It’s not possible to have darkness within the light. Sure, are brighter than others, but the presence of light eliminates darkness.

Fellowship With God

The concept of being in fellowship with God is incredible. If we fully believe that He is the creator of the universe, immortal, invincible, all powerful, all knowing, how can we casually read over this next verse?

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 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, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:6-7

Would you like to have fellowship with God? Honestly, outside of the walls of the church or circle of Christian friends, what does that mean? In my mind, the concept of fellowship is a two-way street. We are each contributing our part to the relationship. It’s a mutual friendship. Honestly, that’s elevating me way above what I deserve, but this is what Jesus said He wanted.

We have the opportunity to walk in the light, to do what is right by following His example. John’s not afraid to call us out, though. If we put on the badge that claims we are following Christ but continue sinning, we are lying. We are liars. The truth is not in us. The fellowship will not last if we say one thing while doing another.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

Brothers and sisters, do not be deceived. Hear this amazing news that John preached over and over again:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

I’ve often though our Catholic friends were onto something when they created the confessional. I’m not sure how it works, but the idea of being able to speak our sins out loud to a human that cares about our relationship with Christ is a beautiful thought. The key, however, isn’t found in our earthly relatives. Jesus is faithful and just and forgives our sins. He went to the cross to bear the burden and purify us.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

The whole world is put back in harmony with God through the blood of Jesus. We can enjoy fellowship when we follow His commands. The idea of koinonia can become real, and when it does, people will want to be a part of the family. They will go out of their way to figure out what we’re up to and how to get in on the action. Not by our elaborate productions, but by our love. We’ll see this theme of love unfold in John’s writing to the early church.

Lord help us to be a body of believers that love each other, that confesses to one another, that forgives and moves forward. Teach us how to love the way you showed us. And we will give You all the glory!

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