During the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, John had heard him use the analogy of light. “I am the LIGHT of the world,” Jesus had said. “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” “You are the LIGHT of the world…..” The light-dark imagery occurs again and again in the statements of Jesus as he reflects the true nature of God, being God in human form.
In I John 1:5-10 the author challenges professing believers to assess their “claims” by their “walks.” Many individuals profess to follow Christ. The SIN test determines whether that profession is genuine.
v.5 The message from Jesus Christ is unequivocal. God is light and in John’s inimitable repetitive way “in him there is no darkness at all.” God – Father, Son & Holy Spirit are not teinted by sin nor are they tempted by evil. In a culture of shifting values, we begin with an absolute about the nature of God.
I recall years ago attending a funeral led by an “officiant” from a different church. He assured all of us that “he knew and had read the bible more than anyone present.” (A modest claim to say the least!) He wanted to assure us on this occasion that the only statement made about God in Scripture was “God is love,” and as a result, he assured us, “everyone would end up in heaven.” Though proper manners prevented it, I wanted to raise my hand and call into question this false statement. Yes, I John 4 teaches us God is love, but here in the opening chapter of this letter, God is light. He is absolutely pure, holy, righteous and just. Jesus made this abundantly clear and provided firsthand evidence to his first time followers that he himself accurately represented the Father. (He who has seen me has seen the Father – John 14:9)
Since God is absolutely pure, holy, righteous and just, those who claim to be indwelt by this God will face their sin, forsake their sin and find in Jesus Christ alone a full remedy for sin.
Claim #1 “Claiming to be in a relationship with God yet continuing in ongoing sin.” Read v.6 These ‘professing believers’ claim to have fellowship – deep common sharing with God, the God of light, yet their lives gave evidence of an ongoing attachment to darkness.
Correction – John corrects this falsehood with the bold statement “we lie” and “we do not live by the truth.” There is no kinder, gentler perspective on this! Salvation is not “asking Jesus into your heart” and then living any way you choose. He is Lord and as God moves into your life you will be faced with the truth that you must deal with sin – radically! Recall the words of Jesus, “gouging out your eye” “cutting off your hand” – drastic actions demonstrating a full repentance from acts of unrighteousness. This may only be done by God’s grace, through His Spirit but it must be done. It is not an optional activity for some Christ-followers who decide to get serious about following Jesus, the light of the world.
Challenge – John challenges us to walk in the light. Come out into the light of God’s truth, deal fully with your sin, not ignoring it, not cherishing it but coming clean with God. The result will be a new depth of connection with other Christ-followers and an ongoing experience of the cleansing power of Christ’s blood.
Claim #2 – “Claiming to be sinless” This is quite remarkable. These “professing” Christians claim to have reached a state of sinless perfection. I wonder what their spouses, friends or neighbours would say?
Correction – John calls this self-deception. God’s truth is not in those who claim to have reached this state. This is not an issue of denominational preferences or emphases. The truth is, this side of heaven, though we deal drastically with our sin, we will not reach sinlessness. O how we need the grace of God daily – “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Response – “Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above!”
Challenge – Confession – Honest open full agreement with God. Without excusing our sin, without blaming it on our parents, our friends, our family ‘traits’ we are to call our sin SIN. As we do this, to our amazement, God’s help – His faithfulness and justice through the finished work of Christ on the cross provides forgiveness – a cancelling of the debt and a breaking of the powerful grip sin has held on us. Yes – “He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free…..”
Claim #3 – “Claiming never to have sinned.” This time, the “professor” claims not to have reached sinless perfection but never to have fallen short of God’s glory. How is this possible? How poorly do we know ourselves if we make this assertion!
Correction – We make God out to be a liar. His word has no place in our lives.
Here are some questions of reflection –
1) What do I know of God? What attributes of God have I carefully understood from His word?
2) What pet sins have I excused and continued to practice despite the conviction of the Holy Spirit?
3) What is hindering our fellowship with God? with other believers?
4) What recent experience of forgiveness and deliverance from sin may we testify to today?
5) Am I willing to allow my Christian ‘testimony’ to come under the scrutiny of God’s word? or Do I prefer a rebellious delusion which assures me I am ‘saved’ even though my life bears no evidence of change?