Living in the Light (1 John 1:5-10)

2016-week-39As a child, I recall hearing one of my friend’s fathers tell the story of his childhood. In this particular story, my friend’s father shared how his brother tricked him into believing he had messed around with science kit that caused him to be blind. He believed his brother because when he opened his eyes he could not see anything. In reality, the only issue was the electricity had gone out. When his parents heard his screams, “I can’t see! I can’t see!” their reply was, “We can’t either. The electricity is out!” See, my friend’s father had been deceived into believing he was blind and was left in darkness. In 1 John 1:5-10 we find there are those who buy into the deception. However, this time around the Apostle John targets those who believe they are living in the light while they are truly walking in darkness. Therefore, just as John reassures those in Christ they are saved, he also exposes those who are not genuine and not truly Christian. He does this by showing what it means to live in the light. Living in the light must begin with understanding the foundation. The foundation for living in the light is God Himself. After all the message the Apostle John heard and proclaimed was this, “that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1:5). To say God is light could mean He is the one who is pure and holy. He is the standard of goodness. Pertaining to this particular passage, though, it seems apparent John emphasizes God as the One who is truth. In a world of deceptions and lies, the foundation for living in the light is God who is truth. If we say we are followers of the Light, then our lives should look like it. Our words should match our actions. What if they do not? John answers, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1:6). If we claim we are in fellowship with God and yet live apart from His Word, we are liars. We cannot live a lifestyle of darkness if we are following the One who is light and has no darkness in Him. What you say and how you live should not be telling different stories; they should be telling the same story about a great Savior. It is this great Savior John tells us about, “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 cleanses us from all sin” (1:7). Living in the light means following God who is light which results in fellowship with Him. Without misunderstanding, the text is clear our living in the light is not what saves us. We are not cleansed by some work we do. We are cleansed by the blood of Jesus. The death of Jesus Christ was a significant death. He had no sin of His own to atone for but died for our sins and in our place. Because of Christ, we can be cleansed and be saved. Only because of Jesus, can we walk in the truth. Though Jesus cleanses us from all sin and we are made right before God based upon the righteousness of Christ, this does not mean we will never sin again. As Christians, we must understand the distinction between justification and sanctification. In our justification, we have been made right with God because we have been given the righteousness of Christ as a gift as He has died for our sins. Thus, we are cleansed from all sin. Still, in our sanctification and spiritual growth, we struggle with sin. To deny we struggle with sin is to deceive ourselves and to call God a liar (1:8, 10). In other words, to deny we sin denies our need for a Savior. Even for those who acknowledge sin, they make light of it by saying, “Nobody is perfect!” and “Everyone makes mistakes.” To not see your need for a Savior is to show you do not truly believe you are a sinner. You are deceived and the truth, which is God’s Word, is not in you. A sign God’s Word is in you is you recognize your sin. Being a Christian does not mean you never sin. Being a Christian means you confess your sins. When we genuinely confess our sins, acknowledging our wrongs and turning from them, we find God will forgive us. Why does God forgive us? Because of His faithfulness and His justice (1:9). God’s faithfulness and justice we seen most clearly at the cross of Jesus Christ. The parallel between verses 7 and 9 emphasizes the character of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ is what cleanses us from all unrighteousness and sin. In order to live in the light, we must first repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Only when we trust in Christ can we live in the light by walking in the truth.

Reflection Questions:

  • How does the foundation of God Himself help you see what it means to live in the light?
  • Does your profession of faith match the lifestyle you live? Does this bring you reassurance of your salvation?
  • Why it is important to realize for Christians that living in the light does not mean we do not sin but that we confess our sins? How can this impact our witness before a watching world?

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