July 20, 2014.
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice 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 cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
(1 John 1:5-10)
I was once told that nothing good ever happens after midnight. Whereas I think that’s a gross over simplification, I believe the principle to be true. I don’t think it is an accident that we associate darkness with bad things. I think this has been a principle that has been around for a long time, spawning from the dawn of time. When God created the heavens and the earth, the record states that the earth was without form and darkness covered the earth. Then God sounded “Let there be light,” and there was light, and it was good. This concept has been applied to truth and salvation throughout the scriptures, not the least of which in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 4:5-6)
So we are to walk in the light, that is in Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, and we are to have fellowship with one another and with him. But how do we do this? Surly sin keeps us in the darkness, away from the light, right?
John would say otherwise. The answer to that question is both yes and no. Yes, a lifestyle of sin can and will separate us from our God. There are many passages that teach this concept, including one from the prophet Isaiah:
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
But the answer is also no, sin itself will not keep you from God, for Christ died that he might cleanse us from all sin. This is why John continues his dialog and explains what he is saying. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He goes on even further to say that no one is without sin. We need to remember that. No matter how good you think some one is, or how good you think you are, we are all still sinners. But sin does not have power over us, unless we choose to let it.
What do I mean? John says that if we confess our sins, God is willing to forgive our sins. I see John painting a lifestyle of always trying for a sinless life. Are we going to sin? Yes. Will God forgive us? Yes. So what do I mean when I say that sin can separate us from God? “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” A lifestyle of sin, sin that you live in and aren’t trying to overcome, will indeed separate us from our Lord.
John is often aptly titled the apostle of love, for he seems to expound on the love of God more than other biblical writers. Perhaps that comes from the background he had with the Lord, one of pride it would seem, and being humbled. I think John knew where he stood with God and realized the incomprehensible love that God has for us that he would send the Christ, the son of God, to die for the very people who were spitting on him at the cross. What else exemplifies better light shining out of darkness?
Yet, though there is love throughout his writing, John also makes some hard things abundantly clear. It is still in love, but when you examine the love of God, you must also have a healthy understanding of the righteousness of God; how he cannot be in the presence of sin. John writes some things that we might even be embarrassed to read in our pulpits due to its exclusivity and blunt nature.
“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
(1 John 3:4-10)
This can be hard to hear, but that doesn’t make it any less truthful. Intuitively, it makes sense. If you are a follower of Christ, you should be doing the things Christ did and taught. If you choose not to, then are you truly a follower of Christ?
We all sin. It is true. But we do not have an excuse to keep on sinning. We all struggle, but this struggle does not give us the right to give up. We need to be here for one another, because that is how we are going to make it through. God gave us each other to stand by and rely on. When we are too afraid to confess our sins to one another out of fear of judgement, we do ourselves a grievous disservice.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Confession is no time for judgement, but rather a time for encouragement. It is a plea for help, and we need to be there to help our fellow brother or sister, for next time it might be us crying for help. Let light shine out of darkness.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus is the light of the world. It is only fitting then that we too are to be the light of the world, as we are ambassadors for Christ.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
We are to be his witnesses here on earth, walking in light and not fellowshipping in darkness. We were indeed once in darkness, but now we are in the light.
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Which kingdom are you in?
Suggested Daily Reading: I John 1-5.
Let light shine out of darkness.