John walked with Jesus for three years. He described his experience in his first letter.
— He was an eyewitness to the life and teaching of Jesus.
— Like a courtroom witness, he testified to what he knew about Jesus.
Jesus’ life made such an impact on John that he wanted everyone to experience the immense quality of life that Jesus gives.
He told his readers, “We also declare to you so that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
“We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1.3-4).
Our church has a “Fellowship Hall,” where meals are served and mid-sized groups meet. The Fellowship Hall captures some of the meaning of John’s desire for fellowship.
Friendship, communion, and partnership describe what John wanted. He told of his experiences with Jesus so others could share with him and the Lord the best life possible.
I join John in his joy. There is no greater joy than to see someone become a friend of Jesus, who also becomes one of my friends.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s small book, “Life Together,” pictures John’s message. Our life with God changes our lives for the good.
A complete “life together” is not only with God but with other friends of God.
God Is Light
John was an eyewitness to the teaching ministry of Jesus. From Jesus, he knew “that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1.5).
Light refers to all that is good and darkness describes evil. God is pure light/good and there is not a trace of darkness in him at all.
John had the privilege of spending three years as a friend of Jesus who was pure light. There was never a moment when Jesus ceased being 100% love, life, joy, peace, and more.
Can you imagine what an experience it would be to live every day with someone like that?
The physical presence of Jesus is no longer available, but a relationship with the Holy Spirit is always available.
The Spirit is pure light, too. As we live with him we experience his personality of love, joy, peace, etc. (Galatians 5.22-23).
When we spend time with the Holy Spirit, we take on his characteristics and begin to resemble him. Galatians makes that clear.
Walking in the Light
What John says about walking in the light is best understood with the help of a picture (below).
If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true;
But if we walk in the light as he himself 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 that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 John 1.6-10).
Only Jesus has completely walked in the light.
What about those who walk in the darkness? No matter whether they are quite immoral or very moral, if they live separate from God they are in the darkness.
Followers of Jesus look like the wavy line that moves at one time to the light and at other times in the direction of the dark.
With this in mind let’s examine John’s message.
(1) If we claim to walk in the light but are separated from God, we are deceiving ourselves and others (verse 6).
The truth is that we all desperately need God’s grace and greatly benefit from a relationship with him. Self-sufficient morality that is distant from God is still in the darkness.
(2) When we walk in the light (represented by the wavy line), we are friends and partners with Jesus and fellow followers of the Lord (verse 7).
We are not free from sin and need the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from wrongdoing.
(3) We can be deceived in two ways. Verse 6 speaks of the deceived person who believes they are in the light when they are distant from God.
Another kind of deception occurs when someone believes they are sin-free (verse 8).
John addresses sin from two perspectives. Verse 8 refers to the fallen and sinful nature of humans.
Verse 10 identifies the practice of sin. As humans, we are sinners who commit sins.
Concerning the sinless perfection of humans someone has said, “Anyone can jump over the moon if they make it small enough and close enough.”
(4) The good news is that God uses Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I remember a scene in a movie I saw years ago where a husband cheated on his wife. He begged forgiveness and she granted it to him.
After saying, “I forgive you,” she said, “Now, honey go to the store and buy me the full-length mink coat I have always wanted.”
She forgave her husband but held the sin over his head as a threat.
When God forgives us, it is complete. He doesn’t hold the sin over our heads. He wipes away every aspect of our wrongdoing and rebellion. Praise God!
Rudy Ross and I begin a study of 1 John today. Our video can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.