by Mike Ratliff
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 ESV)
The tragic state of the vast majority of professing Christians in these early years of the 21st Century is that only a small minority of them are actually walking their Christian walk before the Lord in the light that is borne from our Saviour’s own life. As a result, most Christians are in bondage to their flesh. They are enslaved to a taskmaster who has an insatiable appetite for self-gratification. Even though they profess Jesus as Lord and Saviour they live as if it’s all up to them to try to live righteously. Since they can’t do it they have assumed a cavalier attitude about it and live defeated in their fleshly pursuits. This is tragic. I fear that many if not most of these professing Christians are disingenuous. Why? If there is no drive to be holy as God is holy, if there is no hatred of their sin, if there is no brokenness over their failure to repent then the Spirit of God does not reside in them and their hearts have not been regenerated. Let’s look at God’s light which shines in the darkness and has not ever been overcome by that darkness.
5 Καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία. (1 John 1:5 NA28)
5 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. (1 John 1:5 ESV)
The “him” in v5 is our Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3). John writes to us that the message that he is writing is a message from Him. What is that message? God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. The Greek word translated “light” throughout John’s writings when referring to the light borne from the life of Jesus Christ is φῶς or phōs. The Greeks used this word to describe the light of the sun. It always referred to a light that was not kindled or quenched by men. Once this light comes into the heart of a person it is permanent. This light cannot be defeated by darkness nor any act of any other being. Also, God is pure. He does not make mistakes. He never sins. No one can question His motives or actions.
6 Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν, ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν· (1 John 1:6 NA28)
6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:6 ESV)
The Greek word translated “darkness” in v5, as well as in John 1:1-5 at the top of this post, is σκότει or skotia. It means darkness with the prevailing associated idea of unhappiness or ruin. Just as φῶς is associated with happiness and beneficence, darkness represents unhappiness. Therefore, σκότει is not a figurative term for sin, but refers to the consequences of sin. From these definitions what do we see in John’s message from our Lord? God has no unhappiness in Him due to sin, but men do. Also, if people confess that they are Christians, but they walk in the unhappy consequences of their sin they are liars. They are not genuine believers. The Greek verb translated “walk” in this passage is περιπατῶμεν or peripatōmen, the Finite, 1st Person, Plural, Present, Subjunctive, Active case of περιπατέω or peripateō. It simply means to tread all around as a proof of ability. It is used to describe how people deport themselves. The grammar indicates something that is true at the time it is spoken, written or read. In other words, John is telling us that those who live their lives in the unhappy consequences of their sin cannot be genuine believers. He is not saying that all genuine believers are perfect and never sin. He is saying that there is a difference between those who sin and repent and those who sin and never repent by working with God to move from the darkness into the light as genuine believers consistently do. Those described in v6 are those who never do this.
7 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 John 1:7 ESV)
In v7 we see the contrast between those who walk in darkness with those who walk in the light. Those who walk in the light do so the same way Jesus did and still does. Thank God that we do not have to try to be Christlike the best we can and that is all we can ever do. No, this walk in the light is not like that at all. Instead, it is work of God in our hearts as we humble ourselves before Him and submit to the Lordship of Christ in all things. As we abide in Him, He gives us His joy and that enables us to live as He did and does. That is, Spirit-led or Spirit-filled. The Holy Spirit so permeates and controls those who walk this way that Christ’s very character becomes manifest through them. In this we have fellowship with all fellow believers. Those who are led by the Spirit are not perfect, but their sin is cleansed from them so that they do not bear the unhappy consequences of it. Why? They are walking in repentance. They have penitent hearts that do not seek their own, but, instead, to do the Lord’s will. At salvation all sin of the one being saved is washed away. The penalty of that sin was paid at the cross. This passage is speaking of the atonement in the sense of it’s continual power to bring cleansing in our penitent walk of repentance.
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8 ESV)
In v8 we see that John makes it clear that genuine Christians are not sinless. We all still sin. Those who preach perfectionism for Christians are deceivers leading the deceived. Also, this verse speaks of the fact that a genuine Christian will be deeply convicted of their sin. Those who claim that they don’t sin or try to cover up their sin are being self-righteous. Let’s not do this. Confess your sins to God, make restitution where called for and walk in repentance in the power of the Holy Spirit.
9 ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας. (1 John 1:9 NA28)
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)
Forgiveness comes to those who confess and repent. Never believe the lie that too much sinning has gone on for God to be able to forgive. Not only does He forgive us, he cleanses us from all unrighteousness. This is speaking of the removal of the darkness and replacing it with His light. The Greek verb translated as “cleanses” in v9 is καθαρίσῃ or katharisē the Finite, 3rd Person, Singular, Aorist, Subjunctive, Active case of καθαρίζω or katharizō. It speaks of cleansing one from the filth of sin.
To walk in repentance is a joy. Why do we so often cling to our sins then? Isn’t it because the darkness we are in blinds us from the truth. We must come to ourselves as the Prodigal Son did, turn from our wicked path and return to God and His ways. When we do this it is because He is drawing us to do so. We see the filthiness of our sin. The conviction from the Holy Spirit and the condemnation from our conscience suddenly becomes too much to bear. When He touches our hearts at that moment, we turn back to Him in repentance with brokenness and humility. When He grants repentance to us at this special time we are changed. We are more humble and less prideful than we were when we were in our sin.
10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:10 ESV)
How often are v8 and v10 read and studied in relation to v9? Not much I fear. Jesus explained our need for salvation. Our sin is what is the object of God’s wrath. That is what salvation is all about. If the gospel is watered down and concentrates only on the benefits of it without describing why it is necessary then people come to Jesus to go to Heaven rather than to be saved from the penalty of their sins. Sin, what sin? All sorts of Humanistic reasoning spills forth from the 21st Century Church to create a new form of Christianity that draws people to churches rather than to Jesus, that is, the real Jesus. Those who preach these false gospels are liars and they make Jesus a liar because they put words in His mouth He never spoke or take His saying out of context. Those who do this are false prophets and their converts are not Christians. Of course their “Jesus” is not the real Lord Jesus but another Jesus made in their own image.
Soli Deo Gloria!