Book study: 1 John 1:5-10

1 John 1:5-10

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

God is light: this is the message John heard from Him who was from the beginning. We want to know what God says to us. He says that He is light. There is no darkness in Him at all. It would do to meditate on the nature of light then!

  • Light is something, while darkness is nothing.
  • Light gives warmth
  • Light reveals what is there, it renders it visible. Darkness conceals
  • Light gives life. Vegetables sown indoors thrive under a good grow light, and languish if light is lacking.
  • Light is energy. Darkness is a lack of energy.
  • Light denotes the time for activity, while darkness denotes the time for sleep, for inactivity.

I’m hoping over time for more things to be added to this list in the comments! Share your ideas!

This is one of a few “God is” phrases in the book. The other one that comes to mind is “God is love.” What does this mean? In context, John is talking about the nature of light to reveal. We can walk in the darkness or walk in the light. We can conceal what we are and what we do or we can reveal what we are and what we do. To God, perhaps, all things are revealed. He sees all, nothing is hidden from Him. God is light.

However, this is no comfort, is it? This is actually terrifying. We would like to sweep this under the carpet I would think. However, this is not the hot gaze of the judge, of the inquisitor. The same God who is light is also the God who is love! He sees all as the physician who seeks to heal. Furthermore, if there is no darkness in Him, He is the God of revelation, He shows forth His secrets.

Let’s actually put together a little chart here before we go on with the rest of these verses:

The faker’s world The honest person’s world
our action God’s view our action God’s view
SAY: fellowship with Him lie, don’t practice truth WALK: in the light fellowship with one another
blood of Jesus cleanses us
SAY: we have no sin deceive ourselves, truth not in us CONFESS: our sins faithful and just to forgive,
cleanse us from all unrighteousness
SAY: we have not sinned make HIM a liar, His word is not in us asdf asdf

This is fascinating! The faker community does a lot of talking. They say this, and they say that, about themselves. The faker does not just talk for himself either. He speaks in community, he speaks as a group. He says, our group, our little band, we are the kind of people who don’t sin. We may sin a bit, but it is all inconsequential. We’re a group of non-sinners really. The problem with the American church is “X”, but WE do things a little differently! We have escaped such problems, we have no such sin. So much talk.

However, all this talk is not to be contrasted with action. It is to be contrasted with humility and authenticity. Notice that light and darkness, and hiding and revealing, is all connected to relationship. If we have relationship, if we base our community, on what we say to make us look good, rather than speaking what is true, we walk in the darkness.

Authentic community is therefore, as we see, based on grace. If there is no assurance together that there is justification, forgiveness based on the satisfaction of justice because of Christ’s blood, we cannot have true fellowship. We must know that each other is terribly sinful, and that we have a basis to forgive each other. We must have a means to no longer condemn ourselves or each other. Without grace we cannot walk in the light, because we only ultimately can hope for justice with each other, and justice works both ways. Propitiation is the only escape from collective judgement, and thus the only door to authentic community. Only scandalous grace gives us the true freedom to walk in the light.

So, another question that usually arises from this passage, is this: do we have to ask piecemeal for forgiveness for each sin? It does say, “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)” Does our forgiveness hinge on our confession? If so, isn’t it our confession which secures our forgiveness? Is it the blood of Jesus, + our daily confession, which secures our forgiveness?

Well, remember in 1 John 1:7, he says that the blood of Jesus His son cleanses us from ALL SIN. Yet here we are being told that we are sinners and we ought to say so. I thought we were cleansed from ALL SIN! Can’t this guy make up his mind?

Go down the road with me on this a bit. John is writing pastorally. Look at who he says he is writing to and why:

12 I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
1 John 2:12-14

Look at how he is writing to encourage, to comfort, how he is wanting to build them up. I believe this tone carries the whole book. He says in 1 John 1:5-10, you are cleansed of all guilt in Christ. He says, it is of no use to hide in the dark because of your sin, because in your forgiveness you are liberated to walk in the light. It is eternal, which means, it counts now. Eternity certainly includes now. You may experientially sin, in fact if you say you don’t, you lie. Here is the comfort: if you feel yourself cut off, if you feel your conscience is torturing you, come into the light in your experiential now. Let the blood of Christ get massaged more deeply into your here and now experience. He will forgive, because He already secured your forgiveness, and He will make you know that in the here and now, His blood shed for you counts for your piecemeal sins. But come out with it, be transparent and truthful with God and others, or you will walk in the experiential lie that you are separated from God, that judgement is winning over you.

Here’s another way to think of it. Suppose your friend goes out and buys a new car, let’s say a Toyota Xterra. You hadn’t really thought about it before, but suddenly you see Xterra’s everywhere, around every corner. Maybe it’s true, there were no other Xterras on the road until you started noticing. More likely, circumstances have arisen to cause you to be more cognizant of what was true all along: there are lots of Xterras on the road.

When you came to Christ, you were completely and eternally forgiven of all things. Today, you may have sinned and you feel guilty and dirty and rotten. Today, you need to remember what was already true all along: His blood is sufficient to satisfy justice for THIS sin, this thing that bothers you today. His blood also covers all the other ones today that you have managed to forget about or that you think are not so bad. He even died for your sin of thinking these other possibly worse sins were not so bad. His blood is sufficient for the sins you actually realize you need forgiveness for, and so when you ask for forgiveness, He is able in the moment to manifest His mercy in a way that you need experientially today. However, His mercy and forgiveness are not limited to this. His mercy, His blood, His justification, covers it all, yesterday, today, and forever.

For us, the important time is now, and the important sin is the one we feel bad about now. Yes, we can confess this, and go boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need. This does not discount or disqualify the fact that all of our sin is forgiven for all time. We are cared for and qualified in today’s sin and for all of our sin, and today’s sin is truly important. So it is important that we confess it, but we could never confess it all, and we can confess what we feel is important and troublesome without worrying that all of our forgiveness is constantly under threat. Confession is not a law or a burden, it is a gift and a freedom, it is the sabbath of our rest.

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One Comment

  1. Light is also a lack of heaviness, a burden can be heavy. Jesus calls us to take his yoke upon ourselves because His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

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