“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)
The last time we looked at 1 John, we talked about fellowship, both our fellowship with God and our fellowship with each other. Here in this passage, we will get a clearer picture (I hope) of what this fellowship should and could look like.
First off, and hopefully this was at least implied in our last entry, all fellowship begins with Christ Jesus. It is through his blood that we are able to have fellowship with Him, and it is through his blood that we are able to have fellowship with each other. This is because it is through his blood that we have been cleansed from all of our sin. (verse 7) Once we have experienced this cleansing grace, we can begin to walk in the light of Christ. When John is here telling us that we are able to “walk in the light” he is telling us that we can walk in the ways of Christ. As verse 5 tells us, “…in him(God) is no darkness at all.” In Christ, we can begin to live our lives, and love others, as Jesus did. As there is no darkness in God (sin, evil, traits contrary to what we see evidenced in the life of Jesus) so there should be no darkness in our lives. Through the blood of Christ, this is not only possible, but this is a reality.
This doesn’t mean of course that we will live lives, or enjoy relationships that never encounter any type of struggles. It doesn’t mean that we begin to live a sinless existence once we enter a relationship with Jesus. Anyone who lives in the world knows this simply isn’t true. What we do see however, is that when Christ went to the cross, he bore our sins. All of our sin, past, present, and future were laid upon him. For believers, through this sacrifice, we receive the righteousness of Christ. I’ll be the first to acknowledge, this isn’t a transaction that we can fully understand, but it is a truth plainly put forth in Scripture. (2 Corinthians 5:21) As we continue to grow in our understanding and knowledge of this truth, we continue to exhibit more and more of this light of God in our lives. (Galatians 5:22-23)
So, what are our first steps to this kind of life, and this kind of fellowship? Look at verse 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession of our sins is the first step. As we confess our sin, we are forgiven for our sin. We can’t expect forgiveness if we refuse to confess. This is true not only in our relationship with God, but it is also true as we cultivate relationships with each other. For any relationship to be healthy there must always be an acknowledgement of our failures and our sins. So often though, as opposed to freely confessing our sins and shortcomings, we act as if we have already attained perfection. However, John tells us here that if we are doing this, we make God a liar. (verse 10)
Therefore, if we want to truly walk in the light of God, and if we truly want to cultivate fellowship within the body of Christ, and in every sphere of our lives, we must be willing to continually acknowledge and confess our sin. If we fail to do this, instead of revealing light, we reveal darkness. Where there is darkness, God does not dwell. As long as we continue to walk in darkness, we cannot have fellowship with God, for in him darkness cannot dwell. (verse 5)
Some things to think about:
How many of you have ever had a dispute with a brother or sister in the Lord or even a family member, and each of you refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing? How did this turn out?
Do you always see yourself as the victim, or do you sometimes acknowledge that there are times when you probably could have and even should have done things differently?
Is there a situation right now in which you might need to confess wrongdoing, not only to God, but also a fellow believer and/or family member/friend?