Post Series on 1 John 1:5-2:6:
- God is Light, and in Him is no Darkness Whatsoever – 1 John 1:5
- Reforming the Speech of Pharisaical Hypocrites (Like Me) – 1 John 1:6-10
- How Can God be Faithful, but Still Just? – 1 John 1:9
- Reforming the Lives of Wanton Libertines (Like Me) – 1 John 2:1-6
In 1 John 1:5-2:6, the Apostle John writes about sin, faithful living, our Advocate in Jesus Christ the Righteous, forgiveness, cleansing from sin, and obeying God’s commandments. In some ways, this section is a primer on practical Christianity–what does it actually look like to become a baptized member of Christ’s church?
Everything, though, that John writes in the passage stems from a simple, yet dense, statement in 1:5: “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.” The sentence sounds so self-evident that we are tempted to read over it without further thought in order to get to something a little more thought-provoking.
But ask yourself this: What message would you consider to be the core of the Christian faith? If someone asked you to pass along to them the message of Christ, wouldn’t you say something–anything!–other than this? John, however, sees this message at the heart of real-life Christianity.
As we continue through the passage, we begin to see why. John first confronts those who refuse to acknowledge their own sinfulness, which is the height of blasphemy: “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). The idea that we have no less sin than God, who is pure light and in whom there is no darkness whatsoever, is a vile, horrific thought. Such a statement makes God himself out to be a liar, and it puts God in the dock to defend why he has condemned the world because of its “alleged” sin against him.
Second, John confronts those who claim to know God, yet who do not keep his commandments. John gives us a litmus test: “By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:5-6). If God is indeed light, and if God indeed admits into his presence nothing of darkness whatsoever, then what kind of fool would claim to have fellowship with God while yet refusing to obey him?
John’s point concerning God’s being the light is absolutely the center of the gospel message about Jesus: the Father sent the Son into the world precisely because God is light AND because we walk in darkness. Unless we gain an Advocate in Jesus Christ the Righteous, then we have no hope of escaping eternal darkness.
But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Only then can we have fellowship with God and with each other in the light.