2008-08-24 1 John 1:5-2:14 Light Walking
Perhaps you’re wondering about the sermon title. No, light walking won’t be a future Olympic sport. Nor is it low calorie burning exercise. Light walking is a state of life. It is the state of living in the light of Christ.
We live in the light. We really do! We’re not in the dark anymore.
The people who are in the dark are those who do not know Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Some of these people are in the dark because they simply haven’t ever really met Jesus, the light of the world. Others are in the dark on purpose. They’ve seen the light, but they hate it. They prefer to stay in the darkness because it is familiar, they like it, they think it gives them freedom so they stay in it, stay fumbling and stumbling around.
Did you know that there really is only two reactions when it comes to Jesus. Either you love Him or you hate him. It really is that simple.
Let’s look a bit closer as to why some people love Jesus and why some people hate Jesus.
Jesus is light. Bright light. Jesus comes into the darkness, that is, the world and shines like a bazillion candlepower light.
It is like when you tried to sleep in as a teenager. You know, you’ve got the blinds down, blankets over the blinds, it is totally dark in the room, even so, you’ve also got your head under the covers, blocking out the remotest amount of light. But then your mom comes in, flings open the blinds, the sunlight pours in, and then, she rips the blankets off your face and in the cheeriest of voices calls out, “Rise and shine time!”
Only with Christ’s light, it’s even more intense. Not only does He wake you up from out of the darkness, he shines his light right into you, illuminating all the darkest parts of your life, the parts you never wanted exposed to the light at all. And in that moment, there is utter horror, because the very worst things about you, the things you wish never happened, are revealed and known.
You can’t hide them any longer. You can’t even hide them from yourself. Then at just the right moment, after you’ve been squirming, blinking away, trying to turn your eyes away from the painful glare, you suddenly see Jesus. Your vision sharpens. You see him, his face, and his eyes. And though he is so bright, brighter than looking at the sun, you find that you can look at him, and in his eyes, you see love, peace, forgiveness and comfort.
And you see your sin. But your sin is already changing. It is covered with blood first, then, the blood washes it away, carried away in the ever flowing river of forgiveness.
That’s the experience of truly being in the wonderful, warm, though incredibly intense light of Christ. For in Christ there is no darkness. There can be no darkness where there is true light.
So, what is your experience of being in the light? If you call yourself a Christian, if you claim to have fellowship with Jesus’ people, the church, are you living in the light? Are you walking in the light or in the darkness?
Are you true to yourself, or are you pretending? Are you just hanging out here because it seems like a good thing to do, or do you desire to be with God more than anything?
God is light; in him is no darkness at all! In God is truth! There is no deception with God. There is no falsity. There is no hypocrisy. What you see, is what you get.
What are you doing to make sure that you are walking in the light? Are you even aware that you can walk in the light? Yes, you can! You can live a Christian life! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, because of the new life we have in Christ, we can light walk! We can live in the light.
But it takes some effort. The Olympic athletes don’t make it to the top of the podium by eating at McDonalds every meal, only occasionally working out, barely studying their sport, and only sometimes showing up at practises. They are focussed, committed, determined. They discipline their bodies by training. They exercise discipline by watching what they eat. They put in long hours studying. And all their effort comes down to a few minutes, once every four years!
What kind of effort are you putting into your light walking? Are you coasting? Is it the limit of your effort simply to get up for church once a week? Are you daily disciplined in Bible reading and prayer? What does your typical morning routine look like?
Do you get up a little earlier than you need to, so that you can start your day with a prayer and a meditation on scripture? Do you make use of the many fine devotional books that are so prevalent in Christian bookstores? Did you know that there is a Christian bookstore in Edson? Did you know that you could have Christian books delivered to your door by shopping at Amazon.ca, or Christianbook.com?
What do you listen to when driving or at work? Did you know that there are Christian radio channels available, on FM, AM and Satellite? Do you make use of them? Do you know that you can download all kinds of stuff off the internet, tons of it for free? There are Christian music sites, sermon sites, lecture sites.
There are devotional bibles, Bibles that will help you read the entire Bible in a year, two years, or three years. Have you read through the Bible yet? Did you know that you could even get a copy of the Bible that puts everything into an historical chronological order? It’s a One Year Bible, available in many different translations. I’m reading one right now and it is great!
Are you trying to do all this on your own? Do you have accountability partners? Do you have someone who knows you, who knows how to encourage you?
Have you asked me what I do? Have you asked someone you really admire what they do? Whom do you look up to spiritually? Who in our congregation would you most like to live like? He’s not here so I’ll mention his name, but I really respect Mr. VanWoudenberg. He is humble, kind, gentle, loving, and a caring, wonderful man, who exemplifies a Light walk.
How honest are you about your sin? Do you regularly confess your sins to God? Are you aware of your sin? You should be! You can’t truly be in Christ’s light and delude yourself into believing that you have no sin!
Now there is such a fine line here. There are some who don’t think about their sins enough. Perhaps there’s a different way of putting it. It is not as though they don’t think about their sins enough; it is as though they don’t care how they live. They think they can live anyway they want, and God’s grace will just cover over their sin. But John clearly says that if we love Jesus, we will do what he commands.
Therefore, you cannot claim to love Jesus and then live the way you want. In fact, of you truly love Jesus, you will, out of joy, out of pure love, you’ll want to live for Jesus.
Now, the reality is that no matter how strongly we love Jesus, until He returns, we won’t be able to love him perfectly. So, it is inevitable that we’ll sin.
John tells us that Christ purifies us from all sin.
But John is also a realist. John knows that sinning, no matter how hard we try not to, that sinning is inevitable. Therefore, he tells us that Jesus Christ the righteous one pleads our case before the father.
Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, not just our sins, but the sins of the whole world. The whole world could be saved if the whole world would simply trust in Jesus’ atoning power. Alas, too many people still reject Jesus. They don’t believe he is who he says he is. And so, they shut the door to the forgiveness that is available to them.
Now, still another problem plagues some Christians. These Christians mean well, but they still are not living as free in Christ as they could be. There are Christians who seem to model humility and awareness of sin, but who hinder their light walk by dwelling on their darkness. They say things like, “I’m not worthy of God’s grace. I don’t deserve this.” And they so wallow in their sin, which is already washed away, that they cannot fully appreciate and experience the joy that comes from knowing that their sins are washed away! Their lives are miserable because they cannot accept God’s amazing grace.
This is not at all surprising! There are people who have been in jail for so long that when they are set free, they can’t handle it. There’s a movie that gets the sense of this. I don’t readily recommend it for everyone. The movie is called The Shawshank Redemption. There are a couple of scenes in this movie that totally highlight this reality. There’s a guy named Brooks who gets paroled after like 50 years in jail. He gets out, but discovers that he can’t function on the outside. The world is too fast, too different, there’s too much freedom. He can’t understand or relate to anyone. Unable to cope, he takes his own life, after carving his name into a rafter in the room he was staying in.
Then there’s Andy. Andy was innocent. Andy escapes. But before he does, he befriends a guy who goes by the nickname Red. He tells Red what to do when he gets paroled. He tells him about the money that he’s hidden beside a wall in a field. With the money will be directions for where to find him, so that they can spend the rest of their lives in freedom together.
Eventually Red is set free. Like Brooks, he tries to integrate into society. He struggles. He can’t catch up to the pace. He makes mistakes. Finally, he goes back to his apartment. It’s the same one Brooks was in. He’s about to follow Brooks’ decision when he sees Brooks’ message. He stops. He reconsiders. He decides to risk it all and take Andy up on his offer.
But what if Andy was lying? What if Andy wasn’t really innocent? Red decides to trust Andy, and follows his instructions and sure enough, everything is as he said it would be. And the movie ends with the two of them in a tropical paradise, reunited.
That’s what we’re doing. We’re taking the words of the Jesus Christ, the innocent man, wrongfully convicted, and we’re trusting them. He too has given us a promise; I’m going away so that I may prepare a place for you. He’s preparing the Promised Land, the true Promised Land for us! All we have to do is follow his instructions.
We must walk as Jesus did. We must live as Jesus did.
We must love one another.
Isn’t that amazing? It is not a series of hurdles, hoops, steps. We must love one another. If we hate our brother or sister in Christ, the truth really isn’t in us.
Think about this. It’s really quite simple. We can love each other. Christ is in us, by the Holy Spirit, and he loved us even though we were enemies with him at the time.
So, we can love each other as well. Here’s how. When we look at one another, we must set ourselves aside. We must think Christ’s thoughts after him. Jesus Christ was gifted by the Holy Spirit to see how people were really thinking. We’re not quite as blessed as that. So, we need to give one another the benefit of the doubt. And we can do that because we’re not so invested in ourselves. We’re invested in Christ. This life, the positions we might have, the fame, fortune, all the trappings the world says are important are not important at all! All of that is nothing compared to the surpassing knowledge of Christ!
So, if we love one another, we will be in the light, and we will not stumble. By loving others, by putting God first, then loving one another as we love ourselves, we will not stumble. For we will desire what is good for others as much as we desire it for ourselves.
Remember, all the law and the prophets hang on the two great commandments. If we truly love God, and truly love one another, then we’ll not be tempted into sin!
Then John concludes this passage with several exhortations, several reasons why he has gone through the effort to put these things down on paper.
It is so that we will be encouraged to live in the light, to be light walkers.
We can walk in the light!
Whether we are young or old, it makes no difference, you can live for Christ, furthermore, it is expected of you!
So, know this fact. Your sins are forgiven, on account of the name of Christ.
Fathers, you know him who is eternal, you know Jesus Christ.
You young people, specifically, you young men, you have overcome the evil one. Did you hear that young people? Through Christ, you have overcome the evil one. Do you know the power that is available to you? Don’t be discouraged! Continue to overcome the evil one! Don’t fall into the trappings of the world! You don’t have to do what they do! You can find true life, true satisfaction, true joy and happiness in resisting and overcoming the evil one. Do I need to list the temptations that Satan throws your way? Getting drunk. Having sex before marriage. Lying, cheating, stealing, doing drugs. You don’t have to believe that such actions are inevitable. You can and you have, through Christ, overcome the evil one. This is not just peer pressure, it is Satan’s activities. But Satan is nothing when it come to Christ.
Be encouraged! We know the eternal Christ. We know the father, we are his children.
Fathers, that is, the senior men in our church. Pass on your knowledge! Teach us young people! Share your wisdom with us! Because you have known Jesus, who is from the beginning, for by him everything was made!
Be encouraged young men, because you are strong! God’s word is alive in you! God’s Word empowers you to overcome the evil one! Know this now! Know that you can resist the devil! Know this now! You can do much more than you think you can! You can be obedient! You can share the gospel! You can know Christ in such a way that He is the most important thing in your lives! Share that with your friends. Share that with your girlfriends. Share that with your children, those of you with young families. Take the responsibility that Christ has given to you. Sieze it! Use it! Live it! Glorify God through it! Amen!