Inscription: Writing God’s Words on Our Hearts & Minds
Part 93: Walking in the Light
1 John 1:5-10
November 4, 2012
GREEK THINKERS VS. HEBREW FEELERS
Greek attracted the CRITICAL THINKERS...
When I did my second year Greek, we studied COLOSSIANS as our project. The translations were hard, but it was a great book to learn “DISCOURSE ANALYSIS” from because Paul was good at using the little keys to show his argument.
But the year after mine studied 1 John. The GREEK is incredibly SIMPLE – I can still translate it with little help. But trying to outline John is like OUTLINING POETRY.
* One student said (in EXASPERATION) that she wasn’t sure John was saved.
Unlike Paul who builds an argument, John teaches a HANDFUL of THEMES again and again, from different angles.
SCRIPTURE READING: 1 John 1:5-7 (Erin)
First John was written to combat FALSE TEACHERS, but his goal wasn’t to put them in their place as much as HELP his READERS:
1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
You may think, “I can save you the work, I’m already know that I am a CHRISTIAN and I am going to HEAVEN.”
“ETERNAL LIFE” means far more than “go to HEAVEN,”: It is GREATER LIFE TODAY and FOREVER. “Have eternal life” is PRESENT TENSE, meaning is now.
* It is like my MARRIAGE, heaven BEGINS when God begins to call us, and INCREASES as we INCREASINGLY BELIEVE in Jesus as Lord.
John’s goal isn’t for us to simply FACTUALLY UNDERSTAND that we have eternal life and forever:
Q Does it say “HAVE eternal life” or “WILL HAVE eternal life”?
This is that our CURRENT LIFE be RADICALLY TRANSFORMED by the REALITY of our eternal life now.
* I want to help us understand how believing in Jesus brings us into LIFE NOW.
THE BIG IDEAS
There is so much good stuff in 1 John it almost seems SINFUL to only preach ONE SERMON, but we’ve got to work with what we got. This passage is perhaps the BEST SUMMARY of John’s big ideas:
1 John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 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, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
Q Can you catch the TENSION here?
* If we claim to know God, we must also WALK in the LIGHT; yet if we claim to be WITHOUT SIN, we are SMOKING CRACK.
Q So HOW MUCH SIN are we allowed to have before we are no longer walking in the light?
That TENSION is what we are going to explore today.
GOD IS LIGHT
1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
God is light, 100% pure, blazing, BRILLIANT LIGHT. This is another way to describe the GLORY of GOD Peter talked about, so I don’t need to belabor the point.
HOW’S YOUR WALK?
1 John 1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
So if we walk in the darkness, we do NOT have FELLOWSHIP with God – we don’t KNOW him, we are not part of his FAMILY, we are not SAVED, etc.
* At first there seem to be a CONTRADICTION: Walking in DARKNESS means we AREN’T SAVED, yet we can still have SIN be SAVED.
The KEY is in the VERB “WALK,” it is an analogy for your life, how you are living. And the verb is PRESENT TENSE, which means in Greek means to continuously do.
Some translations say:
NET 1 John 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth.
The question is not “Have you said the SINNER’S PRAYER?” but “Does your LIFE DEMONSTRATE that you TRULY BELONG to God?”
* It’s like a used CAR SALESMAN selling you a car, taking your money, but not transferring the title or letting you drive it.
Q If you say you are a Christian, have you genuinely HANDED the KEYS over to God? Or are you still HOLDING THEM?
Do you live how ever you WANT? Is Jesus really the LORD of your life? At the end of the day, is it “MY WILL” not “thy will”?
* WALKING in DARKNESS is proof that we don’t really KNOW GOD, REGARDLESS of what we SAY.
WHERE IS THE LINE?
Q Ok, we get that, but where EXACTLY is the LINE where we go from walking in the light to walking in the darkness?
God doesn’t give us a line, and WISELY SO. If he did we would be tempted to walk as CLOSE to TWILIGHT as possible.
* Every choice to WILLINGLY SIN takes us closer to the dark. Every CHOICE to OBEY takes us closer to God’s light.
Q Does that mean that we can LOSE our SALVATION?
Not really sure if we LOSE it or NEVER had it. Some passages seem to say the former, others the latter.
* But on the other hand, it is also largely IRRELEVANT:
Q The question isn’t “Can SOMEONE LOSE their salvation?” but “Are YOU WORKING out your salvation with fear and trembling?”
GRACE, FIRST AND LAST
Yet at this point, it is VITAL that we understand that walking in the light is NOT ever done by our OWN EFFORT:
1 John 1:7 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, purifies us from all sin.
* We are don’t keep in the LIGHT by BEING GOOD
We SUBMIT to Christ as Lord, walk in his light, and he FORGIVES us and PURIFIES us. It is all about him and his GRACE, as John goes on to say.
* Thinking we DON’T NEED GRACE is just as DEADLY as walking in the darkness.
CLAIMING TO BE WITHOUT SIN
1 John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
The FIRST PROBLEM John had to address was folks saying they belong to God but not actually giving him the KEYS. The SECOND is those who don’t think they need that grace.
Q Who ACTUALLY CLAIMS to be without sin?
NO ONE says that anymore (ok not anyone – cf. PG). We have learned to say it in more SPIRITUALLY ACCEPTABLE ways:
* JUSTIFY and MINIMIZING our sins.
* COMPARING our sin to others.
In essence we say “We are not THAT BAD, compared to everyone else. We PRACTICALLY don’t have sin.” Until we stop comparing, we will never get grace.
* If you’re in a CAR ACCIDENT, it’s about to explode and they need the Jaws of Life to get you out, the car is irrelevant.
FORGIVEN AND PURIFIED, NOT EXCUSED AND TOLERATED
Once we get PAST the COMPARING, we can focus on OUR PART in the process: Screaming like a little school girl.
Our part is not EARNING the RIGHT to be rescued, it is simply to STOP FIGHTING against our rescuers and let them get us out.
1 John 1:9-10 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
This is what Jesus gives us freely: FORGIVENESS and PURIFICATION from sin, which would great, expect that what we really want is to be EXCUSED and have our sins TOLERATED:
1. Forgiveness vs. being excused
FORGIVENESS MEANS “You have done wrong but I forgive you.” EXCUSED MEANS, “It wasn’t that bad, you couldn’t help yourself, that is a really nice car I am pulling you from.”
* If I SMASHED your WINDSHIELD in with a baseball bat, the godly response would be “I forgive you,” not “What windshield?”
We want God to tell us that we are ok, we didn’t do anything REALLY wrong, it WASN’T our FAULT. We don’t want to accept grace fully because that means we have FAILED, which means we are FAILURES.
Q HOW do we LEAN into GRACE and FORGIVENESS?
We have to do TWO THINGS SIMULTANEOUSLY: 1) Face the DEPTHS of our SIN and 2) GRASP the “BREADTH and LENGTH and HEIGHT and DEPTH” of the love of Christ (Eph. 3:17-18).
* Either truth by itself is UNBALANCED.
2. Purified vs. tolerance
In the same way, we don’t REALLY want Jesus to “PURIFY us from all unrighteousness,” we want him to purify us from MOST UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, from the SINS that EMBARRASS us.
* We TOLERATE SOME of our sins and we really want GOD to.
We want God to MANAGE our sin, keep it from getting OUT of HAND, but not ELIMINATE it. We want to walk in the DARK a LITTLE.
You want to check out the HOT CHICK who walks by, but want God to stop you from being controlled by PORN, but
You want to find your IDENTITY in your KIDS, HOME, or CLOTHES, without being “THAT GIRL” who so obvious about it.
You want to be the SMARTEST PERSON in the room or the best Christian, while still being “HUMBLE.”
And the list goes on – all the ways we want to sin “a LITTLE.”
Q How can we GENUINELY DESIRE for our sins to be purified, not tolerated?
Through TRUST – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” trust that even the MINOR SINS will DESTROY us, that walking in the light will bring JOY, not MISERY.
* The longer I live and the more I see the effects of sin, the more IDIOTIC it seems to WALK in TWILIGHT instead of light.
* Cf. “DOORWAY to HELL.”
CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL
Back to the passage: What is the FIRST STEP being forgiven and purified?
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Q Who do we CONFESS our sins to?
To GOD first of all, but then to EACH OTHER and receive HEALING from God through each other.
NIV James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
* If we as a COMMUNITY don’t really get God’s GRACE and ACCEPTANCE, confession is unthinkable.
* If we do get grace and acceptance, it’s simple “VERY HARD.”
Sin is like a VAMPIRE – not only because it lives by DRAINING US, but also HATES the LIGHT. Sin’s best chance for survival is remaining hidden.
* I have found that if I WANT to HIDE something, there is a pretty good chance I SHOULD NOT.
Just bringing sin into the light REMOVES its greatest POWER, secrecy. Sin is like a TERRORIST. It can never hope to counter a nations power head on – it can only be effective when HIDDEN.
Not only so, but by confessing your sins, you OPEN YOURSELF up to many different ways that the COMMUNITY (working through INDIVIDUALS) can bring HEALING and HELP.
* Please text “Sunday School Teacher” ; service is almost over
ONLY ONE FAITH
To SUM it all up, we want to believe that there are TWO TYPES of Christians: You can either be a NOMINAL Christian, where God is just a part of your life, or a COMMITTED Christian.
* There is ONLY ONE WAY to be a Christian: Either he is LORD of ALL or not at all.
You either walk in the light or in the dark. We all fail in many ways and are forgiven, but who is holding the keys to your life?
ETERNAL LIFE NOW
I said at the beginning that JOHN’S PURPOSE is for us to EXPERIENCE ETERNAL LIFE even NOW:
Walking in the light is not a REQUIREMENT of believing in Jesus, it is an ELEMENT of eternal life. Being FORGIVEN and PURIFIED is the DOORWAY to Heaven, which we are entering even now.
Q & A