Fellowship and Forgiveness in the Light
Fellowship and Forgiveness in the Light (1 John 1:5-7)
John describes Christians as those who are in fellowship with God and with one another. To be a Christian is not just to look back to a past experience but to participate in a present fellowship. Only those whose conduct is "walking in the light" can have fellowship with God and with other believers. The belief that "God is light" has a profound implication for our walk with Him and with one another. First John 1:5 tells us what God is and verses 6-10 tell us what we are bound to be in the light of that fact. Those who walk in the light know the fellowship of forgiveness.
Light Reveals the Nature of God
"God is light" represents one of the three great statements John makes about the nature of God. Elsewhere he tells us that "God is spirit" (John 4:24) and "God is love" (1 John 4:8). Whereas others tell us what God does, John tells us what God is.
Consider the source of this statement: "we have heard from him" (1 John 1:5). Some believe the Lord Jesus made this statement but that it was not recorded in the Gospels. Still others understand this to be a summary of all Jesus said about God. The purport of everything Jesus said and did reveals God as light.
Consider the significance of this statement. Positively, it is a word about the Person, purity, and purpose of God. The Person of God is light. Light is the divine essence, the physical accompaniment of the presence of God. God dwells in light that is unapproachable (1 Tim. 6:16).
Light also refers to the purity of God. Christians have put on an "armor of light" (Rom. 13:11-12). Believers are all "sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night, nor of darkness" (1 Thess. 5:5, NASB). You cannot separate the Person of God from the purity of God. The early Gnostics taught that one could know the Person of God without knowing the purity of God. John says this is never true.
Light refers to the purpose of God. Light pervades everything unless it is shut out. God reveals Himself. He does not conceal Himself. In that medium of self-revelation is where God and man meet. In the physical world we are revealed to one another only in the physical light. In the spiritual world we meet with Him and one another only in His light.
Negatively, in God there is no darkness. This does not mean that we can know everything there is to know about God. It does mean that there is nothing that hides, no secret reserve in God. We can know all of Him that we desire to know.
Light Reveals the Nature of Fellowship with God
Negatively, there is a false claim. Those who claim to have intimate experience with God and yet who habitually walk in darkness are deceived. The Gnostics taught that one could know God spiritually yet do anything one desired with the body physically. Fellowship with God and a life in the darkness are mutually exclusive.
There is a contradiction. The person who claims to share life with God and yet walks in the darkness morally does not do the truth. Truth is not only to be believed; the Christian does the truth. Talk is cheap; only walk really counts.
Positively, there is a conduct that reveals true Christian character. That conduct is to "walk in the light." The psalmist could say, "The Lord is my light and my salvation" (27:1). This light comes from the written Word of God: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. . . . The entrance of thy words giveth light" (119:105, 130).
The consequence of walking in the light is twofold. In relationship to God and other believers, "we have fellowship with one another" (v. 7). This means a daily, intimate sharing of all life. In relationship to sin, we experience continual cleansing through the blood of Jesus Christ. One experiences the initial cleansing of salvation only once. One experiences the daily cleansing of Christ's blood repeatedly (John 13).
This is a word of warning and encouragement. It is a warning to those who habitually live a dark life they must conceal and hide. Such do not belong to God or the light. Those who walk in light, however, can know daily renewal of their fellowship with God. Where do you walk?