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. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out 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 is not in us.
2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
(1 John 1:5 – 2:2 NIV)
In yesterday’s reading, John began his letter to the churches in Asia Minor by reminding them of his testimony that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Christ.
In today’s reading, John expands on his testimony of Jesus as Messiah, declaring that Jesus was and is sinless (verse 5). In the New Testament writings, light is associated with God and with sinlessness. Conversely, darkness is associated with sin and absence of God.
Remember that from a scientific perspective, darkness is not a “thing”. Rather, darkness is simply the absence of light. This is why the smallest candle can illuminate an entire room, or a single light bulb can be seen from over a mile away on a dark night.
John uses this metaphor to remind us that Christ is sinless (no darkness at all). In fact, John reminds us that God is the very source of light (truth and sinlessness). Christ is both the source of light (sinlessness) as well as our perfect example.
John goes on to draw a line in the sand about sin starting in verse 6. If we claim to be walking with Christ but yet are choosing a lifestyle of sinful acts, then we are living a lie.
John is combatting a number of false teachings that believed Jesus was either not a physical person (and thus discredited Jesus’ humanity), or that Jesus was a good teacher only (and thus discrediting Jesus’ deity). In John’s introduction, he credits Jesus as being both fully human and fully God (declaring both Jesus’ humanity and deity).
In all this, John clearly tells us that to follow Jesus means we must be “all in” – we don’t get to pick and choose between Jesus’ humanity and His deity. Anything less is to deny who Jesus is and what He did to redeem us from our sins.
When we claim to be followers of Christ, John tells us that we cannot split or segregate our lives into the physical and spiritual and treat the two parts separately. As Jesus was both God (deity) and man (humanity), we must live out what we believe and not separate our beliefs and our actions. To do so, as John says in verse 8 is to live a lie and deceive ourselves.
Bottom line – we are sinners, but Christ has redeemed us. Our salvation is not dependent on our own ability to generate light. In our natural life apart from Christ, we have only darkness. The light of Christ is not in us. When we choose to yield our lives to Christ, He places His HolySpirit in us and provides the light we so desperately seek.
John writes from a pastor’s heart, showing his love and concern for the Asia Minor churches. John is not condemning these churches, but encouraging them with the simplest of truths about who Jesus is and what He has done for us as well as the whole world.
May we remember John’s admonition and encouragement to us as his “dear children” (2:1) to walk in the light of Christ and humbly reflect His example, confessing our sins before the Lord when we fall short.