1 John 1:5-7
The Effect of God’s Light on His People
John has told us in no uncertain terms that Jesus was a real flesh and blood human being come from heaven. To deny this is to deny the faith as it seems some in the church to whom John was writing were doing (4:3; scholars think John’s first letter was written to churches in Asia Minor in the latter part of the first century). As I said yesterday, there seems always to be a tendency that whenever doctrine is denied or perverted in some form, immorality is the result. This seems to be the case here. We will see tomorrow that some were even denying that they had any sin.
Against this backdrop, John establishes the fact that “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” He states that this message came from Jesus himself. Jesus referred to himself as “the light of the world” (John 8:12), and as he came from God (and the impenetrable relationship between the Father and the Son is a major theme in this letter), then God is light. Light in the Bible is used to refer to primarily two aspects: 1) God’s revealing truth and enlightening people’s minds; and, 2) God’s own holy character and the holiness He demands from His people (NICNT, 109). It is the latter that is foremost here as is made evident in verse six: “If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Apparently, there were some doing this very thing; there still are. As I have said numerous times throughout these devotions, obedience is the measure of our love for God. Here, obedience is understood as “walking in the light,” and is that same measure. To walk in the light is to walk as he walked, and John will spend the rest of the letter describing what such a walk entails. But he establishes at the beginning that God’s moral character (light) must be reflected in those who claim to be His people.
And walking in the light bears two wonderful results: 1) We have fellowship with one another. In short, we cannot be in fellowship with God and at war with the brethren. To walk in the light is to have sweet fellowship with God’s people. And, 2) the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. In other words, while we walk with Him in obedience, we experience a present, even daily, cleansing of sin. It is still by His grace, of course. Yet, walking with Him in obedience and in love grows that love and furthers that obedience—and all the while He cleanses us and sanctifies us—drawing us ever closer unto Himself. It is a most beautiful thing: holiness begets holiness, righteousness begets righteousness, obedience begets obedience, love begets love. And it all begins with walking with Him in the light.