1 John 1:5-10
If I were to give you a chance to fill in this blank, what word would you use: “In order to fulfill joy in my life, I would say God is ______.” Maybe most of us would choose words like “love,” “faithful,” “gracious,” and so forth. These tend to be the concepts of God that fill our lives with comfort and peace, they are certainly true of God, and John will in fact make a big deal out of “God is love” later in this epistle. At this point, however, John finishes the sentence differently. Following the thought in verse four, “I write these things so that our joy may be complete,” John then says, “This is the message…that God is light.”
As a metaphor for Jesus in the New Testament, light conveys two basic concepts. It first tells us something about the character of Christ-it conveys a fact of His person. But what may be more important about this image is that we know these facts as a result of Christ’s activity in our lives. So light is not just who Jesus is, it is how He works in my life. As a fact about His character, Jesus is absolutely perfect-He is holy. As an image of His activity, Jesus is at work in my life drawing me toward His light and pushing away the darkness.
We should be struck by John’s train of thought-my joy is made complete because God hates sin.
To describe his point, John proceeds to quote three saying that were familiar to the current false teachers.
“If we say we have fellowship with him…” (vs. 6)
“If we say we have no sin…” (vs. 8)
“If we say we have not sinned…” (vs. 10)
The false teachers clearly had a twisted view of sin. They were sure they could live in open rebellion against God’s light and live in spiritual harmony with the Church and with God. They were also sure that they simply did not commit things of which they should be considered guilty.
What may be the most destructive view of sin is one of denial or apathy. As John shows, it tears apart not only the fabric of our own beings, but it tears apart our fellowship with Christ and the Church, and it separates us from God’s boundless forgiveness.
So what happens when we deny or neglect sin? Be aware of the progression contained in these verses:
“we lie and do not practice the truth.” (vs. 6)
“we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (vs. 8)
“we make him [God] a liar, and his word is not in us.” (vs. 10)
But if we take a close and honest look at our own brokenness, a very different world is open to us:
“we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (vs. 7)
“he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (vs. 9)
So which scenario makes my joy complete? The one in which I have in fact lied so much and so long that I have deceived myself and no longer know the difference between what is true and false? Or the scenario in which I have thrown myself completely upon the matchless grace of God who is faithful and just to forgive me of all my sins and restore my fellowship with His Son and with His people? You be the judge.