“If we say………we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6).
“He who says, …….. is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:4).
“If someone says, ……… he is a liar” (1 John 4:20)
In this straightforward Epistle, The Apostle John presents himself as an authoritative eye-witness to the “Word of life.” Being a true witness to the ‘word of life” means that he is a witness to Jesus Christ Himself and the eternal life found in Him. (John 1:1-5)
John, in this Epistle, lets his readers know his purpose and desire in writing. He wants his readers to share true “fellowship” with the Apostle Himself (and those with him), and this is a fellowship that is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (1:3). So, John is presenting truths that will lead his readers into true fellowship with the Lord. When John speaks of “fellowship,” he is speaking of a real relationship with God through Jesus Christ that is meaningful and joyful.
God desires true fellowship with His children. The essence of the Christian life is fellowship with the living God that He has made possible with us. And this fellowship is through Jesus Christ and all He has done to provide salvation for us, and through the Holy Spirit who indwells, fills and anoints our lives.
One of the phrases that John uses to describe this fellowship is “walking in the light.” In this Epistle, John is teaching how to walk in the light. To help us walk in the light, he confronts falsehoods that represent “darkness” rather than “light.” We are going to look at three falsehoods, three lies that John addresses in the Epistle in order to help his readers have genuine fellowship with the Lord and with one another. He wants his readers to understand the truth and live in the truth.
We must be alert to potential barriers to genuine fellowship with the Lord. And that is the concern of this message. And usually, what hinders our fellowship or close relationship with the Lord is based on a lie or a falsehood – as we will see. Our life in Christ is not only based on truth; it is maintained by truth and living in the truth.
John begins his message or instruction by declaring that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1:5). John is affirming that the very character and nature of God is “light.” God is totally truthful, and He is pure and glorious in every way. John tells us later in this Epistle that God is love (1 John 4:8). Among many other attributes of God taught in other parts of the Scriptures, these are the attributes that John emphasizes as well as the fact that God is Spirit and that eternal life is found in God and in His Son. But here, the emphasis is on God’s total purity in terms of character, conduct, and word.
Because of who God is and His character, for us to have a meaningful relationship with God, we must be in harmony with God’s character. So, we too, must walk in the light to have fellowship with a God of light. Certainly within this word “light” is the idea that God is completely true, truth-full, righteous, and pure. Thus, John is calling believers in Jesus to a lifestyle, a “walk,” that should be characterized by truth, righteousness, obedience, and love. At the same time, he is strongly countering false teachings that would deny the need for such a lifestyle.
As we consider John’s teaching here, I want us to be willing to be very honest with ourselves and honest before God. John is presenting clearly and definitely characteristics of a true Christian that can experience joyful fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. And for this to be the case, there are some straightforward truths that we need to consider. We need to let the Holy Spirit use His Word to examine our hearts and lives to make sure that we are able to have the type of open and joyful fellowship with the Lord that the Lord desires.
The Apostle John speaks in absolute terms and does not leave a lot of room for excuses. We know from the Scriptures that the old nature is still with us even after we are born again. But, this is not an excuse for living a lifestyle consistently contrary to the character of God, His Word, and His will for us. The provision of forgiveness through the shed blood of our Savior continues to allow God to be faithful and just to forgive us. We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ. At the same time, the born-again believer should demonstrate their fellowship with God through their desire to walk with the Lord in the light, in obedience, and in love.
The believer is to “walk in the light.” He is not to walk or live in darkness, for in so doing he is not practicing “the truth” (1:6). The believer’s life is to be based on God’s truth as revealed in Christ, and therefore it is to be characterized by faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It is, also, to be characterized by love for God and for others. This is a strong emphasis in John’s Epistle. This walk or life is to be characterized as well by obedience and righteousness. John makes it clear that the true Christian will practice righteousness and will not practice sin (3:4-9). You can’t constantly live in sin, you can’t walk in darkness, and say that you have fellowship with a God who is light, righteous, true, and holy in every way.
Here in 1 John 1:6, John states a categorical truth. To have fellowship with God, to enjoy a meaningful, growing, and joyful relationship with God, we must not be living in darkness and practicing sin and falsehood. John’s desire and God’s desire for us is that we won’t sin, and sinning should not be our lifestyle. Indeed it is as we “walk in the light” that fellowship is maintained, and we experience the continuous cleansing power of the blood of Christ (1:7). This fellowship is not only with God but with one another. To maintain that fellowship, we must live in the truth as it is in Christ. This means not only believing the truth but obeying the truth as we will see.
But here in context, John calls us to a high level of honesty. John’s emphasis here is on being honest about sin, being willing to confess sin, and recognizing God’s provision of an Advocate if you do sin. John’s desire is, as we have said, that his readers would “not sin” (2:1), but rather live righteously. At the same time, the way of forgiveness and cleansing is available in the event that a believer does sin. Indeed, it is an aspect of “walking in the light” that a believer will be honest about sin, will confess it, and experience the cleansing and renewed fellowship that comes through the blood of Christ, the propitiation He accomplished once and for all, and the Advocacy of Jesus Christ in heaven. Jesus shed His blood for our sins. Jesus took upon Himself the penalty of our sins and our sinfulness. Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and He is our advocate. He is our sufficient sacrifice and Savior from sins. So, to say that you have fellowship with God and at the same time “walk in darkness” and not deal with sin – is not to practice the truth. In short, it is to say and live a lie. Along the way, we actually deceive ourselves and call God a liar, because God knows our sin, and provided the means of forgiveness in Christ because of our sin (1:8, 10).
So, the question for us is – do we desire to “walk in the light?” Is our desire likewise, not to sin? Do we hate sin, and seek God’s enabling grace in Christ to live faithfully and to avoid sin?
Furthermore, are we honest about sin? We can lie to ourselves, to others, and to God if we say that we have no sin when in fact we have sinned. How do we restore fellowship if we sin? John tells us clearly and simply, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1:9).” God has provided the means of forgiveness through Christ. We need to be honest with God when we sin, confess it, and receive afresh the cleansing through the blood of Christ. In this way, fellowship is maintained and enjoyed. This is God’s desire for us. This is Christ’s desire for us as He is our advocate, having paid the penalty for our sins. Praise His Name!
But, we need to go further. To live in the truth, we need to consider another truth that counters a possible “lie” that could influence us.
The Apostle John does not leave a lot of room for compromise in his Epistle. To claim that you really know the lord (that you are in fellowship with Him) and not to be committed to obeying His Word, just does not make sense. Indeed, it’s a lie. An evidence that we know the Lord is that we keep His commandments. As John goes on to say, if you say that you abide in the Lord, then you ought to “walk just as He walked” (2:6). John spells this out throughout this Epistle, but it is interesting to note that he emphasizes loving your brother (2:7-11), and believing on the “Name of ….Jesus Christ” as aspects of obedience (3:23). We will focus on loving our brother in a few moments. But let’s be clear about a basic truth that John presents, if you do not believe on the Name of the Son of God, you actually make God (the Father) a liar. So, walking in the truth means to believe the truth about the Son of God, Jesus Christ. In other words, we are to believe the gospel, and base our lives upon it. And those who teach otherwise are teaching falsehood. Besides teaching a straightforward truth here, John is exposing false prophets or teachers who claimed to know God, but they denied basic doctrines concerning God’s Son, and they were not obeying His teachings.
Knowing the Lord means more than just a “head knowledge,” it involves seeking to “walk as He walked.” We not only believe in Him, we seek to follow His teachings and obey His words as we are instructed by the Holy Spirit. We are to be those who are true disciples of Christ.
Is that true of us? Do we acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the unique Son of God? Have we put our faith and trust in Him? If we say “yes,” then are we really committed to living as He lived, and obeying His truth. We know from other Scriptures that we can only do that as He enables us, as He actually indwells and lives in us. But, the concern of the Apostle John, is that there are some who Name the Name of Jesus, who have not truly become His disciples with a passion to obey Him and to be like Him.
To be a true born again believer in Jesus does not just involve believing a few doctrines in a half-hearted manner. It is a total commitment to Jesus Christ as the One we obey and follow. As the Scripture affirms elsewhere, He is our Lord. You just can’t say that you really know the Lord if you are not seeking to obey Him.
The Apostle has already called his readers to a deep Christ-like quality of love (2:8-11, 4:7-19). Loving your brother is part of walking in the light (2:8-11). Indeed, to hate your brother is to be in darkness and to walk in darkness. Here the Apostle states the situation as simply and practically as possible. It is simply a lie to say that you love God and to hate your brother. He asks the rhetorical question, “for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” Having exposed the lie, John then simply states God’s command, “he who loves God must love his brother also” (4:21). Let us hear John’s instructive and inspiring words, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (4:10-11). How true!
What about us? Are we committed to loving others even as God has loved us? God’s love resulted in sending his own Son to die for us. That is the evidence of His sacrificial love for us. Love is to be the true “mark” of being a true child of God. The evidence of the impact of God’s love on our lives is our love for others.
Let the Lord examine our hearts right now. Is there a lack of love there? Is there even hatred for someone or a group of people? Such hatred is not of God. Such hatred is sin and is not part of “walking in the light.” Having loving fellowship with God involves having loving fellowship with God’s people and showing love to others as well.
Let the Apostle John’s straightforward challenge be an encouragement and a warning to us. As believers, we must speak the truth and practice the truth. Then, we will experience more fully the kind of fellowship with the Lord and with other believers that God intends for us. Nothing is more wonderful than to experience the richness of genuine fellowship with the Lord and one another in the Lord. This is maintained through honesty, obedience, and love. It is just a lie to say that we have no sin and don’t need the forgiveness of the Lord. We need honestly to confess our sins and gratefully experience the continuous cleansing that is available because of the sacrifice of Christ. Then, it is simply a lie to say that we know the Lord but we do not seek to obey Him. To say this is to admit a shallow understanding of who the Lord is, and a lack of commitment to the Lord. Third, it is simply a lie to claim to love God and not to love your brother, and indeed not to love other people is an evidence that God’s love is absent from your life.
We must believe the truth in Christ, and practice the truth.
If we know of sin in our lives, we need to confess it.
If we are not obeying the Lord, we need to confess this and commit ourselves to obey Him.
If we are not loving others, we need to confess it, and not only ask for forgiveness but that the Holy Spirit would pour out God’s love afresh in our hearts.
Let’s eliminate barriers to true fellowship with the Lord, so that fellowship can be restored, maintained, and enjoyed. God wants us to be in close fellowship with Himself. Isn’t that wonderful!!!!
— David O.