1 John 1:5-10

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

January 14, 1998

Introduction

John, the aging apostle has written a letter to the church at large.

One of the issues heís dealing with is the doctrine of the Gnostics, of which there were two versions.

On believed that anything physical was sinful, and since that means our physical bodies are sinful and beyond help, why just go on and party hearty?

The other group believed they could alienate themselves far enough from sinful physical things that they could become "sinless" themselves.

:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you

The Greek sounds something like this, "This then is the announcement we have heard of him and re-announce to you"

The idea is that of passing on the message from God to the people.

:5 that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Light Ė a picture of goodness, holiness, freedom from sin.

Darkness Ė a picture of sin.

God is totally pure and holy, there isnít even a hint of sin with Him.

(1 Tim 6:15b -16 NNAS) Ö He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, {16} who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can seeÖ

God dwells in unapproachable light because we as humans, in our current sinful bodies, canít even get close to Him.

Jesus said,

Joh 8:12 ∂ Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

When Moses asked God if he could see Godís glory, God said,

(Exo 33:20 KJV) And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

And so Moses was only allowed to see Godís back after He passed by him.

And yet, when Moses came down from that encounter with God, even with only seeing the back of God,

(Exo 34:29-30 NKJV) Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. {30} So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.

Somehow, itís as if some of Godís "light" rubbed off on Moses!

Lesson:

You can trust Him.

For me, one of the most significant applications of this verse has to do with people who have been abused by their fathers.

What I have found is that people who have been abused by their fathers tend to have this reluctance to trust God.

We used to sing a song "in my Daddyís arms, held so tight, feel His love around me, as He takes me through the night".

The song is all about the love of the Father for us, like the love of a Daddy for a newborn baby.

Yet Iíve known people who have had to get up and leave when we sing that song, because the concept of being in their "Daddyís arms" makes their skin crawl.

To those who have had this experience, I would say to you, God the Father is NOTHING like your earthly father.

There is NOTHING impure or filthy about the love that God the Father has towards you.

With His discipline.

Sometimes we have a hard time dealing with the discipline of God. And it could be that for some, this too is because of the kind of fathers we had.

Heb 12:9-10 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? {10} For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

God is NOT like your earthly father. He ALWAYS disciplines us properly, and for our good.

With His gifts.

There may be times when we are even reluctant to receive gifts from God, because of the kind of gifts our earthly fathers gave us.

Luke 11:9-13 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. {10} For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. {11} If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? {12} Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? {13} If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

For some, they would say, "Yes, Iíve known a father who gave me a stone when I asked for bread Ö"

God is NOT like your earthly Father.

There is no darkness in Him at all.

:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

fellowship Ė koinonia Ė fellowship, association, community, communion; a kind of "sharing-ness"

If you say that you have an association with God, and that you know Him, the one who dwells in light, and yet there is no light in your life, but only darkness, then somethingís not right.

God has nothing in common with darkness.

Note: Itís not "we lie, and tell not the truth", but the Greek is just like the King James says, "we lie, and do not the truth"

The idea is that the personís life is a lie. The issue isnít just the words, but the life.

Lesson:

A true Christian has a different kind of life.

Part of what John is dealing with here is one of the heresies that the Gnostics had been teaching.

Some of the Gnostics felt that since a personís physical body was evil, and that there was nothing that could be done about it, that you might as well just party hearty, because thereís nothing that can be done.

And John is saying that you canít claim to have known God, or claim to have a relationship with God, if there is a continuing pattern of unrepentant sin.

Paul warned the Galatians about this Ė

(Gal 5:19-21 NASB) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, {20} idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, {21} envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

The idea is not that if you become jealous or angry, that you instantly lose your salvation.

But the Greek here indicates that the danger comes when these things are a constant way of life for you.

In contrast, look at what Paul says to the Corinthians Ė

(1 Cor 6:9-11 KJV) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, {10} Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. {11} And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

When we come to the Lord, He washes us, and our lives change.

Itís no longer "this is the way you are", but "such were some of you"

:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light

Note: John doesnít say, "But if we should say that we walk in the light", but simply "if we walk in the light".

Itís not so much a matter of what you say about yourself, itís how you really are!

:7 we have fellowship one with another

This is where true fellowship comes, from walking in the Lord together.

When weíre both in the light.

:7 and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us

The idea is not that we have to become perfectly sinless in order to become cleansed by the blood of Jesus.

But when we walk in the light, a lot of things get exposed. This is one of the qualities of light, exposing things that hide in darkness.

Jesus said,

(John 3:19-21 KJV) And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. {20} For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. {21} But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Illustration

Itís like those little miniature fiberglass splinters. Sometimes you can get a splinter so small, that itís almost impossible to see. You can feel the pain, but you canít see whatís causing it. Until you get a bright enough light. When you get your finger in a bright enough light, then you can see where to put the tweezers to pluck out the splinter.

When we walk in the light, itís not that weíre living totally sinless lives, but weíre living lives that are open to the light of the Lord to point things out in our lives. And when He points something out, itís so He can remove the problem!

Note: "cleanseth" is a "present tense", meaning that there is a continual cleansing.

As we continue to walk in Godís light, there is a continual process of cleansing that goes on.

:7 from all sin

all Ėpas Ė individually, each, every, any, all; collectively Ė all sin altogether. In other words, "all means all, and thatís all all means!"

The blood of Jesus doesnít just cleanse us from some sins, but all sins. Even the ones you might think are impossible to be forgiven.

Illustration

Thereís an article in this weekís Time magazine (1-19-98) about a gal who is on death row in Texas for a crime committed in Houston on June 13, 1983. She had been taking an incredible amount of drugs, and with her boyfriend hacked two people to death with a pickax. She admits to the crime. She has become a born-again Christian. Could she really be forgiven? Absolutely.

Illustration

It is the closing scene in the motion picture, Ben Hur. The sky is disappearing behind the ominous looking cloud formations. The movie camera takes a long shot of three crosses rising out of a distant hill. Then the camera moves in close, closer, to the figure stretched out on the center cross. Lightning reveals a man squirming in silent agony to the rhythm of the flashes. It is raining hard. With each flash of light, the pool of rain water at the foot of the cross grows larger. Suddenly a single drop of blood drips into the pool and scatters. Then another drop falls. And then another. The pool is now tinted light red. The rain comes harder and the pool overflows into another pool immediately below it. The second pool reddens and enlarges, overflowing into still another pool which, in turn, overflows into a small stream. The blood-stained stream flows into a larger stream which meets a river which flows into an ocean.

:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

There will be some people who take the idea of "walking in the light" too far, and come to the conclusion that a Christian can no longer sin.

This too is wrong.

There are churches that teach that a person can attain to "sinless perfection".

The problem is that they are lying to themselves.

There are also churches that deny that a person has a "sin nature".

Lesson:

Donít ignore your problems.

You only tend to deceive yourself and prolong the problems.

Illustration

For some people, the pain of self-realization is just too much to bear. British painter and engraver William Hogarth was once commissioned to paint the portrait of an exceptionally ugly nobleman. As was his custom, he depicted the subject with the utmost frankness and realism. When the nobleman saw the portrait, he refused to pay for it, and a bitter discussion ensued. Eventually Hogarth, needing the money, sent a letter to his client, saying that a certain showman who specialized in exhibiting freaks and monstrosities was interested in the portrait. Unless Hogarth received payment within three days, he would embellish the picture with a tail and other appendages and sell it to the showman for exhibition. The nobleman paid up, then burned the portrait.

Illustration

In Charles Colson's book, Born Again, which is about his experiences during Watergate, Colson shares one of President Nixon's problems -- he could never admit he was wrong in anything. In fact, Colson said that even when Nixon obviously had a cold -- nose running, face red, sneezing, all the symptoms of a cold -- he would never admit it.

:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

confess Ė homologeo Ė to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with

For some who have a Catholic background, the idea of "confession" brings up certain memories, some of which are not correct.

"Confession" isnít just admitting youíve sinned, itís "agreeing with God".

I admit Iíve sinned because when my action is against Godís ways, God says Iíve sinned.

I need to agree with God in having Jesus Christ pay for my sins.

I also need to agree with God that my actions need to change.

he is faithful Ė You can count on Him to do this.

Does this mean that God will absolutely always forgive me every time I confess?

Yes, with one exception.

Jesus said,

(Mat 6:14-15 KJV) For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: {15} But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

This seems to be the only exception, if you are not forgiving others.

and just Ė the word here isnít the "just" as in, "heíll just forgive you".

This is the word that has to do with having justice, in doing the right thing.

How is God demonstrating justice by forgiving our sins when we confess them?

God is just because the penalty for our sins has already been paid for

Our confessing our sins is the manner in which we open up the valve for Godís cleansing and forgiveness to flow over our lives.

to forgive Ė aphiemi Ė to send away; to let go, give up a debt, forgive

When we confess, God lets go of the debt that we owe him.

Confession is kind of like a phone transfer at the bank. If your checking account is overdrawn, but you have money in a savings account, making a phone transfer moves the money from your savings account into the checking account, to cover your checks.

Confession moves Godís payment for our sins into our overdrawn sin-accounts.

and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness Ė

He not only lets go of the debt, but He cleans up the mess as well.

God not only releases us from the debt, but cleanses us from the guilt as well.

(Heb 9:13-14 KJV) For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: {14} How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Lesson:

Walking in the light isnít being perfect, itís being confessed.

This word "cleansed" is the same word that occurred in verse 7, talking about how the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin if we walk in the light.

But here we see the way that the cleansing occurs, it comes through confession.

:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Whereas verse 8 refers to saying that you do not have a "sin nature", this verse refers to a denial of having committed any specific acts of sin.

A person who says that they have never committed a sin is making God a liar.

Why?

Because Godís Word tells us that weíre all sinners.

(Psa 14:3 KJV) They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

(Isa 59:7-8 KJV) Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. {8} The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.

(Rom 3:10-18 KJV) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: {11} There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. {12} They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. {13} Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: {14} Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: {15} Their feet are swift to shed blood: {16} Destruction and misery are in their ways: {17} And the way of peace have they not known: {18} There is no fear of God before their eyes.

(Rom 3:23 KJV) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

The issue should not be whether or not weíre sinful, itís whether or not weíre current with God in confessing our sin to Him.

The issue is also not whether someone else has confessed their sin, itís whether weíve confessed our sin!