Light and Darkness
Righteousness and Sin
1 John 1:5-2:2
1 John 1:5 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 yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by 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. (NIV)
Light – What does John mean here by light and darkness? He says “God is light.” He says there is no darkness in God. I think of darkness as the absence of light. I believe what John is telling us is that light is having fellowship with God, living in a friendly relationship with Him. Darkness is not having fellowship with God, or refusing to have a friendly relationship with Him.
There are philosophies that teach good and evil are equal and co-existent. This is not what the Bible teaches. There is no yin and yang. Light and dark are not equal and co-existing forces. Light (God) has no equal. Good and evil are not equal and co-existent. Good comes from God. Evil comes from not being in touch with God. God is Creator. He created out of nothing everything that exists outside of Himself. He created beings to have fellowship with Him and love Him, to be loved by Him. For those beings to love Him He had to give them the ability to refuse to love Him. When one of His created beings chose not to love Him, evil was born. God did not create evil, but He did create beings that could choose to be evil.
John defines light and God as being the same thing. He was not talking about physical light. Before He created something that was not god, God was all there was. Everything that is not God was created and had its source in God.
John uses darkness as explaining about sin and rebellion against God. This is what is known as evil.
If God is light and there is no darkness in Him. Spiritual darkness occurs when you are away from the light, away from God, when you refuse to acknowledge Him, when you deny Him and His rightful place in the universe, and especially in your own life. This is the essence of sin and evil... not loving and trusting God. Refusing to have a relationship with God. All sin grows out of this rebellion against God, this refusal to put God in His rightful place. Refusing to believe that God loves us. Refusing to accept that He is our rightful Lord.
If we are in the light we are walking in a relationship with God. If we are in the darkness, we are refusing to have that relationship or refusing to love Him and refusing to follow Him.
As believers, our fellowship, our friendly relationship with one another grows out of our fellowship with God. If we walk in the light, that is, if we walk in fellowship with God we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus purifies us, cleanses us from all, from every sin.
It is our connection with God, our relationship with Him, that saves us, that gives us life. Knowing Him, walking with Him, brings us into harmony with, not just the created universe, but with the Creator Himself. The natural man, that is, when we are functioning on our own without the influence of the Creator, is out of touch with reality. Without the Light that is God, we miss our reason to exist. Without Him we are groping around in the dark trying to make sense of the world. Apart from Him, we do not have the one key that will allow us to know the reality of God’s love and grace.
Jesus Christ, God’s Only Begotten Son, bought with His blood our right to be reconnected to God. His blood purifies us from all sin, from the darkness of our rebellion against Him. Have you accepted His gift? Are you walking in the light of God’s presence?
God is light. In Him there is no darkness at all. To be in the dark is to be separated from God. To be in the light is to be in a relationship with God.
With this understanding of light and darkness, let’s re-read from the Gospel of John chapter 1:
John1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. 6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. (NIV)
Do you understand that the Apostle John who wrote the Gospel of John and the 1st letter of John was speaking of Jesus Christ when he said the Word was with God in the beginning, that the Word, or Jesus, was God? Do you understand that John was saying that Jesus Christ is God and that He is Creator and the Creator became flesh?
Then he says that in this Word, in Jesus Christ, is life and that life was the light of men. He goes on to say the light shines in darkness. Jesus came to illuminate, to reveal the purpose of God.
The light that is God is our life. True life, eternal life, abundant life comes through Jesus Christ. He is the light and that light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There is no understanding of what life is truly all about until you accept the light. God, Jesus Christ, is that light that helps us understand life. Without Him we are in the dark about what life is all about.
Am I making any sense? Do you see what John is trying to tell us?
Do you see how this relates to our two foundational truths? You know: Number One – God loves me. Number Two – He is my Lord!
Righteousness is living in a relationship with God. Sin is refusing to have the relationship that God offers. Out of this sin, all other sins proceed. The Laws of God were given to help us discern the difference between what God would lead us to do and what He would not lead us to do.
What is critical is the relationship with Him. When we walk in fellowship with Him… When we walk in step with the Spirit, we live as God intends us to live. We love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We love people because God loves us and we love Him and want to do what pleases Him.
Light equals a relationship with God the Creator. Darkness equals refusing to have that relationship.
Does this make sense? Let’s move on to verse 8 of I John 1. This is a critical verse.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (NIV)
Sin has its roots in our refusal to love and trust God, our neglect of our relationship with God. We so easily slip into going through life acting as if we are in charge, that we are the masters of our own souls, as if we have the right to decide how we are to live. But Jesus is Lord. He is to be in charge of our lives. When we leave Him out, when we fail to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, we are walking in the darkness, we are in sin.
If we refuse to admit our sin, if we claim to be without sin, we lie and the truth is not in us. Can anyone claim to be living perfectly without sin? Can you say that you are loving God with all your heart, mind soul and strength, 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Can anyone claim that they are trusting God to love them and living with Him as Lord all day, every day? John says that if we claim to be without sin, we are lying to ourselves, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
The remedy is… pick up in verse 9:
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (NIV)
To confess is to “say with”. Both the Greek and the English words at root mean “to say with”. We must agree with the judgement of God about us. We do not always walk in step with the Spirit. We do not always live in the light. We sometimes stray from the closeness of God and go off on our own; we go astray like sheep and need to be called back into the close fellowship with God that we need. If we will admit to ourselves and to God this tendency to sin, this tendency to stray, then God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. We are restored to the light WHEN we agree with HIM. We are restored to the fellowship with God. We are His children, His servants, His friends.
But if we claim we have not sinned… Verse 10:
10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — 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. (NIV)
What is atonement or “the atoning sacrifice”?
The English definition of atonement from Merriam-Webster for kids: atonement means “making up for an offense or injury”. The NIV uses the phrase “atoning sacrifice”. Jesus is our atoning sacrifice. He sacrificed His life to make up for our offence against God. We injure God…we offend Him every time we fall short of loving God with all our heart mind, soul and strength. This grows out of our lack of trust in God. We go off on our own and ignore Him. Like Adam and Eve did in the garden. They acted as if God were not there. They ignored the Presence of God and listened to the enemy and their own desires.
Jesus died to make up for our offensive behavior. God accepts His death as payment for our sin.
God’s intention is for us to walk in step with Him. Maturing as a Christian means we are getting closer to fulfilling God’s intention for us. Being sanctified means we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. We make a commitment to walk in obedience, to walk in this love relationship with God.
Sanctification is a step in moving closer to God. For me, it has been a process of experiencing God and understanding my relationship with Him that has grown over the years. I did at one time have a first-time experience where I came to understand that I needed to fully dedicate myself to Him.
The point I am trying to make is this. God wants to have a relationship with you every moment of every day. I invite you to join those of us who are learning and growing in our relationship with Him. The main ingredient of sin is a refusal to admit we have not, or do not, always live in perfect fellowship with God. The remedy is to confess those failures, those sins.
If you have never given your life to the Creator… if you have never accepted Jesus Christ as the atoning sacrifice for your sin… if you have never committed yourself to seeking Him more and more each day, I invite you to make that commitment today.
We offend God when we are not walking in fellowship with Him. This offense is what Jesus died to satisfy. God is satisfied with Christ’s sacrificial death as payment for ALL our sin; those we recognize and those we have not yet realized or been convicted of by God’s Spirit.
God is light. Righteousness is living in relationship with Him. Darkness is turning away from the light. Sin is refusing to walk in the relationship that God is offering to you. That sin leads us to all the other sins.
The remedy for darkness is to turn to the light. The remedy for sin is to move closer to God. The first step in moving closer to God is admitting to ourselves and to God that we have not been turning to the light or moving closer to God.