Summary: We need God’s light to make sense of life; without light we’re stumbling in the dark without direction…yet people all around seem accustomed to darkness and opposed to the light. They’ve so adapted to the darkness that they forget what true light is. Li
Sermon Series on First John, “Collecting Evidence of Faith”
“Darkness & Light”, 1:5-10 -Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
“God is light,” verse 5. As I was working on this message Tuesday afternoon, the lights went out and stayed out. It was inconvenient, but not the worst I’ve experienced. In 1977 I got caught in the New York City blackout. I was having dinner with a group of Army chaplains in Little Italy when the lights went out. At first we thought it was just the restaurant experiencing a power outage; we soon discovered it was the entire city! Citizens were directing traffic, and scores of people were swarming out of darkened theaters and shops. Somehow we managed to hail a cab. Our driver (a college student) was ecstatic--no traffic lights! People were shooting off firecrackers and making a commotion. We saw lots of looters, to include a guy running down the street carrying a grandfather clock! The darkness seemed to bring out the worst in some people; they abandoned their inhibitions in the dark anonymity. People hide in the darkness; light reveals what’s really going on. God begins His work by declaring, “Let there be light.” Jesus announced, “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12). This light is God’s self-disclosure, His Truth, His flawless perfection and holiness.
God has “called us out of darkness and into His light” (I Peter 2:9). We need God’s light to make sense of life--without light we’re stumbling in the dark without direction…yet people all around seem accustomed to darkness and opposed to the light. They’ve so adapted to the darkness that they forget what true light is. They live as though there are no moral absolutes and are blinded by the darkness. We need light to see and to walk. Light affects our vision and conduct.
John warns against hypocrisy in verse 6, “We are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness” (NLT). Paul asks (II Cor 6:14), “What fellowship can light have with darkness?” Some people have churchianity, which is a counterfeit faith. They’re living a double life. Spurgeon writes, “Not he that begins, but he that continues is the true Christian.” We have no right to say we have light unless we walk in it.
Walking in darkness means habitually ignoring the light, choosing sin and rejecting God. Lifestyles don’t choose us; we choose them, and we’re responsible for our choices. People who claim to be believers who don’t ‘live by the truth,” and whose lives are characterized by immorality, live a lie.
The Gordon College theater group performed Peter Shaffer’s play Black Comedy a few years ago. The farce involves a blackout in an apartment, but the lights stay on so the audience can see the goings-on. The characters move around as though in the dark, bumping into each other and the furniture, talking about people whom they think aren’t there, and getting away with things they couldn’t get away with if the other characters could see them. The play illustrates the actual darkness so many people live in.
Walking in the light leads us to fellowship with other believers, verse 7. Walking in the light is the only way we can walk with one another. Light causes community. We are part of a world-wide community, sharing the light of God. We share the same vision and goals. Our fellowship helps us battle sin; we keep one another in check, holding one another accountable; we encourage one another. As fellow-believers, ours is a unique connection that goes beyond any club, any civic, social, military or political affiliation.
We need each other; we can’t make it alone in this world. A man who missed church for several months got an expected visit from his minister. It was a frigid winter evening, and the two sat before the blazing fireplace. The minister said nothing, but took a burning log with the tongs and set it apart from the rest of the wood; the flame began to smolder on the separated log and then it went out. The man said to his minister, “OK, I’ll be in church Sunday.”
Before we move on, note that verse 7 states that it is the blood of Christ that saves and cleanses us, not any special revelation, ritual initiation or hidden knowledge. We cannot save ourselves. If we could be perfect, we wouldn’t need Christ’s sacrifice. We desperately need what is freely offered. There is a cost for cleansing--on God’s part.
Verse 8 counsels against becoming smug, like we’ve “arrived.” Most people wouldn’t say they no longer sin, but there are some. I met a guy who claimed he didn’t sin any more, that he’d achieved sinless perfection. I asked him for the phone number of his mother-in-law! Other people maintain they’re not sinners because they deny the concept of sin. If there is no such thing as right or wrong, then there’s no sin. Such people refuse to accept God’s truth and are self-deceived.