Summary: Christ cleanses when we confess.
Forgiving Our Failures
Rev. Brian Bill
It was a happy day when my dad built me a bedroom in the basement. I loved my paneled ‘man cave’ and especially enjoyed having a refuge from my four sisters where I could listen to my 8-tracks in peace. One result of living in the basement is that I got pretty used to the dark. I could head downstairs without turning any lights on and find where I wanted to go. Even in the middle of the night I could get up, open the bedroom door, turn right, open a curtain, go past the water heater and wood stove on my right, feel the shelves on the left, put my hands on the duct work above me and then hang another right past my dad’s work bench and our freezer and make it into the bathroom, all without any lights.
I would then retrace my steps and jump back into bed. Darkness never bothered me because I spent so much time in it. That’s a metaphor for life lived apart from Christ, isn’t it? Check out what Jesus said in John 3:19: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
As we continue in our study of 1 John, I invite you to turn to the first chapter. We’ll be focusing on 1:5-2:2. As a way to apply this book so that you can live it out in your home, in your work and even while you play, we have included study questions at the end of this manuscript. There are also booklets available at the Resource Center.
By way of reminder, here’s what we learned last week:
• Christianity is fact, not fiction.
• Christianity is proclaimed, not private.
• Christianity is shared, not selfish.
• Christianity is rejoicing, not repressive.
Remember that John is about 90 years old and is writing to second and third generation Christians who have become complacent in their Christianity. Our passage for today gives us three distinguishing marks of a growing disciple of Christ. If you consider yourself complacent today, this passage is for you. Here’s a simple outline we’re going to follow.
• Live in the light
• Face your failures
• Strive to not sin
Before we dive in, let’s make some observations.
• John uses a series of “if” clauses six different times:
- If we claim to have fellowship
- If we walk in the light
- If we claim to be without sin
- If we confess our sins
- If we claim we have not sinned
- If anybody does sin
• These clauses divide into three pairs. Each pair consists of “If we claim…” followed by a negative statement and “But if…” followed by a positive declaration.
1. Live in the light. Let’s lock in on 1:5-7: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 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.”
In verse 5 John is addressing the error that taught that God is not perfect. I find it interesting that John did not declare that God is love (He does that later), though He certainly is. Or that God is powerful, though He for sure is that. By saying that God is light, he’s affirming God’s holiness. There is no dark side to God. He is completely holy and perfectly perfect. 1 Timothy 6:15-16 says, “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.”
In his book With, Skye Jethani tells about a test that Scott McKnight gives every year to his incoming group of college students: The test begins with a series of questions about what the students think Jesus is like. The twenty-four questions are then followed by a second set—with slightly altered language—in which the students answer questions about their own personalities.
Do you know what he found out? Everyone thinks Jesus is just like them! McKnight added, “The test results also suggest that, even though we like to think we are becoming more like Jesus, the reverse is probably more the case: we try to make Jesus like ourselves.”
I come back often to a quote from A.W. Tozer: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” John doesn’t start with what we might like from God but with a declaration of what God is like. Have you ever noticed that when you walk into a jewelry store (which I haven’t for awhile), that the diamonds are often displayed on black velvet? They’re positioned like that so their brilliance stands out in contrast to the blackness. God’s light is so bright that there is no darkness within Him.