Summary: John describes the universal lost condition of humankind and its cure in six short verses, what Paul in Romans takes chapters to develop
The Truth Hurts, But There's Help
Last week, we saw the importance of grounding our faith in Jesus who is both God and human. John wanted us to know that he witnessed with his eyes, ears, and hand the earthly Jesus. This experience had forever changed John, and now he wanted to tell others.
We also learned that even though we can't witness Jesus with our physical ears, eyes, and hands, we can still witness about Jesus. We see Him through the life changing effect He has had on others as well as how He has changed us. Through the witness of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, we can in a sense both see and hear Jesus. John passes the faith in Jesus unto us.
In the same way, we pass our witness of Jesus to others, that Jesus might be heard and seen in us. This witness is both passive and active in nature. The way we live our life and how we love the Father, Son, and each other, bears witness to the world of Jesus Christ. But even as John also verbally proclaimed the love of Jesus to others, we too must tell others about Jesus.
The common testimony of Jesus Christ brings us into fellowship. This fellowship is of the body of Christ. As much as we participate in Christ's body, we also have fellowship with the Father and the Son as well.
Exposition of the Text
v. 5. A lot of religious sects related good with light and darkness with evil. Some saw the forces of light and darkness as being rival forces or gods battling over the universe. Some saw good and evil as belonging to the same force, kind of like the "force" portrayed in the Star Wars movies in which Luke Skywalker's father Darth Vader succumbed to the Dark side of the Force. Others saw a greater god who created the spirit world, where a lesser, evil, god who created the material universe and trapped the human spirit in evil flesh. This was probably the view that John's opponents who left the church had.
John will have none of this. He emphatically says that God is light and that there isn't one bit of darkness in Him at all. We know from the Gospel of John that Jesus is presented as the Creator, God, and "The Light of the World." This same Jesus became human flesh (John1:14). In no way can this Jesus be seen as anything but the pure light from God as well as God the Son. The material world is neither evil nor created by a lesser god or as they called it, "Demiurge". The source of evil as we know it comes from within the creation itself, by the rebellion of Satan and on this earth by the disobedience of Adam and Eve.
The idea that Jesus rose from the dead would have seemed ridiculous to these Gnostic who left the church. And it would have been even more offensive for them to believe that Jesus rose in a human body with flesh and bones. Their whole idea of salvation was based on being freed from the evil body. But Jesus clearly proved Himself alive by eating fish and bread with His disciples as well as allowing His disciples to touch him.
v. 6. John now develops the idea of light further. If one wants to have fellowship with God, this person must also be in the light also. In fact, the one who would have fellowship with God has to be all light without one single speck of darkness. Now this should create utter despair for every human being. Who is without a single fault? To say that one has fellowship with God would be a statement that I am perfect. What could be a greater lie than that. It seems to me that John in two short verses has summed up the entire argument of St. Paul in the first three chapters of Romans in which Paul concludes with the statement "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Perhaps some of John's opponents claimed that they had become perfect through some kind of secret knowledge. But John makes it as clear as Paul. No one is good enough to come into the presence of God, and that anyone who claims this is a liar.
And without Jesus, the situation would be always hopeless. The first part of the Christian message always has to address the utter hopelessness of the human situation. Man is utterly lost and undone. This is indeed terrible news unless God had not done something to make it possible to have fellowship with Him. We all somehow have to be made pure, without a spot or wrinkle, if we are ever to have fellowship with God. And this help would have to come from one far greater than ourselves.