Summary: What are some tests for walking in the light? How can we know that we are on the right path?
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
Dr. Marilyn S. Murphree
"Walking in the Light"
INTRODUCTION: In today’s scripture John talks about walking in the light of the gospel. When this letter was written, Christianity had been around for a generation. There had been a lot of persecution but they had survived it. The main problem confronting the church now was the declining commitment of many believers who were starting to conform to the world’s standards rather than to God’s standards. False teachers were coming in trying to pull believers away from the true light of the gospel that Jesus taught. John was trying to put these believers back on track by showing them the difference between light and darkness. Who were the false teachers and what were they teaching that was so wrong?
One group was the Gnostics who believed that they didn’t NEED Jesus to forgive their sins. They believed that they were sinless. They didn’t believe that Jesus had come in the flesh as a real person. They didn’t believe that he was the Messiah. They felt they didn’t need Jesus because they had SPECIAL knowledge or SPECIAL revelation. A group in John’s church taught that Jesus did not really die. The false teachers said that people had no tendency toward sin and were incapable of sinning. They wanted to be Christians but they had no need to confess and repent. Some of the people in the Corinthian community said that sin had nothing to do with the spirit but just with the body and that as a result moral principles no longer applied to them. Because the Gnostics said that Christians didn’t have any sin, they DENIED SIN totally. However, they were still LIVING a sinful life.
John is responding to this kind of teaching in I John 1. He’s saying, “Whoa, wait a minute. No one can claim to be a Christian and still live a sinful life.” He let the believers know that sin cannot exist in the presence of a holy God. It is like light and darkness--they do not mix. If they wanted a relationship with God they needed to put aside their sinful ways of living and start walking in the light. We need to do this as well.
STORY: An atheist who spent a few days with a good Christian said: "If I stay here much longer I will become a Christian in spite of myself. The Christian had used no word of controversy or even of persuasion. It was the quiet, convincing argument of a holy life that led to the remark. --Topical Illustrations
This scripture applies to us today as much as it did to them. What can we get out of today’s scripture?
1. A Solid Foundation: John wanted to establish the fact that Jesus was the true light who came to earth--to live in the flesh--that he was fully human and fully God. He points this out early in the chapter--God is light--Jesus is the Son of God. He points to John 1:1, “In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God and He was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he did not make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (NLT)
He is pointing the believer back as far as Genesis 1:1 when he says, “That which was from the beginning” or “In the beginning God...”
He refutes the believe of the false teachers when he shows clearly Jesus with the Father and his entrance into time as a human being. They needed this solid foundation on which to fix their belief. John had seen with his eyes Jesus when he was on earth--some of these later believers hadn’t. Today we haven’t either. John said, “I proclaim to you what I have SEEN and HEARD.” He is saying I want you to be as certain of your belief as I am. I want you to know that Jesus existed long before he came to earth in the flesh--that he did come to earth for a specific purpose--to save us from sin. That he died on the cross and was raised from the dead.
We know that many people today believe that Jesus was a good person or a great teacher, but they deny that He is God--that He is able to forgive us our sins. We need this truth. You might say, “How can I believe this when I didn’t see it with my own eyes?” Thomas, the doubter, said, “unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were...I will not believe it.” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).