Walking In The Light With God

Title: Walking in the Light with God

Text: 1 John 1:5-7

Time: July 17th, 2011

 

We’re in the second week of studying the Letter of First John. Last week we learned that we can share in fellowship with the original disciples by sharing in fellowship with God through faith in the message of the gospel. The original disciples – or as they are called now – apostles or “sent ones,” witnessed the Incarnation, that is, God come in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. They witnessed that miracle and they now share their testimony of that supernatural event with us through the pages of the New Testament in the Holy Bible. When we read and believe the gospel accounts, when we place our trust in Jesus Christ, we share in the same faith fellowship as the original Christians. They had fellowship with God through being witnesses of Jesus Christ; we have fellowship with God through believing the disciples witness and trusting in Jesus Christ. So as it turns out, we can have the same fellowship they had with God through Jesus Christ, except we go through their testimony instead of going directly from eyewitness observation. The fact is, if something happened, it happened. If something is true, it’s true whether I saw it or whether someone else saw it and accurately reported it. If it’s true, it’s true. Today, we don’t actually have to witness the Incarnation personally to believe in it and benefit from it. If Jesus came, lived, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again to life, it really doesn’t matter whether I am witness to it or not, just as long as someone was witness to it. Now if nobody had seen the risen Christ, if there had been no eyewitnesses to the Incarnation, then faith would be on shacking grounds. But that’s not the case. Someone did witness the Incarnation; there were people around to experience the risen Christ, so it’s all true, for all people to believe. That was the basic message last week in the first few verses. But this week the discussion moves forward to add something else for us to consider. Let’s look at the passage for today, 1 John 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.” God is light, the passage teaches, and anyone seeking fellowship with God must walk in the light in order to relate to him. But our problem as human beings is that we are not naturally of the light, but instead of the darkness. So then how can we have fellowship with God? Only through the supernatural cleansing of our sins by the cross of Christ when we trust by faith. Let me unpack this nugget of truth in order to give us a better appreciation of our salvation.

 

First, God is all light and no darkness. 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.” John is repeating a teaching that Jesus Christ himself gave to his disciples in explaining the very nature of God Almighty. The teaching is this – God is perfect light and there isn’t any darkness in him. Now that is a different concept of God then the pagan nations had, because their different gods tended to be a mixture of good and bad, light and dark, just on a grander scale than exists in humans. For example, in Greek and Roman mythology, there are all kinds of gods running around like Jupiter, Hermes, Apollo, Zeus, for example. These gods usually had some strong positive points and also some negative aspects as well. If you go to India today you can visit shrines where people pray to thousands of different gods – it’s called polytheism, or the belief or worship of many gods. Most people in most parts of the world for most of recorded history have been polytheists, they have believed in many different gods. Hinduism is an example of polytheism today, but here in our own country, traditional Native American Indians hold to a form of polytheism, where there are different spirits that inhabit different aspects of nature. Even though there may be a Great Spirit in the sky, so they believe, there are many different lower gods that inhabit local or regional areas. But in the Jewish and Christian understanding of God, God is One, and God is Good. Now we may question whether the biblical description of God in the Old Testament reveals a totally good God because of the different things we see God involved in, such as asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son on a fiery alter, but that’s only because we don’t understand the complete and full picture like God sees. Jesus came as God-in-human-flesh, for that is what the word “Incarnation” means, in the flesh, in order to reveal more clearly God Almighty. Jesus revealed a completely good God. God has no bad or evil or dark side. In the movie Star Wars we learn about the so-called “Force,” with it’s “Dark Side,” signifying evil. But this is a false view of ultimate reality. Hinduism teaches something like the “Force” with a dark and light side all in one, but Christianity teaches that God is all good, all light, all truth, all right, with no mixture of darkness, sin or evil. So we can trust ourselves to God completely. The ultimate power, the ultimate reality is good and light, with no badness or darkness at all. That’s the God we believe and trust in Christianity. And God has always been good. God is infinite, he’s always been, there never was a time when he wasn’t, and he’s always been good, always been full of light. The Mormons believe God started out like we do, a mix of good and bad, and then perfected his way to become God, but that’s why Mormons are a false cult and not true Christians. God is good, has always been good; God is light and has always been light. But that presents a problem for us – if God is perfect light, how then can we, being a mixture of good and bad, light and darkness, have fellowship with him?

 

Second, since we aren’t naturally good we don’t automatically have fellowship with God. 1 John 1:6, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” People today have a false assumption that really confuses them in respect to relating with God Almighty. People today, more or less, assume that they are good enough to fellowship with God automatically through many different means. In other words, people today are under the false impression that they, through their own religious or spiritual efforts, can reach God and fellowship with God and relate to God on their own terms. That’s wrong. For example, if you read the survey polls of Americans, most people claim to be spiritual, but it’s a spirituality that they themselves make up using a little bit of this religion and a little bit of that religion. Even many so-called Christians play mix and match with their faith. They may read the Bible, but then they’ll read their horoscope too in the newspaper – and put those two belief sources together. Down in Haiti, the people there mix and match Christianity with Voodoo, so on Sunday morning they’ll all be in a Christian church, then during the week they’ll go to a Voodoo ceremony and call upon the spirit gods to possess them. I’m not making this up, look it up. People really believe that they are good enough to relate to God on their own terms through many different means. But that’s just flat-out wrong. According to the Bible we are all sinners. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. “There is no one righteous, not even one,” Romans 3:10. We inherit the original sin of our parents Adam and Eve, which makes us sinful and separated from God in our natural state. We can’t climb up to heaven through any effort on our own. We can’t have fellowship with God on our own. Yet, there are many false religions, cults, philosophies and beliefs that all claim they can lead a person into relationship with God, but apart from Christ, apart from true Christianity, they can’t. We all naturally come into this world alienated and separated from God because of inherited sin, and then we sin on our own naturally too and that further complicates our distance from God. In spiritual terms, we walk in darkness. So then, if God is light and we are naturally in darkness because of our sins, how can we have fellowship with God? Only if God tells us how, only if God shows us how through special revelation. That’s why we must listen to the witness of the original disciples, like John, because they saw and heard Jesus describe salvation or fellowship with God. Now that doesn’t mean that all other religions, philosophies and beliefs get everything wrong. For example, Islam teaches there is one God. They got that part right, although that truth in and of itself can’t help remove a person’s sins and open up a way to fellowship with God. There are things that other religions can teach about God that are true, but these false religions can’t usher us into close fellowship with God. Only the gospel can do that for us.

 

Third, only by walking in the light can we relate to the God of light. 1 John 1:7, “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.”  So we must walk in the light to experience the light of God’s fellowship with us. But the question becomes, “How do I walk in the light?” And the answer is only through the blood of Jesus, or in other words, through the forgiveness of sins by the atoning death of Christ on the cross. In other words, by trusting in Jesus Christ as the only sacrifice for sins, as the only way to pay our sin debt to the Father, we are forgiven. Once forgiven, we can walk in God’s light through the righteousness of Christ, not our own righteousness. In a sense, we walk in the light through the light of Christ, not our own self-generated light. That again, is where many people are confused today. They think they are capable of generating their own light enough to walk in the light of God, in fellowship, in relationship. That’s why many people think they are fully capable of entering heaven or eternal life on the basis of their own efforts or spirituality. But that again is wrong. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can we be made righteous enough to walk in the light of God. Now some people think that this passage is talking about one’s own personal righteousness, what one has to do in order to relate with and have fellowship with God. Wrong. There is nothing we can do to radiate enough light of our own to fellowship with God. Remember, like it said in the opening verse, God is light and in his is no darkness, he is pure light, pure holy righteousness. We aren’t pure or holy or righteous in our own natural state – just the opposite, we are sinful, selfish, unrighteous, and unholy. We only become righteous and holy and pure and walk in light when our hearts are supernaturally transformed through faith in the gospel. But what about the fact that we still act selfish, we still sin, still act unholy? The blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing us as we continue to trust in Christ alone. But our walking in the light is only the by-product of our trust in Christ’s righteousness. There isn’t a saint alive today, or ever was alive, who can have fellowship with God Almighty through their own righteousness. There was a medieval doctrine that still persists in some churches that a particularly holy person or saint can earn excess merit by living a holy life, so much so that they can store up their extra righteousness and give it to others who need a little more. That is totally false, because nobody is capable of generating excess holiness. In our own efforts we always fall short. We have enough holiness to fellowship and relate with God because of the merits of Christ alone.

 

So what about all these other religions and cults and false philosophies that claim to access God through some other teaching and method? They are all false. Again, not everything they teach is false, but the way of salvation they teach is wrong. We know that there is no other way to access God, and especially to share a relationship with God other than Jesus Christ. What did the Apostle Peter say about Jesus in Acts 4:12? “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” And Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6. Before Jesus went to the cross he struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed to God the Father saying, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken form me. Yet not as I will, but as you will,” Matthew 26:39. If there had been any other way to gain access to God, to gain salvation, then that would have been the best time to reveal it, and save Jesus from dying. But there isn’t any alternate route to fellowship with God; only through the cross of Christ can we gain entry into fellowship with God. Now the church is supposed to be a fellowship of people who have fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. We can share fellowship in church with each other because of our common faith in Jesus Christ. Even though we are so different in the natural. For example, in a Christian church you might have the wealthy and the poor, the healthy and the sick, the educated and the uneducated, men and women, boys and girls, old and young, and on and on. Now how can such a diverse community have anything in common in the church? Because if they’ve all been born again, if they’ve all repented of their sins and believed upon the cross of Christ for salvation, they all share access to God and can have fellowship with God and each other. Church fellowship isn’t based on political affiliation or racial profile or class status or economic situation or how you dress or how you speak or your hobbies and interests. True Christian fellowship is based on our common fellowship with God. The word fellowship in the original Greek language of the New Testament is the word koinonia, which means “common.” What is the one thing that we all have in common? A common faith in Jesus Christ, which permits us fellowship with God and one another. Do you have access to God today through Jesus Christ? Have you placed your total faith in Jesus for your salvation? Have you confessed and repented of your sins before God and turned to Jesus in faith for forgiveness and salvation? I hope so, because it’s the only way to gain access to God, and it’s the only way to truly have Christian fellowship with other believers. Can sin remove us from fellowship with God? Not if we are truly saved, although it can dull our sense so that we can’t feel the presence of God or sense his nearness with us until we repent and return to him. And it can also effect how we relate to others in Christian fellowship. That’s why we must daily confess our sins and keep a short account with God. Let’s not risk our fellowship with God or with others by hiding our sins in our hearts. That doesn’t work anyway. It will all eventually come out, so we may as well confess our sins quickly and return to the Lord and to fellowship with others.

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