Walking in The Light of God (1 John 1:5-7)

Walking in The Light of God 1 John 1:5-7

I.) Components to Examining True Fellowship

We come to the first test John presents to us by which we to are compare our lives to. The purpose of such an examination is so that we may see whether or not Jesus has begun a good work in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure.[1] It is to recognize Christ’s sanctifying work in us so we can be assured of our salvation and know that we have eternal life.[2]

There are a couple of areas we are going to hone in on tonight in order for us to really comprehend what John is saying in this portion of his letter:

1.) The meaning of fellowship with God.

2.) The essence of God Himself.

Once we grasp the meaning of the fact that God is light we will see what it means to walk in darkness and what it means to walk in the light. When we see and understand that, then we can examine ourselves to see whether we have fellowship with God.

II.) Fellowship is Synonymous with Salvation

Let us remind ourselves that John is writing to those who “have fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”[3] The word Fellowship conveys intimacy, communion, social intercourse, and joint-participation.[4] Those that fellowship with God will always be progressively transformed into the image of Christ throughout the entirety of their lives. God is not a derelict Father, but a good Father who cares for His children:

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”[5]

All of God’s children have become partakers of this discipline so they may share in His holiness and produce righteous fruit.

It is important for us to understand who John is talking about when he speaks of fellowship. A popular view is that there is a difference between salvation and fellowship, and it maintains that people can be saved, but be out of fellowship with God. They make a make a distinction between two types of Christians; one being spiritual and the other being a carnal. The first communing with God, and the second out of fellowship with Him. One teacher says that 1 John provides both tests to assure one of salvation, and tests to assure one of fellowship with God.[6] It did not surprise me that they did not identify which tests assured of salvation and which ones assured a person of right fellowship.

This is a commonly held view, but the tragedy is it strips 1 John of its entire purpose and power when it distinguishes between fellowship and salvation. John did not write his letter so you could determine whether you are a spiritual Christian or a carnal Christian. He wrote his letter so you would know that you have eternal life. This view allows people to examine themselves by the tests he presents, acknowledge they say one thing but do another, and conclude they are saved but they are just out of fellowship with God. That betrays the whole purpose of 1 John, which begins and ends with eternal life, with the entire in between an examination as to whether or not you possess that eternal life.

Q.) If someone goes through 1 John and concludes they are out of fellowship with God what are they incapable of knowing?

A.) Whether or not they have eternal life, because “these things I have written to you so that you may know you have eternal life.”

Q.) What did he write so that you may know this?

A.) Ways to measure genuine fellowship with the God you are intimately joined to.

Fellowship is synonymous with salvation:

“You were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”[7]

We know it is impossible to not be saved and still have fellowship with God, but it is also impossible to be saved and not have fellowship with God. They are inextricably linked, and you cannot have one without the other. John is distinguishing the believer from the unbeliever, the converted from the unconverted, the regenerate from the unregenerate. He is presenting contrary walks of life so the one reading his letter will ask themselves:

Q.) Do I think like a believer or an unbeliever?

Q.) Do I live like one converted by Christ, or as someone unconverted by Him?

Q.) Do I love what a person regenerated by the Holy Spirit should love, or do I still love what those unregenerated by Him do?

It is not measuring sinless perfection, but holy affections towards God. There is a vast difference between struggling with sin and practicing sin. Believers grievously struggle against what they hate, non-believers comfortably practice what they love.

If someone were to maintain that John is making a distinction between spiritual Christians and Carnal Christians, they are going to have to conclude that a carnal Christian is not saved. If they are not saved, they are not Christian. Case and point is found in 1 John 1:7 where only those who walk in the light are cleansed by the blood of Jesus. If those who walk in the light are covered by Christ’s blood, then those who walk in darkness are not under its cleansing power. To be out of fellowship with God is to be cut off from His very life.

Some suggest that Lot is the perfect example of a carnal Christian, because of his decision to live among the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. I will just read what the Scripture says about the heart and mind of Lot, and you can decide whether it describes a carnal Christian:

“Righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds).”[8]

Where there is no sanctification there is no life, and where there is no life there is no salvation, and where there is no salvation there is no fellowship.

II.) God is Light

Before John calls us to observe ourselves, he beckons us to examine the quality of the One we profess to know and to be joined to; God. The Word of Life from the beginning made Himself known to the apostles so that they might make Him known to us so that our fellowship would be with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. This is the message He wants you who fellowship with Him to know:

“God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”[9]

Q.) What does it mean for God to be light?

There are three ideas linked to this one concept; God is holy, God is truth revealed, God is life.

1.) For God to be light means that God is completely pure and perfect; He is holy:

“Who is like You among the gods, O Lord?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness…”[10]

“There is no one holy like the Lord…”[11]

“Your righteousness, O God, reaches to theheavens, You who have done great things;
O God, who is like You?”[12]

“Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor.”[13]

“As for God, His way is blameless;
The word of the Lord is tried…”[14]

“Good and upright is the Lord…”[15]

“…the Lord is upright…and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”[16]

“His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.”[17]

“…your heavenly Father is perfect.”[18]

He is pure and perfect light, and the darkness does not corrupt His essence. He is “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”[19] He is not only clothed in light, He:[20]

“…dwells in unapproachable light.”[21]

God is light and in Him there is no darkness; He is pure and separate from sin.

2.) For God to be light also means that God is One who makes Himself known to those who have been thrust into the kingdom of darkness. God reveals Himself to us in this dark world through the light of the truth of The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us:

“If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”[22]

“I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me.”[23]

God made Himself known through the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, who is the truth and the radiance of His glory. He has also revealed Himself through His written word, which Jesus declares to be truth, and the Psalmist describes as a light to us:[24]

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”[25]

The truth of God is the light of God. Light is always seen in darkness, so God being light has made Himself known by the light of the truth of His word, and the Truth, Christ.

3.) Finally, for God to be light means that God is life, and we find this in a Hebrew parallelism, which means to use differing statements to say the same thing.[26] Psalm 36:9 says this:

“For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light we see light.”

In this verse, David is equating the life of God with the light of God. If we have God’s light we have God’s life, which is inextricably linked to Him being truth, and this is seen in John’s gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”[27]

“The Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”[28]

“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”[29]

“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”[30]

“God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”[31]

“He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”[32]

God gives His light, which is His eternal life, to all who believe through the light incarnate, Jesus Christ. True light and true life emanate from its source, and the source of all life is God.           

God is holy, God is truth, God is Life, all of these are summed up in the fact that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.

III.) Is God’s Light in You?

This is the standard by which we look to in order to see if we know God and He knows us:

“God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

Here is the test of genuine fellowship with God:

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”[33]

This is not a command to do; it is a call to self-reflection. It is establishing a simple principle:

“If you say, but do not do, you are not what you say.”

“If you claim to be something, but are not that something, you are not that something you claim to be.”

“If you profess to know God, but do not conform to God, you do not possess the One you profess to know.”

Since God is light, it is only logical that those who are untied to Him through Christ would walk in the light as He himself is in the light. To walk refers to a manner of life or conduct and denotes a continuation.

Since we know what it means for God to be light we can discern what it means to walk in darkness. If you say that you know God, but are devoid of His truth and live a way of life continually marked by ungodliness, you:

“Lie and do not practice the truth.”

Someone walking in darkness is apathetic to both His truth and living in a manner worthy of His holy calling. Martin Lloyd Jones put it this way:

“’Walking in darkness’ means that you live in such a way that you rarely have any thought about God at all; and if you do think about Him, you do not think of Him as ‘light in whom in no darkness at all.’ You think of Him as some benign fatherly person who is ready to smile upon your failures and who is ready to grant you entry into heaven at the end. That is walking in darkness – the failure to realize that the very organization of man, the outlook of humanity, is opposed to God, that godlessness is in control and in power and that it dominates everything.”[34]

Darkness never overcomes light; the smallest flame will illuminate the darkest room. When God puts His light, His life, in a person that light will be seen through a growing desire for His truth and a longing for His holiness:

“What fellowship has light with darkness?”[35]

No fellowship at all, because light always vanquishes darkness. If you have the life of God in you, you will walk in His truth, and when you grow in His truth you will live in His holiness and be Holy as he is holy; you will:

“Walk in the light as He Himself is in the light.”

“For you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness…”[36]

As obedient children you will not be conformed to former lusts, but you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind.[37] Like the Holy One who called you will seek to be holy in all of your behavior.[38] Since you are now light you will seek to walk as children of Light, and the fruit of His light in you is goodness, righteousness and truth.[39] You will not look like the world; you will look like Christ, the One who bought you out of this world with His blood.

Everyone who walks in the light as He Himself is in the light, and sees the fruit of His light progressively growing in their lives will have the assurance that:

“The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

They will begin to know that they have eternal life. They will begin to be assured that their repentance and faith in Christ resulted in genuine salvation. The evidence of God’s light in their formerly darkened heart will be seen.

As we gaze upon the holiness and truth of God, the fact that He is light and in Him there is no darkness, we see how far we have fallen from glory. His being light reveals our being dark, and our being dark reveals our greatest need of all, a Savior from sin. When we see the evidence of His light in our life it assures us of His Son’s precious blood that covers our life and makes us His. It assures us of the work of His Son:

“Whom He made to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”[40]

IV.) Are We Walking in The Light of God?

When you examine yourself understand you are not looking for sinless perfection, but holy affections which gradually draw you to Christ’s image. This means that evidence of salvation is not measured by a brief snapshot of one’s life. To truly examine yourself you need to look at the full course of your Christian life to see if there is genuine conformity to Jesus Christ. Paul Washer says this:

“It would be presumptuous for us to confirm our salvation based on the careful examination of one good deed, and it would be equally foolish for us to condemn ourselves for one fall into sin.”[41]

The slightest spark from the Light of God in your heart is going to make you distinct from the darkness of this world, so we should ask ourselves:

Q.) Do I stand out from this dark world because my manner of life conforms to what God has revealed about His nature and will, or do I resemble it?

Q.) Do I walk in His light as He Himself is in the Light, or do I show apathy to Him and walk in darkness?

[1] 2 Peter 1:10; Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13

[2] 1 John 5:13

[3] 1 John 1:3

[4] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; NT Number: 2842

[5] Hebrews 12:5-11

[6] Faith Bible Institute: Volume 6, John Yates; Page 636

[7] 1 Corinthians 1:9

[8] 2 Peter 2:7-8

[9] 1 John 1:5

[10] Exodus 15:11

[11] 2 Samuel 2:2

[12] Psalm 71:19

[13] Habakkuk 1:13

[14] Psalm 18:30

[15] Psalm 25:8

[16] Psalm 92:15

[17] Deuteronomy 32:4

[18] Matthew 5:48

[19] James 1:17

[20] Psalm 104:2

[21] 1 Timothy 6:16

[22] John 8:31-32

[23] John 14:6

[24] John 17:17

[25] Psalm 119:105

[26] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1-3 John, John MacArthur; Page 24

[27] John 1:1,4-5

[28] John 3:19-20

[29] John 8:12

[30] John 12:46

[31] 2 Corinthians 4:6

[32] Colossians 1:13

[33] 1 John 1:5-7

[34] Life in Christ, Martin Lloyd Jones; Page 111

[35] 2 Corinthians 6:14

[36] 1 Thessalonians 5:5

[37] Romans 12:2; 1 Peter 1:14

[38] 1 Peter 1:15-16

[39] Ephesians 5:8-9

[40] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[41] Gospel Assurance and Warnings, Paul Washer; Page 26-27

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