“…the message we have heard…” 1 John 1:5
The elderly exile is writing on behalf of those with him on the Isle of Patmos: those whose lives had witnessed Jesus’ life and had been radically transformed by His perfect life, His miracles, His message, His sacrificial death on a cross, and His glorious resurrection. These prisoners were willing to suffer for the cause of Christ - bringing others into the light of abundant life and love.
There is a two-fold message which the collaborative team wishes to communicate: God is light (v.5) and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin (v.7). The issue of mankind’s sin nature is immediately addressed by contrasting light with darkness. Darkness is the absence of light, for even a little light scatters darkness (read John 1:1-5). The issue of sin is common to everyone. One need not teach a two year old to say, “No”, or a three year old to be unrestrained in wanting what a three year old wants. Just as we grow from infancy to adulthood, so sin seeks to grow in each of our lives, and if not dealt with properly, will enslave the sinner in a cycle of diminishing returns.
The reader is confronted with God’s knowledge of sin’s deceptive practices: we put on a good face on Sundays, give to the poor, volunteer for our child’s little league, and under the veil of darkness (or when we think no one is looking) devise all sorts of evil… or simply reject God’s message of salvation, which – in the end, is sin… sin separates us from God and from God’s voice calling us to Himself, offering peace and joy. We lie to ourselves first, thinking we may ‘get away’ with a practice displeasing to God (we even try to sugar-coat it, calling it a “vice”). Then, we lie to our family, faith community, and the world by continuing the practice, elevating our own clever disguise above other’s ignorance of our sin.
The writers simply expose the practice. The words are simple, and go straight to the heart of the problem:
“If we claim to have fellowship with Him, yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” (v.6)
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (v.8)
The sin problem becomes worse when we claim we have never sinned, for then we make God out to be a liar – The One Who lovingly confronts us with the issue to restore us to right relationship with Himself. Once we have gone that far in the coverup, God’s Word obviously has no place in our minds, hearts, or lives (v.10).
The writers offer an antidote to sin’s poison – a way of escape. The two-pronged message is actually one in the same. You see, just as light casts out darkness, so Jesus’ blood casts out sin. The sinner must come clean about his/her own sin – agreeing with God about the problem, admitting one’s hopeless efforts in dealing with it personally. Once that happens, the sinner is given a wonderful promise of restoration and beginning! The transaction is instant. The reconciliation is immediate. The writers phrased it this way:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (v.9)
It is the same message they had heard from Jesus. He offered Himself as the solution to sin’s problem by taking the punishment for our sins. (read Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 5:7-9) In our weakness, He is made strong, for He has covered our sin with His own life. It’s like He’s telling us today, “I’ve got this.”
Two days ago, our nation experienced a solar eclipse which able to be viewed from the Pacific to the Atlantic, which had not occurred for almost one hundred years. I was struck by what the meteorologists called the “path of totality”, the small area observers experience the total effect of the moon’s overshadowing effect upon the earth for two-plus minutes. Though the moon’s shadow did provide a moment of much less light, it did not extinguish the light entirely. The light of the sun was still present. The sun was never in danger of being permanently eclipsed. C.S. Lewis described how the summer sun is often hidden behind summer clouds: “We believe that the sun is in the sky at midday in summer not because we can clearly see the sun (in fact, we cannot) but because we can see everything else” (from “Miracles”, 1947, p.133). Theologian E.F. Palmer asserts:
“One way to test the worthiness of a world-view or religious claim is to ask the question: Does this world-view bring all of the parts of the puzzle of my life and world together? Are the separate pieces that make up normal existence integrated so that each is meaningful and in clear focus when seen through the lens of this world-view? Jesus Christ as Lord and center of our lives makes sense of the parts just as He makes sense of the core. This is the characteristic of light. It is like a lamp unto our feet.” (The Communicator’s Commentary, Vol. 12, © 1982, p. 29)
Step out of the darkness and into the light of recovery, reconciliation, and redemption by confessing the sin that has overcome you. Agree with God about it and invest in His Word. He will provide you a way to walk that will lead you out of sin’s practice and into a life of good by the light of His Word.