First John 1:5-2:6
If We Walk In The Light

Authored by Rev. Shigeru Matsubara, Assistant Pastor, Osaka Nozomi Church, Osaka, Japan

1.  The subject of this epistle is about "our fellowship" (1:3).  The fellowship here is not a worldly "fellowship or relationship."  It is "a fellowship with God and his son Jesus Christ."  Each one of us is connected to the Lord Jesus Christ the true vine and is admitted into a fellowship with God as we are in Jesus Christ.  This is [what it means by] "our fellowship."  Our fellowship in Christ and in God is indeed "our salvation and great joy."  John wrote this epistle so that the joy of Christians, his readers, might be full.

2.  John was trying to speak about this matter from the Father's essence in which "God is the light."  As "God is light," "God is love" (4:8,10).  "God is spirit," (John 4:24).  It is important to relate all these together.

3.  He says as the one who revealed the Father as God the light, love, and spirit, "There is no one who has ever yet seen God but God the only son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has shown God," (John 1:18).  Jesus Christ, as God the only son, has revealed God to us.

4.  In Hebrews 1:1-2 it says, "God used to speak by the prophets to the forefathers in many forms and many manners, but in this last time period he has spoken to us by his son."

5.  As we think of our mutual fellowship, if we ignore the reality of God that "God is light and there is no darkness at all in God," a dreadful depravity arises in humanity.  "For everyone who practices evil hates the light, fears their works being brought to the clarity of the light, and will not come to the light," (John 3:20).

6.  Teachers speaking heresy live degenerated lives in sin [teaching that] "fellowship with God" has to do with the spiritual side and not the body.  They say they are in fellowship with God, but they have been walking in darkness.  They do not admit as sin the sin which they have committed.  They deny the existence of sin.  This is just one big lie.

7.  "While we say that we have a relationship with God, if we walk in darkness we are lying and not practicing the truth," (1:6).

8.  The person who "walks in darkness" rejects a relationship with God. The person who practices evil hates the light.  He or she fears the light and won't come to the one of light.  Those who walk in darkness hide their everyday lives from their own selves and hide it from their neighbors and more than anything else they hide themselves from God.

9.  "But, if we walk in the light as God is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and are cleansed from every sin by the blood of his son Jesus," (1:7).

10.  In order for us to have fellowship with God "who is the light and is in the light," it is necessary for us to "walk in the light."  We should walk in the light.  "You [all], please be holy.  I, the Lord your God, am holy," (Leviticus 19:2).  "Walking in the light" and that our walk is in "the light" mean that we have fellowship with God.

11.  When one "walks in the light" it makes us take part in a relationship with God and results in our having a mutual fellowship with one another.  We ought to give thanks very much.  But, at the same time the light clearly brings out our sin.  We ought to give thanks for this too.  When we walk in the light it points out our sin in the holy light of God "which does not allow even a small bit of darkness."  We sinners tremble with fear before the holy light.  Sin cuts us off from and separates us from a relationship with God and our mutual fellowship with one another.  In reality, we are able to know our true sins by being shined in upon by "the light" and in "walking in the light."  We turn our faces from such dreadfulness from the light and will once again even try to look for a comfortable spot in the pitch darkness.

12.  But, John says, [we] "are cleansed from every sin by the blood of his son."  In order for God to preserve such sinners as ourselves in a relationship with God he prepared for us the blood of Christ.  The precious blood which Christ shed for us forgives our sin continuously, cleanses us from sin and preserves us while in fellowship with God and with each other.

13.  Only "by the blood of Jesus Christ" do we have a fellowship with the God who is our light and is our relationship preserved.  Also, the joy of our salvation is filled to overflowing.

If We Say We Have No Sin

14.  "If we say there is no sin in us, we have deceived ourselves and the truth is not in us," (1:8).

15.  Teachers of heresy claim that there is no sin in them, as the spirit of a person is isolated from the substance of the world it lives entirely in the world of the spirit and is not soiled by its unclean substance.  Therefore, the atoning death of Christ and the fact that the blood of Christ possesses the power to cleanse away sin have no meaning for them and are unnecessary.  So, they fall into a miserable delusion.

16.  Our salvation [is defined as] a situation that has to do with our entire being and personality as we get the light of revelation from God the light, humbly admit our sin and as we sinners are admitted into a relationship with God the light and the life and have fellowship with God and Christ and receive the blessing of eternal life.

17.  So then, how can we sinners get our sins forgiven, get saved from sin, get brought into a relationship with God, have eternal fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the Lord and share in the blessings of the Father?

Declaring One's Sin

18.  "If we declare our sin, he will forgive our sin and cleanse us from every unrighteousness because God is truly the righteous one," (1:9).

19.  "Christianity is a religion of sinners.  The life of a Christian is a life of unending repentance and a life of faith, thanksgiving, and love for the redeemer," (Henry).   The attitude, which a person who has been set free from sin by Christ should have, is [one of] admitting one's sinfulness and confessing from the heart.  A fellowship with God and a walk in the light are promised in that.  (Leviticus 5:5; Exodus 34:6-7; Proverbs 28:13).

20.  "If you say I have never sinned, [saying] that makes God a liar and the word of God is not in us," (1:10).  The heresy of Gnostic Christianity said "[We] have no sin," and denied that sin really existed.  It also denied the redemption of sin by "the blood of God's son Jesus."  For the people in Gnostic Christianity, religion or salvation was nothing more than an issue dealing with one's consciousness attaining the highest spiritual understanding or what they called "gnosis [gnwsiV; knowledge]."  Bible doctrine to them was nothing more than some fiction.

21.  The error in the teachers' lie was that they denied personal sin.  If a person denies that he or she has actually committed any sin, one's relationship with God is severed [or non-existent].  To say that "I have never sinned" is not only just telling a lie and being deceptive but is tantamount to "making God a liar."  Also, "the word of God is not in us."  Because the Bible states that everyone has sinned (First Kings 8:46; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:10-18).  Fellowship with God is continued by walking in the light, confessing one's sin, and continuing to receive forgiveness and cleansing.  Since God is light we should continue walking in the light so that there is no sin for us to confess.

If We Sin

22.  "O my children, I am writing these things so that you get to the point where you don't sin.  If we commit a sin, there is an advocate with the Father, the righteous one Jesus Christ," (2:1).  "You should not sin any more," (John 5:14; 8:11).

23.  John spoke "these things" so that we do not sin.  Even though he said this, we sin.  John said, "Even if we commit a sin, there is an advocate with the Father, the righteous one Jesus Christ."  If we perceive the true meaning of this we will know how  sinning leads to opening ourselves up to dreadful consequences and we will not take the battle against sin lightly.  We would also repent of our sins and confess them.  The righteous one Jesus Christ [could be defined as] the sinless Jesus Christ.  "Even Jesus suffered just once for our sins.  The righteous one suffered for the unrighteous.  [He did] so to lead you to God," (First Peter 3:18).  Jesus Christ was a sinless person himself, yet he died once in the place of us sinners to deal with our sin.  "God made the one who had nothing to do with sin as sin for us.  We are enabled to obtain the righteousness of God through him," (Second Corinthians 5:21).

24.  "This very person is the sacrifice to atone for our sin, yet not only our sin, but the sins of the entire world," (2:2).

25.  In Jesus Christ and him alone, God accomplished salvation for all humankind.  Any offering outside of this is utterly useless.  This is the main point in the proclamation of the gospel.

26.  Christ fulfilled the righteousness of God on the cross.  "God established Christ and made him an offering to atone for sin on behalf of those who believe through his blood.  This was in order to show the righteousness of God since he had overlooked the sins which humans have committed till now," (Romans 3:25).  "In this way God was very patient, but it was so that the one who showed righteousness at this time now makes clear that he himself is the righteous one and justifies the person who believes in Jesus," (26).  God through Christ received us in fellowship and let us in.  But, we sin every day.  But, Christ stands in our defense making a foundation of his "redemption."  Our refuge is Christ.  (Gohji Tanaka).

Knowing God

27.  If we keep God's commandments, we know through that that we know God," (2:3).

28.  What proves that we have an accurate understanding of God is the truth that we are keeping God's commandments.  In the church in John's time period there were those who [supposedly] had a relationship with God but walked in pitch darkness all the while living selfishly and self-indulgently.  In contrast to this, if they really had relationships with God, they would assert how they were living a lifestyle that kept God's commandments and that imitated Christ.  (First John 3:23; John 15:12).

29.  "While saying 'I know God" a person does not keep God's commandments, he is a liar and the truth is not in him," (2:4).

30.  "While people like this profess that they know God, they deny it by their actions.  They are detestable people, disobedient, and disqualified in all good works," (Titus 1:16).

31.  We had better not forget that even though we know God but cannot keep God's commandments perfectly and we sin each day, yet Christ became "an offering of redemption" on our behalf and he stood up for us as "an advocate."

32.  "But, if one keeps the word of God, the love of God has truly been realized within that person," (2:5).

33.  "He who says I am always in God must himself walk just as Jesus walked," (2:6).

34.  The walk of Jesus Christ was a walk in humility, self-sacrifice, and love (Matthew 11:29; Philippians 2:5-8 and others).

35.  We should not walk in darkness as those in Gnosticism but should walk in the light as Christ did.

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