The Message We Proclaim

January 18th, 2015

1 John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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 cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. [1]

It is in my theological DNA to make the end of verse 7 the big idea of this passage. I would be wrong. Most Christians think that the Bible is all about getting us saved, when in fact the Bible is not about us, our felt needs or pending destruction.

That truth doesn’t diminish The blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin, but that’s not the biggest truth coming out of the Bible. It’s in the top three big truths of the Bible, but it isn’t the top truth. The revelation about Redemption and the Creation are in the top three. But those don’t cover the biggest truth God wants us to understand.

The primary message of the Bible is about God and His holiness. Every great theologian standing tall throughout history emphasizes the holiness of God above all else. Every great Bible teacher makes the message about God and not about God’s work of redemption to save sinners.

John says that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. That is a positive statement first and then a negative. God is light. God has no part in darkness. God is a brilliant display of moral perfections. Holiness, Holiness, Holiness is the Lord God Almighty!

If we said that the Creation declares the glory of God, then we would be teaching a secondary truth that we have no greater purpose in life than to glorify and enjoy God. That’s good theology when we are talking about us.

John starts earlier in the chain of truths. John declares what was seen, heard, touched and now proclaimed, concerning the very nature of the three Divine persons who are One God, revealed by the incarnate Son who gave Himself in fellowship to the disciples.

John offers three GOD IS statements. God is Spirit. God is Love. God is Light. These things are not added to God’s persona. God is these things. Human language cannot fully describe God, but with these three truths we get as close to God as we can without seeing Him face to face.

The ARP Seal has a scroll at the bottom and inscribed is our motto, “In Thy light shall we see light.” Psalms 36:9. This is the beginning for all Bible truth. All truth starts with God.

What are we to understand? That God is holy. Pure. He is clean and beautiful in all corners of His person and character. What conclusions do we make from this declaration?

Light is used to describe knowledge. We shed light on a subject. Lucent technologies adopted the word light into their name as it communicates the transmission of data. The word light conveys intelligence and understanding.

Light also conveys power. The Sun projects light on the earth from the power of the plasma. Where there is smoke there is fire. God is a consuming fire and God emits light as a necessary function of His nature. (John will detail for us later what it means to live as children of the light.)

And because God is light, in Him is no darkness at all. None. A very forceful expression. God is not a mix of good and evil. God has no sympathy for our sin. God is never patient or at rest looking at our sin. God is always mobilized and agitated by sin. He is always in the move to deal with it.

We talk about humans possessing a Yin and a Yang. There’s a good and bad within our heart or mind. There is angel on one shoulder and a devil on our other shoulder. God is not like this. No part of His character can appreciate our decisions to embrace sin.

God doesn’t initiate sin through Satan. God has no part in darkness or sin. God is not the author of my sin. God is not leading me to sin or putting sinful thoughts in my mind as a test.

God has no connection to darkness and sin. God is completely outside of that corruption. He cannot sin and he cannot be perverted by our sin. If we are to have fellowship with God, then we must have our sins removed and we must live in the holiness God offers through Christ.

Why? Because God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

So what does that mean for us as Christians? It means that we have to be like God and never become comfortably in our sin. We can’t become complacent with our besetting sins. If we want fellowship in the Church, and fellowship with the Father and the Son, then we must always be praying for increased sanctification.

Not everyone thinks this way.

Every culture has a list of sins that are protected from criticism. American culture protects certain sins from public criticism through the pressure of political correctness. Abortion, deviant and perverted kinds of fornication like homosexuality or pornography, even adultery by our political leaders, these sins and more are protected by the culture as above criticism.

It’s as though we think that God is O.K. with our deviancy. Maybe God permits our perversions. Society shames those who condemn sacred sins and then labels those people as radicals or fundamentalist. They say we are committing a hate crime or spreading the darkness of ignorance.

There were people in John’s church called Gnostics who taught that sin was done in the flesh, not the spirit, so sin didn’t corrupt your heart, just your temporal earthly body which didn’t really matter. Gnostics taught lots of bad things, but this idea that we can sin without grieving God’s Spirit was very problematic.

John’s response would be that If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. You might have a profession of faith, you might be an upstanding member in the church, you might have a personal connection with the pastor, you might be the pastor, but if you are embracing the sins of your life as just part of who you are, then you are not in fellowship with God.

This is hard to hear, but it is easy to understand.

My wife likes me to drive the speed limit, not look at my phone and promote a safe environment for our family. When I do the opposite she fumes and I am not in fellowship with my wife. I might think I am connected, but I am more likely to be connected with her anger and resentment than her love.

I am lying to myself if I think I can act in a rude manner and be in fellowship with my wife. It doesn’t work that way. I can try to convince myself that I will be O.K., but I am lying to myself.

Our culture is like every society before it. We are told that even if people promote deviant and perverted living, that they are good people with good hearts. We are told that God made these people different and to criticize them is to criticize God. Social acceptance and promotions go to the tolerant, not the holy.

Those are all lies meant to unravel a civil society and separate individuals from God.

The truth is in verse 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 cleanses us from all sin.

We grow our humanity and increase our peaceful and blessed fellowship when we purse holiness even as God is holy. Our nations’ laws were not organized for a deviant society. Moral virtue was assumed as the fabric of our nation when our freedoms were enumerated.

And Jesus is the center of the Church. He is holy as the Father is holy. The Holy Spirit connects us to one another and to the divine nature when we love righteousness and hate evil. This is how we thrive. All sin will diminish us and our fellowship and the civility within our society every time.

Obviously, we all have our own personal struggles with sinful desires or even sinful habits. The beauty of Redemption is that we are not cut off from fellowship with God because we are not yet perfect. God can’t tolerate sin. God must act to judge it, and He does so in Christ.

John is very practical. He isn’t teaching moral perfectionism. We won’t live sinless in this life. But if we love the truth and love God and maintain daily fellowship with God, then we can repent of our sins and know God’s forgiveness and blessing despite our failures.

How does a holy God let us be in fellowship with Him? Because the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. The primary message from John is that God is light. God is holy. God is absolute perfection, but God is also LOVE, so Redemption keeps us from fear and depression.

And John qualifies this primary message. First, God doesn’t have any black parts in His soul. He doesn’t tolerate our sin in sympathy to our condition. God doesn’t tolerate darkness and God has no part in the darkness that is in our hearts.

Second, we are lying to others if we claim to have fellowship with God while embracing our sin as normal. Sin is never normal. It isn’t part of our humanity as God created us. We are created for so much more. We are created for fellowship with God and the Church. We must purse holiness if we want to maintain these connections with God and His people.

Third, when we seek to obey God’s commands we find sweet fellowship with others who are also struggling to live according to the revealed will of God. And as members of the Church we have the promise that we can always find forgiveness for our insufficiencies, our weaknesses and our sins that do so easily beset us.

And for those of us who are slow to confess that we sin, who shame others who do sin and make sinners feel like they can’t come to church, John reminds us in verse 8 that If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

You are lying to yourself if you think you are not a sinner just like all the rest of us. You are not lying to us. We know that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But if your spiritual self worth hangs on the idea that you are less of a sinner than others, then you are deceiving yourself and the truth is not is you.

We should never feel spiritually superior to others. We are all on an equal footing before a Holy God. We are all sinners. We all fail. We all need the blood of Jesus to maintain our fellowship with God and the Church.

So let that reality sink in. And when you do come face to face with the darkness that resides in your soul, when you begin to tremble that your fellowship with God is unsustainable by your own merit, then memorize verse 9 and repeat it to yourself every day until this verse brings peace to your soul. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Keep hope alive that you can be sanctified from your sinful life.

I want to recommend to you an author named Rosaria Butterfield. You can watch one of her interviews at YouTube or at the bottom of this sermon online. She is married to a Presbyterian minister and has written many books. I would recommend the one titled The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith.

By the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university. She owned two homes with her same sex partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. Her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. She was a model citizen.

And then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down—the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about God.

She once had fellowship with darkness, and now she has fellowship with the Church and God. She isn’t without those previous desires of her life, but she chooses to walk in fellowship with the light.

At one time she held that she wasn’t sinning and had in fact never sinned as guilt is really just a disease of the religious mind. Sin for her was nothing more than a Freudian guilt trip of the soul. Now she walks in the light of her God.

And how do we walk?

What message do you embrace? There are so many versions of the truth. The light has become darkened by the sinful excuses of man. Are you embracing the light as John details? Are you in fellowship with the Church and God?

Fellowship with God is not complicated. Love God and love His commandments. Seek the Lord. Pursue a life in obedience to His commands. Pursue godliness. Worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness.

And if the Devil uses your sins to hold you down, then run to Jesus. Ask for His blood to cleanse you from your unrighteousness. Rest in His perfect life and stand confident in His obedience to the laws of God. If we will do this, then we will enjoy fellowship with the Church, with God the Father and with Jesus His Son. Amen.

[1] The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Leave a Comment