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Stay Out of the Shadows

08 Jan

When I went through my experience with vertigo a few years ago, I learned a lot about the human body’s balance system. I discovered there are three components—the inner ear, the eyes, and the feet. In my case, I had an infection in my inner ear which sent me for a loop. While the dizziness went away, my balance never went back to normal. I still have lingering issues with my inner ear. As a result, I am very dependent on my eyesight and my feet to keep me balanced.

Because of my balance issues, I am unable to walk in a dark room. If I don’t hold on to a wall or a chair, I will stumble and fall. In the same way, I get into all kinds of trouble when I walk in spiritual darkness. If I don’t hold onto Jesus, I will stumble and fall spiritually.

If I want a close relationship with God, I need to stay out of the shadows and walk in the light. That is a lesson I learned from 1 John 1:5-7.

In his first letter, the apostle John is trying to promote a deeper fellowship with God. But there are conditions to fellowship. One is a doctrinal condition. Fellowship is based on the reality of the incarnation (1-4). One is a moral condition which arises out of the character of God.

Light reveals the holy character of God (5). By explaining that he is passing on what he learned from Jesus, John is demonstrating that we cannot base our theology on opinions or personal experience. We must base it on revealed truth.

The concept of God being light is not a new idea. In the Old Testament, God is portrayed as a flaming torch (Genesis 15:17), a burning bush (Exodus 3), a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21-22), and is clothed in light (Psalm 104:2).

We know that light reveals, is pure, comforts, and judges. When it comes to God, there is absolutely no darkness in God. He is absolutely perfect in truth and holiness.

In 1:6-2:2, John makes six “if … then …” statements to describe how to have a close relationship with God. Three are phrased in a negative manner; three are positive. Three express our words; three express our actions.

“If we say”

“If we do”

1:6

If we say, “We have fellowship with God,” yet walk in darkness … 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light …
1:8 If we say, “We have no sin” … 1:9

But if we confess our sins …

1:10

If we say, “We have not sinned … 2:1

But if anyone does sin …

Negative statements

Positive statements

Words

Actions

On the one hand

On the other hand

Stay out of the shadows (6). Ever since the fall of mankind, people have tried to deny the reality of sin. Some minimize it or redefine it. Some ignore it. Some believe they can follow Jesus and still live a lifestyle of sinful habits. John explains forcefully that you cannot claim to love Jesus and live in sin. You are lying to yourself and everyone else.

Live in the light (7). Walking in the light means living in obedience to God and his instructions. Since God is light, it means coming to where God is found, or to live in the same way as God himself. When Christ followers live in the light where God is, there is mutual fellowship between himself and us. It also results in continual cleansing from sin by the blood of Jesus.

Stay out of the shadows and live in the light.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on January 8, 2017. It is part of a series on The Letters of John. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

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