“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and WALK IN DARKNESS, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we WALK IN THE LIGHT, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
(1 John 1:6-10 KJV)
Context Matters; What Is Being Addressed In 1 John 1?
It is important to understand that the context of John’s letter is to thwart a heresy that false teachers were trying to get true believers to accept. This heresy is called Gnosticism. This is the sin that John is referring too in his letter. Those believing this heresy.
Gnosticism in incompatible with Biblical Christianity because Gnostics do not believe that a person can be born again through Christ. They deny that we are saved because Christ died in our place and took on the punishment for our sins but instead rely on extra Biblical ‘secret knowledge’ they say has been imparted to them as if they are special somehow. This was a big heresy in the early church and is being shown as false.
The Gnostics teachings were causing fear in some of the believers and had them questioning their faith on Christ alone for Salvation. John is exposing this false heresy to believers who he is addressing.
What Is Meant By Light And Darkness In This Scripture?
First it is important to understand that John wrote his letters to believers. He is addressing people who are already eternally saved through belief on Christ. The key to understanding this passage of Scripture is in the understanding what it means to walk in the light and walk in the darkness. John is giving a comparison here to be sure that the one reading he letter is confident that they are truly saved. He uses the contrast of dark verse light to achieve this.
- Walking In The Light
Jesus is the ‘light of the world’ (John 8:12) and so walking in the light is simply believing on Christ as your Savior. A person is walking in the light from the very moment they became born again.
- Walking In Darkness
This is the state of every person who has not yet accepted the free gift of Salvation through Christ. They walk in darkness because they have not come to the knowledge of the TRUTH in Christ. The Holy Spirit is not dwelling in them nor guiding them.
And even more than this there are some they claim they are saved and born again when they really are not. We read, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” If a person believes Jesus Christ existed and they go to church every Sunday and they try to be a good person and they are relying on these self righteous works to justify them with God they are still not saved. They look on the outside like they are walking in the light and are born again yet on the inside the Holy Spirit is not indwelling because they have not believed fully on Christ in faith (John 3:18) for the forgiveness of all their sins by what He did at the cross.
Judas is a good example of this. He lived with Christ during His ministry on Earth. He ate with Him. He listened to His teachings first hand. He heard Jesus say that He would be killed soon. Yet, in the end He never came to believe on Christ as the Son of God who came to live a perfectly sinless life and die on the cross to take the punishment for the sins of the whole world. Judas had regret because He betrayed Jesus. He had remorse because this person he was with died such a horrible painful death because of his betrayal. So much so that he committed suicide.
The important point is that remorse alone does not save a person. A person must believe in faith that Jesus was God in the flesh who paid the price for our sins. As John stated earlier in John 3 very simply and clearly:
“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18 KJV)
- Confessing Our Sins
We also read in this Scripture that ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.‘ This confession is not about continuously having to confess a sin in order for it to be forgiven. We are not continuously renewing our Salvation! Confession here is simply acknowledging that we have sinned, knowing that it is forgiven by Christ already and we then pray to God and ask Him to help us to stop the particular sin. This confession is all about our fellowship with God. We acknowledge that ‘we have blow it again’ and ask God to help you. That is how a Father and son or daughter have fellowship. We all have things to learn and things to change in our life for God right? We still have the propensity to sin (Romans 7) and the struggle is real.
In the Greek this was originally penned, the tense for the word ‘cleanseth‘ is a present and continuous action. Once a person accepts the FREE GIFT of Salvation through Christ’s shed blood on the cross, the blood of Jesus Christ keeps on and keeps on cleansing you from every sin! Just like an ocean’s waves on a beach, the Grace of God keeps rolling in to cover all and any sin committed in the life of a believer.
By the continuous waves of God’s Grace, born again believers are always in God’s light. We still have sin after Salvation but they were already penalty paid by the power of Jesus’ shed blood. Until we are resurrected with new immortal bodies, without this disease we have called the Sin Nature or as the Bible calls it, The Flesh, sin will happen in a believers life; though our Newly Created Spirit wars against our Sin Nature. This two conflicting natures exist within every believer. The struggle against sin for a believer is very real. The Apostle Paul struggled greatly with the Two Natures Of A Believer in Romans 7. Our sins after Salvation do not separate us from the family of God. Sin can affect our fellowship with our God as our Father, but loss of Salvation and being kicked out of the family of God is not found in the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul put it this way,
“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:” (Romans 5:20 KJV)
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24-25 KJV)
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