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Christianity 101 - 4

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Christianity 101 – Session 4

 Living in the Light

1 John 1:6-7

As we have seen, the Word of God is a brilliant source of spiritual light. The splendor of Jesus Christ shines brightly on its pages. But also, on these pages, there glows a captivating image of our new inner self that is created in the likeness of God’s Son. It follows, therefore, that God calls us to live in the light of the truth that Scripture reveals to us. That is, we are to live in the consciousness of what He is and of what we are and will be by His grace. But that means living with our hearts open to God’s Word – or as the Apostle John puts it: we must walk in the light. This is absolutely fundamental to Christian living.

Fellowship in the Light

In English, the word “fellowship” means different things to different people. However, the Greek word translated fellowship has the simple, basic meaning of sharing.[1] Needless to say, many things can be shared by human beings with one another, and even with God. In the Bible, when this word is used, the context determines what is “shared”.[2] In 1 John 1:5-7 this “sharing” is a sharing of the light.[3] Thus all sharing with God must be in the light.[4] Fellowship, the Apostle assures us, takes place if we walk in the light as He is in the light. The light, therefore, is the fundamental common denominator of all fellowship with God because that is where God is. However, one might ask the question: ”Even when we are in the light, how can God have fellowship with such sinful beings as we are?” This is only because the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.[5] Jesus’ blood not only provides the basis for our eternal salvation[6] but also the basis of our fellowship with God. By the power of the death of Christ, every Christian can have fellowship with an infinitely holy God in the light of His truth.

Open to God

But this leads to another question: What does it mean to walk in the light? A close inspection of the immediate context[7] shows that John is stressing the importance of honesty and of facing reality. The Apostle warns us that if we claim fellowship with God while walking in darkness, we are lying.[8] Moreover, if we are so foolish as to sincerely claim to have no sin, then we are deceiving ourselves. [9] On the other hand, if we confess our sins - that is, acknowledge them honestly to God - we obtain His forgiveness.[10] But if,  instead of confessing some particular sin, we actually deny that we committed that sin – in that case, we are calling Him a liar. Thus John’s discussion revolves around spiritual integrity.[11] In other words, to walk in the light is to live open to the light and to all that it can reveal to us.[12] To be sure, a newly saved believer cannot see as clearly in this light as can a mature believer.[13] But openness to the light is a quality that can be truly possessed by those new in the faith as well as by those who have been Christians for a long time. Any Christian can walk in the light. But without openness to God, no fellowship with Him can occur.

Benefiting from God’s Light

We have now seen three fundamental things that the light of God’s Word reveals:

·         The glory of our Lord Jesus Christ

·         The face of our spiritual birth

·         The presence of sin in our lives

All three of these realities are intertwined and significantly affect Christian living.[14] Self-perception, therefore, is an indispensible ingredient in the spiritual process of seeing the glory of the Lord or seeing the face of our new birth. The light of these realities enables us to see how our actual behavior displeases God. And having learned this, we will need to confess our sins. It follows that self-judgment is a necessary accompaniment to all spiritual transformation. Without it, spiritual growth will not occur.  But growing takes time.[15] Obviously, then, there is a great wealth of truth to be seen in the light. But since I do not see all of it at once, it is essential that I continue to walk in it day-by-day. To do this, I must be confessing all the sins that the light shows me. Confession and divine forgiveness sustain my fellowship with God. That is, He and I can continue to share the light. As this walk in the light takes place, the Holy Spirit will be able to change me. But if I move off into the dark, the process of change will stop - and may even retrogress - until I return to fellowship with God.


The Christian, therefore, needs to maintain at all times a full openness to the truth of God’s Word. When this is done, confession of sin will take place whenever the Word reveals the need for it. As our walk in the light continues, we can see more and more of the glory of our Lord and we can understand better and better what it means to have His life within us.[16] Thus a fourth secret to living the Christian life is living with our hearts open to God’s truth. In order for God’s Sprit to transform us and produce in us the resurrection life that expresses what we are by the new birth, we need to maintain a responsiveness to the light of God’s Word.


[1] This is the Greek word κοινωνία koinwvia.

[2] For some examples, note Rom 15:26 (sharing of money), Heb. 10:33 (sharing of suffering), Acts 2:44 (sharing possessions and goods).

[3] Note 1 John 1:5. If we are walking in darkness we cannot be sharing the light with God (even if we say we are). God will not share the darkness with us.

[4] Of course, we are talking about experience here. The child of God shares at all times the possession of God’s life [eternal life], just as a child shares the genes of his human parents. But children who are out of touch with their parents, and live elsewhere, are not sharing anything with their parents experientially. In the same way, a Christian who walks in darkness is living in a place where his heavenly Father does not live.

[5] 1 John 1:7. In other words, even though a lot of real sin remains in us, fellowship with God is made possible on an on-going basis by the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ. To put it another way, not a moment of fellowship with God ever occurs without this cleansing action also occurring. [If we think that there is any moment when we do not need this cleansing, we are only deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8).]

[6] Cf. Matt. 26:28, Eph. 1:7, etc.

[7] 1 John 1:5-10.

[8] Vs. 6.

[9] Vs. 8.

[10] Vs. 9.

[11] Cf. Ps. 51:6.

[12] It is noteworthy that John does not call us to walk according to the light [which would be impossible – since we are sinners to the core (vs. 8)] but to walk in the light - which is possible.

[13] His newly opened eyes must become accustomed to the light; that is, he needs teaching.

[14] For example, if - as a believer in Jesus Christ - I have no concept of any of the ways in which I fall short of my Lord’s glory, this is not merely a failure to recognize my sins but also a failure to really perceive “the glory of the Lord” and truly discern what I am by my supernatural spiritual birth.

[15] In fact, it takes a lifetime!

[16] Of course, all real perception of God’s truth  depends on the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:11-13). His work, as always, is indispensable to Christian transformation. But this takes place only in the light [though God may discipline me in the darkness (Heb. 12:5-6)].

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