11-19-2017 A Light Walk 1 John 1:5-7
The Conversation published an article last year on the power of laser light. The article opens with most powerful laser beam ever created. It was fired in 2015 at a University in Japan, where the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments (LFEX) has been boosted to produce a beam with a peak power of 2,000 trillion watts. Apparently, lasers are far more energy-efficient than LEDs: While LED-based lighting produces up to about 150 lumens per watt of electricity, lasers could produce more than 400 lumens per watt. To give some perspective, a 75 watt incandescent bulb gives you about 1000 lumens and our brand new lights in the hall are 5,000 lumens each running on just 45 watts. The LFEX brightness would blind you in an instant even with your eyes shut tight!
The most ambitious laser being built today is thought to be the Extreme Light Infrastructure, an international collaboration based in Eastern Europe devoted to building a laser 10 times more powerful even than the LFEX and should be ready to fire by the end of this next year.
Lasers this powerful are the only means scientists have to recreate the extreme environments found in space, such as in the atmosphere of stars – including our Sun – or in the core of giant planets such as Jupiter. When these ultra-powerful lasers are fired at ordinary matter, it is instantaneously vaporized, leading to an extremely hot and dense ionized gas, which scientists call a plasma. This extreme state of matter is extremely rare on Earth, but very common in space – almost 99% of ordinary matter in the universe is believed by the science community to be in a plasma state. Ultra-powerful lasers allow scientists to create a small replica of these extreme states and objects from the universe in such a way that they can be studied in a controlled manner in the laboratory.
All that laser power is from the power of light! Even with these scientists telling us about the amazing power of light, it ought not shock the churchgoer too much, because we find in scripture how our God is more powerful then these lasers; and actually He is all-powerful. Even more, this all-powerful God is light. In fact, our passage this morning, in continuing with our expository journey through 1 John, states the nature of our God: light!
5 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.
We saw from two weeks ago how John is addressing the false teachers creeping around the Ephesus area. We talked about the purposes that he wrote to combat the heresies of the false teachers. Second, he wrote to reassure believers everything they had first come to know about the Christ.
I. The Proclamation (v.5)
I. The Proclamation (v.5)
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.
This verse embodies the text and is the basis of division in this Epistle of the positive and negative to the Christian lifestyle, especially on the positive side to start. John says “And the message which we have heard … is this.” Again, like we saw a couple weeks ago, we have a remarkable parallel between Gospel and Epistle; both books begin the transition with a “καί” (which connects the opening thoughts with the introduction in a simple way; cf. Jn 1:5), and with the same kind of sentence: “And the witness of John is this.” (in the literal Greek). In fact, if you turn the Gospel, you’ll see:
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
It is close to identical openings! back to 1 John, but I want to show you some things in the original language:
Καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία.
ἀγγελία = message—it is similar to ἄγγελος, which is angel—an angel is God’s messenger. The important thing here to note is that it is similar, but not the same word that our apostle here used in verses 2 & 3 ἐπαγγελία (which is commonly used in the New Testament). Ἐπαγγελία in the New Testament usually means “promise,” so the change from ἐπαγγέλλομεν (vv. 2, 3) to ἀναγγέλλομεν is purposeful: the first one means more “declare,” the word here in verse 5 is more to “officially announce.” The message received from Christ, the apostle announces or reports to his readers. Ἀναγγέλλω is used of authoritative announcements; of priests and Levites in the Septuagint; of the Messiah (John 4:25); of the Holy Spirit Spirit; and even of the apostles (Acts 20:20, 27; 1 Pet. 1:12). So this means that John is speaking here with great authority. What is more worthy of authority then the statement: God is light--not the Light, nor a light, but light; that is his nature. This sums up the Divine essence on His intellectual side, as “God is love” in more on His moral side. Light and love are not attributes of YHWH, but are parts of His nature.
So what does this have to do with the first four verses? The connection between this opening passage and the introduction is not very obvious at first. But John writes with his Gospel before him, and the prologue to that supplies the link. There, as here, three ideas follow in order: λόγος, ζωή, φῶς. There, as here, φῶς immediately suggests its opposite, σκοτία (darkness). It is on the revelation of the Λόγος as φῶς, and the consequent struggle between φῶς and σκοτία, that the Gospel is based.
And this revelation is of the greatest importance to us as a human race! We can either receive it or reject it. Other living creatures have the power of life; however no created thing except mankind can recognize it as the light. Why is this so important? Because to know the Λόγος as light is to know the Father as light; for the Λόγος is the Living Revelation of the Father’s nature for us and to us.
The Pulpit Commentary says:
That God is, in his very nature, light, is an announcement peculiar to St. John. Others tell us that he is the Father of lights (Jas. 1:17), the Possessor of light (1 Pet. 2:9), dwelling in light (1 Tim. 6:16); but not that he is light. To the heathen God is a God of darkness, an unknown Being; a Power to be blindly propitiated, not a Person to be known and loved. To the philosopher he is an abstraction, an idea, not directly cognizable by man. To the Jews he is a God who hideth himself; not light, but a consuming fire. To the Christian alone he is revealed as light, absolutely free from everything impure, material, obscure, and gloomy.
Light is energy--Divine creative energy. Light always conquers darkness with never an exception. Light improves the condition of order, beauty, life, growth, and joy. Of all metaphysical phenomena it best represents perfection.
It is not merely a “Goodness and Truth without flaw; it is Goodness and Truth that are always seeking to spread themselves, to send forth rays that shall penetrate everywhere, and scatter the darkness which opposes them” (Spence Maurice).
What a message we have to this dark world! The Brightest Light has conquered darkness forever! This Light is everlasting life! The Gospel light is our only hope as we stumble around in this dark life.
In like manner, darkness sums up the elements of all things evil. It represents decay and death. Everything of darkness is excluded from the nature of God. And hence the Apostle John immediately emphasizes the equally authoritative announcement with an equivalent negative statement: (Literal Greek: Darkness in him there is not any at all) This is a DOUBLE NEGATIVE for extreme emphasis. It is an assertion of the unchanging character of YHWH. I want you to notice here that John does not say, “in his presence,” but “in him.” Darkness exists, physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual; there is abundance of obscurity, error, emptiness, depravity, sin, and its consequence, death. But not a hint of these is “in Him.” The Divine Light has no spots, no eclipse, no twilight, no night; and as the Source of light, it cannot in any degree fail.
Are you giving this message to those in the dark? are you proclaiming it with this kind of authority?
II. The Exclusion (v.6)
II. The Exclusion (v.6)
Here we see the clear division into the negative tone from John, and however negative it may be, it is hard truth. Tough love!
If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
Here we have John’s first loving confrontation. Verse 6 is really a continuing thought from verse 5. If God is Light to the exclusion of all darkness, then fellowship with him darkness excludes fellowship with YHWH.
“If we say” is the star of a few of his THIRD CLASS CONDITIONAL SENTENCES which refer to these claims of false teachers. The grammar suggests the supposed action as one likely to occur. These conditional statements are great ways to know what exactly were the teaching of the heretics. The false teachers minimized the seriousness of sin, and John includes himself in the possibility, and of course he and his readers did say that they had communion with God.
By “walking” In the N.T., walking is meant our daily life, our movement and activity in this world; this activity will inevitably express the κοινωνία (fellowship) in which we live. To have communion with Him who is Light, and be continually living a life of darkness, is truly impossible. We lie, and “do not the truth.” As in verse 5, John solidifies this statement by denying the opposite. But the negative is not a mere equivalent of the positive: the two negatives together here mean, "we are false both in our word and deed." Truth with John is not confined to our language; it is exhibited in our conduct also.
John points out that it is possible for people to say they are in the light, yet actually live in darkness.
So this begs the question: If a persons says he’s a Christian, but is living like an atheist, which is truly his nature? Is he a backslidden Christian or is he an unbeliever that can wear the “Christian Hat” whenever it’s convenient? What do you think? Well… I’ve had this conversation with a few of you a month back during a Wednesday night service so I shan’t rehash the completed work. But, we concluded that night with the reality that from our prospective and from a pragmatic standpoint, it is not for us to waste time debating for a certainty of either way since both call for repentance! Weather the person is saved is a mute point because backslidden Christians need to repent—they need the power of the Gospel just as unbelievers need the Gospel and to repent of their sin. It is our duty, our privilege, our responsibility, our love response to call this person to turn from sin and to turn to Jesus! And that is what John is exemplifying here.
The Result (v.7)
The Result (v.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.
“but if we walk in the Light” This is another PRESENT Active TENSE which emphasizes continuing action.
Notice how often “walk” and PRESENT TENSE VERBS are related to the Christian life. Truth is something we live, not just something we know! Truth is a key concept in John.He again speaks conditionally and does so until verse 3 of chapter 2. The change of verbs is worthy of our attention: we walk, God is, in the light. We move through time; he is in eternity. Our activity involves change; his does not.
Wait? If YHWH is light (v.5), how is it John now says He is in the light?
Like the sun, he both is Light and dwells in the light; and if we walk in the light, which is His presence, we have fellowship one with another. Darkness is an anti-social condition, and this is cured by the light. From verse 6 we might have expected, "we have fellowship with YHWH." But John's repetitions are not merely for the sake of repeating: the continuing thought in each verse is always to take us a step further in truth. Having fellowship with one another is a sure result of that fellowship with YHWH which is involved in walking in the light.
Living in the light leads to a close fellowship with each other. This fellowship among believers results from each believer’s having fellowship with God. True spirituality manifests itself in community fellowship. One cannot say that he or she communes with God and then refuse to commune with God’s people. Such was the case with some of the false teachers of John’s day, and this situation exists among false cults today. Often their followers and leaders claim to have special relationships with God, but they don’t affiliate with other believers. They stay isolated and withdraw from everyone else. John’s point is that the natural result of living in the light (in fellowship with God) should be joyful relationships with other Christians.
Right now you must ask yourself “Am I having troubles with godly people? Am I not enjoying being around the people here? Am I not able to build relationship with anyone here?” If you are here today answering yes to any or all of those questions, then you might look at how you are living right now. John is saying that there is a direct connection between how you are living and how you are getting along with other believers. First, make it right before the Father, then make things right before others in this church. And then take a “light walk” walk in the light!
Our “so what” this morning comes from the end of 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.
Apart from sweet fellowship, another result of walking in the light is that the blood of Jesus (his sacrificial death on the cross) cleanses us day by day continually (present tense) from our frequent sins of frailty.
the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. John emphasized that the death of Christ saves people, not the false teachers’ knowledge. The verb cleanses also means “purifies.” Sin is not only forgiven, it is erased. How does Jesus’ blood do that? In Old Testament times, believers would symbolically transfer their sins to an animal, which they then would sacrifice (Leviticus 4). The animal died in their place to pay for their sin and to allow them to continue living in God’s favor. God graciously forgave them because of their faith in him and because they obeyed his commandments concerning the sacrifice. Those sacrifices anticipated the day when Christ would completely remove sin. Real cleansing from sin came with Jesus: The other John, John the Baptist knew it also(John 1:29).
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
By his blood new life-blood is infused into our human nature making us a new creation.
This Light is so powerful that it eradicates sin!
Those who claim to follow the Son must be living in the direct light of the Son God’s presence. They must be illumined by the truth of God’s nature. To “live in the light” requires constant contact with God and no tolerance for dishonesty, hypocrisy, or sin. Living in the light comes from continuous effort to take on Christ’s qualities. This involves complete repentance-- transformation from within.
Those who “live in the light,” the true believers, will still find themselves at times in sin. Christians will not be made completely perfect until Jesus returns and brings them into his Kingdom. When they do sin, however, God has already made provision to deal with those sins through the blood of his Son. That provision allows God’s people to continue to walk in the light—dealing with sin through confession and receiving his forgiveness so that fellowship with God and with others can thrive.
To “walk in darkness” is therefore to live in disregard or in defiance of the revealed will of God. And conversely, to “walk in the light” is to live in conformity to that will. Only those who make this the pattern of their conduct can actually and truthfully claim to be in fellowship with God.