Life in the Light
Over the next several weeks, we are going to take time to get uncomfortable.
Over the next several weeks, we are going to seek to answer oen of
We are going to try to answer the most important question you will likely be asked: are you sure, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that you are saved and have a relationship with God?
Some of you answered that question without any hesitation at all, and you are right.
For some of you, you know for certain that you have a relationship with God. Your confidence is in Christ, and based off the authority of God’s Word, you are sure you are saved. I am praying that these sermons will bring you back to the basics, encouraging you to hold tight to what you believe. These messages will also help you as you help your friends and family discern whether or not they really know Jesus.
For others of you, it is an easy question because you know you aren’t saved. For whatever reason, you haven’t made that decision to follow Jesus, and you know you don’t have a relationship with God. I am glad you are here, and I hope you’ll stay with us, because the next few weeks will really crystallize what it means to be a Christian.
Others of you are somewhere in the middle, and I hope you will be honest enough with yourself to admit it. You think you are going to heaven, you hope you are right with God, but down deep, you have an unsettling sense that everything isn’t exactly right.
These messages will be especially helpful for you. I am praying that God will take his word and confirm where you stand with him.
If you are saved, I am praying that these messages will strengthen and encourage you and remove any doubts.
If you are not, though, I pray that God will make it clear through his word.
To answer this question, we are going to examine several sections out of the book of 1 John.
We are starting in today, so you can go ahead and open your Bibles there this morning.
We have chosen 1 John because this book was specifically written so you could know you were right with God:
I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
John begins his book by reminding his readers that this message is real. He saw Jesus, he talked with Jesus, he heard Jesus as he spoke to the crowds and the disciples. He was really there.
His message isn’t a fairy tale; it is a true account from an eyewitness.
As we pick up in verse 5, we find that John is laying the foundational arguments for what is coming next.
He starts with a simple declaration...
The picture of God as light is one he used when he wrote his gospel. It has the idea of complete moral purity. He is totally and completely holy, perfect, morally right, and there is no hint of evil or badness in him.
There is no yin-yang in God; he is completely pure.
Not only that, but God is also the source of our ability to do the right thing and to see just how bad sin is.
After making that declaration, John lays out a series of “If…then” statements.
From those this morning, we want to draw three main characteristics of those who are really and truly saved.
As we do, I want you to ask God to show you whether or not these things are true in your life.
If not, we will give you time at the end to respond.
Let’s read the text together...
Now, let’s go back and see what characterizes those who truly follow Christ.
First, we see that they...
1) You walk in the light.
1) You walk in the light.
Read verses 6-7 again.
Here is the first set of “if’s”.
John makes it clear that you can’t claim to have fellowship with God and still walk in darkness.
The idea of fellowship is not just being with, but also partnering with and walking together with.
If God is light, you can’t claim to be a follower of his if you keep walking in the dark!
What does it mean to “walk”?
He isn’t talking about physically walking through a darkened room.
I have been around this building enough that I can walk through some rooms and hallways without any light at all, so am I distant from God? Of course not.
The idea of walking is that idea of the way I conduct my life.
If I claim to live in close relationship with God, who is morally pure and righteous, then how is it that the course of my life is still characterized by evil and wrong?
Some of you saw this with your parents growing up. They came to church every Sunday dressed in their best, but at home, you never would have known they followed Jesus.
Some of you may even see this in yourself! You claim to follow Jesus, but if you were put on trial today for being a true follower of Christ, there wouldn’t be enough evidence to convict you!
If the world around us is captivated by the darkness of sin, and you claim to know the God who is light, then your life must look different.
Let’s put this in practical terms.
In , Paul outlines two different ways of living.
The first is according to the flesh, and the second is according to the spirit.
The flesh does what is natural, where living by the Spirit is living guided and directed by the Holy Spirit, who is God living in you.
Here’s how Paul describes it:
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
That is what it looks like to walk in darkness. Those walking in darkness live lives that are characterized by immorality, jealousy, idolatry, and the like.
Did you see the strong warning there? “Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!”
If these are the words that would best describe your actions and attitudes, then based off the authority of God’s word, you do not have a relationship with Christ.
That isn’t to say that believers don’t struggle with these things from time to time, but they don’t stay in them. They keep moving, keep fighting against temptation, and, as we’ll see in a minute, seek forgiveness when they fail.
Instead of the first list, their lives are characterized by these attributes:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.
Which list better describes you?
Listen: if it is the first list, you need Jesus!
By the way, if it is the second list, it is only because of Jesus!
Look back at verse 7...
We are only able to walk in the light because the blood of Jesus has cleansed us from all our sin.
You aren’t walking in light because you started coming to church; you are walking in the light because you turned from you sin and turned to Christ, seeking forgiveness and for him to clean you and make you whole again.
Now, he is working out that salvation in you, allowing you to live a life of joy and peace and patience and gentleness and all the other fruit of the Spirit.
That doesn’t mean you are perfect, because none of us are.
It does mean, however, that you are forgiven and cleansed by Jesus’ blood.
That’s what John is getting at with the second characteristic of those who have a real relationship with God...
2) You agree with God.
2) You agree with God.
Look back at verses 8-9.
Verse 9 is a familiar passage to many of us, but let’s put it in context and dig a little deeper into it.
There’s another “if” statement here - “If we claim to have no sin.”
Some have taken this as a statement made by those who don’t follow Christ, but in context, I think there is more going on here.
There are people who teach that it is possible in this life to grow to a place spiritually where you never sin again. It’s called, “sinless perfection,” and it is false.
You and I will still fight against sin until the day we stand before God in heaven and every trace of sin is removed from us.
I doubt many of us would say today that we are perfect, but let me speak to those who claim to follow Jesus closely: when is the last time your heart was broken over your own sinfulness?
We often get caught up in comparing ourselves to other people. “Well, I’m not as bad as this person, or I don’t do that like that guy does,” so we think we are okay.
We even compare ourselves to ourselves, thinking that because we have overcome a particularly obvious sin, we are good to go.
Never lose sight of the fact that you still are not perfect yet!
Yes, God may have equipped you to move on beyond a particular sin, but you still have room to grow.
I like to use the example of walking towards a streetlight at night.
When you first fall into that light, you can only notice the big stains on your clothes. As you get closer to it, though, you start to see just how dirty your clothes really are.
That is similar to the process of growing in Christ.
When you first come to Christ, you notice blatantly obvious sins that others probably see, and God starts dealing with those.
As you grow, you may overcome those, but you start to see just how badly stained your heart is as you see how holy God is and how sinful you really are.
If you think you don’t have any sin, you are deceiving yourself.
You are calloused and blinded, and you need God to open your eyes.
When he does, though, that can be a painful process. We don’t like to admit how bad we are, and we don’t like to see just how short we fall.
If you are going to go on with God, though, you must learn to agree with God.
Going back to verse 9, we see the word, “confess”, which has the idea of saying the same thing as someone else.
In other words, if the court says you have commited a crime, to confess to that crime would be to say, “You are right, I did it, and I deserve to be punished for what I have done.”
We do this with God when we first come to him, but it is a process we go through all day long as God convicts us of sin.
Instead of getting defensive or rationalizing away what we have done, we have to agree with God and say, “God, you’re right. I have been selfish. I have been jealous. I wasn’t self-controlled,” or whatever the sin issue was.
When we do so, it is with a heart that says, “God, you are right, and I was wrong. Give me strength to turn from this and walk with you in the light.”
But look at what God promises to those of us who tur
You don’t lose your relationship to God when you sin, but it does break the ability to hang out with him and hear from him and be used by him.
Look at the incredible promise he makes, though.
When we confess, when we agree with him in a heart that is willing to turn from that sin, he promises to forgive us our sins.
He promises to forgive the sins we confess and restore that relationship fully!
Isn’t that awesome?!
But wait a second…I can’t possibly confess every sin I commit. I don’t even know a lot of the ones I commit. What about those?
Look at the amazing promise at the end of the verse.
When we confess the sin we know, he cleanses us, even from the sin we don’t know.
That doesn’t mean we should confess generally. Instead, we confess specifically the sins we know we have committed.
However, for those who have come to Christ and sought his forgiveness, he is able to cleanse even the sins we don’t know about.
Isn’t that incredible?!
John summarizes it with one more “if” statement in verse 10.
We are sinners, there is no doubt.
God has made it clear, so don’t make him out to be a liar.
What are we supposed to do with this information?
I mean, if I have come to Christ and his blood cleanses all my sin, then does that mean that I can just go off and do whatever I want?
I can go all day and wallow in the darkness and then come home and confess it and be cleansed like I was taking a bath?
No, not at all, which John explains in 2:1-2...
If you really know Jesus, then the third characteristic we see is...
3) You want to avoid sin.
3) You want to avoid sin.
We know that we will still sin, but we should never settle for less than God’s best.
John tenderly expresses that in 2:1...
Guys, if you know Jesus, you want to avoid sin.
You don’t want to keep doing what hurts the heart of God.
Why? Keep reading...
When we sin, we have an advocate before the Father, and it is Jesus.
You see, Jesus solved a problem that we never could.
What did John say about God in verse 5? That he is light, which means he is completely morally pure.
How did he describe sin? As darkness, polluting our souls.
So how could a God who was perfectly just overlook our sins?
Didn’t it say that God cleanses us from our sin? How?
Through the shed blood of Jesus.
You see, you and I deserved to die, and yet Jesus died in our place.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, which means God the Father didn’t overlook our sins, he punished God the Son for them.
The blood that Jesus shed on the cross pays the penalty for my sin and your sin and for the sin of the whole world.
That’s the only way that you and I can be saved today: to accept his gift of salvation.
The more you understand the sacrifice Christ made on your behalf, the less you will want to sin.
You will rest in the promise that his blood has cleansed you, and you will agree with him about the darkness of your sinful attitudes and actions, and you will run to him for forgiveness.
When you look on Jesus, you can’t keep sinning, so if you can keep sinning without feeling the pain of betraying Christ, you may not be saved.
Are you sure you are saved today?
How do you know?
Is it because your life is characterized by light, since Jesus cleansed you from your sin?
Is it because you know when you fall short, and you agree with God and find forgiveness and restoration?
Is it because you have accepted God’s gift of forgiveness, since Jesus was the sacrifice for your sins and mine, and so now your heart wants to avoid sin?
If your salvation is based off anything else, you aren’t really saved.
Salvation is available to everyone who will call on the name of the Lord, but it isn’t automatic.
Will you call on him today?