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Letters - Leave the Light On

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Introduction: Welcome and then dismiss children.
As I’m praying , Jason will lower the lights so we’re in complete darkness.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night in need of a drink or something else?
If you’re like me, you may have grown pretty accustomed to fumbling around in the darkness…kicking stuff....knocking over lamps…essentially waking everyone in the house (which is ironically one of the excuses you likely made for not turning on the light in the first place.).
The truth is it would be so much easier to turn on the lights. Except for the fact that we’ve grown so accustomed to the darkness and in this moment to turn on the light would be painful.
At this point I had planned to shock your system by turning the lights on full blast, but since to do so would also be to cause myself pain, I’ve decided to ask Jason to bring the lights up slowly.
As we continue our study of these letters of a seasoned John to a younger generation, he needs to correct some bad theology specifically as it related to the nature of God and the condition of man.
Turn with me in your Bibles to
Last week John started us off by telling us that after all these years, it is still all about Jesus.
This week we are going to address the very heart of the Gospel: God is perfect. And we are not.
So how great a wrong is it when we act as though the cross were unnecessary for us?
Light vs. darkness
Truth vs. lies
Soiled vs. Cleansed
What does it mean to follow Jesus?
It means having fellowship with God and others.
What helps contribute to fellowship with God and with other Christians.

Authenticity and Vulnerability.
For older Christians, it’s important to never feel like you have achieved perfection. The younger generation needs to see, not only your struggles, but also how you are constantly depending on God for sanctification and salvation.
For younger Christians, get used to being open and honest about your struggles and sin. Don’t feel like you have to be perfect. When you do you wind up faking it. If you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself and the truth is not in you.
1 john 5
1 John 1:5–9 ESV
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. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:5–10 ESV
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. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Big Idea: Walk in darkness and you’ll always fear the light. Walk in the light and you’ll never fear the darkness.

The message of the Cross is what distinguishes the church from the world.
So how great a wrong is it when we act as though the cross were unnecessary for us?
This passage starts out with this beautiful picture of God as light with no darkness. And then it immediately jumps to the truth that we cannot have fellowship with God if we walk in darkness.
Light vs. darkness
Truth vs. lies
Now the question is what does it mean to walk in darkness? For many years, I just assumed that walking darkness meant to be a terrible sinner, like murderers, adulterers, liars, thieves and cheaters (Like many of the heros of the Bible). Which actually meant that I was doing ok since I had never never murdered anyone. I just assumed that those who walk in darkness are the ones who are really bad.
Soiled vs. Cleansed
What does it mean to follow Jesus?
But that’s just me stumbling around in the darkness and stepping on a lego. Now I don’t believe that is what this passage was saying at all.
It means having fellowship with God and others.
What helps contribute to fellowship with God and with other Christians.
The darkness that we walk in (and to which God brings his shining light) is not how we sin but that we sin. Yes that we have sin in our lives. In order for the cross of Jesus to be effective in our lives, we have to first accept that it was necessary for us in the first place.
Authenticity and Vulnerability.
For older Christians, it’s important to never feel like you have achieved perfection. The younger generation needs to see, not only your struggles, but also how you are constantly depending on God for sanctification and salvation.
For younger Christians, get used to being open and honest about your struggles and sin. Don’t feel like you have to be perfect. When you do you wind up faking it. If you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself and the truth is not in you.
The first step to fixing any problem is admit that there is one. We have to...
Big Idea: Don’t be a hypocrite.

1. Be real. (Don’t walk around in the dark.) (vv. 5-6)

Now the question is what does it mean to walk in darkness? For many years, I just assumed that walking darkness meant to be a terrible sinner, like murderers, adulterers, liars, thieves and cheaters (Like many of the heros of the Bible). Which actually meant that I was doing ok since I had never never murdered anyone. I just assumed that those who walk in darkness are the ones who are really bad.
But that’s just me stumbling around in the darkness and stepping on a lego. Now I don’t believe that is what this passage was saying at all.
The darkness that we walk in (and to which God brings his shining light) is not how we sin but that we sin. Yes that we have sin in our lives. In order for the cross of Jesus to be effective in our lives, we have to first accept that it was necessary for us in the first place.
The first step to fixing any problem is admit that there is one.
God shines His light on sin so that it can be dealt with by measuring your condition against His perfection. And against the perfection of God…we just don’t measure up.
Some of you know I played football in college. Now I now know that I wasn’t the greatest of player but my 18 year old self thought I was the next Joe Montana. I was told that when I got to college, it would be a wake up call because everyone was the best player on their team…but I experienced that wake up call in a very different way. You see, our campus was rented out by the Baltimore Ravens for their summer training camp. and every day on my way to practice, I had to walk by and sometimes walk with…monsters. Seeing Ray Lewis up close, I didn’t want to get hit by him.
It shined light on my small stature and I realized how very short I feel from one of those biological freakshows.
I imagine it might be the same for musicians listening to others who are better than them. Or accountants when you watch the movie the accountant.
Now multiply that times infinity and that’s how it feels when we come face to face with the perfection of God.
Now before we move on…God invites you to be real with Him and yourself and to be loved as a child of God as you are…so that he can make you perfect through what Jesus did on the cross.
But how many walk around in darkness refusing to acknowledge this problem of the human condition. Because when we walk in darkness (refusing to acknowledge our sin) when that light hits us it hurts. It’s painful. Because measured against God’s perfection, we see how very short we fall.
1. This of Adam and Eve in the garden after they had taken the fruit and ate…what did they do? They hid from the light.
2. Think of all the Old Testament people who came face to face with God and assumed that their number was up so they fell to the ground in anticipation of the impending death.
2. Think of the rich young ruler in Jesus’ time
Matthew 19:16–22 ESV
16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Matthew 19:
Face to face with God in the flesh still thinking he’s good. But he was only walking in darkness.
But what does it look like to walk in darkness for us?
Living as though there is no God.
Thinking that you’re ok because you haven’t done anything really bad.
Thinking you can make up for the little sins by doing good works.
Believing that you have to put on the facade that you are more righteous than you really are.
Living as though God doesn’t know your heart.
Another question is who is this passage being written to? Is it to unbelievers or believers?
The truth is both. Unbelievers must come face to face with their sin before they can find a relationship with God. They walk in darkness not acknowledging that there is a God. And then one day, like Paul on the road to damascus, God shows up in the light of his glory. Ever notice in the Bible how often
For believers: It is ok to still mess up. Own it. Confess it. And let’s Jesus deal with it.
Be honest with yourself. We proclaim that truth that while admitting that we are in desperate need of the gospel as well.
We have to first arrive at a place of personal brokenness and our need for help. This is followed by continued dependence upon Jesus.
This is followed by continued dependence upon Jesus
The result as vs. 7 teaches us is that we will have fellowship with God and with one another because we are cleansed from our sin.

2. Be open. (Keep the light on for others.) (vv. 7-8)

In my earlier illustration, I talked about how one of the reasons for not turning on the lights when we wake in the middle of the night is to not disturb those who are sleeping. And then stumble around and wake them up anyway.
This is a close approximation of what it looks like for Christians to hide their faith around our unbelieving friends. They actually need to be woken up!
But what happens when we do the same around our fellow believers. Remember from last week (or just look at vs. 3 above) that John’s purpose for writing this letter is that there would be fellowship in the church. This week, he goes into a discussion of walking in darkness saying that if we walk in the light, this will lead to fellowship with one another.
How might a believer walking in darkness get in the way of fellowship in the church?
We all sin and that’s ok because sin is dealt with at the cross…spiritually speaking. Now before anyone accuses John or me of saying that sin is not bad and we shouldn’t worry about it. Just do it! We are going to get to that next week. The opening words of
1 John 2:1 ESV
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
2:1
Sin is bad and offense against a holy and righteous God. And we get that, so that might lead us to minimize our own sin and pretend that we are solid. But our fake piety helps no one.
The church, particularly the younger generation, needs to see a proper way to handle our sin. Confession, repentance, change, and total dependence upon Jesus for cleansing from it.
Remember from last week (or just look at vs. 3 above) that John’s purpose for writing this letter is that there would be fellowship in the church.
James 5:16 ESV
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
We have to remember that we are in this together. We have to keep the light on in our own life so that others can see who we really are. (Which if we’re honest, openness will actually help us sin less.)
James 5:16 ESV
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Here is something truly beautiful. When we admit our failures. When we are vulnerable in our weaknesses. When we are transparent in our transgressions, the light of God actually shines through us to fight back the darkness.
Well that doesn’t make any sense! If the whole of Christians were walking around admitting that they sin, the world will really see that we are hypocrites who can’t practice what we preach! Exactly.
Let others see your life.
Vulnerability levels the playing field and increases fellowship around our weaknesses. We realize that we are just hungry beggars telling other hungry beggars where to find the food.
This was Jesus’ problem with the Pharisees. They faked it and made their false piety as the standard for what it means to follow God’s rules. And the rest of the world looks on knowing they will never live up to that standard. Having a high view of the law, they didn’t understand that the law was a light to shine in our darkness.
By being open to others we are admitting to ourselves and others that we aren’t perfect, but that we worship a perfect God.
The alternative is that we all fake it and we join in some make believe competition where we think there is a prize for who can pretend to sin the least.
Don’t measure yourself against what someone else looks like. We should measure ourselves against other people’s transparency.

3. Be forgiven. (Stay in the light.) (vv. 9-10)

God
There is something about standing in the warmth of the sun. It’s comforting. It just feels right.
Many will assume that because God punishes sin, he must be an angry God always desiring to crush and punish. But the truth is as much as God hates sin, he is loving and full of grace not wishing that any should perish but that all would come to a knowledge of the truth.
For the unbeliever, the weight of sin that you carry, you need carry no more. Turn to Jesus for forgiveness.
For the believer. You will sin. God does not desire that your sin get in the way of your fellowship with him. Be real with God and others.
Once we acknowledge our sin, it’s important to turn to God and be forgiven.
1 John 1:9 ESV
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
In the garden of eden, the very first thing that Adam and Eve did after they sinned was to hide from God because they were afraid. Yet because of the cross of Jesus, there is no longer a need to be afraid. If we are real and open with God, He has already provided a way for us to be forgiven. We no longer need to be afraid of Him in the sense that Adam and Eve were afraid.
This is the heart of the gospel:
What is the gospel? “The just and loving creator of the universe has looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent His son, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin on the cross and to show His power over sin in the resurrection so that all who trust in Him will be reconciled to God forever.” - David Platt
3 words that are hard for many people are “I have sinned.” And we have to deal with that.
Truth vs. lies
Soiled vs. Cleansed
3 words that are hard for many people are “I have sinned.”
3 words that are harder for others are “I am forgiven.”
Withholding from ours

Reflection: Are you ready to walk in the light so God and others can see who you are?

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