1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from (Jesus) and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
In this passage, the apostle John uses the images of “light” to represent God’s goodness/righteousness and “darkness” to represent our human sin. He makes it clear that if we want to be close to God, to have “fellowship” with God, we cannot remain in our sin.
In one sense this is bad news for me – because I sin every day in one form or another. Whether it’s something I do, or say, or think, there’s not a day goes by I don’t fall short somewhere. I have better days than others, but I don’t know I’ve ever had a perfect sin-free day. If this is true, and if John’s writing is true (and I believe it is) then how in the world am I supposed to have fellowship with God? Two key ideas come in the next two verses:
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
First, John tells us we have to be honest about ourselves. We’re not pure as the driven snow – at least not without divine intervention. We all fall short of the glory of God. All of us. Me. You. Everyone. To suggest otherwise is to “deceive ourselves”. The Lord wants us to own up to our shortcomings. BUT he does not want us to remain in them.
9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This verse is the key to the entire pasage. If living a sin-free life is the standard for having fellowship with God, we are damned from the word go. It’s an impossible standard! However, the expectation is not that we live sin-free, but that we allow the Lord to cleanse us of our sin. As John writes in verse 7:
7 …and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
When we confess our sin to the Lord, we are restored to God – because we are cleansed of our sin. Jesus made this possible when he paid (in his own blood) the price of human sin – by hanging on a cross.
I know confession is not a popular idea in our culture, but it’s an absolute key to life in Christ. We sin, we confess our sin, we are cleansed of our sin, we are restored to fellowship with God. Then the cycle starts all over again. This brings up some key questions for me:
Where in my life am I holding onto my sin rather than confessing it?
Do I make it a practice to confess each day – or perhaps even more frequently? If not, why not?
What difference would it make in my life if I were to live closely with God – close enough to hear his voice of mercy, love, encouragement, and wisdom?
Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice on our behalf. Give us grace to come clean with you each day, confess our sins, and be restored to fellowship with God the Father. In this way we can step out of the spiritual darkness of sin and into your marvelous light. We ask this in your most holy name. Amen.