The Apostle John had a message for dying humanity, according to 1 John 1:5, and it was a message that is found in the life and person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the epistle begins by saying, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (1 John 1:1). Please observe that John begins by presenting a life– a life which appeared in history in the form of a person (who was touched, seen, and heard). We have the assurance here that Jesus was not the figment of their imagination, but the Son of God actually came to this earth and lived among men. After all, John also declared in John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
When you stop to think about it, a man’s life can sometimes take on a single message, showing who the person was and what he stood for. Take the life of Adolf Hitler, for example, and the point is easily illustrated. His life proclaims a dark and dismal message that demonstrates how hatred, pride, and a thirst for power lead to frightening things and eventual destruction. On the other hand, the life of Christ stands in great contrast to someone like Hitler. When we understand who the Lord is and what His life was all about, there is a message that emerges: “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). How wonderful it is to know that we don’t have to guess at what the message is! Indeed, John tells us what the message consists of, proclaiming at least three truths that we need to have a proper understanding of. Let’s notice “the message” that is revealed by the apostle in these verses.
NO DARKNESS IN GOD
Notice again what John wrote: “This then is the message . . . God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” This is a great and comforting message that takes us in several directions. First of all, it is the very foundation of what is affirmed in the following verses, and it is what our Savior’s life and teaching were all about. Also, the message is not simply that God provides us with light, but God is light! In other words, this is His very nature (the essence of who He is) and He is the source of all true light. To drive the point home, John states it both positively and negatively– “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
What does all of this mean? It means that what light is on a physical plane, God is to us on every level of human experience. If we want to know who God is, understanding His character and nature, we need to simply observe what light is. What a powerful truth this is to ascertain! God can do for us in a spiritual sense what light does for us in our earthly existence. The question that needs to be answered is: What does light do? It reveals, making it possible to see things clearly. Jesus said in Luke 11:34 that “when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.” If the eye is defective, not being able to take in light and produce vision, the result is darkness to the body. Likewise, many people today dwell in spiritual darkness, all because they have rejected Christ and His doctrine. After all, He is that “true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). That’s why John said that this is the message which we have “heard of him,“ meaning that Jesus reveals the Father unto us (John 1:18), and the truth to live by is what we find in the person and teaching of Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
Light is something that energizes. Perhaps that is its most dramatic quality– it quickens, activates, and imparts life. You can see it every morning when the sun rises and wakes up a slumbering world, as birds begin to sing and animals hunt for food, and nature itself is invigorated. This is what God does for us when we allow Him to penetrate our darkened hearts with His light! Jesus declared in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” The Lord makes it clear that light and life are inseparable, helping us to understand why this truth is the foundation for what follows next.
MERE CLAIMS ARE NOT ENOUGH
John continues: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John. 1:6). There must not be a contradiction between what we claim and how we actually live. Since God is light, if we claim to have fellowship with God while walking in darkness, John says we are not speaking the truth! Fellowship indicates communion with God, as those who are acceptable in His sight, and our spirit is in harmony with His. But how can such be the case if we are walking in “darkness” (the very thing that is contrary to God’s character and will)?
As John used the expression in the above passage, what does it mean to “walk in darkness?” When we notice how he used the term, the answer becomes obvious. First, in this very context John placed emphasis upon the truth: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6). 1 John 3:19 talks about being “of the truth,” as those who “keep his commandments” (verse 22). Surely to walk in the “light” (the opposite of darkness) involves the idea of walking according to God’s revealed truth!
Also, darkness refers to unrighteousness, meaning that it can be manifested in how we live. “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in the darkness, even until now” (1 John 2:9). Hatred, which is a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:20), belongs to the darkness. This would be true of everything that belongs to a worldly way of life (1 John 2:15-17). So, if we claim to have fellowship with God while walking in religious error (2 John 9) or while living an unrighteous life, we are not speaking the truth. Just because someone claims to know God does not necessarily mean they do! We must “keep his commandments” and be one that “keepeth his word” (1 John 2:3-6).
FELLOWSHIP WITH EACH OTHER
John continues: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “Fellowship” denotes communion and partnership, indicating that we are at harmony with each other, and that enables us to be involved in mutual assistance. Please observe that the little word “if” at the beginning of the statement shows this is a conditional thing. Rom. 16:17 says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” It is sad when that must be done, but those who disturb the church with unscriptural practices and false doctrine bring it upon themselves.
Article by: Billy Dickinson