Knowing God

Knowing God – 1 John 1:7       01/05/2020 The thesis for the next series we’ll explore together, “Christian Living,” is that salvation is nothing we can gain or enjoy apart from entering into a relationship with God.  Our being adopted into His family reflects that relationship.  He has purchased us from bondage so that we could become what we were created to be, His children. We’ll begin our study in Christian living by examining 1 John 1:7, which I leave to you to look up.  This is a familiar passage for most of us (I think it would be an excellent one to add to your memorization list) but I have to wonder if it’s truths have become so familiar that we’ve never considered applying them to our lives?  Here, John addressed what could be called a “lifestyle apologetic.”[1]  The credibility of our message cannot be separated from our life-styles.[2]  What’s more, our life-styles cannot be separated from our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.  John uses the metaphors of “light” and “dark” a lot.  What, precisely, does he mean by these?  Well, “light” is clearly intended to tell us something about the nature of God; this is particularly clear if you look at 1 John 1:5-7 and John 1:4-5 and John 1:9.  So then, what do the metaphor, “light,” tell us about God’s nature? Many scholars hold that the primary sense of this is ethical, that is, that God is morally good.[3]  Embedded in this is the idea that absolute truth and absolute righteousness are aspects of God’s moral goodness.[4] We’re called to walk in the same manner our God does, but we need to understand what John actually means.  John’s purpose for writing is so that his readers would be able to participate in the Christian fellowship of enjoying both the Father and His Son.[5]  This happens as we “walk in the light.”  “Walking” is another way of saying “living.”  John points us to the fact that “living in the light” is to live in contact with God, who is the Light.[6] We’re commanded to experience the life of Jesus in us.  There is a grammatical catch.  The verb “walk” (περιπατωμεν)[7] is in the subjunctive mood, present tense, active voice, first person singular verb from the lexical form (περιπατέω).[8]  Now, the subjunctive mood is the mood of potentiality, it presents the action as possible… but not certain.[9] So we have this word “walking” expressing that this is potentially true for the Christian, but not certain.  The tenses, you know, past, present, and future, when linked to the subjunctive mood do not reference time; they reference the kind of action taken.[10]  The present tense of this verb, περιπατῶμεν (literally, “we might be walking”), denotes a continuous action.[11]  It is stressing a habitual action.[12]  It is also stressing that it is not certain that this will happen, we must choose for this action to take place. However, John is not dealing with literally walking, it’s a metaphor for a lifestyle, an ongoing and continuous attitude of mind.[13]  This “walking” is not simple imitation of God, our identity is found in Him and this is expressed through our daily lives;[14] it is not what we do, it is what we are.  Now, the simple fact is that we were all once sinners, and when we came into the light of the holiness of God that sin was revealed.[15]  At that moment we have a choice, we can flee back to the dark, or we can come into the presence of God, sin and all, and be forgiven and cleansed.[16]  But cleansing does not happen in isolation, it happens in relationship… with God.[17]  Living in the light is a life lived in the power of God as we live in Him. Even as we enjoy fellowship with our God, He is constantly cleansing us from sins of omission, sins of ignorance, even sins we know nothing about in our lives.[18]  God anticipated this would be required, and through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ purification from “every sin ‘continually’” is made available.[19]  When we walk in the light, which is to walk in Christ, our lives are lived in fellowship with our God and we are cleansed from every sin.[20] We need to consider this expression, “the blood of Jesus.”  Does blood literally cleans us?  No.  The reference to the blood of Jesus was widely used in the early Church to reflect what God was doing for us through Jesus’ death,[21] what was accomplished through the power of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sin.  We are no longer condemned in the sight of God.[22]  Christ’s blood, that is His sacrificial crucifixion, removes all record of our sin, it is nailed to the cross, and by faith we experience cleansing through the work of the Holy Spirit.[23] To say that the blood of Jesus “purifies us from every sin” means that, in the cross of Christ, our sin is completely and repeatedly removed.[24]  The sacrifice that accomplishes all of this is described as that of “Jesus, His (God’s) Son” (Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ).[25]  This word “cleanses” (καθαριζει)[26] is in the indicative mood, present tense, active voice, third person singular.[27]  The indicative mood describes something that “is” as opposed to what “may be.”[28]  This coupled with the present tense tells us that this action, cleansing, is a fact that is taking place right now,[29] if we are living in Christ.  This is a simple statement of fact; we are being cleansed.[30]  Those who are walking in the Light have sin’s defilement removed as they experience a progressive move toward ever deeper sanctification.[31] In the sentence, “sin” (αμαρτιας) is in the genitive case, which normally marks a noun as the source or possessor of something, or indicates the kind of relationship that one noun has to another noun.[32]  In this case, “cleansing” (καθαριζει)[33] is being modified by “sin” (ἁμαρτίας)[34]; what does this cleansing accomplish?  It removes all of our sin.  This indicates that God does more than simply forgive our sins; He continuously removes the stain (that is, the guilt) of sin.[35] More literally, this exhortation is to live in the presence of God.  In doing so, we are continuously made clean of any and all sin.  It seems to me that the question becomes, “Are we walking (that is, “living”) in the light (that is, the presence of God), or not?”  This is the habit of living in the presence of our God, of allowing each moment of each day to be submitted to His presence and to His will.  Will we do it perfectly?  Nope!  Does that mean we should not begin?  Even more, Nope! The Apostle John has gone out of his way to state that union with God is the foundation of the Christian’s “walking in the light.”[36]  It is this that is the basis for the Christian life.[37]  Everything else will flow from that one truth.

[1] Ted Cabal et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1865.

[2] Ted Cabal et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1865.

[3] Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 63.

[4] Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 63.

[5] Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 63.

[6] Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 51, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 23.

[7]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), 1 Jn 1:7.

[8]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), 1 Jn 1:7.

[9] David Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1998), 98.

[10] David Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1998), 99.

[11] Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 51, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 23.

[12] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 13 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 102.

[13] Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 51, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 23.

[14] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 526.

[15] I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 112.

[16] I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 112.

[17] I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 112.

[18] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 13 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 103.

[19] Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 51, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 24.

[20] David Walls and Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, vol. 11, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 157.

[21] David Case and David Holdren, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Bible Commentary Series, gen. publisher, Donald Cady, exec. ed. David Holdren, managing ed., Lawrence Wilson, theological ed., Stephen Lennox, snr. ed., Darlene Teague, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 2006), 227.

[22] I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 112.

[23] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 526.

[24] Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 51, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 25.

[25] Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 51, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 25.

[26]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), 1 Jn 1:7.

[27] Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2000), 209.

[28] William Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, (ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids MI.: 1993), 121.

[29] William Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, (ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids MI.: 1993), 125.

[30] David Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1998), 98.

[31] David Walls and Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, vol. 11, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 157.

[32] Michael S. Heiser and Vincent M. Setterholm, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology (Lexham Press, 2013; 2013).

[33]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), 1 Jn 1:7.

[34]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), 1 Jn 1:7.

[35] Cleon Rogers Jr. and Cleon Rogers III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, (ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapides MI.: 1998), 592.

[36] George Strecker, A Commentary on 1, 2, and 3 John, Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., Linda Maloney, ed., Harold Attridge, (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN.: 1996), 30.

[37] George Strecker, A Commentary on 1, 2, and 3 John, Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., Linda Maloney, ed., Harold Attridge, (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN.: 1996), 30.

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