Life Styles – 1 John 1:7 03/29/2020

Life Styles – 1 John 1:7 03/29/2020

Our text this week is 1st John 1:7; I encourage you to look it up. It’s familiar enough that, if you have not memorized it you should. Here, John introduces a statement on God’s nature in order to define what’s required to have fellowship with Him.[1] “God is light” is used repeatedly by John, and when you look at the various places he employs the metaphor you find that he means that God has the quality within Himself of being the Source of life[2] as well as the revealer of truth.

But we have a problem. Sin always disrupts our relationship with God and we all sin. Our fellowship with God is universally disrupted, unless we allow God to correct the situation. In the context of 1st John there are two particular ideas that are significant when considering God.[3] The first is that God, as light, is the provider and revealer of truth, as well as the One who brings salvation.[4] Light reveals what has been hidden by the dark, and as such it reveals our sin.[5] But more than that, it provides a solution. That solution is applied to our lives by faith in Jesus.[6]

In essence, what the Apostle is saying is that God, as the source of life, brings a very particular kind of life to His children. The kind of life is eternal life, and that happens as we do something. Notice that it says to walk in the light.[7] That little word “in” is so very important. It references a position which is defined as being within certain limits.[8] The use of (ἐν), when coupled with the impersonal dative case, (that is, the indirect object of the sentence) as it is here, is theologically significant.[9] It often conveys a reciprocity of relationship, person to person.[10] This includes a reference to a both personal and ethical fellowship of will.[11]

To walk in the light is to walk in the presence of God.[12] To “walk” is a metaphor for to “live” in His presence.[13] The present tense of the verb “we are walking” (περιπατῶμεν) points to an attitude we’re required to maintain… it is to be done continuously.[14] This walking, again more plainly, this living, indicates a conscious and sustained effort to live in God’s presence, and therefore in conformity with His revealed will.[15] Not that this is not being good enough to be accepted, it is simply accepting that we are accepted, and living in that reality.

To live in darkness is to live without the benefit of God’s guidance which protects us from sinning.[16] We seem to have forgotten that when God tells us not to do something, it’s not because He’s trying to limit our freedom or keep us from having any fun. He’s seeking to protect us from that which brings suffering and destruction into our lives. If we truly understand God’s love for us we recognize that He has so much more for us than the filth we choose to cover ourselves with.

This will not be politically correct, and I cannot help it. We need to be clear on this, you cannot be in fellowship with God and harbor known sin in your life.[17] It will stand between you and God, it will rob you of the ability to enjoy His presence. What John is saying is that the only way to be in fellowship with God is to live in His presence, in fellowship, and therefore to live in His light.[18] That necessarily includes turning from our sin.

To say that God is “light” is more than a metaphoric description of His divine nature.[19] The logical produce of living in the light, living in fellowship with God, is a changed life.[20] This invariably affects the Christian community.[21] Our union with the Son, who unites us in the Father, produces unity within the Church[22] that foreshadows the eschatological reality we all look forward to in the New Heaven and New Earth. The results are both profound and mysterious.

This is possible because of Jesus’ “blood.” This expression is used to point to Jesus’ sacrificial death. To say that we are cleansed by Jesus’ blood is to say that our sin has been removed, but more than removed, forgiven.[23] The defilement of our sin no longer has the power to lead to condemnation from God.[24] In His suffering and death, Jesus in perfect obedience, offered the true and final sacrifice for sin.[25] To say that the blood of Jesus “purifies us from every sin” means that, in the cross of Christ, our sin is removed once and for all.[26] We can be cleansed from our sin. The word used in our passage is a present tense verb, it is happening right now, and it keeps on happening.[27]

This cleansing results in forgiveness, restoration, and the reestablishment of a love relationship with God. But something else happens too. Our relationships with the people around us are also healed.[28] Because we’ve been cleansed of our sin, true fellowship with our brothers and sisters becomes possible.[29] The Christian walk was never intended to be a solo walk,[30] that’s a part of what’s so wrong about cancelling services. This violates the interconnectedness of the Body of Christ.

But, because we are still “in process,” we still require continual cleansing.[31] The present tense form of this cleansing in our passage is intended to remind us of this.[32] We are being cleansed right now, for us this is a passive experience, but this is a third person active verb; He, Jesus, is actively cleansing us right now… and right now… and right now.

This is happening right now, but “right now” things are kind of weird for us, maybe even a little scary. Does this passage have any application to what our society is facing right now? Actually… yes! Right now, in the seclusion of our own home, examine your life. Does your life suggest that you are living in the presence of your God? If your life points to the reality that you belong to God and that you are actively living in His presence, then there are some things you can expect. You can expect that you will be in fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

How does that look during a lock-down? You have a phone, don’t you? Most of you have a computer with email, you may even be active on Facebook or some of the other social media. We can be checking on each other. The simple reality is the numbers of people in our congregation means I will never be able to keep up with how everyone is doing. But collectively we can be checking on each other. If someone needs help, if they’re sick and need groceries or medicine, we can get it for them. No one who follows Jesus should ever feel isolated.

But there’s something else that takes place as we walk with God. Your sins, which are many and varied, are completely forgiven. We have the assurance that, regardless of your health, regardless of your emotional state, that all of your sins are gone. We can rejoice in the midst of crisis because our greatest need, what we need before food and water, what we need before medicine, what we need before health, even what we need before life, has been met. Our sins are gone.

Have you made this decision? It makes all the difference in the world, especially during times that cans seem frightening.

[1] Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 62–63. [2] Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 69. [3] 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), 109. [4] 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), 109. [5] 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), 109. [6] 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), 109. [7] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 761. [8] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 713. [9] Albrecht Oepke, “Ἐν,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 537. [10] Albrecht Oepke, “Ἐν,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 543. [11] Albrecht Oepke, “Ἐν,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 543. [12] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 761. [13] Glenn Barker, 1 John, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1981), 311. [14] Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 51, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 23. [15] Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 51, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 23. [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), 110. [17] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 762. [18] 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), 110. [19] Georg Strecker, The Johannine Letters, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., Linda Maloney, ed., Harold Attridge, (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN.: 1996), 28. [20] 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), 111. [21] Georg Strecker, The Johannine Letters, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., Linda Maloney, ed., Harold Attridge, (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN.: 1996), 28. [22] Georg Strecker, The Johannine Letters, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., Linda Maloney, ed., Harold Attridge, (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN.: 1996), 28. [23] 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. [24] 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. [25] Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 51, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 25. [26] Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 51, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 25. [27] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 762. [28] Glenn Barker, 1 John, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1981), 311. [29] Glenn Barker, 1 John, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1981), 311. [30] 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), 111. [31] Georg Strecker, The Johannine Letters, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., Linda Maloney, ed., Harold Attridge, (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN.: 1996), 30. [32] Georg Strecker, The Johannine Letters, 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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